Articles (in reverse chronological order)

Lessons from science in the community

A central goal of the Coweeta Listening Project is to bring scientists and non-scientists together to exchange information, insight and experiences. We especially emphasize the word exchange because while many organizations promote environmental education, we want to support environmental dialogues. What kind of lessons emerge when landowners, ecologists, citizens, chemists, geologists, hunters, and business people all sit down together to talk about social and environmental changes in the Southern Appalachian Mountains?

Removal of large woody debris from streams

Logs, branches, and limbs (“large woody debris”) play an important function in stream health and water quality by providing food and habitat for fish and aquatic bugs. Research shows that Brook, Rainbow, and Brown trout are all more common in streams with more large woody debris, likely due to the greater abundance of bugs living and spawning in the habitat provided by the logs, branches, and limbs. Large wood in streams can also help stabilize stream banks and store sediment.

Local teachers take part in research

Local teachers, in partnership with the Coweeta Listening Project, have created 14 videos documenting their experiences working with scientists from the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program and the USDA Forest Service Coweeta Hydrologic Lab. The videos are available for viewing or download to a computer or iPod at by navigating to the “resources” page.

The scientific side of steep slopes

Given the Peek’s Creek landslide, notable erosion problems, and the county’s now tabled steep slope ordinance, residential development on steep slopes has been a hot topic of public discussion in Macon County during the last several years. As in past columns, our purpose here is to discuss available data so that county residents can be informed and develop their own positions. As such, this edition of our column discusses some of the publicly available data about steep slope development in Macon County.

Exurbanization in the Southern Apps

In a recent issue of the Smoky Mountain News, Andrew Kasper wrote, “the exurbanites are invading Macon County.” Who are these invaders and how scared should we be? This edition of our column details Macon County’s exurbanites, the process of exurbanization and its long term impacts on the county.

Elevation and home prices in Macon County

If you have ever suspected that high-elevation homes in Macon County are more valuable and more likely to be owned by a non-resident, it looks like you’re right. This week’s column from the Coweeta Listening Project digs into county tax records and research papers on real estate values to describe and understand this phenomenon.

Putting the 'local' in global climate change

When talking with community members about environmental issues such as climate change, we often hear a desire for more locally relevant information about how global climate processes affect the Western North Carolina region. In response, we’ve decided to focus this column on two climate-related issues that will be important to this region in the coming decades: changes in precipitation and climate effects on biodiversity.

Drought in the Southern Appalachian Temperate Rainforest? Part 2

Part One of this series discussed the local impacts of drought. This week, we focus on how people’s perceptions of climate and weather influence how we designate droughts and manage their impacts. To start, we need to rethink the basic question, what is drought?

Drought in the Southern Appalachian Temperate Rainforest? Part 1

With record droughts in the Midwest, unprecedented flooding in Louisiana and the increased frequency of drought over the past few decades in Macon County, water has been on a lot of people’s minds this summer. Because many often talk about droughts and flooding as “natural disasters,” sometimes the ways that human actions shape water flows and availability and the ways that people are impacted are overlooked. In our next two columns, we focus on water issues in southwestern North Carolina.

Appreciating place-based ecological science

A common statement from within the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project is that it is organized to be place-based, cross-scale, long-term and comparative, reflecting how the program has adapted ecological theory and practice to the present and future needs of society in the southeastern United States. The USDA Forest Service Coweeta Hydrologic Lab entered into a cooperative effort with the University of Georgia in 1980 on a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project that is funded through the National Science Foundation.