Jocassee Gorges update

Sherri Evans-Stanton wants to set the record straight about the possible state acquisition of more than 9,000 acres of land from Duke Energy Company for a state park in the Jocassee Gorges area of Transylvania County.

Evans-Stanton, assistant secretary for the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, stresses that, under the plan put forth by N.C. Department of Natural Resources Secretary Wayne McDevitt, hunters would not be losing any gamelands in that part of the state. Recently, a group of hunters protested the proposed state park, in which hunting would not be allowed..

The Duke property in Jocassee totals 16,000 acres. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been leasing most of it as gamelands, and would continue to lease a portion for that purpose, explains Evans-Stanton. Of the 9,600 acres that Parks and Recreation proposes to buy, about 3,000 acres would remain gamelands and would be attached to the land leased by the WRC, she says.

And, says Evans-Stanton, not 50 miles away sits another 7,500 acres of gamelands that the state acquired within the last six months.

If the state succeeds in buying the Jocassee acreage, this “will not result in a net loss of gamelands,” she asserts.

Gov. Jim Hunt is asking the 1998 General Assembly to appropriate $7.5 million to buy the land, 6,725 acres of which would be established as a state park. The total purchase price is $8.4 million; the remainder would come from private funds.

This will be the first state park west of Asheville, says Evans-Stanton, calling the Jocassee area “truly spectacular,” with its wilderness trails, streams and 50 waterfalls.

Many hunters support the idea of a state park, she said.

“I really hope that [the hunters] will come around, because this area is so unique and beautiful that it has to be preserved. Basically, if we don’t buy this property, Duke is going to sell it to a developer,” she added.

To learn more, call Sherri Evans-Stanton at (919) 715-4131.

Survey what’s yours

So you’ve worked and you’ve saved, and now, you’ve bought yourself a nice little chunk of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The first thing you don’t want to do is pave and build right over the priceless botanical wonders growing up from your ground.

That’s where Bloomin’ Wild Botanical Surveys comes in. Bloomin’ Wild owners Kevin Caldwell and Paul Myers identify plant life on private and public lands. The two also perform Natural Heritage surveys, which are state-funded evaluations of easement lands and state preserves.

Bloomin’ Wild has identified such plants as ginseng root, a butternut tree (which is in the “watch” category of the National Endangered Species list) and whorled pogonia — an uncommon orchid that blooms about once every 10 years and happened to be flowering when Bloomin’ Wild discovered it, says Caldwell.

The company also estimates the value of plant life on a property and consults about plant relocation to make way for construction.

To find out more, call Kevin Caldwell at 884-8927 or Paul Myers at 698-8364.

It’s a gem show

All that sparkles, shines and glitters will fill Pack Place to the brim on Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21, during the second annual Asheville Gem and Mineral Show.

The Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum, located downstairs in Pack Place (in downtown Asheville) is sponsoring the free show. Local dealers, as well as those from around the Southeast and beyond, will sell and display gems and minerals from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Visitors can “mine” for gems, and see the unique gem “trees” of Russell’s Trees & Treasures from Indiana and the wire-sculpture jewelry of Robert Rutemiller.

To learn more, call the Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum at 254-7162.

Nature Center, butterfly news

Buncombe County residents can enjoy the Western North Carolina Nature Center for free on Saturday, June 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., in celebration of Buncombe County Residents’ Day.

The center is also seeking volunteers to adopt its hummingbird, songbird, butterfly, fern, honeybee, herb, Appalachian shrub and perennial gardens. Volunteers’ contributions will be recognized on signs posted in the gardens.

Would-be butterfly-garden makers can stop by Home Depot in Asheville for tips on selecting shrubs and flowers to attract the winged beauties. The store has planted a butterfly garden on its grounds, and Teresa Wooley and Polly Powell are on hand daily to answer questions.

For more info on Nature Center activities, call 298-5600. Contact Teresa Wooley at Home Depot at 274-5400.

— finally compiled by Jill Ingram

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