The mission of Friends of Panthertown is to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve this outstanding natural resource while improving the quality and experience of recreational opportunities in Panthertown Valley. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations and memberships are tax-deductible.
The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are enjoyed by millions of people every year. Encompassing more than 1 million acres in western North Carolina, these natural areas provide a wide array of benefits including clean air and water, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, solitude, forest products such as timber, and much more. The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests extend along the Appalachian Mountains of 18 counties in western North Carolina.
Pisgah National Forest was established in 1916 and Nantahala National Forest in 1920. These two national forests attract more visitors annually than most other national forests in the country and include the heavily used Appalachian National Scenic Trail as well as six federally designated wilderness acres totaling approximately 66,550 acres.
Every national forest and grassland has a management plan. The U.S. Forest Service’s National Forests in North Carolina are in the process of revising the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan which will direct the management of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, including Panthertown Valley, Bonas Defeat, and Big Pisgah for the next 15- 20 years.
WLOS ABC News 13 reported on Thursday that the
Plan Would Open 700,000 Acres To Logging
Published November 13, 2014
The Forest Service is requesting feedback from the public, and expects to modify the plan within the coming months in response to public comment.
Like other national forests and grasslands, the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are public lands. These ecologically important, natural areas are owned by the public and managed for multiple uses by the U.S. Forest Service. After development, the Revised Forest Plan will supersede the 1987 Forest Plan, as amended, and will provide direction to assure coordination of multiple-uses such as outdoor recreation, timber, watershed, wildlife and fish, and wilderness as well as sustained yield of products and services.
Members of the public have a right to provide input on how the lands are managed, and Plan revision is one of the best opportunities. All members of the public are invited to participate in the Plan revision process.
The U.S. Forest Service has released a draft of their forest management revision plan. Friends of Panthertown has been a part of the revision process since the beginning and encourages public participation. View proposed revision draft materials presented at public meetings held in October and November.
Comments or questions about the Plan revision or process can be sent by email to:
Hard copies of comments can be mailed to:
National Forests in North Carolina
Nantahala-Pisgah Plan Revision
160 Zillicoa St. Suite A
Asheville, NC 28801
Asheville Citizen-Times published this article about the plan revision:
Logging in Pisgah, Nantahala forests hanging in the balance
Published November 13, 2014
The Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Management Plan will guide the future of about one million acres of federal land for up to 15 years in areas such as timber, water, wildlife and recreation.
Smoky Mountain News has an extensive article about the plan:
Forests for the future: First glimmers of forest plan draw polarized reactions
Published November 12, 2014
Let your voice be heard
There’s no formal comment period on the material presented at this round of presentations, but the Forest Service is soliciting comments to guide it as it tweaks the direction of the plan and fills in some details. All materials from the presentations are online.
Comments received by mid-December will have the most impact on the process. They can be sent to NCPlanRevision@fs.fed.us or 160 Zillicoa St., Suite A, Asheville, N.C. 28805.
Updated report from Blue Ridge Now:
Draft forest plan adds 700,000 acres to ‘timber base'”
Published November 16, 2014
Not only does the draft plan allow logging on 164,000 more acres than the existing one, conservationists point out that the Forest Service is planning to open up areas previously protected from timber operations, areas they have fought to exclude in the past.
By taking such a broad-brush approach to logging, the agency is missing an opportunity to truly restore even-aged forests left behind by years of clear-cutting, said Josh Kelly, public lands biologist with the Western North Carolina Alliance.
“The Forest Service could sell more timber, meet game wildlife goals for hunters and fulfill its ecological responsibility by focusing its limited budget on restoring degraded areas with existing road access,” Kelly said. “We have a historic opportunity to care for this forest like it deserves — a real win-win solution — but if the plan is mired in conflict, none of that work will get done.”
Carolina Public Press
Forest Lookouts: Deciding the future of WNC’s national forests
Published October 22, 2014
WNC’s National Forests: Is the public in? Or are we out?
