Tray Mountain Wilderness Extensions

Tray Mountain Wilderness Extensions

Approximate size: 2,699 acres
Old-growth known: 0 acres

When the RARE II roadless assessment was completed in 1979, the Tray Mountain Roadless Area was the largest in north Georgia, encompassing 36,300 acres between Helen and Hiawassee. By 1986, when the Tray Mountain Wilderness was created, new roads had sliced apart the area, and only 9,702 acres made it into the wilderness.

The Wilderness also excluded the Tripp Branch watershed, even though no road or other barrier ran between watershed and the Wilderness. Most likely, two large clear-cuts completed just 11 years before the Wilderness designation were seen as disqualifying features. The clear-cuts
themselves though likely reflect the exceptional nature of the watershed. Rich and fertile soils run all along the northeastfacing side of the watershed, and foster diverse forests and rapid tree growth. Even the slopes in between the coves are capable of supporting large trees, making an unusually extensive and unbroken block of high quality timber. Areas not logged in the 1970s support several rare plant species. Rapid tree growth has allowed areas that were logged then to regain much of the feeling of a healthy forest and wilderness, even if not all of the biodiversity has returned yet. Tripp Branch has recovered enough that it would make a valuable addition to the Tray Mountain Wilderness.

Help us protect this 16,000-acre oasis of waterfalls, old-growth, rare species, panoramic views, and world-class trails.


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