Exciting News: Asheville City Council will consider Big Ivy resolution

Exciting news: Asheville City Council will consider a resolution supporting permanent protection for Big Ivy at their next meeting this TUESDAY, AUGUST 22 at 5 p.m. at City Hall downtown.

Asheville depends on the scenic views, recreational opportunities, and water quality provided by the national forests that surround the city. Big Ivy protects the breathtaking views from Craggy Gardens that many Asheville residents and tourists cherish. Big Ivy also shelters the Mountains to Sea Trail, old-growth forests, pristine watersheds, rare species, and beloved waterfalls.

Can you attend the Asheville City Council meeting this coming Tuesday? 

This is a critical decision-making time for the Forest Service, so input right now is key. Asheville is the largest city in the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest footprint and the economic engine of the mountains. A vast majority of national forest users come from Asheville. This is probably our most important opportunity to rally political support for Big Ivy.

 

BIG MEETING FOR BIG IVY

Big Ivy needs your help next Tuesday, July 25. The Forest Service will be hosting a meeting about their preliminary forest plan draft at Mars Hill University (Bentley Fellowship Hall, 265 Cascade Street) from 3 p.m to 6 p.m. Can you stop by any time between 3 to 6 p.m. to voice your support for protecting ALL of Big Ivy? 

Please wear your Friends of Big Ivy t-shirts if you have them. We will have some t-shirts available at the meeting as well. We also have Don't Cut Big Ivy stickers for you to wear. 

 NOTE THE NEW LOCATION: THE FOREST SERVICE HAS MOVED THE MEETING TO MARS HILL UNIVERSITY. 

At this meeting, you will have the opportunity to talk directly one-on-one with Forest Service leaders. Here is some important information:

The Forest Service’s preliminary draft plan leaves one-third of Big Ivy open to logging, including 1,000 acres of old-growth forest on Coxcomb Mountain and Snowball Mountain. The Forest Service has placed both the Coxcombe Mountain and Snowball Mountain sections of Big Ivy in management areas that emphasize and even prioritize logging. 

The preliminary draft plan also falls short of protecting Big Ivy’s trail network and pristine watersheds from logging. The Forest Service has tentatively labeled part of Big Ivy as a Special Interest Area, but this vague, undefined designation would still permit logging and road building throughout the area. 

If you cannot attend the meeting next Tuesday, can you ask any friends or neighbors to attend? 

You can also email the Forest Service (NCplanrevision@fs.fed.us) and ask for stronger protections for ALL of Big Ivy.

Specifically, encourage the Forest Service to protect ALL of Big Ivy by doing the following:

 - Designate Big ivy’s trail network and the old-growth forests of Coxcomb Mountain and Snowball Mountain as backcountry

- Designate Big Ivy’s trail-less, high-elevation forests as wilderness as recommended by the Buncombe County Board of commissioners.

- Ensure that any Special Interest Areas in Big Ivy prohibit logging.

A sample letter appears in the News section of our web site. There are also additional meeting materials and information on the site.

You can also see the latest information and preliminary plan draft materials here.

SAMPLE LETTER - PROTECT ALL OF BIG IVY

(Send your comments to NCplanrevision@fs.fed.us)

Dear Allen Nicholas, Matt McCombs, Michelle Aldridge, and the Forest Service Planning Team,

The most recent preliminary draft of forest plan materials leaves much of Big Ivy unprotected, including the 1,000 acres of old-growth forest on Coxcomb Mountain and Snowball Mountain. The vague, undefined Special Interest Area also does not adequately protect Big Ivy’s forests and watersheds. Please protect ALL of Big Ivy:

1. Designate Big Ivy’s trail-less, high-elevation forests as wilderness as recommended by the Buncombe County Board of commissioners.

2. Designate Big ivy’s trail network and the old-growth forests of Coxcomb Mountain and Snowball Mountain as backcountry.

Here are a few reasons why Big Ivy deserves wilderness and backcountry protections:

RECREATION: Big Ivy is one of the most popular and ecologically important recreation destinations in Southern Appalachia, with prized trout streams, waterfalls, swimming holes, rugged trails, and scenic overlooks that attract tens of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts annually.

OLD GROWTH: Big Ivy contains over 3,000 acres of old-growth forest—one of the largest old-growth forests in the East.

CLEAN WATER: Big Ivy’s pristine headwaters are home to native trout and part of the protected watershed of the Ivy River, an important tributary of the French Broad and drinking water source for the cities of Weaverville, Mars Hill, and surrounding communities.

RARE SPECIES: Big Ivy’s wild forests shelter at least 44 rare plant and animal species, and the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program has identified over 3,000 acres of Big Ivy for highest priority protection. Big Ivy has been highlighted by The Nature Conservancy as one of the most important core forests in the Southern Blue Ridge.

VIEWSHEDS: Big Ivy is the most photographed spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Big Ivy is the forest that spans the vista from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, one of the most visited tourist destinations in the East.

100,000-ACRE BLOCK OF WILDLANDS: Big Ivy offers some of the best opportunities for primitive recreation and solitude in Buncombe County and throughout the Pisgah National Forest with rugged, remote peaks and ridges that are surrounded by 100,000 acres of contiguous wildlands, making Big Ivy an ideal location for wilderness.

