The Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie and Croatan National Forests and partners are hosting Kids' Fishing Days as part of National Fishing and Boating week, June 1 to 9.
Two sites in the Pisgah National Forest will hold events May 10 and 31.
No experience is needed for families to participate. Adults must accompany all children.
Events are scheduled for:
* Cedar Swamp Pond, just south of Newport off of Hibbs Road – June 8, 8 a.m. (catch hybrid sunfish or catfish)
* Boone Fork Pond, near Lenoir. Two events, one for the handicapped on May 10, 10 a.m. (register with the Grandfather Ranger District office at (828) 652-2144) and a second May 11, starting at 9 a.m.
* Lake Powhatan, near Asheville. Two events, one for special needs children on May 31 at 10 a.m., and a second June 1 at 9 a.m.
* Carolina Hemlocks, near Burnsville – June 1, 9 a.m. (Registration begins at 8 a.m.)
* Max Patch, near Hot Springs – June 8, 9 a.m. (Registration begins at 8 a.m.)
* King’s Mountain Point, on Badin Lake near Troy – June 8, 9 a.m. (catch hybrid sunfish or catfish).
If you want to keep up as plans are made for managing the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests over the next 15 years, now is the time to let the Forest Service know.
The Forest Service will revise the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests Land and Resource Management Plan over the next three to four years, according to a news release.
The Nantahala and Pisgah encompass more than 1 million acres in western North Carolina. They provide a variety of public recreation sites, including dozens of day use areas, campgrounds and hiking opportunities (scroll down at each link for Pisgah sites). Together, they are among the most visited national forests in the nation, the Forest Service says.
The management plan revision process begins with the Assessment Phase, about a year's worth of collecting and compiling data about the two forests. Next comes the two-to-three-year Planning Phase, which is followed by the Monitoring Phase, which lasts until the next plan revision.
Rules for developing these management plans were revised this year to strengthen the role of public involvement and dialogue throughout the planning process, the news release says. An explanation of the process online says the Assessment Phase is to include "numerous public meetings ... to receive input from stakeholders" beginning in February.
The Forest Service is to provide details about public meetings and "other information to foster public participation" over the next few months. To receive email updates, visit www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc and click on "To receive News and Alerts by Email," then select Nantahala or Pisgah National Forest.
The Forest Service published the original management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah forests in 1987. A significant amendment to the plan was published in 1994, and smaller amendments occurred in subsequent years.
Each national forest and grassland is governed by a management plan in accordance with the National Forest Management Act. These plans set management, protection and use goals and guidelines.
The 2012 Planning Rule revision guides the planning process. It includes stronger protections for forests, water and wildlife "while supporting the economic vitality of rural communities," according to the news release. It also requires the use of the best available scientific information to inform decisions.
A Forest Service map shows the 18 counties of western North Carolina affected by plans for management of the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests.
Among national parks in North Carolina, only the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kitty Hawk charges an entrance fee. But, if you visit on November 11 you'll save $4 for every member of your party who is 16 years old or older.
There are similarly small fees at several day use areas in the three national forests in North Carolina. For instance, if you are in the Highlands/Cashiers area this Sunday you can save $2 each on visits to Whitewater Falls and Whiteside Mountain.
Since April, work at the site has "stabilized the trail, reconstructed and replaced the entire walking path, and removed tripping hazards," a news release says.
Dry Falls consists of a 1/2-mile trail that allows visitors to walk behind the 80-foot waterfall, an overlook, restrooms, picnic tables and paved parking. It is alongside U.S. 64/N.C. 28 in the Cullasaja Gorge.
"The improvements cost $466,000 and "enhance the visual appeal of the trail and make it easier to maintain," the news release says.
Money for the project came from a Federal Highways Grant of $208,000 and matching agency funds of $258,000, according to a previous news release.
