10th annual Winter Naturalists’ Rally set for Feb. 11

Published 4:59 pm Friday, February 3, 2017

Photo Courtesy of Ken Turner  A previous Winter Naturalists' Rally field trip.

Photo Courtesy of Ken Turner
A previous Winter Naturalists’ Rally field trip.

Frigid temperatures aren’t enough to deter fans of Roan Mountain.
The annual Winter Roan Naturalists’ Rally is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 11, with a bounty of activities for the public to choose from inside Roan Mountain State Park for a wintery celebration of the Roan Highlands.
“It is always an exciting time to have these events,” Richard Broadwell with the Friends of Roan Mountain group said. “We always have a great time catching up and going through the beauty of the area.”
Roan Mountain has been busy over the past months making headlines for recent accomplishments. The town was recognized as an Appalachian Trail Community near the end of 2016 and Roan Mountain State Park was named Tennessee State Parks’ “State Park of the Year” winner during a special ceremony held by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).
The recent strand of positive news only shows what the Friends of Roan Mountain already knew according to Broadwell.
“I think it only helps validate what we already know,” Broadwell said about the publicity.“It is great to see the area receive that type of recognition and we can only hope it continues to bring more people up to the area.”
And the upcoming event will only add an extra bit of allure for the outdoorsmen and women.
For 10 years, the Winter Naturalists’ Rally has drawn in various nature enthusiasts to Roan Mountain and this year is no different.
Saturday’s morning program, which lasts from 9:30 a.m. to noon, features three different presentations inside the Roan Mountain State Park Conference Center.
• Jamey Donaldson: GREAT GRAMINOIDS! – Quantifying vegetation on Roan Mountain’s Western Balds over the last 80 years (1936 to 2016)
• Cindy Barrett: Range-wide Prevalence and Impacts of the Lily Leaf Spot Disease on Gray’s Lily with an Assessment of Turk’s Cap Lily and Michaux’s Lily as Disease Reservoirs.
• Dr. Jay Franklin: Late Prehistoric Towns and Cherokee Archaeology in the Upper Reaches of the Tennessee Valley.
Franklin, with East Tennessee State University, will spend the time discussing the history of Roan Mountain. According to information provided to the Elizabethton Star, a Tennessee Valley Authority report from 1958 were not suitable for permanent Native American villages.
Archaeological research conducted by individuals, like Franklin, indicates that the region actually was the home of large, vibrant Native American towns, from at least 1350 to 1650. Franklin will spend the day going over his research compiled at the different locations.
Lunch time will have a bit of informative entertainment with Bob Estep providing a special flintknapping demonstration from noon until 1 p.m.
After 1 p.m. three different hikes will be available for participants. The hikes, which begin from the conference room, include:
• Jamey Donaldson will lead a hike to the balds on the ridgeline of Roan Mountain
• Marty Silver with Warrior’s Path State Park will lead a wildlife tracking and animal signs hike near the Doe River in the park.
• Dr. Frosty Levy with ETSU will lead a winter tree identification hike in the park.
Registration for the event is available by visiting the Friends of Roan Mountain website (friendsofroanmtn.org). Members of the group are able to attend free of charge while non-member adults can attend for $10. Children are able to attend the event free of charge.
“The proceeds from the Rally will go directly into the Friends group to help with projects to benefit the park,” Broadwell said. “We were able to help Cindy and Jamey with research thanks to some of the funds.”
Individuals also looking to make a contribution can check the website for more information.

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