Appalachian Ranger District gets a new ranger

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Asheville, NC –July 17, 2020 – The National Forests in North Carolina announced that Jen Barnhart will oversee management and operations as the new District Ranger on the Appalachian Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest beginning July 20, 2020.
“Jen has an excellent background in working collaboratively with others and for multiple agencies. She is well grounded in the management of district programs and has a great conservation education background,” said Forest
Supervisor Allen Nicholas. “Jen’s previous forest is similar to the Pisgah National Forest in that it experiences exceptionally high recreational demand with high expectations from the public.”
Barnhart has been a District Ranger on the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Maine since 2016, where she built strong relationships with local communities and partners.
“It is a privilege to be selected to serve on the prestigious National Forests in North Carolina,” said Barnhart. “I’m looking forward to serving a district of employees who are hardworking, knowledgeable, and passionate about public land management. This also rings true for me with the highly capable local communities and partners that are devoted to a vastly regarded and impressive landscape.”
Image of Pisgah National Forest. Barnhart will serve as an Appalachian District Ranger.

Image of Pisgah National Forest. Barnhart will serve as an Appalachian District Ranger.

Barnhart has a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Recreation with a minor in Forestry from Virginia Tech University and a master’s degree in Natural Resources and Science Management from the University of Minnesota.
She has a diverse background of over twenty years of experience in integrated natural resources, public service, and land management. Her positions have varied beyond working for the Forest Service with non-profit conservation organizations, universities, and land management state agencies. Barnhart has also worked as an Acting District Ranger and a District Recreation Program Manager on the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests in South Carolina and as a District Recreation Program Manager on the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana.
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USFS Acquires 49-Acre Tract in Fires Creek

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Fires Creek

Murphy, NC, June 26, 2020 – The U.S. Forest Service has acquired a 49-acre inholding at the headwaters of Laurel Creek, a tributary to Fires Creek, in a popular recreation area on the Tusquitee Ranger District. Funding for the purchase comes from the North Carolina Threatened Treasures FY 2020 Land and Water Conservation Fund Appropriations.

The tract, which is completely surrounded by national forest, had been privately owned until it was purchased by Mainspring Conservation Trust in 2017.

In closing on the sale to the U.S. Forest Service, Jordan Smith, Executive Director for Mainspring said, “We are thrilled that the Laurel Creek inholding is forever part of the National Forest, after more than a decade of uncertainty. Mainspring is grateful to the landowners, who were willing to seek a conservation solution for this incredibly significant property, the organizations and supporters who helped donate to this project so the property could become public land, and for our partners at the U.S. Forest Service, who recognized what this inholding means to hikers, hunters, and people who love the Fires Creek Area. This project exemplifies what can happen when everyone works together for permanent conservation.”

The parcel includes a section of the Rim Trail, a 25- mile foot and horse path that traverses the rim of the Tusquitee Mountains and Valley River Mountains that form the Fires Creek watershed. The Rim Trail loop starts at the Fires Creek Recreation Area and connects to other trails including the Shinbone, Sassafras, Phillips Ridge, and Bristol Horse Trails.

“This property is an important wildlife area used by sportsmen for bear, deer, turkey, and grouse hunting and ensures recreation access to the Rim Trail,” said District Ranger Andy Gaston. “Mainspring Conservation Trust has been a great partner in adding public lands to this well-loved part of the Nantahala National Forest.”

Acquisition of the property also helps provide for abundant clean water through protection of the headwaters of Fires Creek, Laurel Creek, and Phillips Creek that flow into the Hiwassee River Basin, the primary source of drinking water for residents in North Carolina and Georgia.

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