SHR-News

Southern Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative (SASRI) Signs Charter Agreement with SHR for Red Spruce Restoration Projects Across Southern Appalachian Mountains

Southern Highlands Reserve is proud to announce its formal long-term partnership with the Southern Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative (SASRI) to restore red spruce and the vitality of spruce-fir forests in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. This summer, SHR signed a charter with organizations and government agencies such as The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission and others. The mission of SASRI is to restore the natural condition of spruce-fir forests in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Spruce-fir forests of the Southern Blue Ridge ecoregion have been in decline for more than 100 years primarily due to logging activity and wildfires that compounded their ability to recover from human disturbance. These high-elevation spruce-fir “islands in the sky” are considered the second-most endangered ecosystems in the United States and are home to species of conservation concern such as spruce-fir moss spider, and the federally-endangered Carolina Northern flying squirrel, the northern saw-whet owl, brown creeper, black-capped chickadee, and several salamanders.

Restoring red spruce in Western North Carolina provides many ecological, environmental and economic benefits. Red spruce is a foundation species in the Spruce-Fir ecosystem, helping to sustain life for many other living creatures. Restoring red spruce in these spruce-fir forests will help prevent further habitat loss and preserve the rich biodiversity in our region. Red Spruce are also known as one of the species that helps to purify our air and water quality, resulting in clearer skies and cleaner water. Restoring red spruce offers a compounding economic benefit, enticing tourists to visit the region as they clear the air and preserve our long-range viewsheds. These air and water quality services are priceless to the vitality of our region’s communities and tourism-based economy.

With a proven track record of growing high quality red spruce trees from seed, SHR’s role in SASRI is to provide the spruce trees to be planted on all SASRI restoration projects. Over the past few years, SHR has worked with SASRI to plant over 2,000 red spruce trees on public lands. SHR currently has thousands of red spruce seedlings in propagation and hundreds of young spruce trees ready for transplant in its Nursery Complex. The successful restoration of red spruce to public lands in Western NC will ensure the threads within the web of life here in our national forests and along the parkway will be preserved for generations to come.

To support SHR’s efforts to restore red spruce in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, please contact Kelly Holdbrooks at 828-885-2050 or kholdbrooks@southernhighlandsreserve.org. You may also support the red spruce project directly by contributing a donation on our home page on SHR’s website at www.southernhighlandsereserve.org. Volunteer opportunities will be announced in 2017.