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Originally published: 2012-11-26 13:18:46
Last modified: 2012-11-26 13:18:46

Our View: Maintaining nature often a man-made job

That the work of conservation groups is often seen but rarely noticed is the best reason to spotlight efforts such as the Grandfather Restoration Project, a coalition of more than a dozen area conservation organizations working to restore hundreds of acres of land for native plants and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, across the Grandfather Ranger District.

For the past six months, partner groups have completed a series of challenging and labor-intensive tasks as part of the 10-year project, including reducing hazardous fuels on nearly 4,600 acres, saving about 130 acres of hemlock trees from hemlock woolly adelgids, protecting through treatment about 750 acres from invasive land and water species, thinning and otherwise managing nearly 200 acres of forests to promote the growth of native species and maintaining almost two miles of hiking trails.

Overall, the Grandfather Restoration Project has a goal of restoring 40,000 acres of the Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest. It is one of 10 projects announced in February 2012 as part of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program. In its first year, more than $600,000 is dedicated to the program.

Yet no amount of funding alone will maintain a hiking trail or thin woods to ready them for necessary prescribed burns. For those tasks, it takes people dedicated to maintaining and preserving our natural surroundings.

The North Carolina Native Plant Society estimates that one in seven of the more than 4,000 native species of plants found in our state is rare, and 26 federally endangered or threatened plants grow in North Carolina. Many of these species are rare because the natural processes they depend on have been removed from their habitats, the society indicates. 

When their jobs are done effectively, the efforts of our local and regional conservation laborers get little notice, but the next time you hike a trail, take note. The wildlife and native plantlife surrounding us are there through design -- and hard work.