Winter Naturalists’ Rally scheduled Feb. 17

Published 9:12 am Thursday, January 18, 2024

The 16th Annual Roan Mountain Winter Naturalists’ Rally is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17, beginning at 9 a.m. As in past years this one-day event will have a great group of speakers for indoor morning talks, followed by lunch, and then, an afternoon of outdoor exploration.
Since 2007 the Winter Naturalists’ Rally has drawn hardy nature enthusiasts from far and wide to Roan Mountain on the Saturday closest to Valentine’s Day. The 2024 Winter Rally continues this celebration of our natural world by providing expert speakers on topics concerning the environs of the Roan Highlands. Top naturalists volunteer their time and energy to make the event both enjoyable and educational for people of all ages.
Highlights of the day include registration beginning at 9 a.m. in the Roan Mountain State Park Conference Center, located at 1011 TN-143, Roan Mountain. Members of Friends of Roan Mountain are admitted at no charge. Non-member adults are $10 for the day; children are free.
All speakers, activities, and hikes will take place at, or leave, from the conference center. There will be three indoor speakers in the morning, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and ending at 12:30 p.m.
Lunch break will be from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. If you would like to reserve a bag lunch from City Market, you will need to register and pay in advance.
There will be a choice of three afternoon hikes that will leave from the Roan Mountain State Park Conference Center at 1:15 p.m. that will last until no later than 4 p.m. Pre-registration for these activities is not required.
SATURDAY MORNING PROGRAM (9:30 a.m.)
– Dr. Trevor Chapman: “Northern Gray-Cheeked Salamanders in the Southern Appalachian Highlands.”
The Southern Appalachia is home to several endemic species of salamanders that thrive in high elevation habitats. In this talk, Trevor will discuss one species, the Northern Gray-Cheeked salamander, and the research that he has done with this species over the last six years at various local state parks including Roan Mountain.
Trevor is currently a biology lecturer at East Tennessee State University, and his research interests are in amphibian conservation. He is co-advising several graduate students that are involved in research such as frog pathogen detection, salamander genetics and speciation, and salamander behavior and stress. He is particularly interested in applying new techniques, such as dermal swabbing for stress hormones, in an ecological and conservation-oriented context.
– Becky Smucker “Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts in Roan Mountain State Park”
Bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts) were recently surveyed by Becky Smucker in Roan Mountain State Park through a grant from the Friends of Roan Mountain and support from Tennessee’s Natural Heritage Program.
Becky is a field bryologist with experience in the Eastern US and has completed surveys for the National Forest Service, for State & National Parks, environmental businesses and non-profits, Natural Heritage Programs & private land.
– Dr. Rebecca Fletcher “Appalachian Foodways: A Seasonal Approach to Farming and Wildcrafting.” Rebecca will discuss the historical foodways of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, including seasonal farming, hunting, food preservation and wildcrafting for edibles and medicines.
Rebecca is an anthropologist at East Tennessee State University. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Appalachian Studies and Assistant Director of the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services. Rebecca teaches Appalachian Studies courses in health, environment, foodways, paranormal Appalachia and dark tourism, and community engagement. She is co-editor of two books, Appalachia Revisited: Regional Perspectives on Place, Tradition, and Progress (2017) and Engaging Appalachia: A Guidebook for Building Capacity and Sustainability (2023).
Post-lunch activities will include hikes.
– Hike No. 1​. Mosses, Liverworts and Hornworts Trip leader: Becky Smucker (Naturalist/ranger with Warriors’ Path State Park)). Explore and discover the intriguing plant life at Twin Springs Recreation area during the winter. (carpooling; moderate)
– Hike No. 2. ​Roan Mountain State Park Animal Tracking Trip leader: Marty Silver (ranger with Warriors’ Path State Park). Marty will lead a wildlife tracking and animal signs hike down near the Doe River. (easy; kid-friendly)
– Hike No.3. Birds on Roan Mountain Trip Leader: Debi Campbell (President of Bristol Bird Club). Learn about the birds that can be found in and around Roan Mountain State Park. (easy: kid-friendly).
To register online, visit the website: friendsofroanmtn.org

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