Published October 31, 2014
About the Forest Lookout series
This story launches a Carolina Public Press in-depth reporting project about the future of the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests which are – for the first time in 20 years – undergoing an extensive re-planning process. Hiking through the national forests, paddling a river or fishing a stream, you can’t see the plan. But this process – which will ultimately oversee more than 1 million acres in 18 mountain counties using a process that has been largely untested on the East Coast – will have innumerable impacts on Western North Carolina’s residents, economies and environment. In Forest Lookouts, Carolina Public Press will pull back the layers of bureaucracy to report on the plan’s players and leaders, analyze the plan’s inception and implementation, find what community leaders, elected officials and conservationists think are the biggest issues facing the forests and explore the best ways to manage the forest for future generations — all to help residents across North Carolina understand what’s going on and how to participate.
High Country Press
U.S. Forest Service Proposes Opening Roughly 700,000 Acres of Pisgah-Nantahala to Logging Program
Published November 12, 2014
The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest has become a tourism and recreation destination, and revenue generated by visitors is a major driver of the western North Carolina economy. The National Forests of North Carolina are the third most visited national forest in the country. Industrial logging not only damages scenery and natural features, which are the key draw for half of those visits, but also requires popular areas to be closed to the public for months at a time while trees are being cut.
The forest for the trees: Debating Forest Service plan at Newsmakers forum
Published November 13, 2014
On Thursday, Nov. 13, the Asheville-based investigative news outlet Carolina Public Press hosted its first Newsmakers series — in this case, a lively discussion that dived questions about the U.S. Forest Service’s draft plan for 1 million acres of public lands in Western North Carolina.
Interactive media forum looks at the future of WNC’s forests
Published November 12, 2014
“The Future of WNC’s National Forests,” hosted by Carolina Public Press, will be held tomorrow morning, featuring a live interview followed by a public Q&A period with panelists from National Forests of North Carolina, American Whitewater, The Wilderness Society and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
Forest Service proposes logging Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest
Published November 13, 2014
This industrial-style logging would also require cutting new roads for trucks and equipment into sensitive, unspoiled backcountry areas.
Southern Environmental Law Center expresses their strong concerns and criticisms that U.S. Forest Service Proposes Opening Most of the Popular Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest to Logging, request public get involved.
Western North Carolina Alliance has asked the public to take action by sending comments to the USFS. U.S. Forest Service proposes opening most of Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest to logging “Forest Service proposes massive logging program in an area bigger than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park”
The Wilderness Society encourages public participation in the plan revision process, “North Carolina’s Pisgah and Nantahala National Forest’s management plans are currently in the process of being revised by the US Forest Service. These plans only get revised once every 15-20 years and this is a critical time to let your voice be heard! The Forest Service is proposing a shocking proportion of the landscape for timber production!”
Wild South reports, “The US Forest Service has unveiled plans to open nearly 700,000 acres of YOUR National Forests to logging. This represents 70% of the forests which are prized for their recreational resources, wildlife habitats, clean water, and much more than just timber.”
The U.S. Forest Service has been planning to conduct a series of prescribed burns this fall throughout the Nantahala Ranger District. Panthertown is part of the Nantahala National Forest. Read the USFS Decision Memo – Big Green Mountain Prescribed Burn Unit for specifics on how this effects Panthertown. According to the Forest Service, they will conduct these understory burns to reduce hazardous fuel and restore conditions in the forest. They go on to describe prescribed fire as a method to promote forest health and wildlife habitat. Public safety is their highest priority during a prescribed burn. The dates for each burn are announced as they are decided, often the same day, and weather permitting.
Yesterday, on Monday November 10, 2014, with ideal weather conditions for their work, the U.S. Forest Service Nantahala fire management team performed their first controlled burn in Panthertown Valley: 497 acres on Big Green mountain. Today, the U.S. Forest Service plans to apply similar controlled fire treatments to 240 acres on Awl Knob in Bonas Defeat (northern part of Panthertown) and 842 acres on Moses Creek area (684 acres on Coward Bald, 158 acres on Moses Creek). Heavy smoke is expected.