WILDERNESS: Buncombe County currently has no wilderness areas, and the Big Ivy/Craggy Wilderness area would be the closest wilderness area to Asheville; meanwhile, Haywood County, Jackson County, Macon County, Clay County, Graham County, and Burke County all have federally designated wilderness areas that are major drivers of outdoor recreation and tourism both regionally and nationally.

HERITAGE: Locals have used Big Ivy to hunt, fish, hike, camp, and swim for over two centuries. Wilderness and backcountry designations for Big Ivy will safeguard traditional local uses of the land.

PROPERTY VALUES: The scenic vistas and intact, unbroken forests of Big Ivy are prized vistas that enhance local property values and support local businesses.

PUBLIC SUPPORT: The Big Ivy community, have overwhelmingly supported an expanded Big Ivy wilderness in public hearings and community meetings. Over 300 people attended a community meeting with the U.S. Forest Service to voice support for protecting Big Ivy’s forest. Another 150 attended the Buncombe County Commissioners Meeting to unanimously support wilderness protection for Big Ivy.

POLITICAL SUPPORT: An expanded Big Ivy/Craggy Wilderness has already been unanimously supported by the Buncombe County Commissioners.

BUSINESS SUPPORT: Big Ivy’s expansion of wilderness and protection of its backcountry trail network are supported by a broad coalition of over 40 local, regional, and national organizations and Asheville-based businesses.

SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT: Former U.S. Forest Service biologists, university biologists, and Nobel Prize-winning scientists have publicly and unanimously supported permanent protection of Big Ivy’s forests.

Thank you for all of your work to help protect Big Ivy and the forests of the Pisgah-Nantahala.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

TIME TO MAKE SOME NOISE

The Forest Service’s preliminary draft plan leaves much of Big Ivy open to logging, including 1,000 acres of old-growth forest on Coxcomb Mountain and Snowball Mountain. It also falls short of protecting Big Ivy’s trails and pristine creeks from logging. The Forest Service has tentatively labeled part of Big Ivy as a Special Interest Area, but this vague, undefined designation would still permit logging and road building throughout the area.

Can you email the Forest Service (NCplanrevision@fs.fed.us) and ask for stronger protections for ALL of Big Ivy?

Tell the Forest Service that ALL of Big Ivy needs permanent protection:

- Designate Big Ivy’s trail-less, high-elevation forests as wilderness as recommended by the Buncombe County Board of commissioners.

 - Designate Big ivy’s trail network and the old-growth forests of Coxcomb Mountain and Snowball Mountain as backcountry.

You can also voice your support for permanently protecting Big Ivy in person at the Forest Service open house meeting on July 25 from 3 to 6 p.m. at their Mars Hill district office (632 Manor Drive, Mars Hill, N.C.).

Here are some reasons why Big Ivy deserves permanent protection:

RECREATION: Big Ivy is one of the most popular and ecologically important recreation destinations in Southern Appalachia, with prized trout streams, waterfalls, swimming holes, rugged trails, and scenic overlooks that attract tens of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts annually.

OLD GROWTH: Big Ivy contains over 3,000 acres of old-growth forest—one of the largest old-growth forests in the East.

CLEAN WATER: Big Ivy’s pristine headwaters are home to native trout and part of the protected watershed of the Ivy River, an important tributary of the French Broad and drinking water source for the cities of Weaverville, Mars Hill, and surrounding communities.

RARE SPECIES: Big Ivy’s wild forests shelter at least 44 rare plant and animal species, and the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program has identified over 3,000 acres of Big Ivy for highest priority protection. Big Ivy has been highlighted by The Nature Conservancy as one of the most important core forests in the Southern Blue Ridge.

VIEWSHEDS: Big Ivy is the most photographed spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Big Ivy is the forest that spans the vista from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, one of the most visited tourist destinations in the East.

100,000-ACRE BLOCK OF WILDLANDS: Big Ivy offers some of the best opportunities for primitive recreation and solitude in Buncombe County and throughout the Pisgah National Forest with rugged, remote peaks and ridges that are surrounded by 100,000 acres of contiguous wildlands, making Big Ivy an ideal location for wilderness.

WILDERNESS: Buncombe County currently has no wilderness areas, and the Big Ivy/Craggy Wilderness area would be the closest wilderness area to Asheville; meanwhile, Haywood County, Jackson County, Macon County, Clay County, Graham County, and Burke County all have federally designated wilderness areas that are major drivers of outdoor recreation and tourism both regionally and nationally.

HERITAGE: Locals have used Big Ivy to hunt, fish, hike, camp, and swim for over two centuries. Wilderness and backcountry designations for Big Ivy will safeguard traditional local uses of the land.

PROPERTY VALUES: The scenic vistas and intact, unbroken forests of Big Ivy are prized vistas that enhance local property values and support local businesses.

PUBLIC SUPPORT: The Big Ivy community, have overwhelmingly supported an expanded Big Ivy wilderness in public hearings and community meetings. Over 300 people attended a community meeting with the U.S. Forest Service to voice support for protecting Big Ivy’s forest. Another 150 attended the Buncombe County Commissioners Meeting to unanimously support wilderness protection for Big Ivy.

POLITICAL SUPPORT: An expanded Big Ivy/Craggy Wilderness has already been unanimously supported by the Buncombe County Commissioners.

