Let's Keep The Linville Gorge Gorge-ous

Marion, NC: Steep rock walls, towering peaks, and cascading waterfalls create the wilderness area of the iconic, Linville Gorge. Any outdoor enthusiast would feel at home in the gorge with miles of trails connecting the river with the peaks above. With an increasing amount of visitors each year, the gorge is under threat of being loved to death. The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers made their way to the Linville Gorge for a week long Hot Spot to help aid in the protection of this heavily used wilderness area.

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The major impacts that we witnessed during our adventures in the gorge are considered avoidable impacts. Here are some examples of what we found.

·      Trash on the trail and in fire rings

·      Cutting switchbacks and social trails

·      Pet and human waste impacts

·      Campsite widening

·      Rock scarring

Here are some suggestions on how to minimize these avoidable impacts.

·      Pack it in, pack it out and always remember to repackage your food before a trip to minimize waste in wilderness areas

·      Bring a bag along to dispose of pet waste properly

·      Dispose of human waste properly by digging a cat hole 6-8 inches deep

·      Stick to the trail

·      Minimize your footprint by sticking to the boundaries of your campsite

·      Keep your fires in designated fire rings and remember to check the rules and regulations before having a fire

Thanks to the help of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) & the Pisgah National Forest Rangers we were able to reach out to the visitors of the Linville Gorge through education, outreach and service projects helping to minimize the overall impacts in such a fragile wilderness area!

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We had the opportunity to participate in an invasive species removal at the summit of Table Rock Mountain. To all visitors that know the gorge, Table Rock Mountain towers above the forest floor and is one of the most popular places in the gorge. Here, invasive species are beginning to grow taller than the native plants blocking out sun and altering the natural ecosystem. Here are a few tips and tricks to help stop the spread of invasive species.

·      Clean off the soles of your shoes off after spending time in the forest

·      Brush your pets fur to eliminate any hitchhikers

·      Wash your gear and clothing

·      Wash the tread of your tires before adventuring to a new place

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With everyone’s help we have the opportunity to minimize these avoidable impacts and keep the gorge looking gorge-ous! Looking to find out more about Leave No Trace Hot Spot Programs?? Click here!

Enjoy your world!

Steph and Andy – Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, East Coast Team

Leave No Trace’s Stephanie Whatton and Andy Mossey are part of the 2015 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Deuter, Hi-Cone, REI, Smartwool, The North Face, and Yakima.