For more information on the prescribed burns conducted in Nantahala National Forest contact Fire Management Officer Greg Brooks at the Nantahala Ranger District office at (828) 524-6441 ext. 418 or email@example.com
U.S. Forest Service Links:
Prescribed Burns Planned for Nantahala Ranger District
USFS Press Release – October 29, 2014
USFS: Prescribed Burning Season to Begin
USFS Press Release – October 1, 2014
Restoring Fire to the Mountains
Decision Memo: Big Green Mountain Prescribed Burn Unit
USFS Decision Memo – April 2014
Other Background Info:
Friends of Panthertown comments on U.S. Forest Service prescribed burning in Panthertown Valley
Friends of Panthertown – October 1, 2012
Prescribed Fire Information
Friends of Panthertown – September 20, 2012
Forest Service Ignites Firestorm Over Proposed Burn
Smoky Mountain News – September 19, 2012
More Info About USFS Prescribed Burn Scoping Proposal
Friends of Panthertown – September 19, 2012
Public Meeting to Discuss Proposed Panthertown Burn
Friends of Panthertown – September 10, 2012
Nantahala National Forest – Future Prescribed Burns
Friends of Panthertown – September 6, 2012
Become a member of Friends of Panthertown to help us protect and maintain Panthertown Valley for all to enjoy. The mission of Friends of Panthertown is to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve this outstanding natural resource while improving the quality and experience of recreational opportunities in Panthertown Valley. We hope you will get involved and join or volunteer today! All donations are tax deductible.
Prescribed burning season is here in Nanthala National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service has decided to add Panthertown to a 2-4 year prescribed fire rotation in the district. After making the decision to burn Big Green in April 2014, the U.S. Forest Service published this press release on October 29 concerning prescribed burning to be conducted this fall in Panthertown and Bonas Defeat.
We will share more information as we have it.
FRANKLIN, N.C., Oct. 29, 2014 – The U.S. Forest Service plans to conduct a series of prescribed burns in the Nantahala Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest, this fall. Weather will dictate the dates of the prescribed burns. All four sites are located in southern Jackson County.
The Moses Creek area burn units are:
Coward Bald (684 acres)
Moses Creek (158 acres)
The Panthertown area burn unit is:
Big Green (497 acres)
The Bonas Defeat area burn unit is:
Awl Knob (240 acres)
The Forest Service will conduct these understory burns to reduce hazardous fuel and restore conditions in the forest. Prescribed burning also promotes forest health and wildlife habitat. Public safety is the highest priority during a prescribed burn. The dates for each burn will be announced as they are decided and weather permitting.
For more information contact, Fire Management Officer Greg Brooks at the Nantahala Ranger District office at 828-524-6441.
Click here to learn more about restoring fire to the mountains.
Friends of Panthertown
Annual Membership Meeting & Social Event
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
6 – 8 PM
Cashiers-Glenville Recreation Center
355 Frank Allen Road, Cashiers, NC 28717
All are welcome!
There will be door prizes and other fun surprises at this free event, plus an opportunity to socialize with others who care for Panthertown. We will give updates on current and future conservation projects, and recognize the outstanding contributions of our volunteers, partners, and members. There will be time for questions, comments, and discussion.
Dr. Dan Pittillo, A.B., M.S., Ph.D., Biology and Botany, a member of the Friends of Panthertown Board of Trustees and resident expert on Panthertown Valley’s ecology, will give a short presentation on Panthertown’s plants and flowers. Dan is a retired Professor of Biology who taught plant science and ecology at Western Carolina University for four decades (1966-2004), and directed the Western Carolina University Herbarium from 1970 to his retirement in 2005. He served as the Editor of the Chinquapin newsletter for the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society from 1993 to 2012 and is one of the co-founders of Friends of Panthertown.
