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Forest Support

As a newly incorporated group, we are actively developing project agreements to initiate meaningful initiatives. This page will serve as your source of updates, keeping you informed about the exciting projects we’re working on. Stay tuned to learn how we’re contributing to the conservation and preservation of the Cherokee National Forest.

Your gifts help us fulfill this Forest Support list each year and make a huge difference for the Cherokee National Forest.  Make a donation in support of a program today!

Using a mix of private philanthropy, volunteerism, innovative leadership and partnership, the Friends of the Cherokee will focus on the following three strategic goals.

Wildlife & Fisheries Habitat Management

Possible opportunities to help include aquatic habitat improvement, brook trout restoration, wildlife opening maintenance and enhancement, nonnative and invasive species management, pollinator habitat improvement, and restoration of culturally significant plants such as rivercane and ginseng.


  • Opportunity – Childers Creek Project – River cane restoration on approximately 9 acres of bottomland along the Hiawassee River. Native river cane, scientifically known as Arundinaria gigantea, is a bamboo species that is native to the southeastern United States. Native river cane has significant cultural and historical importance to indigenous communities in the Southeast. Historically, it was utilized by Native American tribes for various purposes, including construction of dwellings, tools, baskets, and musical instruments. River cane plays a crucial role in providing habitat and food for various wildlife species. It offers shelter for birds, mammals, and insects, and its seeds serve as a food source for birds and small mammals. Additionally, the dense thickets of river cane help stabilize soil, prevent erosion, and contribute to the overall biodiversity of wetland ecosystems. Due to habitat loss and human activity, the natural range of native river cane has significantly declined. River cane (Arundinaria gigantea) is listed as a “special concern” species in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

Cultural Resources, Recreational Resources & Visitor Experience

Possible opportunities to help include improving signage, road and trail maintenance, facilities management and maintenance, as-well-as cultural site inventory, restoration and protection.


  • Opportunity – Childers Creek Project – There is an opportunity to provide support for the Hiawassee Blueway initiative by installing signage at Childers Creek. The Hiwassee Blueway is a multi-year, multi-partner effort to create a 55-mile long blueway from the Tennessee River to the Appalachia Powerhouse along the Hiwassee River. Informational, interpretive, and site identification signs and sign bases would be installed at four Cherokee National Forest recreation sites along the corridor, including Childers Creek. These features would tie together elements of Cherokee heritage, natural resources, and John Muir’s writings to inform and educate visitors.
  • Opportunity – Paint Rock Project – Cultural resource inventory and preservation. Paint Rock, located in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina along the French Broad River, holds cultural significance due to its extensive collection of ancient Native American rock art. This rock art is believed to have been created by various indigenous groups over thousands of years.  For modern observers, Paint Rock serves as an archaeological and historical site of great significance. It offers a glimpse into the past and fosters a deeper appreciation for the rich Native American heritage in the region. Preserving and respecting Paint Rock helps to honor the cultural legacy of the Native American tribes who created these remarkable works of art.

Environmental Education – Inspiring the Next Generation of Stewards

The Friends of the Cherokee National Forest want to ignite in our youth a lifelong passion for nature through engagement with the Forest. We will engage in providing educational and interpretive programs about the Forest’s natural and cultural resources to a diverse and representative group of the public. We will assist the Forest, as needed, in strengthening current signature programs such as their Fish-Watch (snorkeling), Eco-Days, and Kid’s Fishing Day events to provide youth with access to the Forest and provide quality opportunities to learn about the importance and benefits of ecological processes, clean water, and forest conservation.  Additionally, there is an opportunity to share targeted and curated messages (story-maps, videos etc.)  about ongoing conservation initiatives such as migratory bird banding, brook trout restoration, native warm-season grass management, and possibly traditional ecological knowledge regarding the harvest and use of specific culturally significant plants.


  • Opportunity – Join us for our captivating volunteer-led wildflower and birding walks! Delight in the beauty of nature while exploring the wonders of the great outdoors. These fun-filled, family-focused outings promise to be both educational and enjoyable, offering a relaxed setting to learn about the fascinating flora and fauna around us.
  • Opportunity – Help us make a difference in the lives of young anglers during the forest’s awesome Kids Fishing Day events. Your support in helping to provide transportation to and from these exciting gatherings will help create unforgettable experiences for these children. Join us in spreading the joy of fishing and fostering a lifelong love for nature among our young ones.
    River waterfall in the Cherokee National Forest by Brian Solomon
    Forest Flowers by Nathan Yarborough
    Picnic Area by Nathan Yarborough