The ecological diversity in the area we live in is something to really be proud of but it is becoming increasingly harder to sustain its amazing diversity. “The Cumberland Plateau… is widely considered one of the most biologically rich regions on Earth, rivaling the biodiversity of tropical rainforests” (Kingsbury, n.d.). In particular, the Eastern and Carolina hemlock tree species have been hit hard by HWA. Leaving some areas in Tennessee and surrounding states devastated and in turn develop additional negative impacts to potentially strike such as the wildfires of November 2016. The aphid-like insects are an invasive species from Asia. Around 1951, found along the east coast of Virginia. Spreading approximately 15+ miles a year and infiltrating a total of 17 eastern US states to date. Converting East Tennessee’s beautiful biodiversity along mountain streams, creeks, and rivers where lush green, climate cooling habitat pillars grow, to ghostly gray tree skeletons. Places where the fisherman, hiker, kayaker, hunter and wildlife would frequent.
Did you know Monarch butterflies are on the cusp of an endangered species? Unless there is involvement to help bring back their numbers - to use our "dominion of this planet" God gifted us with to care and provide for them. That's exactly what we are accomplishing here on the Stewardship. Our Stewardship efforts are providing habitat for these declining species native to this side of the globe. While fighting bugs that are not supposed to be on this side of the globe, sucking the life right out of our U.S. private and public forests.
Earlier this year, the release of the Promark drumstick company's Play.Plant.Preserve. website and YouTube video released. Featuring our certified private forest, and the East TN Nursery. We are really excited that we were selected to be the backdrop and Chris unknowingly became the face for their conservation efforts. Check out Play.Plant.Preserve.com or click on their YouTube video here.
Hopefully you have had a beautiful and fun-filled Summer season. Here on the Ridge, the beginnings of Autumn are taking on the colors of Fall quickly with the small drought. The trees seemingly have had enough of the heat and show early signs how ready they are to shed off this year's leaves. While the trees are ready to call it a year, these conditions are better for the seed heads of the flowers and grasses which prepare for next year's bloom, and provide sources of wildlife food. Regardless of the blazing sun and dry conditions, Chris has been in the sweltering heat diligently trimming back the overhang on many of the burn breaks throughout the property.
If you asked me 5-10 years ago, ‘where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?’ My response would not have been planting weeds. Especially not with the care and determination Chris and I have put into our Milkweed Restoration Project for Monarch butterflies. However, milkweed species are being picked out of the national landscape and therefore directly impact the Monarch butterfly. Milk-“weeds” are actually a native perennial flowers vital to the Monarch butterflies survival.
So why help the Monarchs specifically from all the other butterflies you may wonder? (I know I did before setting out to plant milkweeds.) There are a number of practical reasons:
This past Wednesday, May 25, 2016, I came back home from a day of substitute teaching and the gym and there were these boxes full of 2-3 flats each of milkweed! This is what 988 plugs look like when UPS drops them off in your driveway. So Chris and I got to it and unloaded them out of the shipping containers and netting.
The grants for 2015 and 2016 D'Addario / Promark tree program helped CRC Stewardship obtain the treelings planted, illustrated in this picture collage. All the exciting aspects of the process are shown here in it's beginning stages.
Many of these trees can used down the road for drumsticks in the music industry. As well as keeping the forests healthy and sustainable. Thanks D'Addario / Promark!
This is the beginning stage Chris has been working on with CRC Stewardship's Spring 2016 tree planting. Selective clearing with a bulldozer clears unwanted vegetation; giving the trees that are left optimal room to grow. While the new tree-lings from the D'Addario-Promark grant program will gain the best chance for survival. Many thanks to our friend Jason Godsey for his skillful work on the 'dozer. Great work fellas!