The Type and Extent of Anthropogenic Vegetation Disturbance in the Great Smoky Mountains Before National Park Service Acquisition


Charlotte Pyle

Additional Authors:


September – 1988


Vegetation, Great Smoky Mountains

Although logging and homesteading were widespread in the Great Smoky Mountains (prior to the acquisition of the land by the National Park Service), few parkwide studies of historical anthropogenic disturbance have been completed. Based on a disturbance history summary map developed primarily from archival records, the type and extent of historical land use were tabulated, on a parkwide and, also, on a major watershed basis. Human-related disturbances were categorized as corporate logging (40%), concentrated settlement (9%), diffuse disturbance (21%), big trees with diffuse disturbance (8%), and miscellaneous disturbances (3%). Twenty percent of the Park was considered high in virgin forest attributes. The attributes chosen to define virgin forest in this study were, for a given area, the absence of written records concerning historical human impacts on the forest and the absence of any mapped record of human land use. The discussion focuses on key characteristics of each disturbance category and on factors that determined differences in the severity of disturbances in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.