BUSINESS SUPPORT: Big Ivy’s expansion of wilderness and protection of its backcountry trail network are supported by a broad coalition of over 40 local, regional, and national organizations and Asheville-based businesses.

SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT: Former U.S. Forest Service biologists, university biologists, and Nobel Prize-winning scientists have publicly and unanimously supported permanent protection of Big Ivy’s forests.

Email the Forest Service at NCplanrevision@fs.fed.us.

We also hope to see you at the Forest Service open house meeting on July 25 from 3 to 6 p.m. at their Mars Hill district office (632 Manor Drive, Mars Hill, N.C.).

To view the Forest Plan's preliminary draft materials for Big Ivy and the entire Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest, click here.

Thanks for speaking up for the forest.

Big Ivy is an important part of the climate change solution

This 12-minute video summarizes the critical role that Southern Appalachian national forests like Big Ivy can play in sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change. It's produced by Chris Bolgiano, a celebrated environmental author and Virginia resident who lives beside George Washington National Forest in Virginia. (Her book The Appalachian Forest is a must-read for anyone living in these mountains.) Her video presents important new research about the role of old-growth forests in storing carbon.

https://youtu.be/BK76Yh7cTac

ANOTHER BIG SUCCESS FOR BIG IVY

Last night, 200 Big Ivy supporters crammed into crowded rooms for hours to voice their support for protecting Big Ivy. As a result, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution supporting an expended wilderness recommendation for Big Ivy. Thank you immensely for all of your efforts. The public comments that many of you shared were incredibly moving and powerful.

We have more work to do from here, but it's a really exciting and significant first step towards permanently protecting Big Ivy. 

Read the story in the Asheville Citizen-Times here.

http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2016/09/20/buncombe-telling-congress-create-wilderness-big-ivy/90750240/

Watch coverage of the meeting on WLOS here.

http://wlos.com/news/local/commissioners-vote-to-make-big-ivy-a-wilderness-area

BIG FIGHT FOR BIG IVY

Last month, the Forest Service proposed allowing logging in 70 percent of Big Ivy, including most of its old-growth forests.

We think 70 percent of Big Ivy should be permanently protected from logging.

To make that happen, we need to convince the Buncombe County Commissioners to support an expanded wilderness recommendation for Big Ivy.  Wilderness is the only way to permanently protect Big Ivy from logging.

On September 20, the Buncombe County Commissioners will vote on a resolution supporting an expanded wilderness for Big Ivy. If passed, it will support the first and only wilderness in Buncombe County.

The wilderness recommendation will not affect any current uses of Big Ivy. Mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, and fishing will all continue to be allowed. The boundaries have been carefully drawn, so that all mountain bike trails are outside of the recommended area. No roads or trails will be closed to anyone. The wilderness recommendation will simply prohibit logging and development in trail-less, high-elevation areas of Big Ivy where most of the old-growth forests are located.

We want to keep Big Ivy just the way it is – wild, scenic, adventurous, and uncut. 

Please join us on September 20 at 4:30 p.m. at the County Commissioners Meeting in downtown Asheville (200 College Street, Suite 326). We need a big crowd and a lot of voices willing to speak on behalf of Big Ivy.

This is our last and best chance to permanently protect Big Ivy. 

YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED FOR BIG IVY FOREST PLAN

The Forest Service recently released alternatives for wilderness in Big Ivy. Wilderness is the strongest possible protection for Big Ivy and the only way to permanently protect Big Ivy from logging and mining. 

Unfortunately, only of the four alternatives includes any new wilderness recommendations, and it is only a relatively small increase. The other three alternatives do not recommend any new wilderness protections for Big Ivy.

We have joined 32 other outdoor organizations across the region in supporting an expanded wilderness for Big Ivy. The expanded wilderness will not in any way affect the current network of trails. They will all continue to be open to all current uses, including mountain biking. The expanded wilderness also will not affect hunting in any way. Hunting will continue to be legal throughout Big Ivy. The expanded wilderness will simply prevent logging, mining, road building, and development in the most remote and sensitive areas of Big Ivy.  

The Forest Service is accepting comments and input specifically about wilderness at NCplanrevision@fs.fed.us

A sample letter is pasted below. Feel free to cut and paste any portions of this letter or come up with your own comments. It's important to keep comments focused specifically on the wilderness qualities of Big Ivy.

(You can view the Forest Service assessment of Big Ivy here. Big Ivy's assessment is on pages 27-29. You can also view the four proposed alternatives here. The table on page 9 compares the four alternatives.)

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Dear Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Planning Team:

I hope you will consider expanding the Craggy Mountains wilderness boundaries in Alternatives B and C to include a contiguous wilderness area from Forest Road 63 (Stony Fork Road) to State Road 197 (North Fork Road).

The Craggy wilderness boundaries should extend from the currently proposed Craggy Mountains wilderness area, continue above Laurel Gap Trail and along Brush Spring Ridge, and around Forest Road 74 to include the northern section of Big Ivy to State Road 197.

The expanded wilderness area should include the old-growth forests, North Carolina natural heritage lands, and rare species habitat that have been excluded from the current alternatives.

And in the northern section of Big Ivy, all of the Forest Service (closed) roads and wildlife openings are located in a narrow section along State Road 197. The remaining acreage is ideally suited for wilderness, as affirmed by the Forest Service’s own current evaluations and previous inventories of old-growth forest and rare species. Including this expanded area would also enable the Craggy Mountains Wilderness Study Area to exceed 5,000 acres in size. 

