13th annual Winter Naturalist Rally coming up at Roan Mountain

John Thompson • Jan 21, 2020 at 9:16 PM

ROAN MOUNTAIN — The 13th Annual Friends of Roan Mountain Winter Naturalist Rally will be held on Saturday, Feb. 8, and the Friends are now taking reservations for the event.

The event brochure proclaims “Muir, Mountain Medicine and More Conservation” as an introduction to some intriguing lectures scheduled for the morning hours of the rally.

Those three speakers scheduled to present lectures are: 

• Bob Fulcher, park manager for Cumberland Trail State Park and State Scenic Trail. He will present “John Muir’s Forgotten Travels On and Around the Roan.” Muir is best known for his naturalist work in California and the West, but he also enjoyed a trip to the Cloudland Hotel on top of Roan Mountain in 1898. Muir never publicly wrote about this journey that led him to the Roan, then deeper into the mountains of the East, though he wrote about his Eastern trip in his journal and letters.

Fulcher first published Muir’s letters in 1998 and worked with Jennifer Bauer, Judy Murray and other environmentalists to celebrate the centennial of Muir’s visit.

• Michelle Bouton, director of HERBalachia School in Johnson City. Her presentation is titled “Medicinal plants of the Roan Highlands.”

• Marquette Crockett, Highlands of Roan stewardship director, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Her presentation is titled “No Place Like Roan.” She will discuss the conservancy’s mission of preserving the highlands for the generations to come.

The rally will take place at the Conference Center at Roan Mountain State Park, 1011 TN Highway 143, Roan Mountain, TN. Phone: (423) 772-0190; http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/roan-mountain.

The schedule for the day:

9 a.m.: Registration.

9:30 a.m.: Indoor program begins.

9:35 a.m.: Crockett, “No Place Like Roan.”

10:30 a.m.: Bouton, “Medicinal Plants of the Roan Highlands.”

11:30 a.m.: Fulcher, “John Muir’s Forgotten Travels On and Around the Roan.”

12:30 p.m.: Lunch. Bag lunches available by pre-paid reservation. Deadline for reservation is Feb. 4. Choice of four sandwiches $8 each.

1:15 p.m.: Choice of three hikes. The hikes will leave from the Conference Center. There will also be a concurrent indoor discussion. No preregistration is required for the activities.

Hike No. 1: High Elevation Balds of the Roan: Trip leader Crockett will lead the way to a high elevation hike and “peak-finding” expedition through the Roan’s grassy balds. Crockett will discuss grassy balds management, point out properties that have been protected by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and lead an activity to identify visible mountain peaks (carpooling, moderately strenuous, kid-friendly).

Hike No. 2: Roan Mountain State Park: Trip leader Jamey Donaldson (John C. Warden adjunct curator, East Tennessee State University) will lead a winter botany and ecology hike along the Raven Rock Trail, with a special focus on the trailside heath communities and the botanically-infused sprits. Roan bathtub gin, anyone? (Moderately strenuous).

Hike No. 3: Roan Mountain State Park: Trip Leader Marty Silver, ranger with Warriors’ Path State Park in Kingsport, will lead a wildlife tracking and animal signs hike down near the Doe River. (Easy, kid-friendly)

Indoor Conservation Confab: Frosty Levy, professor emeritus of biology at East Tennessee State University will lead an indoor discussion about conservation management of Gray’s Lily and other rare plants of the Roan Highlands.

Registration may be made by going to: https://formsmarts.com/form/1xi5?mode=h5.

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