Proposed National Wildlife Refuge Could Protect Appalachian Bogs

Aug 24, 2012

Service biologist Sue Cameron makes her way through a southern Appalachian bog May 2010 Photo: Gary Peeples/USFWS The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to protect 23,000 acres in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. Agency biologist Gary Peeples says the area's bogs are home to some of the rarest plants and animals in the region. He says many plants have found ways to adapt to the poor soil of the bogs like the carnivorous pitcher plants that lure insects into their trumpet-shaped tube. "Along the inside of that tube are tiny, little hair-like protrusions that point downwards," explains Peeples. "As the insects go deeper and deeper, they're going past these little protrusions that keep them from turning around and escaping. So they can only go further down and eventually come to a pool of digestive enzymes." The bogs also naturally regulate water flow. They act like giant sponges and absorb floodwaters and then slowly release the water during droughts. Most of the bogs are on private land. The agency hopes to buy some of that land or convince landowners to create conservation easements. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expects to open up some of the hardier bogs to activities like hunting, bird watching and photography.