Weed Patch Mountain consists of 1,396 acres in western Rutherford County, North Carolina. It contains the entire Weed Patch Mountain Significant Natural Heritage Area, which in turn is part of the larger mosaic of nationally and regionally significant natural heritage areas which form the Hickory Nut Gorge. This site consists of an extensive area of mid to lower slopes, coves, and spur ridges on the flank of the gorge. Excellent quality Chestnut Oak Forest and good quality Rich Cove Forest communities are present, along with several watch list plant species. State listed species found there include the Plethodon amplus (Blue Ridge Gray-cheeked Salamander), the Plethodon yonahlossee (Crevice Salamander), and the Eumeces anthracinus (Coal Skink).
Historically, this land was used in timber production, but since its protection by Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy has seen very little human disturbance. The proper stewardship of this forest land is critical to clean water in Rutherford County, and also to the protection of wildlife in the area. Activities on the property are mostly confined to hiking, although mountain biking is permitted.
The overall management goal of this property is to maintain and improve its mosaic of natural communities, habitats and species. There is a large amount of water that runs through the property, and management and protection of these water sources is vital to preserving the health of the property and the gorge.
The management goals of this property align with the larger management goals of the Hickory Nut Gorge Macrosite; an area of 66,000 acres delineated by the Lake Lure watershed. Maintaining and improving the natural communities, habitats, and species on the Weed Patch Mountain will strengthen the biodiversity and health of plant and animal species throughout the Gorge. Managing and protecting the water sources on the Weed Patch Mountain protects all other lands downstream. Likewise, management of invasive species on the property is key in preventing invasive seed distribution into the lower reaches of the gorge.
The first step in management is surveying and understanding the area. The Party Rock Wildfire burned through the area in November of 2016, and has a potential to alter the environment and natural communities on the property. In March, 2017, seven plots were established along the Weed Patch Mountain Trail in various natural communities to monitor how the wildfire will affect these areas. Citizen Scientists will record information about tree species, invasive species, overall plant composition of the area, and specific information about the plant communities surrounding each plot.
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