Blue Valley Experimental Forest

Cone of eastern white pine. Photo by Keith Kanoti, courtesy of

The Blue Valley Experimental Forest (Blue Valley) lies in southwest North Carolina in the Nantahala National Forest. Located in Macon County, near the point where North Carolina meets Georgia and South Carolina, the experimental forest was established in 1964. At 1,300 acres, it is the smallest of the three experimental forests in North Carolina and the second smallest of the 19 managed by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS).

Blue Valley’s landscape is dominated by eastern white pine, but also includes oak-hickory stands. Experts believe extensive grazing and logging around the turn of the 20th century contributed to the abundance of eastern white pine. The infertile soil is typical of the southern highlands. Buckberry is the most prevalent of the ericaceous (acid- loving) shrubs that dominate the forest understory.

Research studies at Blue Valleystarted in 1995, and include experiments on management practices such as single-tree selection cutting in white pine/hardwoods, shelterwood and underburning in white pine/hardwoods, and bark beetle populations. Blue Valley also provides opportunities to study the fundamentals of white pine ecology (including seed production and dispersal), ericaceous shrubs, and the qualities of low-fertility sites.

The SRS Upland Hardwoods Ecology and Management unit manages Blue Valley.

There are no research facilities or structures within the experimental forest.

For more information, contact Henry McNab at

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