Friends of Panthertown E-Newsletter – September 2011
PANTHERTOWN VALLEY VISITOR SURVEY TO BE CONDUCTED OVER LABOR DAY WEEKEND
There are always many visitors exploring Panthertown over Labor Day Weekend and we have a feeling this weekend will be busier than usual. We hope to meet you on the trails! Friends of Panthertown will be at the Salt Rock (west) entrance signing up new members and offering some neat incentives for joining. If you are planning to visit on Friday or Saturday please take a moment to stop by our table and fill out a visitor survey. The survey only takes a minute or two to answer the questions and it will help us to better understand your visitor experience.
The U.S. Forest Service reminds us that waterfalls are popular places for viewing, picnicking and wading and should be respected for the dangers they pose . While beautiful to see, they often pose risks to unprepared visitors. Slippery rocks, steep slopes and undercurrents can catch you by surprise when walking through or in the vicinity of a waterfall. Stay back from the edge. People have been injured, sometimes fatally, trying to get a closer look. Avoid slippery rocks. Wear stable shoes and watch your footing. Don’t jump off of waterfalls or dive in waterfall pools because of unseen objects such as logs and boulders. You may wish to download a waterfall safety checklist provided by the U.S. Forest Service.
Panthertown Valley, referred to as the Yosemite of the East, lies on the eastern continental divide in North Carolina’s Blue RIdge Mountains. With more than 25 miles of designated trails in this 6,300 acre backcountry area visitors can enjoy deep gorges and broad valleys, mountain bogs and granitic rock domes, tranquil creeks and plunging waterfalls while hiking, biking or horseback riding. Camping is permitted in Panthertown, but groups are limited to no more than 12 people per site. No commercial equestrian or mountain bike outfitter/guides are permitted.
For your safety, we always recommend you view waterfalls from below. The risks of viewing from above are too great. We also ask that visitors please do not disturb the sensitive areas behind the waterfalls. These unique micro-climates supplied by the waterfalls in Panthertown Valley provide life to many species of plants and lichens. Any disturbance, including walking behind the falls, may cause severe ecological damage. We recommend you also checkout the U.S. Forest Service outdoor safety checklists for hikers in Panthertown Valley.
Looking for a recommendation on where to hike in Panthertown Valley this weekend? Our friends at Stay And Play In The Smokies have an excellent resource for you to review. If you’re camping overnight just remember the U.S. Forest Service specifies that you should keep your camp at least 50 feet away from any bodies of water and don’t set up your tent in the middle of a trail, that would be silly. Have fun!
ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP PICNIC & CONCERT ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 AT THE VILLAGE GREEN
Join us for an evening of fun and festivities at The Village Green in Cashiers, located at the crossroads of NC 107 and US 64. Thursday, September 22, 2011 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Bring your family, friends and your own picnic supplies (chairs, blanket, food, beverages, plates, etc.) and join the Friends of Panthertown for a free concert on the lawn in front of The Village Green gazebo. This annual event is an opportunity to celebrate our recent successes with our volunteers, members and partners. We hope that you will be a part of the celebration! All are welcome, it’s a great way to meet others who love Panthertown Valley, and new and renewing members, volunteers and their friends are especially encouraged to attend as we’ll be recognizing their contributions, too!
OUR NEXT TRAIL WORK DAY IS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
Sign up to be on our mailing list or visit our Calendar of Events for up to date information about volunteer opportunities in Panthertown Valley. Learn more about giving back to Panthertown by becoming a volunteer at one of our trail work days. Visit the Friends of Panthertown volunteer information page on our website for more information about what to expect, what to bring and how you can help.
SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER AND LEAF-LOOKING SEASON IS COMING SOON
“The annual prediction from Kathy Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fearless fall foliage forecaster, is for an excellent fall color show, thanks in large part to weather conditions over the spring and summer.
“2011 should prove to be an excellent year for fall color,” said Mathews, WCU associate professor of biology specializing in plant systematics. “While heavy spring rain is generally not a good sign for fall color, records indicate that rainfall was slightly below normal for March, average for April and May, and slightly below normal for June and July, as gardeners struggled to keep their crops watered,” she said. “These conditions actually are promising for good development of leaf color in September and October.”
In addition, mid-August brought a respite from the hot temperatures of June and July, another good sign of vibrant leaf color during autumn, she said.
Mathews believes that the formation of higher levels of yellow, orange and red pigments in the leaves seems to correlate with dry weather throughout the year. The drier the climate, the more brilliant the fall leaves tend to be, she said.
Of course, when it comes to forecasting the vibrancy of the fall color season, just as with forecasting the weather, there are no guarantees. Cloud cover and ample rainfall in the weeks ahead could mute the color show, Mathews said.”
Read the whole article in The Sylva Herald.
