I attended a meeting with representatives from NCWRC, State Parks, State Trails, F3ST, FCNC, and Burke County. The NCWRC owns property north of the Linville boat ramp and will be doing reforestation work. This means they will replace the commercial pines planted after clearing years ago with trees meant to be in this area – and allow a diversity of plants and animals to grow along with the new trees.
Since the MST Connector Trail runs through this section and there will be some clearing and some thinning, trail users were concerned about the impact. This is what I have learned:
- These sections were clear cut in the late 60s by Duke and replanted with white pines – and thinned in 1996. The part across from the boat ramp was clear cut in 1990 for The Last of the Mohicans and replanted with loblolly pines. This project is to repair a destructive past.
- The trail has been considered since last August. State Parks Trail Planner Smith Raynor has been onsite and in meetings. If they did not care about the trail – it would be “worse.” It would be easier to clear and burn with 126 access instead of protecting the trail. They are already leaving more white pine than they would like
- That map we have been looking at was an early internal map and not the final plan.
- There will be a buffer with the road, buffer at the creeks, buffer at some parts of the trail — only 270ft of trail will be in full sun
- One section of trail at a log crossing was going to be rerouted anyway because it is located in an old roadbed
- Cannot leave large white pine buffer – they burn easily – and will continue to vigorously drop seeds and sprout, making restoration more difficult
- -The money from timber will be used in a 3:1 (Federal:State) Forest Restoration Grant application (for plants, fire, etc). This money is from what is known as the Wildlife Restoration Act (more info in link below). It is how we accomplish most of the work NCWRC does on its public lands.
- Bring ecosystem back for a diverse population of plants and animals — not pines that are all the same height, not native to this exact south facing plot and that do not allow sunlight through
- Examples of this type work in the area – Black Bear and Johns Game Land
- Year closure is to be able to get contractor that can work when able – days/weekends/etc. Other options – boardwalk at lake and soon Cove Bridge. Bids will go out in late summer/early fall.
- For thinning, around 1/4 of the trees directly adjacent to the trail will remain. In the loblolly pine stand, this area will be thinned leaving about 1/3 to 2/5th of the trees.
- The blue paint and flagging denotes stands that will undergo complete overstory removal whereas stands marked with yellow paint and yellow flagging denote area to be thinned.
So, while clearing may sound bad, it really is for a Better Burke!!