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

Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Extensions

Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Extensions

Approximate Size: 7,414 acres

Roadless Acreage: 4,592 acres (1,896-Deep Creek/Avery Creek; 1,271-Yellowhammer Branch; 1,425-TN Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock addition)

Old Growth Acreage: 835 acres

Location: Graham County, North Carolina, 10 miles northwest of Robbinsville, Nantahala National Forest, Cheoah Ranger District

USGS Topographic Maps: Santeetlah Creek, Tapoco, Big Junction

These proposed additions are found along the southern and northeastern boundary of one of the largest and most significant wilderness areas in the Eastern United States. Along with other lands in Tennessee, they complement the existing 33,727-acre wilderness expanse that includes the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness in North Carolina and Citico Creek Wilderness in Tennessee. The extensions are an integral part of and indistinguishable from the designated wilderness.

The northeast parcels also form a close link to 10,000 acres of Topoco conservation lands, over half of which the Forest Service and the National Park Service acquired through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Alcoa Aluminum placed the remainder under a conservation easement.

These areas as well as a Tennessee wilderness addition to Joyce Kilmer–Slickrock Wilderness recommended for wilderness in the Cherokee National Forest Management Plan connect national forest lands to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, separated from it only by narrow U.S. Highway 129.

Conservation biology tells us that this connection–here between national forest land and the national park–has important conservation benefits, among them crucial corridors for wildlife.

Protecting parcels to the northeast and south of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness will expand the wilderness and safeguard views from nearby roads. These areas are highly visible from the scenic Cherohala Skyway.

Tributary streams in this area flow into Santeetlah Creek, home to rare salamanders and other sensitive species. Protection will also provide prime, safe stream habitat for Southern Appalachian brook trout populations, with high-quality water and ample stream structure from fallen trees.

Portions of the Nantahala-Pisgah old-growth network lie within the additions, as well as 844 acres of verified old-growth at Yellowhammer Branch and at least four old-growth candidate sites.

These additions include two roadless areas in Deep Creek/ Avery Creek and Yellowhammer Branch totaling 3,167 acres. But much of the area remains open to logging and road building.

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