The Hickory Nut Gorge is located on the edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment in parts of Henderson, Rutherford, Buncombe, and Polk counties. Due to the area’s unique geologic formations, the Hickory Nut Gorge is home to many rare species. There are 37 known rare plant species, including federally endangered white irisette (Sisyrinchium dichotomum) and granite dome goldenrod (Solidago simulans). There are 14 known rare animal species, including the green salamander (Amides aenus), the Southern Appalachian woodrat (Neotoma floridana haematoreia), the southern pygmy shrew (Sorex hoyi winnemana). There are also animal species that are endemic to the region including the cave-obligate arachnid Nesticus brimleyi, and a subspecies of green salamander. Both rare and common species rely on the large natural diversity of species in the Hickory Nut Gorge to survive.
Non-native invasive species are species that are not native to the region and cause harm to the economy, environment, and human health. Many of these invasives inhibit the growth of native plants by stealing important nutrients and sunlight, or by putting chemicals into the soil that kill surrounding native plants. Non-native invasives often grow rapidly and reproduce quickly, creating dense monocultures.
There are over 40 known species of non-native invasive plants in the Hickory Nut Gorge that are rapidly trying to outcompete native species. They are reducing the natural biodiversity that wildlife relies on, which makes conservation of the Hickory Nut Gorge is crucial to the survival of rare and endangered species.
So where do Citizen Scientists come in?
Our Citizen Science program is crucial for helping us monitor non-native invasive plant infestations. By reporting invasive observations on your own property and public land, you will help us keep our inventory up-to-date and complete. We will be able to track where infestations occur and where treatment and restoration priorities should be. In addition, we can give you management advice! There is plenty you can do on your own property to reduce the threat of non-native invasives.
Oakley, Shawn C. Natural Areas Inventory of the Hickorynut Gorge Area of North Carolina. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Division of Parks and Recreation, and Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources. Raleigh, NC. 1996. Print.
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