PROUD TO BE PART OF THE BLUE RIDGE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA
Did you know that Panthertown Valley is designated as a Blue Ridge Natural Heritage Site? We are proud to be a part of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. Established by Congress in November 2003, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area recognizes and celebrates the natural abundance and richly varied cultural history of the North Carolina mountains & foothills. Friends of Panthertown recently participated in the 5th annual meeting of Blue Ridge Heritage Area partners.
LEAVE NO TRACE
Just a friendly reminder to always practice the Leave No Trace principles of outdoor ethics when visiting public lands such as Panthertown Valley. To review the principles, visit the Leave No Trace website. Especially with the dry weather we’ve experienced lately PLEASE minimize campfire impacts by using established fire rings, keeping fires small and limited to smaller sticks found on the ground, and making sure to properly extinguish all coals and ashes before packing out. Never leave a fire unattended.
The Principles of Leave No Trace
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack It In, Pack It Out)
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
WILDLIFE: ARE YOU BEAR AWARE?
Panthertown Valley is a bear sanctuary. Bears live here. Be Bear Aware! The U.S. Forest Service has issued this safety checklist which you may download here and review. Although human encounters with bears in Panthertown Valley are not very common, we have heard recent reports of black bears startling hikers as the bears came out of the woods to cross a trail. Follow the advice of the U.S. Forest Service and be Bear Aware. Your safety, and the health and safety of the bears, is something we should all be concerned with.
Despite the name, the coat of a black bear isn’t always black. There are brown black bears, white black bears and even a blue glacier bear. Experts estimate the average weight of a black bear is 300 pounds. Despite their size, black bears are very agile tree climbers. During times of danger or threat, bear cubs will take shelter in trees. Bears by nature are opportunists. In the wild, they will feed on whatever is readily available. Food odors and improperly stored garbage will attract bears to campgrounds and picnic sites. Bears become habituated to human food if they find it readily available. Although they are naturally afraid of humans, the animals lose this fear as they begin to associate human scents with the reward of food. Black bears can become a threat to humans, property and themselves—a pattern that normally ends with death. Protect yourself and protect the black bears by storing trash and food in safe locations when you visit a national forest.
Avoid camping and hiking alone in the backcountry.
Make noise to avoid surprising a bear.
Never approach a bear or other wild animal.
Do not hike in the dark.
Carry EPA registered bear pepper spray.
Keep a clean camp site by properly disposing of food scraps and garbage. See: Leave No Trace
Do not leave food or garbage inside fire rings, grills or around your site.
Never leave food or coolers unattended, even in developed picnic areas.
If bear-proof containers are not available, store food and garbage inside a hard-top vehicle or trailer.
Never store food inside of a tent.
Wipe tabletops clean before vacating a camp or picnic site.
If a bear is observed nearby, pack up your food and trash immediately and vacate the area as soon as possible.
If necessary, attempt to scare the animal away with loud shouts, by banging pans together, or throwing rocks and sticks at it.
If a bear approaches, move away slowly; do not run. Get into a vehicle or a secure building.
Never run away from a bear—back away slowly and make lots of noise.
If you are attacked by a black bear, try to fight back using any object available. Act aggressively and intimidate the bear by yelling and waving your arms. Playing dead is not appropriate.
Other resources with information about dealing with bears may be found here:
WILDLIFE: SNAKE SAFETY IN PANTHERTOWN VALLEY
We also recommend you view the U.S. Forest Service safety checklist (found on the same wildlife page as above) for encounters with snakes in Panthertown Valley. Snakes are common in Panthertown Valley. Although infrequently spotted in plain view, rattle snakes and copperheads do live in Panthertown. This summer We have heard reports of sightings of non-poisonous and poisonous snakes on the trails and sunning on rocks in the Valley. Other hazards such as yellow jackets and biting insects also exist. Be safe and be alert in snake and bear territory. An unpleasant encounter with any of these residents can be avoided if you follow common sense and remember that we are the visitors here. This is their home.
JOIN FRIENDS OF PANTHERTOWN TODAY!
“Protecting and maintaining Panthertown Valley”
If you’re not already a member of Friends, now is the time to join! Your membership contribution goes a long way towards helping us protect and maintain this outstanding natural resource. We appreciate our Friends and rely on your generous financial support to continue funding much-needed conservation projects in Panthertown Valley. Every time you visit Panthertown, you’re benefiting from the work we’re doing, so we’re asking you to do your part in conserving this outstanding natural resource. Funding for public lands steadily declines. Each dollar you give is an investment in Panthertown’s future – and all donations made to Friends of Panthertown are tax-deductible. Click here to make a secure online donation with PayPal.
Friends of Panthertown, Inc. is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization. Donations and membership contributions are tax-deductible. Our Federal tax ID # is 27-3758868.