Fall 2019:12
The Conservation Exchange
at Warren Wilson College
Sharing Ideas, Passion and Resources
for Innovative Land Stewardship
A Note from the Dean of Land Resources
This newsletter marks the one-year anniversary of the launching of the Conservation Exchange at Warren Wilson College. From its humble beginnings at a hiker meeting around trail access, we've built a conservation community that is over 700 strong! The Conservation Exchange remains committed to developing conservation practices that protect the natural resources of the region and sharing those practices with landowners and others who are dedicated to better understanding the role we must play in maintaining healthy and vibrant ecosystems for future generations. I'd like to thank the organizations and individual donors who have generously given to support our projects and programming and all those who have joined us for events such as the Power of Place Lecture Series and the WWC/AMOS Sustainability Series. We are currently finalizing this academic year's slate of events which will focus on climate, food systems and biodiversity - stay tuned!
Craft Crews Have Joined the Land Resources Team!
We are excited to announce that the Fiber Arts and Blacksmith Crews have joined Land Resources , further integrating applied learning experiences at the College. The current Fiber Arts Crew was formed in 2009, although the College had a weaving program at the Dorland-Bell School from the 1920's through the 1960's. While weaving, fiber arts education and the making of products for sale to the community are the focus of the crew, ties to the land are a foundation of the program. The crew maintains a dye garden, grows flax and cotton for yarn making and works with the College Farm to produce wool for dying and felting projects. As crew supervisor Melanie Wilder puts it, " Working closer to our team of land experts will provide a deeper sense of connection and opportunities for students at Warren Wilson College." Blacksmithing has had a long and important relationship with land management, especially through its role in supporting agricultural operations before the advent of production manufacturing. The local smithy was often seen as an essential hub of the community, providing the tools, farm implements and hardware that kept agricultural enterprises running. " In our collaborative workshop, faculty and crew work together to hone, improvise and redefine ancient technologies with new technologies; bending and blending concepts and materials that simulate real world production and business systems", says Matt Haugh, Blacksmith Crew Supervisor.
You will have lots of opportunities to get to know the Fiber Arts and Blacksmith Crews in the coming months. They will be conducting workshops and demonstrations at the LEAF Festival October 17th-20th and at the Holiday Skill Share November 23rd on Warren Wilson College Campus. The crews will also be selling their wares at the WWC Farm Meat Sale on October 26th. And of course, we'll keep you up to date on projects and events that showcase the contributions of craft to our mission of modeling sustainable and innovative land management practices for the region.
Natural Dye Workshop
October 26th, 9am-12pm.
Join Fiber Arts Supervisor Melanie Wilder for an exploration with natural dyes. Come learn about natural dyes that are grown and used on campus as well as other dyes native to our region. Participants will make dye from Madder Root ( Rubia tinctorum), learn about its historical uses, and dye a napkin to take home. $10 materials fee, limited to 12.
Swannanoa Mussel Reintroduction
There are over 60 species of freshwater mussels in North Carolina. Mussels play a key role in many aquatic communities: filtering out organic matter, stabilizing beds and banks, providing food for many creatures and contributing to overall ecosystem function. Warren Wilson College recently teamed up with USFWS and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to conserve native mussels and restore them to the Swannanoa River. The wavy-rayed lampmussel ( Lampsilis fasciola), bred in NCWRC’s Conservation Aquaculture Center, was stocked in the Swannanoa last week with the help of WWC's Dr. Pat Ciccotto’s Invertebrate Zoology class. While the species is of state special concern, it is also relatively easy to propagate, ideally helping to lay the groundwork for future mussel reintroductions in the area.
Partnering for Bat Conservation
WWC Conservation Biology students recently joined researchers from Indiana State University and NCWRC mistnetting for bats along the Swannanoa River. This sampling, combined with previously established acoustic monitoring equipment, has given us an insight into the area’s bat diversity. Among the fascinating finds: a few big-brown bats ( Eptesicus fuscus), an evening bat ( Nycticeius humeralis), an eastern red bat ( Lasiurus borealis) and the target species, the rare gray bat ( Myotis grisescens). Information, such as weight and wing condition, is collected for each individual, regardless of species. A transmitter was attached to the gray bat, allowing researchers to track foraging patterns and determine potential roost sites. The project is funded by the NC Department of Transportation and will allow for a better understanding of the environmental implications of future DOT projects, a key element in the conservation of this at-risk species.
It's All About the Kids!
During the past year we've hosted programs for scores of elementary and high school students on our Farm, Garden and Forest. Professor Mallory McDuff's Environmental Education Program as well as Land Supervisors from the Work Program engage young minds in topics such as ecology, agriculture and outdoor skills. Students visit from Muddy Sneakers, The Community High School, W.D. Williams and the French Broad River Academy to name a few. This work is an essential part of the Land Resources mission and some of the most important work we do. These outings allow our students to share their passions and hone their teaching skills while giving back to the local community. It is always a delight to see these interactions!
Capturing the Swannanoa River
Local artist Dan Simpson was inspired to do an extensive photo study of the wild beauty of the Swannanoa River as it traveled through Warren Wilson land during Winter 2018. " I found myself focusing on the colors and patterns of the banks and sandbars swept clean of silt by the floods of summer. The winter aspect of the river is beautiful in a way that’s not at all apparent when it’s covered by the softness of the other seasons, and it’s a joy to show it with my photographs. Thanks for your good stewardship of the land and river... and allowing your neighbors to visit. It's a priceless gift." - DS
Dan has an exhibit of his entire Swannanoa River study at Trackside Studios , 375 Depot St, Asheville through the month of October.
Visit The Conservation Exchange on both Facebook and Instagram to get more educational content and information on our events, programs and resources such as the wonderful " Noticing Nature" video series
Interested in Giving to The Conservation Exchange?
Your generous gift will go towards helping us maintain and improve the research and educational infrastructure of our land and will support continued outreach opportunities for the Warren Wilson College Conservation Community. To give, go to the link below, choose " Other" and designate " Conservation Exchange" on the form. Thank you for being part of our Conservation Community!