The Southern Blue Ridge – Crucible of Life

Published 3:42 pm Friday, July 7, 2017

Host of ETV’s Expeditions to present at PAC gathering

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation by Patrick McMillan, host of ETV’s Expeditions with Patrick McMillan, on “The Southern Blue Ridge – Crucible of Life.” The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, July 15, at 10:30 a.m.

When we think of biodiversity, our minds often wander to the far corners of the globe but one of the world’s great centers of temperate diversity is right here in our own back yards, the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment. Join Patrick as he takes an in-depth look at this often overlooked region of the Appalachians that harbors endemic and ancient relicts from the distant past that have long-since disappeared from the rest of the continent.

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The Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment is the heart of the most diverse temperate broad-leaved forest on the continent, and it has served time and again as a refuge during change and an engine of biodiversity production.

It is the only place in North America that you can find Oconee Bells, and there are more species of Trillium, Hexastylis, and salamanders here than in any other comparably sized region on the continent. There is something that all of these species share in common; they can’t move very fast, they can’t quickly retreat from change. These plants and animals need a place to call home that can accommodate change and that is resilient in the face of change.

Patrick McMillan

The unique position, climate, and highly dissected and varied topography of the ridges and gorges of the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment have provided this crucible for life in the face of change again and again. They hold biodiversity in the face of climatic adversity and exhale their treasures to the entire region when conditions improve. Recognizing the importance of this region lends strong support to the conservation of as much of this system as possible, including the identification of the routes in and out of this corridor into the rest of North America. Eloquent design could produce a network of conservation corridors to buffer change in the eastern deciduous forest, ensuring that our children’s children will enjoy the same diversity of life we do today.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy. 108 E and turn left on Hwy. 9 toward Lake Lure. Follow Hwy. 9 N for five miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station). Go one mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road. Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve. Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. (GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website.) 

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail 

The next PAC/WCP program will be held on August 12, when UNCC botanist David Campbell will present on his Floristic and Biodiversity Study of Polk County at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at 10:30 a.m.

For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit Walnut Creek Preserve is private property and guests are only allowed on the property by invitation (a planned event or scheduled group).

– article submitted by Pam Torlina