Hidden Treasures: Public Forests

Journey with us…

…through the spectacular state and national forests our region has to offer.

Unlike national parks, which focus on preservation of natural areas as well as visitor enjoyment and education, national forests are managed for many purposes — such as timber, grazing, conservation, wildlife and fisheries in addition to recreation. There are 11 national forests in the Central and Southern Appalachian Mountains, and many more state forests. These state forests are also managed for multiple purposes, and some offer recreation opportunities.

Yellow Branch Falls

Yellow Branch Falls. Photo by Mark Oleg Ozboyd, Southeast Nature Society

U.S. Forest Service data shows that the number of visits to national forests have increased from roughly 142.5 million visits in 2005 to 148 million in 2016. Eighty-four percent of national forest visitors traveled for recreation, largely for hiking or walking. Visitors come from near and far; people who traveled under 25 miles to the national forest averaged 33 percent of visits, while 15 percent of visitors traveled from over 500 miles.

When visiting these beautiful spaces, be wary of climbing around waterfalls, and practice Leave No Trace principles, which provide guidance on how to avoid human-created impacts to the natural world. Especially be sure to dispose of waste properly so that each visitor to these public places can experience them in all their splendor.

Over the years, The Appalachian Voice has explored a wide array of the marvelous and wonderful hidden treasures of Appalachia. Visit appvoices.org/hiddentreasures to explore them all.


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