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Updated Purchase Knob Information



A message from Paul E. Super
Science Coordinator
Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at Purchase Knob
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
P.O. Box 357
Lake Junaluska, NC 28745-0357
(828) 926-6251

--The house and property are now the headquarters for the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center. This is one of, as of spring 2004, 14 federally funded Research Learning Centers to help us all to better understand the natural and cultural resources we are charged with protecting in National Park lands.

--We strive to bring more high quality research to the parks, work with private and other agency lands around the parks to better understand the whole region, and share the results of all research in the parks to as wide an audience as possible. At present, research at Purchase Knob includes studies of the effects of ozone on native plants, inventories of the species that live in the park, the effects of non-native insects and plants on natural ecosystems, and the ecology of soil microbes. We also bring middle school, high school, college, and volunteer groups up to the Purchase to work on some of these research projects and have a summer high school student research internship program funded through 2005 by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. This Research Learning Center also works with the Blue Ridge Parkway, Obed Wild and Scenic River, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and the Appalachian Trail. More information about us can be found at www.nps.gov/grsm/pksite/index.htm. --

--Because there is a lot of research going on at Purchase Knob, we ask people to stay on trails, not remove any flagging or other markers, and keep horses and dogs out of areas that are signed as off-limits. We have researchers from all around the world coming to study how ozone effects some of the native flowers around the house and it would be beyond sad if someone tied up a horse in the middle of their study area and the horse ate all the plants they were working with. Horses are not allowed up around the house and dogs are not allowed on the site except on the main road and on a leash at all times. --All of the trees planted for the Christmas tree farm will eventually be removed to keep the area as a grassy bald with shrubby boarders, however there will not be another cut-your-own Christmas tree event because of federal laws we cannot find a way around. Please remove any mention of that as we don't want someone coming up on their own and cutting down trees. This is especially true because we have two groves of trees grown from seed from all of the high elevation Fraser Fir forests in the park. We are keeping these trees safe from the exotic balsam wooly adelgid that has killed off so many of the park's firs, with the hope that we can eventually replant fir to its original habitat using descendents of the trees that were there originally.

--Construction of the main house to convert it to temporary housing for visiting scientists and to convert the master bed room into a conference room will start in early June. At that point, hikers should be advised that the peace of the Purchase will not be guaranteed, there may be large trucks moving up and down the road, and the deck will be off limits. Should hikers wish to come up to the hillside below the house, they will be welcome to do so. In the past, when I've been aware of someone eating lunch on the deck I've gone out to answer questions and tell people a little about what is going on here. I look forward to the construction being over and being able to return to that pattern.

--The phone number for the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center is 828-926-6251



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