The mountains’ diverse habitats – the mossy boulder-lined mountain streams, the high windy ridge tops, the rare mountain bogs – host a wide variety of species. Scientists call the forests of the Southern Blue Ridge the most ecologically rich in the temperate world; over 100,000 species are estimated to live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone. The mountains are home to 400 rare plants and more than 250 plants that occur nowhere else in the world.
Watch our video about land conservation, Natural Heritage Areas, and the 6th Street Bog in Highlands, NC.
The agricultural heritage of the North Carolina mountains dates to well before European settlement, when Cherokee Indians farmed the fertile bottomlands along streams and rivers. There are more than 12,000 working farms in the region. While mountain farms tend to be relatively small, many families have earned a good living from the land.