Most of the forest’s old-growth forests and much of its rare species habitat occurs in the expanded wilderness area, as the Forest Service’s own inventories indicate. Almost 100 acres of spruce-fir forest occur in the high-elevation corridor above Laurel Gap Trail and along Brush Spring Ridge. Old-growth forests are also located in the northern section of Big Ivy—including parts of Cedar Cliff Knob, Pigpen Knob, Sheepwallow Knob, High Knob, Big Butt, Little Butt, Sugarhouse Cove, and Pinnacle Mountain.

The Big Butt Trail is an ideal wilderness trail with unique opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation. As The Forest Service’s own evaluation states, “Near the Big Butt Trail on the eastern boundary, there is little evidence of human modification in the diverse high-elevation forests.” The Forest Service evaluation also confirms that “there

are also opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation throughout the area, especially along the eastern boundary.”

Over 40 documented locations of 32 rare plant and animal species are located in the northern section of Big Ivy and along the high-elevation corridor that is currently excluded from wilderness recommendation. Additional cerulean warbler habitat has recently been confirmed on Pigpen Knob and Sheepwallow Knob.

The North Carolina Natural Heritage Areas Program recognizes the ecological significance of the Big Butt/Brush Fence Ridge high-elevation corridor and the northern section of Big Ivy. Over 1,200 acres of natural heritage areas are identified on High Knob, Pinnacle Mountain, and in Sugarhouse Cove, and an additional 252 acres are located on Cedar Cliff Knob. Each of these natural heritage areas is listed as a high priority area.

The northern section of Big Ivy and the high-elevation corridor are a significant portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway viewshed, especially from the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, one of the most popular visitor points along the Parkway. The Mountains to Sea Trail would also be better protected by an expanded Craggy wilderness boundary.

Native brook trout abound in the headwaters of Corner Rock Creek, Straight Creek/North Fork, and Town Branch. Rich cove forests and exposed cliff faces are found on slopes and ridges throughout the northern section of Big Ivy, including High Knob, Pigpen Knob, Sheepwallow Knob, and Cedar Cliff Knob.

This expanded Craggy Mountain wilderness area is the heart of a 100,000 acre contiguous protected area surrounding it, which includes the Big Tom Wilson Preserve, Blue Ridge Parkway, Mount Mitchell State Park, and the Asheville Watershed, along with adjacent Pisgah National Forest lands.

This expanded wilderness area is supported by Friends of Big Ivy’s 2,000 members— along with members of 32 additional regional outdoor organizations. The local Big Ivy community also supports an expanded wilderness boundary.

Thank you for considering the expansion of the recommended Craggy Mountains wilderness area to safeguard the old growth forests, rare species habitat, watersheds, solitude, and primitive recreation opportunities unique to the northern section and high-elevation corridor of Big Ivy.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 

BIG IVY SAMPLE LETTER

HERE IS A SAMPLE LETTER TO SUPPORT THE WILDERNESS AND BACKCOUNTRY DESIGNATIONS FOR BIG IVY. PLEASE EMAIL COMMENTS BY DECEMBER 15 TO NCPlanRevision@fs.fed.us

 

Dear U.S. Forest Service,

I support wilderness recommendation for most of Big Ivy and backcountry management recommendation for Big Ivy’s trail network.

Big Ivy’s recommended wilderness should extend from Snowball Mountain to Coxcomb Mountain, encompassing all of the lands in the Forest Service wilderness inventory except the trail network and Forest Road 74.

Big Ivy offers some of the best opportunities for primitive recreation and solitude in Pisgah National Forest. The rugged, remote peaks and ridges have challenging trails that are lightly traveled, with unnamed waterfalls cascading across many of its slopes. Surrounded by 100,000 acres of contiguous wildlands, Big Ivy is an ideal location for wilderness.

Big Ivy is one of the most significant areas of biological diversity on public lands in Southern Appalachia. The 13,968-acre Big Ivy section of Pisgah National Forest is part of the highest mountain range east of the Mississippi River. It contains the third-highest density of rare species on the Pisgah-Nantahala and over 3,000 acres of old-growth forest, one of the largest patches of old-growth in the East. Part of a 100,000-acre block of protected lands—one of the largest in the East—Big Ivy is a rare and precious living legacy, with big trees, big mountains, and big waterfalls.

Big Ivy’s pristine headwaters are home to native trout and part of the protected watershed of the Ivy River, an important tributary of the French Broad and drinking water source for the towns of Weaverville and Mars Hill.

Big Ivy’s wild forests shelter dozens of rare plants and animals, and its diverse array of habitats shelter at least 44 rare species documented in the area. Big Ivy has some of the healthiest and mature forests in the Pisgah-Nantahala and was identified by The Nature Conservancy as one of the most important core forests in the Southern Blue Ridge. It also contains numerous high-elevation cliff and rock exposures that shelter rare and endangered flora and fauna.

One of the most important features of Big Ivy is the amount of remaining old-growth. Over 3,000 acres of old-growth have been documented in Big Ivy, and the mature forests surrounding these areas act as buffers and corridors for a number of species.

The abundance of fallen logs and dead snags are extremely valuable habitat to numerous species and provide critical floral and faunal components, both in providing nutrients and structure. Mature oak forests in Big Ivy provide a reliable fall mast crop for black bears and other species.

