The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education in Pisgah National Forest is free and open year round, and offers indoor and outdoor educational exhibits that focus on the natural world of a mountain cove forest. Visitors can learn about local wildlife and the unique natural habitats in western North Carolina’s mountain region.
At the Center, the natural history of the mountains and how the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission works to conserve wildlife diversity is illustrated in an award-winning film. 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. 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.
At the hatchery, visitors may watch and feed the brook, brown and rainbow trout that are raised and then placed in local hatchery-supported 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.
Throughout the summer, the Pisgah Wildlife Education Center (PWEC) provides free programs on a wide variety of subjects, including fly-fishing, hiking, nature photography and general wildlife education. One group of programs is called Eco Explorers engages youth ages 8-13 in wildlife conservation. E
ach month, Eco Explorers focuses on a different topic. A few examples are elk, turkey, hellbenders and just about every other critter that calls the North Carolina mountains home. Additionally, some of the topics are skill based such as fly tying, fly fishing, bird watching and orienteering.
All programs require pre-registration and are free of charge. Each program lasts around two hours. Folks are also able to call and set up their own program topic if they have a group of 10 or more children. Information about the different programs can be found in the Transylvania Explorer calendar or online at www.ncwildlife.org/Learning/EducationCenters/Pisgah/EventRegistration.aspx.