North Carolina’s Mountain Treasures
Help Protect the Vulnerable Wildlands of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests
 

Middle Prong Extension

Middle Prong Extension

Approximate size: 6,689 acres

Roadless acreage: 1,852 acres

Old growth acreage: not inventoried

Location: Haywood County, bordering the Blue Ridge Parkway

USGS Topographic Maps: Sam Knob

The Middle Prong Wilderness is separated from Shining Rock Wilderness on the east only by a state road, NC 215. It is basically the valley of the Middle Prong of the Pigeon River, together with its dividing ridges, Fork Ridge on the east, and Lickstone Ridge on the west, all running north from the Blue Ridge Parkway down to the Sunburst Campground.

It would be logical to extend the wilderness farther north along Lickstone Ridge to the vicinity of Lake Logan, which the Forest Service acquired in 1999 as the result of a productive partnership between the agency, the State of North Carolina, the Boy Scouts and the Episcopal Church.

Sandhill cranes fly across a wilderness sky. The plight of this bird inspired Aldo Leopold to devote his life to preserving natural habitats for wildlife. Photo by Lamar Marshall.

The community of Waynesville’s watershed lies just west of Lickstone Ridge, and Shining Rock Wilderness lies just east across NC 215, arguing further for carrying protection of the Middle Prong Wilderness farther north to protect the watershed and wildlife habitat. The Lickstone Ridge area is a bear sanctuary. The area has a good trail system, including a portion of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

To the south of the Middle Prong Wilderness, and separated from it only by the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor, is the Roy Taylor Forest, also an essentially unroaded area. Seen in a proper conservation context, Middle Prong is important as one corner of a very large wild area interrupted only by the northsouth state highway and the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs east and west. On the northwest is Middle Prong. Shining Rock lies to the northeast, Daniel Ridge to the southeast, the Roy Taylor Forest to the southwest.

Numerous animal species inhabit and migrate through these areas, including the cerulean warbler. Protection of the contiguous parts of these four areas has major benefits for wildlife, biodiversity and recreation.

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