Big Ivy contains high-quality examples of several key natural communities, including Rich Cove Forest, Boulderfield Forest, High Elevation Red Oak, High Elevation Seep, Montane White Oak, Montane Oak-Hickory, Northern Hardwood Forest, and Spruce-Fir Forest.

The upper portions of Big Ivy show interesting patterns of spruce dispersal relative to wind patterns and has interested climate scientists studying the effects of climate change. It is theorized that 4,000 years ago during the warming of the hypsithermal period, no spruce existed in this area below 6,000 feet.

Unique underlying geology has created unusually rich conditions over much of the area, which has been conducive to a high number of flora and fauna. Much of this native diversity has been retained due to a relative lack of human disturbance and low road density.

Most of Big Ivy contains underlying geology that creates circumneutral soils that are extremely rare for Southern Appalachia. The geological type is described by the North Carolina Geologic Survey as metagraywacke, inter-layered and gradational with mica schist, muscovite biotite gneiss, and rare graphitic schist. It is known to exist in only in this area of the state, covering a generally circular area around the Black, Craggy, and Swannanoa Mountains.

The Southern Appalachians are considered a center for salamander species diversity. Most families of salamanders are located here than anywhere else in the world. The mature forests in Big Ivy provide cool, moist conditions and are known to contain a very high diversity and abundance of salamanders, including rare species.

Big Ivy is one of the most popular and important recreation destinations in Southern Appalachia. Its prized trout streams, wildlife, waterfalls, swimming holes, rugged trails, and scenic overlooks attract thousands of outdoor enthusiasts annually.

It is an essential part of the Blue Ridge Parkway viewshed and provides outstanding scenery. The protected, intact forests of Big Ivy have important value in maintaining regional air and water quality and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Big Ivy’s cascading creeks and waterfalls, old-growth forests, and panoramic vistas are legacies to be protected for future generations. Local families have used Big Ivy to hunt, fish, hike, camp, and swim for over two centuries. Expanding the Craggy Mountain Wilderness in Big Ivy will safeguards traditional local uses of the land and expand opportunities for primitive recreation and solitude.

All of Big Ivy except for its existing trail system and Forest Road 74 should be recommended for wilderness designation.

Big Ivy’s rugged and remote character, untrammeled forests, unique habitats and ecosystems (including extensive spruce-fir forests, rich cove forests, and old growth forests), 44 rare and endangered species, drinking water protections and water quality, and its outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation make it ideal for wilderness recommendation.

Big Ivy has important botanical, zoological, geologic, scenic, and recreational resources. Its unique attributes are currently under-represented across the Pisgah-Nantahala. A wilderness designation for most of Big Ivy would protect the unique attributes intrinsic to the area.

We also advocate the existing trail network to be assigned Backcountry / Management Area 3. Including Big Ivy’s trail network in a Backcountry Management Area would ensure that all current recreational uses of the forest continue, including mountain biking. It would prohibit commercial logging and road building, prioritize recreation, and enhance the long-term biological health of the area, including its drinking water supply, and its scenic, scientific, cultural, and natural resources.

Big Ivy’s wilderness and protection of its backcountry trail network are supported by a broad coalition of local, regional, and national organizations. The local Big Ivy community overwhelmingly supports the proposed expansion of wilderness and backcountry designations in Big Ivy, and so do leading Asheville City Council members and Buncombe County Commissioners.

Thank you for including most of Big Ivy in your wilderness inventory. I wholeheartedly support wilderness recommendation for most of Big Ivy and backcountry recommendation for its trail network.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is wilderness?

Wilderness prohibits logging and protects the forest’s natural ecosystems. Wilderness allows hiking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, trail running, climbing, swimming, backpacking, and most other forms of non-mechanized recreation.

 

Will mountain biking still be allowed in Big Ivy?

Yes. All of the existing mountain biking trails in Big Ivy will remain open. They will be included in the backcountry management area outside of the wilderness. Mountain biking in Big Ivy will be unaffected by wilderness recommendation.

 

Can I hunt and fish in wilderness?

Yes! Some of the best hunting and fishing are in wilderness areas because wilderness protects clean water and healthy forests.

 

Can I still gather ramps, morels, and herbs in Big Ivy?

Yes! Gathering herbs, morels, and ramps is a cultural tradition in Big Ivy. All of Big Ivy’s backcountry and roads will remain open for wildcrafting. Permits are required for commercial gathering on all Forest Service lands.

Why should most of Big ivy be recommended for wilderness?

Big Ivy is one of the most significant areas of biological diversity on public lands in Southern Appalachia. Big Ivy contains the third-highest density of rare species on the Pisgah-Nantahala and over 3,000 acres of old-growth forest, one of the largest patches of old-growth in the East. Part of a 100,000-acre block of protected lands—one of the largest in the East—Big Ivy is a rare and precious living legacy, with big trees, big mountains, and big waterfalls.  There is no better place for primitive recreation and solitude amid untrammeled forests than Big Ivy.

What parts of Big Ivy will NOT be recommended for wilderness?

The trail network and Forest Road 74 will be recommended for backcountry management rather than wilderness.

What is a backcountry management area?

A backcountry area prioritizes recreation and still prohibits most logging. It allows mountain biking and most other forms of non-motorized recreation, along with wildcrafting, gathering firewood, and most other traditional uses of the forest.

