Wild South Tackles the Non-native and Invasive Plant Infestations in Linville Gorge Wilderness
Measuring in at nearly 12,000 acres, Linville Gorge is a part of the Pisgah National Forest and is the third largest Wilderness in North Carolina. Lined with cliffs on either side, this 2,000 foot deep river gorge is a unique ecosystem. Rugged trails into the gorge and along the ridges offer miles of hiking with remarkable views, access to rock climbing, kayaking, a diversity of rare plants, and sunsets visitors will never forget.
In 2013, a wildfire that started from an escaped campfire burned 2,500 acres of this Wilderness. With the ground left bare from the fire, the following spring season was prime time for the highly invasive Princess Tree (Paulownia Tomentosa) to germinate in the gorge. Thousands of seedlings emerged in this burnt canopy without competition for sunlight. Princess Trees were brought to the States from Japan. Before people knew of how invasive these plants were, they planted them in their yards for their purple flowers and large, shade producing leaves. Mature trees can have millions of seeds which can spread up to several miles. The young trees can grow up to 20 feet a year, and in the deep shade that they produce, they choke out the native flora.
Wild South rangers, interns, and volunteers were there to see these seedlings emerge. Suddenly Princess Trees were growing all over hundreds of acres in Linville. We quickly got to work pulling these seedlings by hand and with weed wrenches. Week after week Wild South has had boots on the ground in order to stay on top of the infestation of this invasive plant and to see that Linville Gorge stays the wild and beautiful place we all know it to be.
Just in 2015, a total of 79 Wild South volunteers have contributed 633 hours towards invasive plant removal in Linville Gorge! We are so thankful for our volunteers! Our lands would be in different shape without you!