Outdoors

Walk with a naturalist

The North Carolina Arboretum will offer "Walk with a Naturalist" programs each Tuesday and Saturday at 1 p.m. beginning Saturday, April 1, and continuing through early summer.

Nature walk: Guided walks at the N.C. Arboretum offer a chance to view and learn about such forest sights as this cinnamon fern. Photo courtesy of the N.C. Arboretum

Interpretive guides will lead small groups of participants along woodland trails and through a variety of forest types. Depending on the season, topics of discussion include wildflower and plant identification, natural history, tree lore and the cultural and land-use history of the Arboretum campus. Guides may include such areas as the National Native Azalea Collection and Bent Creek. Handouts after class will include such information as identification keys for plants and lists of common wildflowers.

Program participants should dress for the weather, as programs are held rain or shine. Individuals should wear sturdy shoes and bring water, as well as plant- and animal-identification guides as desired. Programs can last between one and two hours, depending upon the interest of the group, and are approximately one-to-two miles in length.

The tour size is limited to 12 participants and pre-registration is strongly suggested. Space may be available on a drop-in basis on the day of the program, and any openings are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The program fee is $3 per adult and $2 per child ages 8 to 17. Due to length and content, this program is not recommended for children under 8.

To register, visit www.ncarboretum.org and click on the "Plan-a-Visit" tab. Look for "Walk with a Naturalist" link on the left side of the page. You can also check this link to see if space is available on a particular day. Usual parking fees apply for visiting the Arboretum
The Arboretum is located next to the Blue Ridge Parkway entrance at milepost 393. From I-26, take exit 33 and follow Blue Ridge Parkway signs for two miles to the entrance ramp. Arboretum grounds are open seven days a week.

Run for the Hills!

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy is set to host its first annual Run for the Hills Fun Run at Fletcher Community Park on Sunday, May 2, at 2 p.m. The race will debut a new 1,500-foot section of the Fletcher Greenway, and all proceeds will go to CMLC.

This event is designed to raise community awareness about local conservation and the town's Cane Creek Greenway. Participants are encouraged to register early, and will receive a special early bird rate of $30 if they register before April 15. All pre-registered participants get a free Run for the Hills T-shirt and a chance to win prizes.

The 5K race will be followed by the Finish-line Festival, featuring various vendors and educational activities. Prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female runners, and the first-place male and female for each age group. Additional prizes will also be raffled off to race participants at the Finish-line Festival.

CMLC has worked with the town of Fletcher and other partners since 2004 to create and expand the Fletcher Greenway system and improve water quality along Cane and Hooper's Creeks.

The comprehensive greenway system plan was developed by the town of Fletcher. The trail system will eventually connect the proposed "Heart of Fletcher" Town Center and Community Park to the Fletcher Elementary School and major residential developments, employers and proposed regional trails within the town.
More information about Run for the Hills can be found at www.carolinamountain.org.

An otter by any other name …

Ever wanted to name an otter? Now's your chance. The city of Asheville's Western North Carolina Nature Center is celebrating the arrival of a new male North American river otter.

Here is how it will work: Once you've submitted your suggested name along with your contact information, the Nature Center will choose the top five names on April 30. The Nature Center will then post these five names for everyone to vote on their favorite, and the most popular name will be given to the new otter.

The person who suggests the winning name will receive an otter-adoption package courtesy of the Friends of the Nature Center and will be invited to attend a special naming event in June. If more than one person suggests the winning name, a drawing will be held to choose one winner for the otter-adoption package and naming-event invitation.
For more information, visit www.wildwnc.org. To enter the naming contest, go to http://bit.ly/bZCqLD.

Send your outdoors news to news@mountainx.com or call 251-1333, ext. 152.

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