Isn’t Congress required to designate wilderness?

Yes. Only Congress can officially designate wilderness. But wilderness areas recommended by the Forest Service are managed as if they are official wilderness until Congress votes to designates them.

What is the Craggy Mountain Wilderness Study Area?

The Craggy Mountain Wilderness Study Area was recommend for wilderness designation by the Forest Service in 1982 and is awaiting Congressional approval.

What’s the difference between wilderness and a wilderness study area?

A wilderness study area is an area recommended for wilderness by the Forest Service but not yet approved by Congress.  It is managed as if it were an official wilderness.

 

THIS IS IT

THIS IS IT.

RIGHT NOW is our best chance to protect Big Ivy forever.

Please SUPPORT WILDERNESS FOR BIG IVY today.

 Friends of Big Ivy – along with 16 other hiking, mountain biking, climbing, fishing, hunting, outdoor, and environmental organizations – supports wilderness for most of Big Ivy.  

Designating most of Big Ivy as wilderness will protect Big Ivy not just until the next forest plan revision in 10 to 15 years, but forever.

Wilderness is the best way – and only way – to protect the forest long-term. All other Forest Service management area assignments can be changed easily, and they all still allow logging.  

What does wilderness do for Big Ivy? It prohibits logging and ensures the long-term health of our old-growth forests, recreation, clean water, and scenic views.

Wilderness allows hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, running, climbing, and most other non-mechanized recreation.

The proposed wilderness area will extend from Stony Fork to Highway 197. Trail network lands and Forest Road 74 will be excluded from wilderness and instead be managed as a backcountry area, which allows mountain biking and other recreational and traditional uses of the forest. In the backcountry area, all mountain biking, hiking, and equestrian trails will remain open, and gathering firewood and wildcrafting for ramps, morels, and herbs will still be allowed.

We have two weeks to rally support for wilderness in Big Ivy. Please submit comments to the Forest Service by December 15 at NCPlanRevision@fs.fed.us. Tell the Forest Service: I support wilderness recommendation for most of Big Ivy, with a backcountry management area recommendation for its trail network.  Additional talking points, sample letters, frequently asked questions, and further discussion can be found on this site. 

This is our best chance – and probably our only chance – to protect Big Ivy forever.

Pisgah Area SORBA, International Mountain Biking Association, Carolina Climbers Coalition, Nantahala Hiking Club, American Alpine Club, Outdoor Alliance, and Mountain True are just a few of the organizations supporting wilderness for Big Ivy.

If you attended the Big Ivy meeting earlier this year, you helped stop a plan to open most of Big Ivy to logging. Now you have the chance to protect Big Ivy forever. We won’t get another opportunity like this. 

Another big meeting

Great news! The Forest Service has proposed including over 364,000 acres of Pisgah-Nantahala National Forests in their wilderness inventory. If these lands are ultimately designated as wilderness, they would be protected from logging, road-building, fracking, and mining.   

A large portion of Big Ivy has been included in the wilderness inventory.

Instead of voicing concerns to the Forest Service as we did earlier this year, it's now time to show our support.  The Forest Service has a public meeting planned for Monday, November 16 at UNC-Asheville's Kimmel Arena from 6-8 p.m. If you can attend, please support the Forest Service's proposal. If you can't make it, please email comments by December 15 to NCPlanRevision@fs.fed.us

Specifically, 53 waterways are being considered for potential Wild and Scenic status and 364,000 acres have been nominated for the wilderness inventory.

All of Big Ivy except the areas west of Stony Fork and north of Highway 197 are included in the inventory. Friends of Big Ivy supports wilderness and special biological area designation for much of Big Ivy and backcountry area designation for its trail system. This would ensure that all current recreational and cultural uses can continue and that Big Ivy's wild forests and creeks will be protected long-term.

 

 

Big Ivy Trail & Cleanup Day

Big Ivy Trail and Creek Cleanup

Friends of Big Ivy and the U.S. Forest Service are planning a Trail and Creek Cleanup in the Big Ivy forest. Join the fun on Sunday, October 11th from 2pm - 6 pm at the parking area/picnic area a half-mile from the entrance to Big Ivy. Any amount of time you have to help will be much appreciated. 

As you enter the forest on the gravel service road, at approximately 1/2 mile in, turn right on the side gravel road, crossing the small cement bridge. Parking lot will be on the left.

**Please bring your own gloves, water, and snacks if needed. We also suggest wearing bright-colored or reflective clothing.

If you have any questions, email Steven McBride at smc@stevenmcbride.com.

Big Ivy: A Special Biological Area

Big Ivy is the name of the geographic region at the headwaters of Big Ivy Creek in Buncombe County, NC that encompasses almost 14,000 acres (1.3%) of Pisgah National Forest.  Big Ivy is known for its rich forests, which are habitat to over 30 species of rare plants and animals. The area was one of the early purchases of Pisgah National Forest, and that fact, combined with the rugged terrain makes it home to over 4,000 acres of old-growth forest, one of the largest, and highest quality concentrations of old-growth in the region. Big Ivy’s 3,300’ elevation gradient should allow for many species to move upslope to adapt to climate change, making the prospect of maintaining much of the current biodiversity into the next century likely.   

