Outdoor Journal

Going gray: This Saturday, March 24, the nonprofit Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy will host a hike up Graybeard Mountain, near Montreat, beginning at 10 a.m.

The 2,500-acre conservation easement that encompasses Graybeard is replete with viewing sights to the Black and Craggy mountains, and joins a patchwork of more than more than 125,000 acres of protected land including Pisgah National Forest, Mount Mitchell State Park and the Asheville watershed. Described as “moderate to strenuous,” the route will involve a steep initial climb and a slippery descent along the Graybeard Stream. Participants should bring hiking shoes, water, warm clothes, a camera and a light lunch. To sign up, call Emily Nuchols at SAHC at 253-0095, ext. 203, or e-mail her at emily@appalachian.org. To learn more about the organization, visit www.appalachian.org.

Your sediment is my impediment, brah: A couple weeks ago, a multistate, multiagency initiative called the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture released its conservation strategy for the brook trout, the East’s only native trout.

A preliminary study by EBTJV last year found that only 5 percent of the brook trout’s original habitat is intact around the East; little wonder, as the fish only flourishes in the coldest, cleanest of water. In Maine it’s suffered from damaging logging practices; in Pennsylvania from acidic mine tailings; and in Western North Carolina from erosion caused by rampant development.

Nevertheless, the Venture is predicting something of a turnaround for the brookie, and hopes to improve 30 percent of the damaged watersheds that once supported it, along with reintroducing the fish to former habitats and protecting what’s left of its wild populations. Ambitious? Sure, but this is a fish worth keeping around. For more information, visit www.easternbrooktrout.net.

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