How our changing landscape sustains us all

Ecosystems such as forests and wetlands provide clean air and water, food, building materials and recreational opportunities. The benefits people receive from nature are referred to as “ecosystem services.” Our interactions with ecosystems can have a positive impact, boosting our health and the economy. We can also have a negative impact on the health and […]

Hellbenders offer a window into water’s health

Hellbenders – a species of large salamander with an evocative name – can tell us something about the health of a river. Macroinvertebrates are good indicators of water health across the state. Insects, crustaceans, molluscs, and arachnids can all tolerate water quality in different degrees. Mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, hellgrammites are all highly sensitive to pollution. Their presence anywhere indicates good water quality. Dragonflies, damselflies, crayfish and clams are somewhat tolerant of pollution. Black fly larvae, lunged snails, and leeches are all pollution-tolerant.

Over time, land uses change but one thing is constant

During one of my college English classes, the professor told us Southern literature is distinguished by a heightened sense of family, history and place. (In a cheeky paper published years later, another UNC professor offered evidence to suggest the signifier can actually be reduced to a single entity: the presence of a dead mule.) Recently, […]

The ancient bowfin – a unique fish

As you kayak along the Uwharrie River, you’ll likely see longnose gar. These strange dinosaur-like creatures are hard to miss, with their large size of 2 to 3 feet, their brownish olive coloring, and long narrow snout and sharp teeth. Another species related to the gar and found in some parts of the state, but […]

June 13 KEEPING WATCH event will focus on urban farming

Is “urban agriculture” possible in a city like Charlotte? Can backyard chickens and rooftop gardens solve urban hunger? The public will get a chance to consider those questions – and sip martinis crafted from local ingredients – at the June 13 KEEPING WATCH Clean Martini Screens. The event, free and open to the public, will […]

Freshwater mussels: tiny hitchhikers

Recently, I participated in a survey of mussels as part of a post-dam removal monitoring effort at the Densons Creek Nature Preserve in Troy (60 miles east of Charlotte). I joined folks from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the N.C. Natural Heritage Program as we donned wetsuits or waders and carried viewbuckets (imagine […]

Trout fishing in the fall

There’s really nothing quite like trout fishing for immersing yourself in nature and becoming part of the landscape. Cool mountain waters swirl around your feet as you gingerly pick your way along a stream bottom of smooth stones in hues of copper, slate, and ebony. Whether fly-fishing or spin casting, the moment you feel the […]

You get a line, I’ll get a pole, we’ll go fishing in a crawdad hole

What better summertime activity for a kid in the country than playing in a creek? There is really nothing better than sticking your feet in a cool stream under the forest canopy where it feels 10 degrees cooler than in the sun. And whenever I walk in the woods and come up to a rocky […]

Low Water Bridge recreational access improvements

If you’ve driven by the Low Water Bridge recently, you probably have seen a good bit of bulldozer activity and wondered what exactly was happening to this beautiful natural area. The work is being undertaken with a promising objective in mind. The LandTrust of Central N.C. is partnering with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to […]

Science, in your own backyard

Have you wondered whether bees in our area are suffering from colony collapse disorder? Do you know what fly fishing’s aquatic insects can tell us about water quality? Entomologists (insect scientists) are no longer the only people watching bugs. Like many branches of natural science, entomology has reached out to citizen scientists for help in […]