Other recent notices from the National Forest Service:
* Duke Energy will increase water flows on the Upper Nantahala River from Nantahala Lake to the power house on September 29 and 30 to provide kayakers and other boaters with enhanced whitewater recreational experiences in the Nantahala River Gorge.
This will result in Class IV water conditions in the Cascades Section and less-than optimal flows downstream to the power plant on the 29th, and Class IV+ water conditions on the Cascades Section and Class III-IV downstream on the 30th. The main Nantahala River will also see higher than normal flows.
"Only skilled boaters should attempt to paddle on the Nantahala River on September 29 to 30," the news release says. "Fishermen are advised to avoid this region of the Nantahala River until water levels decline."
* The Appalachian Trail's Cold Springs Shelter, located 1.3 miles north of Burningtown Gap, is closed for repairs through December 15. Hikers can still use the shelter’s toilet and drinkable water while the work is conducted.
The National Forest Service has announced several seasonal openings April 1 for campgrounds and day use areas in the Nantahala and Pisgah forests:
* Cheoah Point
* Rattler Ford Group Camp
* Appletree Group Camp
* Standing Indian
* Hurricane Campground
* Van Hook Glade
Nantahala National Forest day use areas:
* Finger Lake
* Cliffside Lake
* Cherokee Lake
* Nantahala Gorge facilities
* Standing Indian
* Wayah Bald
* Cheoah Point Beach
* Curtis Creek
* Lake Powhatan
* North Mills River
* Lake Powhatan
* North Mills River
* Old Fort
* Table Rock
Off-highway Vehicle trails:
Mid-April openings in the Pisgah:
* Black Mountain campground
* Briar Bottom Group Camp
* Carolina Hemlocks campground and day use area
* Mortimer campground
* Cradle of Forestry (Opening April 14)
The $466,000 project will reconstruct and replace the entire walking path. The work will remove tripping hazards and protect water quality through drainage control measures, a news release says.
Nantahala District Ranger Mike Wilkins said this is the first major work on the Dry Falls trail in more than 30 years.
The construction project, which is funded by Federal Highways Grant of $208,000 and matching agency funds of $258,000, is to begin in early April and conclude by September.
The parking lot at Dry Falls was resurfaced in 2008, work that also required closing the site for several weeks during the season.
If you're interested in how hiking, biking and bridle trails in North Carolina National Forests are managed, consider participating in a series of workshops to develop a non-motorized trail strategy next year.
Forest Service officials say they hope a "wide range of trail-user groups, individuals who represent local communities and ecotourism, or individuals not represented by larger user groups" will collaborate to develop "recommendations for a comprehensive trail management plan for each national forest in North Carolina." Participants might also become volunteers to assist in implementation of the plans, a news release says.
Initial meetings to be held near each subject forest will focus on Pisgah and Nantahala forest trails in January, and Uwharrie and Croatan forest trails next summer.
January meeting dates and times in the western part of the state are posted at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/nctrailstrategy along with an explanation of the program. Additional meeting times and dates are to be posted there, too.
Use of the more than 1,600 miles of non-motorized trails in North Carolina national forests has increased every year as resources used to maintain trails have been static or decreased, the news release says. Forest Service officials and users will work together to look at the trail systems and, officials hope, recommend how to make the best use of current and future resources.
Information gathered at workshops will also be used in work that begins in 2013 to revise the Nantahala/Pisgah National Forests Management Plan.
The '60s are long gone, man. The guys growing ganga out in the woods are gangsters not hippies, the National Forest Service warns in a news release.
While only a fraction of National Forest System lands are affected by illegal marijuana cultivation, the Forest Service says the safety risks are real. As soon as you become aware that you have come upon a cultivation site, back out immediately. Never engage the growers, as these are extremely dangerous people, the release says.
In addition to the danger to people who find marijuana patches in the woods, the pot plots themselves cause extensive and long-term damage to the forests and to supplies of public drinking water for hundreds of miles. Growers damage the land when they clear it for planting and then spoil it with herbicides and other chemicals, and they often dam creeks and siphon water for irrigation.