In 1992, biologist Karin Heiman authored a proposal for an “Ivy River Biodiversity Reserve”. In the 1994 Amendment to the 1987 Forest Plan for the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Big Ivy was noted as a potential Special Biological Area. The Forest Service promised to study the issue and consider a special designation for Big Ivy in the next Forest Plan Revision.  Twenty years have passed and we are now in the midst of that next Forest Plan Revision.  In the next eight months, alternatives will be developed that will be foundational to the Forest Planning process. Changes will be made in 2016, but those changes are likely to be small tweaks. There will not be another opportunity like this for at least 15 years.

In order to properly manage Big Ivy for its high biological values, MountainTrue and Friends of Big Ivy are once again calling for Big Ivy to be managed as a Special Biological Area during this plan revision. There is popular support in the local community for this idea and the scientific case is already strong. However, we believe that there are many rare species occurrences that are not documented that would strengthen the argument for special management. In particular, the rich and mature forests of Big Ivy would seem to be good cerulean warbler (Setophaga cerulea) habitat.  On May 7th, 2015, Mountain True Biologist Josh Kelly documented the first record for cerulean warbler on Forest Service Lands in Big Ivy. 

MountainTrue is hiring professional ornithologists and biologists to survey portions of Big Ivy for rare species – especially cerulean warblers. The data collected will bolster the case for protection and help identify what special management considerations there may be for the area.  We are asking for donations to reach our modest fundraising goal of $3,000 for this project. Donations of any amount would be helpful. All rare species locations will be submitted to the Forest Service and to the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program and be incorporated into a final document making the case for special management for Big Ivy. 

Send donations marked Big Ivy Bird Surveys to:

MountainTrue

29 N. Market St. Suite 610

Asheville, NC 28801

Or donate online at: https://wnca.fasttransact.net  and check the box for “Big Ivy Surveys”

Hike Big Ivy with us on April 25!

Explore the ancient forests and cascading creeks of Big Ivy that you have helped protect! Friends of Big Ivy is partnering with MountainTrue to host spring ecology hikes on five different trails in Big Ivy, led by five top ecologists. 

Participants can choose the hike they find most captivating, as all five hikes will take place simultaneously—and all are free.

Big Ivy has more than 3,000 acres of old growth forests and more than 30 rare and endangered species. Its abundant creeks are home to native brook trout, and its celebrated waterfalls are some of the most scenic and dramatic cascades in the South.

Hikes include:

Douglas Falls – lower: Join Scott Dean in a carpool through the Coleman Boundary and on a short hike out to the beautiful Douglas Falls.

Douglas Falls – upper: Join Lloyd Raleigh on a hike to explore the upper elevations of Douglas Falls, up to Stony Fork Road and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 Ivy Knob: Join Edward Schwartzman on a hike up to Ivy Knob via the Forest Service Road and a backcountry trail to Big Ivy.

 Perkins Road Trail: Join H. David Clark on a hike along Perkins Road Trail, which offers rich cove habitats, old growth forests and many rare plants.

 Staire Branch: Join MountainTrue’s Josh Kelly along the Staire Branch trail, located within a beautiful rich cove.

Hiking groups will meet at 10 a.m. at the Big Ivy Community Center, located at 540 Dillingham Road in Barnardsville. A carpool will be available from Asheville, starting at 9:15 a.m. at Earth Fare in the Westgate Shopping Center.

The registration deadline is noon, Friday, April 24.

Hikers must register in advance, as these hikes are expected to fill up quickly.

Go here for more details on each trail and to register: http://mountaintrue.org/bigivyhikes/

Big Ivy loses a legend

Hoyte Dillingham, one of the pillars of the Big Ivy community, passed away on Monday, March 23, at age 76. He and his wife Judy founded the D&D Grocery Store and Restaurant, which remains the hub of Barnardsville community life. Hoyte knew the Big Ivy forests better than anyone, and he played an important role in protecting them from massive logging in the 1990s. Hoyte will be deeply missed. His obituary appears below. 

 

HOYTE NEAL DILLINGHAM 

BARNARDSVILLE – Hoyte Neal Dillingham, age 76 of 1001 Dillingham Road died Monday, March 23, 2015. 

Hoyte was born October 11, 1938 in Buncombe County where he had lived most of his life. He lived in Alexandria, VA for about 5 years where he managed ACME Markets. After returning home Hoyte worked at A&P Grocery and later started D&D Grocery and Restaurant in Democrat. He attended Barnardsville School, was in the first graduating class of North Buncombe High School and attended Western Carolina University. An avid bear hunter and member of the American Plott Hound Association, Hoyte’s interest in hunting came from his father. In 1955 he started breeding and raising his own Plott Hounds and was known in the area as a breeder of U.K.C. Registered Plott Bear Dogs. Hoyte was instrumental in getting the Plott Hound as the North Carolina State Dog. Living in the Dillingham Community was next to heaven to Hoyte, he loved all of his friends just as he did his family. 

Son of the late Thomas Lester and Connie Bumgarner Dillingham he was also preceded in death by brothers, Thomas L. Dillingham, Jr. and William S. Hyatt and sisters, Helen Shuford and Marie Haynes. 

