Resource Assessments & Data Analysis

Be A Part Of Our Project!

Resource assessments in Panthertown, including collecting data on trails and campsites, and then analyzing that data, form the basis for management decisions made by the U.S. Forest Service and work performed by Friends of Panthertown.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! We need to raise $10,000 by November 20 in order to meet our funding goals for this crucial resource assessment and data analysis project. Every dollar counts. Can we count on YOU to support this important work? Thank you!

How to crowdfund for this project.

Collecting Trail Data

All over the nation non-profit organizations like Friends of Panthertown (FoP) are working alongside federal land managers to help alleviate extensive federal budget cuts for recreation funding.

Funding has been so much of a challenge that there is a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) national action plan called the “10 Year Shared Stewardship Challenge”. Collaborative efforts are paramount to this plan for the maintenance and upkeep of our beloved National Forests, including Panthertown Valley!

Our local Nantahala Ranger District is relying on our organization and the public to help fill in the budget gaps and help plan for the future by supporting Friends of Panthertown in this project.

As recreation user numbers continue to rise we must take an in-depth look at the natural resources we have, as well as what recreation experiences will be like 80 years from now. This resource assessment project is THE project that sets the foundation for ALL future projects and maintenance efforts.

Friends of Panthertown and the U.S. Forest Service rely on data collection and assessments to determine best management of this public resource.

Panthertown trails are different from other trail systems in that a large number of designated trails were former logging roads, or were simply walked in, that now suffer from decades of water and weather causing severe erosion in places. Very few were intentionally and sustainably built with recreation and natural resource protection in mind. Panthertown campsites also share that nature in that they arose organically and may not be in suitable locations, like directly next to waterways, for example.

Panthertown as a recreation area is rather new to USFS management, entering the system in 1989, and recreation resources have not undergone an in-depth evaluation of this kind. The holistic data driven approach to recreation resource management will give our land managers a complete big picture view of Panthertown’s inner workings. Data will be utilized to create long-term visions and action plans that will include FoP and stakeholders for a more sustainable recreation experience, all while protecting our precious natural resource.

One specific outcome of this resource assessment is to provide the data needed in the creation of Trail Management Objectives (TMOs) for Panthertown’s trails. Creating TMOs is a nation wide effort, as only a small percentage of trails in the nation have been accounted for. Currently, due in part to lack of funding, only 3 of 20 trails in Panthertown Valley have these. TMOs provide each trail with specifications for intended use, and in turn function as a baseline for maintenance projects that may be needed to keep it up. Secondly, you can’t fund what you don’t know you have! With TMOs in place, USFS will then be able to go to Congress and ask for funding to support future needs once all trails are accounted for.

Collecting Data in Panthertown

We use high tech tools and software to build our datasets, and we need your help to fund this crucial function of our organization.

Since summer 2022, Friends of Panthertown has initiated this stewardship challenge in many ways, including the huge task of actively surveying all of the trail and campsite resources in Panthertown.

This resource assessment process is an extensive and time consuming effort, with each and every recreation feature being documented, from basic trail drainage features, water crossings, bridges, eroded trail tread, to any areas with a campfire ring present.

Collecting Data in Panthertown

For this project, Friends of Panthertown’s Trails and Stewardship Director, Krista Robb, and Trails and Stewardship Manager, Kara McMullen, have been out in the field collecting resource data.

Our trained team collects data through the ArcGIS platform and its Survey123 app. At the beginning of this assessment process, our staff worked with USFS Region 8 Trail Advisory Team and our local Nantahala Ranger District to create a clear and concise survey that encompasses all of the parameters required for accurate data collection.

Our team also utilizes physical tools, such as a measurement wheel for determining exact lengths of impacts on trails and the square footage of campsite impacts. Clinometers are used to measure the grade of a trail and cross slope of the hillsides, a crucial factor for erosion. Photographs and LIDAR imaging provide visual documentation during our assessments.

Now that the data collection part of this project is finished, we move into a new phase: Data Analysis. This part of the project will require hiring out experts to help funnel the information into digestible bits of information, in the form of graphs and stories, resulting in a polished presentation to the U.S. Forest Service, and ultimately to the public.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! We need to raise $10,000 by November 20 in order to meet our funding goals for this crucial resource assessment and data analysis project. Every dollar counts. Can we count on YOU to support this important work? Thank you!

How to crowdfund for this project.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Terrific Job At Stewarding”

Friends of Panthertown does a terrific job at stewarding one of our greatest natural assets and ensuring its sustainability for future generations to come. Their efforts are invaluable and we are so lucky to have such a dedicated team.

Nick Breedlove, Executive Director, Jackson County Tourism Development Authority

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Highly Committed”

Friends of Panthertown is an amazing organization committed to protecting the vast 6000 plus acres we all love to experience! This group works diligently all year to organize trail maintenance work days, support conservation efforts to benefit this land, and to educate Panthertown users! A highly committed and dedicated group!

Marcia Shawler
volunteer, Friend