Category Archives: Environmental Stewardship

Adventure Hour At Discovery Trails

Come join us for an adventure.

We are offering guided adventure tours at Monteith Farmstead Park on Saturday mornings at 9am and again at 11am, courtesy of WATR. Each adventure will follow a portion of Scotts Creek, a tributary of the Tuckasegee River. Along the way we will learn how to protect our streams, keep them clean and healthy, and how we can use them as a valuable resource.

WATR Discovery Trail

Explore and Learn

The underlying message is that “The Stream is Alive;” alive with all kinds of plants and animals. During our adventure we will take a visit into the stream and you may be surprised to see what we find there.

So come on down. Don’t forget to wear shoes for water, no flip-flops please. Register here.  We look forward to seeing you there!


Protect your stream by “adopting it!”

At our Public Meeting at the end of May, Rick Queen described the NC “Stream Watch” program that is offered through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  — So what’s it all about?  The state guys know that it is neighbors who live on or near the creek that know the most about its health simply be seeing the creek every day.   Stream Watchers usually sign up as small teams for certain stretches of creek.  A team commits to two inspections (with trash cleanup) per year, macro invert sampling, and other data collections…all pretty simple, especially with support from WATR.  According to Rick, the obligations are pretty easy but the benefits to the health of our creeks can be enormous.   Questions: Contact Rickat or (828) 550-8487.

Rick Queen, “Train Wrecka-Becca” (Back to us. Sorry!), US Fish & Wildlife guy Mark Cantrell, and Craig Green share a lighter moment.

Rich has signed up as Stream Watcher for a mile of Greens Creek.  Sunny Himes and Jane Fitzgerald (of the Jackson County Soil & Water Conservation District Office) have indicated an interest in Stream Watching for Savannah Creek – a creek of great concern  given the high levels of sediment.  WATR member or not, it would be GREAT if you explored being a Stream Watcher for your stream. Go to
Roger C.

River Cane Chronicles IV: Important Invitation

The WATR River Cane Mapping & Education Project is gearing up for the summer, and WE NEED YOU and other volunteers.   The purposes of the project are

  • to educate ourselves and the public about the ecological and the cultural benefits of native river cane,
  • to snoop around creeks and rivers and locate river cane brakes that we can map, and
  • to work with the landowner to get permission so that artisans can sustainably harvest stalks on his/her property.

So click here to find out the details of the workshop — must RSVP by Friday, May 18,  for a free lunch.  NOW THAT’S AN INCENTIVE!!!

Jim Long strips a stalk of cane as WATR member Judy Knight watches

The Must-See Conservation Film, Thurs. April 19

On Thursday, April 19, at 7:00 – 8:30 PM, there will be a must-see documentary movie at the Smoky Mountain Community Theater (130 Main Street, Bryson City).  It recalls the life of perhaps the most influential U.S. conservationists of the 20th century, Aldo Leopold.  The movie is more than dry history — it is a contemporary summons to challenge us to take care of the natural resources around us.

You should put his name up there in your pantheon of great American conservationists, along with Henry David Thoreau and John Muir.  Leopold is the author of the Sand County Almanac and the writer of “a land ethic” — a brief essay calling for a redefinition our relationship with the very land that we live on.  He is the instigator of “watershed restoration.”

If you do one thing for WATR or for your green-minded growth this year, come and see this film.  At least 25 students from Swain High should attend, and they should be bring their parents.  Friends should bring friends.  WATR’s contacts in the world of building and excavating are especially invited.  If you can help to usher or staff the WATR table — call the office.Green Fire Poster

Roger Clapp

The Tuckasegee Trout Unlimited Team

The Tuckasegee Trouth Unlimited team will be doing more trash clean up in concert with the WCU Annual Tuck Cleanup. The group will be meeting at CJ Harris Boat Launch. Pickup will be done by walking the shoreline, by wading, and by boat. Dress appropriately and bring gloves. The cleanup will start at 8:00  A.M. Saturday, April 21st.
Questions? Contact Jerry Deweese @ 828 284-4979.
Need directions? Click  here 

Hey! Please check out our action teams here.

River Clean Up Teams

Join up with Duke Energy team to pick up trash along the Tuckasegee River in the section of the former lake behind (the now nonexistent) Dillsboro Dam. This clean up will be on Thursday April 19 from 1-4 P.M. Folks will meet at the new C J Harris Boat Launch- upstream from the Dillsboro Inn. The organizers have been assured that power generation will be zero and the water levels should be very low. The clean up will be done by wading! Best to bring your own fishing waders and work gloves
Need directions? Click  here 

Hey! Please check out our action teams here.

Harvesting Rivercane

Harvesting group moves toward an impressive river canebrake near Murphy

Five WATR members traveled with Cherokee artisans to harvest the perfect canes that are suitable for traditional weaving projects: mats and baskets.
We joined two Cherokee artisans, Jim Long and Lucille Lossiah, and their six assistants who are learning the craft as we headed down to the Murphy area.

Harvesting river cane

Lucille Lossiah brings out cane she has cut

At the Marble Springs Outdoor Education Area we were shown what makes acceptable cane material.  The cane must be straight, dark green indicating sufficient age, and no signs of branching for the bottom portion of the culm (the technical name for the stalk).  Even a bit of residual branching renders the derived cane split unusable.  The crafts people cut the cane and we pulled them out of the brakes and helped collected them for the trip home.
Special thanks go to Beth Johnson for gathering the Cherokee foraging partners.  Beth works with the RTCAR (or fully spelled out: Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources).  Tony Ward, a staff member of the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, served as host by showing us which canebrakes were available for harvesting.  Thanks, Tony!
The WATR group included Shirley Veenstra, Judy Knight, Bill Lee, Ken Brown, and Roger Clapp. Also in the Cherokee artisan group were Fidel Raya, Weylon Long, Jane Wolfe, Nancy Wolfe, and Dorothy Wood – an extension-service intern.  We ended up with a warm meal  and lively conversation at the Blue Mountain Café.

Jim Long strips a stalk of cane as WATR member Judy Knight watches

We will plan more events with Cherokee artisans in the new year, and we will launch the main activity – finding and getting permission for harvesting new river cane brakes in our watershed.
We will be dividing the roads and creeks in Swain and Jackson, where volunteers will look for more cane brakes.  When we find them we will encourage landowners to sign simple agreements allowing artisans to occasionally harvest (sustainably!) cane for use in traditional crafts.  How cool to be part of this age-old practice!  How better to build friendships within the tribe and the watershed community?  Call the office if you would like to join in!
Several years ago this effort was started by Adam Griffith, then a student and now a WCU staff member.  He mapped cane sources, mostly near Cullowhee, and he generated an online map.  Interested?  Follow this link.
– Roger Clapp