It is called the Woodland Steward Series and is specifically designed to help forest landowners in the mountains to manage properties to promote environmental and forest health and improve wildlife habitat. Woodland owners interested in managing their land and developing an understanding of the basic principles of woodland stewardship are invited to participate in this unique educational event scheduled for this summer. A history of forestry in this state and introductory information on a wide variety of land management topics will be discussed. A team of land management experts from federal and state agencies, universities, and the private sector are coordinating efforts to offer the Woodland Steward Series through the Biltmore Forest School.
All workshops are scheduled to take place in the Asheville, NC area including the NC Arboretum, USDA Forest Service Bent Creek Experimental Station, and the Cradle of Forestry in Brevard, NC. Participants should be prepared for light hiking and outdoor weather conditions. The number of participants at each workshop is limited to 30. You can access the class schedule and sign up at www.ncsu-feop.org/woodlandstewards/. The first class is July 29 – 30, Discovering Your Land, at the Cradle of Forestry and Bent Creek Experimental Station. Other classes follow on July 30 – 31, August 19 – 20, and August 20 – 21. Course titles and descriptions and registration information can be found at the above website. I would encourage any landowner who is interested in managing the land for wildlife to check it out and attend some or all of the sessions.
The Governor signed the Outdoor Heritage Act this past week which will allow Sunday hunting with firearms for the first time in nearly 150 years. Of course it is not without restrictions. Here are the ground rules as I understand them. First, private property only. Second, no waterfowl or running deer with dogs. Next, no hunting between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (basically during church hours). Lastly, no hunting within 500 yards of a dwelling or place of worship that is not on the property you have permission to hunt.
As a gun store owner, hunter, and outdoor writer I was interviewed by a local paper about my thoughts on passage of the bill. I don’t think it will have as much impact here in the mountains as it will in the piedmont and coastal regions where there are more deer clubs on large tracts of land. Most of our private land in the mountains is fragmented in smaller parcels and there are very few, if any, hunting clubs. I suspect that most of the hunters taking advantage of this opportunity will hunt on family property or property of friends that allow them to hunt in the first place. I have a couple of private properties I grouse hunt on and always have written permission for that privilege. I plan on updating those permission slips with them annotated whether Sunday hunting is permitted. That ends any confusion.
I also hope, and want to believe, that this is a small victory that will lead to less restriction in the future. There was a lot of misinformation spread about the impact of this Act, particularly with the threat to other recreationists. There are many states that allow unrestricted Sunday hunting to include on public land, our neighbor to the east Tennessee as an example. The Cherokee National Forest that borders North Carolina has no Sunday hunting restriction and to the best of my knowledge there has been no conflict between hikers, bikers, and hunters. The same folks who display a “Coexist” bumper sticker here seem to want to coexist on their terms. No compromise. By and large hunters are safety conscious and usually hunt off the beaten path that hikers and bikers use. I like to think in a few years we will see additional legislation reducing the current restrictions and allowing hunting on public land; much of it paid for and maintained by hunters dollars.