Impacts of the Party Rock Fire on Hickory Nut Gorge

Environmental experts will present information about the long-term effects of the Party Rock Fire on the natural environment in Hickory Nut Gorge on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 6 p.m. in the Community Hall at the Lake Lure Municipal Building. Experts include Clint Calhoun with the Town of Lake Lure, Marshall Ellis with NC State Parks, and Michael Cheek with the NC Forest Service.

The Party Rock Fire burned more than 7,000 acres in the Hickory Nut Gorge in November of 2016. While there were no fatalities and no structures were lost during the fire, there are other ways that the fire will affect the local community. The local economy relies heavily on tourism; the Hickory Nut Gorge’s natural beauty and unique plant and animal species are a major draw for visitors. The disturbance caused by the Party Rock Fire could create the ideal conditions for non-native invasive plants to thrive, which can lower biodiversity and affect the beauty of the gorge. In contrast, some of the rare and endangered plant species of the gorge are dependent on disturbances to create suitable habitats for them. There are many potential benefits and detriments from the fire.

The panel will present and discuss information about what the possible effects of the fire will be, when we can expect to start seeing them, and what the community can do to ensure the natural environment of the Hickory Nut Gorge stays healthy. The panel will be hosted and moderated by the Weed Action Coalition of the Hickory Nut Gorge (WAC-HNG) and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. It is free and open to the public.

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