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

Overflow Creek (Blue Valley)

6,008 acres NCMT; 3,509 acres PWA; 3,509 acres IRA

Recommendation: The 3,509-acre Inventoried Roadless Area (PWA) portion of the area should be recommended for Wilderness, and the remaining NC Mountain Treasure acreage should be placed in a backcountry management area

Naturalness: Overflow Creek, within the congressionally designated wilderness study area, is one of the three chief tributaries that join to make the West Fork of the Chattooga River, which is protected within the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This area, which adjoins the Three Forks Mountain Treasures Area in Georgia, provides important watershed protection to the downstream designated Wild and Scenic Chattooga River. An overlook, south of Highlands, from NC HWY 106 highlights Blue Valley and is a popular scenic view as well as an access point to the Bartram Trail.

Opportunities for Solitude: Wilderness designation for this WSA would permanently safeguard the existing opportunity for solitude in this area. Protecting this area as Wilderness while ensuring access via USFS Rd 79 would maintain the historical use of the area, with a gradient of solitude providing higher use along the road corridor and greatest solitude around the Bartram Trail to the west, while also protecting the water quality and recreation so enjoyed within the area.

Opportunities for Recreation: The Bartram Trail crosses from south to north along the western side of the area, and Overflow Creek is a popular local fishing and hunting destination. The Bartram Trail connects this area to other excellent recreational and scenic resources.

Ecological and other values: This Mountain Treasure Area has 315 acres of Old Growth forest. Glen Falls creates a “spray cliff” habitat important for several species of mosses and liverworts. The Blue Valley Experimental Forest was established in 1964 to provide a focal area for silviculture research of eastern white pine and associated hardwoods, the 1200-acre Blue Valley Experimental Forest is located near Highlands, North Carolina. Blue Valley typifies white pine-dominated portions of the southern highlands escarpment. The experimental forest area receives more than 70 inches of precipitation annually, but has infertile soils derived from decomposed granite. The NC Natural Heritage Program has identified three State Natural Heritage Areas: Little Scaly MountainGlen Falls in the Wilderness Study AreaBrushy Face Mountain/Brooks Creek Waterfall

Manageability: This Wilderness Study Area and Potential Wilderness Area lie immediately below the intensely developed Highlands, NC area. There is much local interest in permanently protecting this area from development. There are numerous communities of old-growth timber in this area, especially in the isolated coves. The proposed Bob Zahner Wilderness Area for this area in 2010 excluded the popular Glen Falls scenic hiking destination, a buffer along NC Hwy 106 to allow for overlook maintenance, as well as the exclusion of USFS Rd 79 that follows a portion of Overflow Creek and has roadside camping sites. The NC Bartram Trail Society is the maintaining trail club for the Bartram Trail, and has pledged to maintain the portion of the trail that runs through this area according to Wilderness tool standards. As the principal drainage of Overflow Creek, this area is geographically well defined and configured for management as a wilderness area.

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