National Forests in North Carolina conserve more than 1.2 million acres for recreation and forestry research in four forests (below): the Nantahala and Pisgah in the mountains, the Uwharrie in the state's Piedmont, and the Croatan at the coast. Another 43,000 acres in the state are set aside in Bladen Lakes and DuPont State Forests, in seven Educational State Forests and in eight research forests operated by N.C. State University.
In the year ending October 30, the Forest Service found more than 38,200 marijuana plants in national forests here, including a large seizure in the Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs, Forest Service spokesman Stevin Westcott told The News & Observer. They found 3,010 plants the year before.
The release provides these clues that you may have come across a marijuana cultivation site:
* Sometimes marijuana smells like a skunk on hot days.
* Hoses or drip lines located in unusual or unexpected places.
* A well-used trail where there shouldn’t be one.
* People standing along roads without vehicles present, or in areas where loitering appears unusual.
* Camps containing cooking and sleeping areas with food, fertilizer, weapons, garbage, rat poison and/or dead animals.
* Small propane bottles, used to avoid the detection of wood smoke.
* Individuals armed with rifles out of hunting season.
So, stay safe in the woods. If you stumble upon a pot patch, leave the way you came in, the Forest Service says, making as little noise as possible. Report as much information as you can to local law enforcement or any uniformed member of the Forest Service.
The National Forest Service has issued final orders limiting the use of metal detectors and limiting geocaching in North Carolina's four national forests: Croatan, Nantahala, Pisgah and Uwharrie. The Forest Service announced the decision in March.
The order limiting metal detectors allows their use with a permit in designated areas, which include the Ray Mica Mine in Madison, Cheoah Point beach and Jackrabbit Mountain beach in the Nantahala, Neuse River Recreation Area (Flanners Beach) in the Croatan, Lake Powhatan beach in the Pisgah and Kings Mountain Point beach in the Uwharrie.
Geocaching - "storing equipment, personal property or supplies not being used in conjunction with a current visit" - is prohibited in wilderness areas, Forest Service Research Experimental Forests and Wild and Senic River corridors.
The rules are in effect until April 2015.
The National Forest Service recently announced its plan to increase or establish fees at several day-use sites in each of the four National Forests in North Carolina.
"Public input is welcomed, and will be evaluated by a regional advisory board this fall before any changes are approved by the Regional Forester," news releases from the Forest Service say. "Fee changes are being considered due to the increasing costs of operating and maintaining recreation facilities, and to enable the Forest Service to add amenities requested by forest visitors at various recreation sites."
In addition to individual day-use areas, the Forest Service is proposing a change in the cost of seasonal passes for OHV trail complexes in all national forests within North Carolina.
News releases for the individual forests (below) detail the amount of the fee increases. Approved changes would go into effect for the 2011 recreation season.
The site in the Croatan National Forest being considered for a fee increase is Black Swamp OHV Trail Complex.
Sites in the Nantahala National Forest being considered for fee increases include Wayehutta OHV Trail Complex, Dirty John Shooting Range, Panthertop Shooting Range and Jackrabbit Recreation Area (swimming beach). New fees are being proposed at Moss Knob Shooting Range and Wine Spring Horse Camp.
Sites in the Pisgah National Forest being considered for fee increases are Brown Mountain OHV Trail Complex, Sliding Rock Recreation Area and Roan Mountain Recreation Area. A new restroom is being installed at Wolf Ford Recreation Area, with a new fee being proposed there.
Sites in the Uwharrie National Forest being considered for fee increases include Badin Lake OHV Trail Complex and Canebrake Horse Camp. Some trails at Badin Lake OHV Trail Complex are being improved with Recovery Act funds, but will still have significant and recurring maintenance needs.
Comments should be mailed by July 30 to USDA Forest Service, National Forests in North Carolina, ATTN: Recreation Fee Proposals, 160A Zillicoa Street, Asheville NC 28801, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Recreation Fees” in the subject line.