Board member Burt Kornegay, adventure guide and author of A Guide’s Guide to Panthertown Valley, will be on hand to answer questions about his newly revised map, and to swap stories about favorite hikes in Panthertown. Burt is a veteran of the US Marine Corps (1972-74). He has a B.A. in history from the University of Oregon (1976) and an M.A. in English from the University of N.C. at Chapel Hill (1980). He was president of the NC Bartram Trail Society for 12 years, and he is co-author of the NC Bartram Trail series of maps. Burt is a freelance writer with numerous published articles about wilderness skills, backwoods safety, and natural history. Burt has been written about in such magazines as National Geographic, Backpacker, Blue Ridge Country, Southern Living, Cooking Light, American Hiker, Southeastern Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife In North Carolina, and Our State. He is also one of the co-founding members of Friends of Panthertown.
Photographer Todd Ransom, creator of Waterfalls of Western North Carolina, and member of Friends of Panthertown, will be on hand to answer questions about his recently released book, Waterfalls of Panthertown Valley.
Please join us on Tuesday, August 19 for what is sure to be an enjoyable evening.
Our next Trail Work Day is scheduled for Saturday, August 23. Check back on our website for more details.
Our interns work directly with our Executive Director and Board of Trustees to gain valuable organizational training and outdoor leadership skills, help lead work days, develop conservation projects, plan outreach events, assist with coordination of volunteers, learn about grant funding, and share enriching experiences with others who care deeply for Panthertown. Please contact us as soon as possible if you wish to be considered for this position. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (828) 269-HIKE (4453) for more information.
We are an equal opportunity organization. All are welcome to participate.
Join Friends of Panthertownin “the Yosemite of the East” this weekend, Saturday, July 26, for a fun day of hiking and trail pruning. Volunteers of all ages are welcome to join us on the trails, and tools will be provided for those who would like to borrow one. If you would like to participate, meet us at 9:30AM at Salt Rock Gap trailhead (the western entrance to Panthertown Valley), located at the end of Breedlove Road in Cashiers, North Carolina. Our friends at REI Asheville have provided some cool giveaways for those who show up, plus each volunteer will get entered into a drawing to win from an assortment of outdoor goodies.
Volunteers should bring: a day pack with lunch, water, and rain gear (just in case). Bring work gloves if you’ve got them, otherwise we have extras to loan out if you don’t have your own work gloves. We recommend you wear a good pair of shoes with socks when working on the trails with us.
Here’s what to expect: we usually hike about 5-6 miles – working along the way; we take a lunch break when stomachs start growling; and we usually finish up by 3pm. It’s a lot of fun and the best part is that you go home tired and content knowing that you just did your good deed for the month.
Inclement Weather Policy: the Trail Work Day will be canceled if it’s raining.
To receive notices about future volunteer opportunities, such as work days, call 828-269-HIKE (4453) or e-mail email@example.com. You can also subscribe to our e-mail alerts and newsletters by entering your e-mail address in the subscription box on in the upper right menu of this website.
Directions to Salt Rock Gap (west entrance):
Approximately 1.5 miles east of Cashiers on US 64, turn north (left coming from Cashiers, right coming from Sapphire/Lake Toxaway) on Cedar Creek Road (SR 1120). Continue on Cedar Creek Road for 2.2 miles and bear right (northeast) on Breedlove Road (SR 1121). There is a Forest Service sign here that indicates Panthertown Access. Drive 3.3 miles to the end of Breedlove Road until the pavement ends and turns to gravel. Continue ¼ mile on the Forest Service gravel road that leads to the Salt Rock trail-head parking area. Drive very slowly as this road has many dips and pot holes.
Posted in Uncategorized
Friends of Panthertown is hosting a horse exhibition and silent auction at the Bald Rock equestrian community in Sapphire, NC on Saturday, June 28, 2014 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. to benefit conservation and maintenance projects in Panthertown Valley.
