Cherokee National Forest has been merged as part of the Southern Blue Ridge IBA.

Established in 1920, the Cherokee National Forest was quite different then than today. The Weeks Act in 1911 authorized in the Southern Appalachians the purchase of "forested, cut-over, or denuded lands within the watersheds of navigable streams." These lands, devastated by years of timber and mining, had limited natural resources remaining. Some eighty years later the forest has become healthier. Annually, approximately 20,000 acres are prescribed burned and on average 3,000 acres are burned by wildfires. There are 30 developed campgrounds and 30 picnic sites; 700 miles of trails including 150 miles of the Appalachian Trail; 1,500 miles of roads (approximately 50% open to public use); and 11 designated Wildernesses (67,000 acres). There are 72 species of trees. Approximately 60,000 acres have been impacted by Southern Pine Beetles. There are 500 miles of linear wildlife openings; 950 wildlife openings (plots); and 500 miles of cold-water streams.

The Cherokee National Forest North is represented by three specific sites within the region- Big Bald Mountain, Roan Mountain, and Unaka Mountain.

Ornithological Summary

Contained within the Cherokee National Forest (north) are Endangered, Threatened, and In Need of Management species; exceptional representations of natural habitats; significant raptor migration; massive land bird migration, and long-term monitoring. These criteria are documented in three sites within the national forest--Big Bald (Mountain), Roan Mountain, and Unaka Mountain.

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