Along with the rest of the Southern Appalachians, North Carolina is changing. The range of change is remarkable. Some change comes quietly as the tiny hemlock woolly adelgid ravages our hemlock forests. Some come with a roar as the churning wheels of off-road vehicles forge new trails through once-quiet woodlands and once-clear streams. Some come in the steady advance of burgeoning populations and attendant development on private lands, fueled by the same realization that brought or kept us here: it’s a lovely place to live and raise a family. And looming over all these is the reality of global climate change that can transform the landscape and its inhabitants. All these changes are relentless.
This section of North Carolina’s Mountain Treasures looks at some of these threats and the changes they portend. They will have much to do with the nature of our public forests in the years to come. But as they transform adjoining private land, eliminating habitat and habitat connections, changes will also underscore not only the central significance of those forests and wilderness areas but also the necessity of anchoring a vibrant, functioning ecosystem that will keep North Carolina a wonderful place to live.