While fire may initially appear destructive, it can actually be beneficial to the natural environment in the long-term. Fire clears debris on the forest floor, removes shrubs and thins trees, reducing competition for nutrients and space. It recycles key nutrients, like carbon, from plants back into the soil and can help with the initial control of non-native invasive species. The Party Rock Fire removed many of the understory non-native invasive plants in the Hickory Nut Gorge, but it doesn’t mean those non-natives won’t return.
The Weed Action Coalition of the Hickory Nut Gorge (WAC-HNG), composed of local partners including Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), works to protect the natural environment of the Hickory Nut Gorge by managing the exotic invasive plants on public and private land. WAC-HNG can be a major force in helping to mitigate the return of invasive species after the Party Rock Fire. Support from landowners in the gorge and volunteers from the local community will be critical in the months and years ahead.