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Cold Mountain Public Meeting

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A public input meeting will be held on March 9, 2015, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Haywood Community College Auditorium, 185 Freelander Drive Clyde NC 28721. Those attending the meeting should arrive a few minutes early to receive materials. In the event the meeting has to be cancelled due to weather the meeting will be held on 3/12/15 at the same location and time. Please go to www.ncwildlife.org in the event of inclement weather on the 9th to check for cancellation.

Those who are unable to attend the meeting can submit comments regarding the management plan at www.ncwildlife.org (click on “Comment on Game Land Plans” on the slider bar at bottom of page). Comments can also be sent to gamelandplan@ncwildlife.org. Please type “Cold Mountain” on the subject line. Interested individuals can also follow the process on Facebook and Twitter. As a note, the Commission has made it clear that there will be no discussion of the current U.S. Forest Service plan revision process at this meeting.

I run in to folks who are not even aware of this jewel in Haywood County. A little background. This 3,300 acre tract of land is south of Canton and essentially surrounds Lake Logan on NC Highway 215. It originally belonged to the paper mill in Canton and was transferred to the state about 10 years ago. Portions of it border the Pisgah National Forest. Shortly after becoming a Game Land the local chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society contributed money for a grouse habitat project there, known as the Jerry Smathers Grouse Project. Jerry was a member of RGS and also a forested with the paper mill.

There is a lot of potential for wildlife habitat management on the tract. Unlike Sandy Mush, which started with open fields suitable for grain crops for dove and upland habitat, Cold Mountain is mountainous and heavily forested. This makes it ideal for ruffed grouse and other high elevation wildlife like the golden-winged warbler, bears, and with proper management deer. I hope hunters show up to voice their support for a robust wildlife habitat management plan consistent with the Commission’s mission.

Hard to believe but we only have about one week remaining in the small game season. Then there is a six week hiatus while we wait for turkey season to open on April 11th. Until then there is fishing to do. The Hatchery Supported streams will be closed in March for restocking prior to the April 4th opener but there are abundant opportunities on Delayed Harvest waters. Curtis Wright Outfitters in Weaverville reports that warm weather has offered good fishing but with cold weather returning as it always does this time of year you need to fish deep and get your flies down on the bottom. Good choices include nymph patterns and wooly buggers. If the temperatures do rise and bring the fish up try Olive Hare’s Ear or Black Elk Hair Caddis.

While April brings thoughts of trout and tom turkeys, my thoughts are turning to something else: snow geese. We don’t get snow geese here in the mountains but they do in the coastal region. That’s not where I’m headed. Nope, I’m going to North Dakota with a friend the first week of April as the snows return to their Arctic breeding grounds during their northward migration. You may not be aware, but snow geese are extremely over-populated to the point of destroying their breeding habitat. Therefore, several years ago the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service implemented a Spring Conservation hunt for them. Bag limits are liberal, guns are unplugged, and electronic calls are used. Another bucket list hunt. I can’t wait!

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