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Roan Mountain Naturalist Rally is this Saturday

Contributed • Feb 5, 2019 at 9:24 PM

ROAN MOUNTAIN — The 12th Annual Winter Naturalist Rally at Roan Mountain State Park will be held on Saturday. It is too late to reserve a bag lunch, but the feast of information about the natural wonder of Roan Mountain in the wintertime is still available.

The Friends of Roan Mountain will once again be sponsoring the one-day event on Feb. 9. The event is always held on a Saturday close to Valentine’s Day.

The 2019 Winter Rally continues the celebration of our natural world by providing top speakers and field trip leaders on topics concerning the environs of the Roan Highlands.

The indoor program will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. at the Conference Center of Roan Mountain State Park. Information about the program can be found at http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/roan-mountain.

The presenters at the program will include:

▪ Tyler Wicks, a biology undergraduate from East Tennessee State University, will present "Where are they hiding? A survey of rare Appalachian salamanders.”

The Southern Appalachian Mountains are the center of salamander diversity globally and are home to many rare endemic species. Wicks will present the results from his recent field research, which focused primarily on assessing the population status of the northern gray-cheeked salamander (Plethodon montanus) in several locations around Roan Mountain.

▪ Robert Johnson, an artist from Celo, N.C., will present the program "Painting North Carolina state parks."

Johnson will make a presentation on a three-year project he is working on. He is hiking and sketching in all 33 North Carolina state parks and developing paintings in his studio for a show at Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina, in the fall of 2020.

▪ Dan Gibbs, a black bear program leader with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, will present the program “What do we do about all these bears? Black bears in Tennessee: Their history, current status and future.”

Today black bears are recolonizing their former range in Tennessee as well as much of the eastern United States. Now the question is, ”What do we do about all of these bears?”

During lunch, Jamey Donaldson, the John C. Warden Herbarium adjunct curator at East Tennessee State University, will feature “There and back again: A hobble tale” and include the results of his recent vascular plant research on Roan Mountain.

Post-lunch guided hikes will begin at 1 p.m. The three concurrent hikes will depart from the conference center. The hikes will focus on such topics as recent land conservation in the area, winter species identification and wildlife tracking.

• Hike 1 will be led by Lisa Huff of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and will go to Hampton Creek Cove.

• Hike 2 will be led by Donaldson and will hike along the Ravens Rock Trail, with a special focus on trailside health communities.

• Hike 3, led by Warrior’s Path State Park Ranger Marty Silver will track animal signs by the Doe River.

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