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

Middle Prong Extension

6,692 acres NCMT; 4,932 acres PWA; 1,793 acres IRA

Recommendation: The existing Inventoried Roadless Area portion of the Potential Wilderness Area should be recommended for Wilderness, and the entire Mountain Treasure Area should be included in a Pisgah National Recreation Area

Naturalness: The Middle Prong Wilderness is separated from Shining Rock Wilderness on the east only by a state road, NC 215. The area consists of 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. The community of Waynesville’s watershed lies just west of Lickstone Ridge. The area contains recovering forest in good condition as rare species and excellent examples of ecological types in excellent condition.

Opportunities for Solitude: 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 one north-south 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, and the Waynesville watershed to the west. Adding the Middle Prong extensions to the current Wilderness Area will increase the opportunity for solitude north along Lickstone Ridge.

Opportunities for Recreation: While there is little developed recreation access on Lickstone Ridge, manways, old trailbeds, and open forests provide a remarkable opportunity for primitive recreation for the adventurous hiker and wildlife watcher.

Ecological and other values: The Lickstone Ridge area is a bear sanctuary. Numerous animal species inhabit and migrate through these areas, including the cerulean warbler. Middle Prong is part of a number of closely associated wildland areas including Middle Prong, Shining Rock, Roy Taylor, and Daniel Ridge that have tremendous wildlife and biodiversity values. The 587 acre Richland Balsam/Beartrail Ridge State Natural Heritage Area lies within the Inventoried Roadless Area and Potential Wilderness Area and has been proposed for a new priority Special Interest Area by the NC Natural Heritage Program.

Manageability: It would be logical to extend the wilderness, and manage as such.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 larger Pisgah NRA area has a good trail system, including a portion of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and this area provides continuous primitive and unconfined recreational opportunities extending north from the current Middle Prong Wilderness Area. This area is within the viewshed of the Fork Ridge Trail, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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