Surviving are his wife of 55 years Judy Dillingham Dillingham; daughters, Cheri Dillingham Bettilyon and husband Scott of Barnardsville, Lisa Dillingham Bonner and husband Sparkie of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Amy Dillingham Webb and Justin of Barnardsville; special friend, Kevin Proffitt of Barnardsville; sisters, Carolyn Banks of Barnardsville, Irene Richards and husband Ken of Asheville; grandchildren, Alex Bettilyon, Caroline Bettilyon, Taylor Lake, Bradley Hill, Carley Neal Buckner, and Maddey Webb; great grandchildren, Brylan and Hatley Lake and Connor Neal Banks. 

His funeral service will be held at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, March 26, 2015, in Dillingham Presbyterian Church, 16 Stoney Fork Rd., Barnardsville, with Reverend Richard Hicks officiating. Burial will be in Lester Dillingham Cemetery, Barnardsville. 

The family will receive friends 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., Wednesday at the funeral home. 

At other times, the family will be at the residence. 

Fresh flowers are welcome or memorials may be made to Barnardsville Fire Department, PO Box 126, Barnardsville, NC 28709 or Big Ivy Historical Society, PO Box 402, Barnardsville, NC 28709. 

For those who desire, condolences may be offered to the family under Hoyte’s obituary at www.WestFamilyFuneralServices.com. 

A Barnardsville resident reflects on the Big Ivy Forest meeting

by Deborah Anderson

In the way back of the foothills, bumped up against the ranges of the great

Pisgah and Nantahala, is an area called the Big Ivy. Driving state road 197

before it turns into gravel, turning off to pass weathered barns and white

churches, slowing down to approach the split rail fences and iconic log cabin

of Dillingham’s first residents--you might miss the sign for the Big Ivy

Community Center. But on this night there’s no chance of missing the turn.

The parking lot is overflowing and there’s a steady stream of 4x4‘s lighting up

the dark.

 

We arrive at the same time as the forest rangers, the reluctant stars of this

particular evening’s gathering. They are dressed in neat green uniforms with a

brass buckle emblem on their belt. “Caring for the Land and Serving its

People.” They look nervous and they should be. The people are not happy.

By 7:00 it’s standing room only. Some folks are holding green placards

--“Don’t Cut the Big Ivy!” But the hand-made signs are not held in the air or

pumped in protest. They hold them close to their chests, one arm cradling the

signs and the other draped around their kids. There are lots of kids. They are

not running around but watchful, like their parents. There are nervous smiles

and familiar nods. But no one can ignore the sheriff deputies in the back of

the room. Just in case things get unfriendly. Mostly, people look worried.

An old-timer shakes his head at the crowd. His hunting jacket smells of

woodsmoke and whiskey. “No one is from here,” he growls beneath his hat.

It’s a decree and an accusation but I get what he means. Most of the accents

aren’t local. You don’t get to claim that unless your great granddaddy was

buried here. And his daddy too.

 

But as the people start to speak--some softly sincere, some blatantly

accusing--there’s no doubt about the shared sentiment. No matter how deep

your family’s roots are planted here, no matter if you’re a farmer or a builder,

college boy or biologist or transplant from Ohio--you are here on a cold night

in February in a crowded room with no place to sit, because you care. The

calling is clear: The Big Ivy is special. The Big Ivy needs protecting. The

bureaucratic engines poised to clear- cut her forests and whittle away her

natural habitat must be stopped in their tracks. Now. Tonight.

 

A kid whistles to shut everyone up. In front, dressed in coat and tie, is the

County Commissioner. Other commissioners get a brief intro as someone

shouts to please speak up! Someone else yells that there’s people outside in

the cold who can’t get in. We’re at capacity now, with folks sitting in windows,

standing on ledges and crammed in every lip of space.

 

Three forest rangers stand and with a courageous nod, the District Ranger

starts to speak. His opening line is not what anyone expects.

“I just want to say that there is NO current plan to log anywhere in the Big

Ivy.”

 

The people weigh in on this statement that is repeated over and over as the

night progresses. The rangers choose their words carefully. But it is the word

“current” that does not go unnoticed.

We had seen the “Draft Management Areas for Big Ivy” map with the bright

orange staining 700,000 acres “designated suitable for logging.” The rangers

explain that the management areas1A and 2A are part of the strategy for

“forest habitat diversity” and for “restoration and connectivity.” What they

don’t say is that all those red stains are proposed timber production sites for,

among other purposes, to “...regulate crops of trees to be cut into logs, bolts,

or other round sections for industrial or consumer use.”

 

The ranger continued: “What we want to hear from you tonight are your

ideas to guide the future project for the next 15 years....”

He is interrupted. “No Logging!” a woman calls. She gets immediate

applause.

 

Hands are raised and folks wait patiently to be recognized. Some read

prepared statements, some get their children to speak for them and almost all

tell personal stories of why the Big Ivy should be preserved. Whenever the

ranger’s answers lapse into “government speak” citing “timber sales

administrators” and “potential wilderness inventory areas”, the crowd brings

them back to the same simple mantra: We don’t want any logging. The

County Commissioner stands up to join the chorus.

 

The District Ranger concludes with an invitation to visit his office. He

says,“Come bang on my head” instead of his ‘door’, which gets a laugh. He

thanks us. Another ranger had one final comment. She uses the terms

“stewardship” and “shareholder input” as inherent and valuable to the

process. The people interrupt. Who are these shareholders? What committee

of politicians and Big Money gets to decide the fate of the Big Ivy?

The ranger tells them simply: The shareholders are You.