We invite scientists to use AS IF Center for education, observation, and long term or short term research. Researchers have begun studying stream health, moth diversity and phenology, herpetology, and native bee species at the center. Future research themes may include biological diversity,  ecosystem function, biogeochemical cycling, climate and its effects on phenology, disturbance and succession, invasive species, soils, hydrology, stream ecology,  geology, site restoration, and other areas of study.

Geologist Kaye Savage records stream measurements

Study sites

Terrestrial sites:
Most of the site is mesic and comprises mixed upland cove hardwood forest. Primary tree species are yellow poplar, white oak, American beech, white ash, sugar maple, red maple, cucumber magnolia, sweet birch, and scattered white pine. Understory species include yellow buckeye, black cherry, sourwood, black gum, pagoda dogwood, sassafras, spicebush, smooth hydrangea, witch hazel, mountain winterberry, deciduous azalea, beaked hazelnut, mountain laurel, rosebay rhododendron, muscadine, dutchman’s pipe, ferns, woodland grasses, and a diverse herbaceous layer.  Along the more xeric ridges, the forest transitions to mixed upland hardwood forest with pockets of white pine, scarlet oak, chestnut oak, sourwood, hickory, and black gum. Several remnant mica mines expose abundant mica deposits throughout the forest. A few acres of meadow habitat and old field sites are also available for study.

The community where AS IF is located maintains controls for light pollution to ensure dark skies, making it an ideal study location for fireflies and other nocturnal phenomena. An International Dark-Sky Park and observatory is three miles south of the center.

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Aquatic sites and watershed information

The forest includes first- and second-order streams, with three sources on site — two branches of Rebels Creek and a tributary, Beech Creek. A small pond on the site is located in a meadow habitat. The community maintains numerous catchment ponds along roadsides, providing excellent habitat for several species of frogs. Rebels Creek flows into the North Toe River, which is joined by the South Toe River. The North Toe joins the Cane River to form the Nolichucky River. The Nolichucky flows into the French Broad, which then flows into the Tennessee, which flows into the Ohio, which is a tributary of the Mississippi.

We are located in the Nolichucky River watershed.

Nearby sites
The center is centrally located for access to public lands. We are a half hour from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest, one hour from Mount Mitchell National Park, Roan Mountain State Park (TN), Grandfather Mountain, and Linville Gorge Wilderness area, and two hours from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A rare olivine outcrop is just south of AS IF Center on State Highway 80. Exposed veins of marble can be accessed in the nearby town of Bandana, there are several abandoned quartz mines and feldspar mines in the area, and the Grandfather Mountain Window and Linville Falls Fault offer opportunities to study unusual geological phenomena.

Ecologist John Pickering collects photographic data on moths

Permits, ID guides, and facilities 
If your activity has any higher impact on the land than simply hiking our trails or dipping your toes in the creek, we require a permit. To do site-based research at AS IF Center, please visit the Land Use Permits page and apply for a permit at least a month before your visit.

On our Facilities page, you can find more information about lodging, research facilities and supplies. To learn about identification guides under development and other science resources, see our Natural History page.

Apply to do environmental science research at AS IF

Scientists can apply to do research at AS IF Center at any time of year. If you are interested in coming to AS IF Center to do your research, please send

  • A completed permit application (or, if no permit is required for your project, a simple description of what you intend to do here)
  • The dates you hope to visit, and
  • The number of rooms you need.

Send your request to us by email. If no permit is required, two weeks’ notice is adequate. For permits, please apply a month in advance.