Admission is free and everyone is invited to this fun and exciting event! Parking is $10 donation per vehicle and carpooling is encouraged. Lawn chairs and picnic blankets are welcome, but please leave dogs at home for the safety of all the animals.
See The Horses, Meet The Horses
More than a dozen different breeds of horses will participate in an exhibition at the Bald Rock equestrian arena at high noon on Saturday, June 28. Horses will include a majestic Gypsy Vanner, a Friesian, Paso Fino, Trote Gallope, and many others. Bring your children to meet and greet the horses before and after the show.
Bid Generously, Bid To Win
Silent auction items will be available to bid on starting at 10:30 a.m. in the barn with tables closing bids by 12:30. Bidders must be present to win, or have an agent designated to pay and retrieve their items prior to 2:30 p.m.
Download printable event poster (PDF format)
Hike A Waterfall
A guided waterfall hike to beautiful Maidenhair Falls within Bald Rock will start at 10 a.m. Group size is limited to 15. Those wishing to hike should arrive early to check-in.
A light lunch consisting of a hot off the grill hamburger, hot dog, or black bean burger, chips, home baked cookies for dessert, and a drink will be available for $7 beginning at 11 a.m. You are also welcome bring your own food and drinks and have a picnic.
Enjoy Mountain Music
Musical entertainment will be on tap with old timey mountain roots music performed by a duo of talented local musicians. Adam Bigelow on bass and vocals, and Ian Moore on fiddle and vocals.
Family Friendly Activities
There will be various demonstrations and children’s activities going on throughout the event. Macon Faces Face Painting will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. for the kids.
All For A Good Cause
All proceeds will benefit Friends of Panthertown, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Friends of Panthertown volunteers protect and maintain 30 miles of public trails in Panthertown Valley, a 6,300 acre backcountry recreation area in Nantahala National Forest. Donations and memberships are tax deductible.
Bald Rock is located at the top of Trays Island Road off US Highway 64 in Sapphire, North Carolina, about five miles east of Cashiers. Turn at the Sapphire National Golf Course and follow the signs to the top of the mountain for the horse show.
Schedule of activities:
9:30 a.m. Gates Open
10 a.m. Guided Hike to Maidenhair Falls
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Music, Demonstrations, Children’s Activities
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Silent Auction open in the barn
11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Horse Meet & Greet
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Lunch will be available
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Horse Exhibition
1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. Horse Meet & Greet
A special thank you to the residents of Bald Rock, to our generous silent auction donors, and to our event sponsors for helping to make this horse exhibition possible: The Divide at Bald Rock, McKee Properties, Natural Retreats, Cruise Planners Travel Agency, The 1945 Old House, The Corner Store, and WhiteWater Equestrian Center.
Happy Earth Day!
Every day we are grateful for the magnificent natural world all around us.
Today is Earth Day and we celebrated with a hike in Panthertown Valley, of course. The fruits of spring are already very abundant in the valley, with lush new growth, and a significant increase in wildlife and black bear sightings reported throughout the area – a reminder that we are just visitors here.
Join us this weekend, all day Saturday, April 26 at Greening Up The Mountains festival in downtown Sylva, North Carolina for a celebration of the arrival of spring in the mountains. We will have all kinds of Panthertown goodies to give away. Stop by our booth for details.
Bears Love Panthertown
Panthertown Valley is designated by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission as part of the Panthertown-Bonas Defeat bear sanctuary. Bears live here and are protected here. This is their natural habitat. Do your part to avoid their curiosity.
Save The Date: Saturday, June 28
You are invited to join us for a celebration of Panthertown and benefit for Friends of Panthertown on Saturday, June 28 at the Bald Rock equestrian community in nearby Sapphire Valley, adjacent to Panthertown. Join us for the 2014 Bald Rock Horse Exhibition & Silent Auction, a benefit to fund important conservation projects in Panthertown over the next year. Read about the event here and invite your friends.
