The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education in Pisgah National Forest offers indoor and outdoor educational exhibits that focus on the natural world of a mountain cove forest.
At the center, which is free and open year round, visitors can learn about local wildlife and the unique natural habitats in western North Carolina’s mountain region. An award-winning film at the center illustrates the natural history of the mountains and how the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission works to conserve wildlife diversity. The center also includes an exhibit hall, allowing visitors a close-up view of a variety of mountain wildlife species, including fish, reptiles and amphibians.
Adjacent to the center is the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery (see related story). Dropping a coin in the fish food dispensers at the hatchery provides excitement for children of all ages and the thousands of trout in the state’s most well-known hatchery. In the late 1950s, the hatchery was built by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was operated as a national fish hatchery for more than 20 years.
Since 1983, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has operated and maintained the hatchery for trout production and distribution. The fish raised at the hatchery are placed in local streams and rivers. The center has an interpretive trail through a mountain cove forest habitat, which is easily accessible. The center is also a great starting point for several hiking trails, including a trip up John Rock, which has fantastic views.
To get to the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and the hatchery, travel five miles from the national forest’s entrance in Brevard and then take a left on FR 475 for 1.5 miles. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday to Saturday, from April to November, and Monday to Friday, December to March. For more information, call (828) 877-4423 or go to www.ncwildlife.org. pisgah center for wildlife education
Throughout the summer and fall, the Pisgah Wildlife Education Center provides free programs on a wide variety of subjects, including fly-fishing, hiking, nature photography and general wildlife education. Among the programs is Eco Explorers, a series of programs targeted toward 8 to 13-year-olds. Each class is designed to be hands-on and in a natural setting.
“We have a program developed for just about every critter here in the mountains,” said Lee Sherrill, the center’s program coordinator. Each class lasts around two hours, with topics changing monthly, and is lead by an education specialist. Also at the center is National Hunting and Fishing Day, which is celebrated from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of every September (Sept. 23), and remains an effective grassroots effort, Sherrill said, to promote the outdoor sports and conservation. “
There will be many hands-on, family friendly stations placed around the center grounds for visitors to rotate through at their leisure,” he said. “There will be fly tying and fly casting, duck calling, pellet range, tree stand demonstrations and more. Stop by anytime and no registration is required.” Transylvania County provides some of the best fly-fishing opportunities any angler could hope to encounter. “However, for the beginner, fly-fishing can seem like a very confusing and difficult sport to learn,” Sherrill said.
The center offers various fly-fishing classes aimed toward the beginner to help sort through any confusion and get the basics down. All of the classes are free of charge, and all of the equipment and gear is provided. Pre-registration is required to attend.
Information about the different programs can be found in the Autumn Explorer calendar or online at www.ncwildlife.org/Learning/EducationCenters/Pisgah/EventRegistration.aspx