This year mother nature is proving we live in a lush but non tropical rain forest. What is that you say? It is true! We live in the Appalachian temperate rainforest.
The Appalachian Mountains started to form somewhere around 400 million years ago by the collision of plates. The collision which caused the uplift of the mountains began around 440 to 480 million years ago and ended around 230 million years ago. This range has an important role of forming the temperate rainforest in this area. In the Last Ice Age, ice did not cover the south Appalachian Mountains. Uncovered area was a refuge for animals and plants which lived in northern area. After the ice receded, some species spread back to north, while some of them stayed in this area. This is one of the reasons why there is a high biodiversity in our rainforest.
Native Americans have lived in this area for about 10,000 years. After contact with European settlers, the Cherokee Nation was forced to move in 1838 to 1839 from their traditional homeland to Oklahoma. Cherokees were relatively late comers to this region, and prior to their removal they were notorious for warring with rival tribes including the Muscogee and the Creeks.
The Appalachian Trail, which is a 2,000 miles or more trail from Georgia to Maine provides one of the main recreational uses. The trail passes through the Appalachian mountain range, including the Appalachian temperate rainforest. The trail plan was published in 1921, and the trail was completed in 1937. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website, 2500 hikers started at the Appalachian Trail southern trailhead in Georgia. Non-profit organizations and the National Park Service maintain the trail.
Part of the Appalachian temperate rainforest is in the Nantahala National Forest (established in 1920), the Cherokee National Forest (established in 1920 as well), and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (established in 1934). The rainforest, protected federal-owned land, is host to recreational visitors.
Ironically, the mountain forest cannot exist without the 5 to 8 feet of water that pours down in a single year. The mountain forests are expert in conserving and managing this precious substance through many millennia of trial and error. The forest operates as a soil-building and water-holding device, powered by solar energy. The excess water not used by the system runs off as streams and rivers which we can, with wisdom, use ourselves.
Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia at 4,784 feet. Brasstown Bald, below the northeast peak, is home to Georgia’s only “cloud forest”, where the area is continually soaked from the moisture of the clouds.
Because of this rainfall we also have Mountain Bogs. Mountain bogs are one of the most critically endangered habitats of the southern Appalachians, found in both Rabun and Towns Counties. Typically small, between a half-acre and five acres, they are associated with seeps, springs or small creeks and provide critical habitat for the federally threatened bog turtle and swamp pink, two of Georgia’s rarest species.
Years of work and thousands of hours of manpower and sweat equity are coming together as the last stages of restoration work are being completed in one of Georgia’s rarest ecological systems—the southern Appalachian mountain bog. In this case the wetland feature in question would hardly be noticed by passer-by without being pointed out, yet it is a virtual part of the landscape.
So yes, this has been a bit of a wet and cool year. Enjoy it! It brings to life the things we love about our mountains.
As always we appreciate your spending a little time with us today and again,
WELCOME TO THE MOUNTAINS