Become A Friend
Show your support for Panthertown, today! Join Friends of Panthertown as a supporting member or trail volunteer. Your involvement is greatly appreciated and will inspire new generations of forest stewards, trail advocates, and conservation leaders.
Friends of Panthertown volunteers protect and maintain 30 miles of public trails in Panthertown Valley spread out over 6,300 acres. We love Panthertown and we work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to protect this special place.
We are very thankful for each of our supporting members and volunteers, and the many friends we have met along the trails in 2013. We believe you should be proud of what we have accomplished this past year with your support. We would like to thank each of you for your dedication and commitment to protecting Panthertown. Through generous membership donations and the work of our inspiring volunteers, we have accomplished many important conservation projects this past year.
So far in 2013, our volunteers have contributed more than 1,000 hours caring for Panthertown, making recreational improvements, and maintaining 30 miles of public trails for all to enjoy. We have continued our work in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service to improve the entrance road to Salt Rock Gap, we have expanded the existing trail system by opening up Carlton’s Way to day hikers and backpackers, and we have re-routed the middle section of the popular Wilderness Falls Trail to provide for safer access to this magnificent waterfall destination. There is still much work to be done, and your continued dedication and support is essential for the success of our mission.
Each time you and your friends visit Panthertown Valley you are benefiting from the work Friends of Panthertown does!
Since 2007, our organization has been instrumental in partnering with the U.S. Forest Service to create and maintain a sustainable trail system in Panthertown Valley. Our volunteers have worked hard, contributing over 8,500 hours valued at more than $146,000 to maintain and improve the public trails in Panthertown!
With your help, we have provided funding for much-needed conservation projects, trained and engaged hundreds of volunteers, purchased tools and materials for trail maintenance and improvements, constructed informational bulletin boards at the Salt Rock Gap and Cold Mountain entrances, installed trail markers to help prevent visitors from getting lost, built staircases and repaired bridges throughout the valley, collaborated with multiple user groups to develop solutions to natural resource issues, monitored sensitive and fragile ecosystems, and encouraged environmental stewardship of Panthertown Valley through outreach and education.
We need your continued help to carry on with the work that we do!
Remember, Friends of Panthertown is the only organization tasked by the U.S. Forest Service to protect and maintain this very special place. Each year, more and more people discover this incredible natural treasure. This increase in visitors has brought many dollars into our local economy at a time when it is most needed. However, more feet on the trails means more work needs to be done to maintain this magnificent natural resource throughout the year. The success of our organization’s mission relies on the continued passionate and committed support of dedicated volunteers, members, and donors, just like you!
Friends of Panthertown provides volunteers and funding for much-needed conservation projects in Panthertown Valley.
There is still much work left to do. We would greatly appreciate your support to help us accomplish important trail projects. Your generous membership donation will also assist us in qualifying for grants for projects such as improving the trailheads at each entrance, creating new interpretive and educational programs for our visitors, and constructing a boardwalk and viewing area for all to enjoy and protect the sensitive ecosystem of the high elevation mountain bog in Panthertown. We are working on your behalf to protect this special place.
Join, renew, or gift a membership, today. It’s an easy way to give back.
Wishing you and your family a warm and happy holiday season.
2013 Board of Trustees:
Tony Austin, Pat Hawkins, Mike Kettles, Burt Kornegay, William McKee, Dan Pittillo, Margo Purdy, and Tom West
We are happy to report that all 30 miles of non-motorized trails in Panthertown Valley remain open to the public. Expect to see additional cars in the parking areas and increased visitation in the valley due to nearby national parks being closed.
All volunteer activities in our national forests have been put on hold by the U.S. Forest Service until further notice. Keep following Friends of Panthertown for updates.
Here is an interesting related article published this week in Smoky Mountain News about shutdown of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a National Geographic article National Parks: Shutting Down America’s Best Idea.