A Winter Hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Over the years, my husband and I have hiked many trails near the Blue Ridge Parkway – Graveyard Fields, Mt. Pisgah, Black Balsam Knob, Looking Glass Rock. This fall, we lucked into an opportunity to hike on the parkway itself. We happened to be in Asheville after remnants of Hurricane Nicole passed through the mountains. […]

The charm of sourwoods in the winter woods

Categories: General News Tags: Nature

For those who are partial to the charms of a lush forest in spring and summer, don’t throw shade on the winter woods – they’re far from rigid and stark. Sourwood trees animate the slopes and ridges of the Uwharries with their contorted and even whimsical shapes. They bring a prankish personality to the stately […]

Beyond Honey – Get to Know some Native Bees

Categories: General News Tags: Nature, Recreation

Bee nirvana. That’s how Gabriela Garrison described one of the fields we’ve converted to native warm season grasses and wildflowers. Garrison, the Eastern Piedmont habitat conservation coordinator with N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was in the Uwharries to conduct point counts targeting a list of priority bird species, but she kept getting distracted. “I couldn’t tear […]

Cramerton takes pride in its history of producing "Army khaki" for U.S. military uniforms during World War II. Photo: Nancy Pierce.

Transforming the South Fork of the Catawba River and its towns

Categories: Gallery, Gaston Tags: Habitat, Nature, Open Space, River

Cramerton has turned to the South Fork of the Catawba River, which once powered mills and was known as a hotbed of pollution, to help power the town’s revival in the wake of the textile industry.

Rare plant communities abound in some unusual North Carolina spots

When you think of rare species, your mind might turn to majestic tigers, ferocious grizzly bears or majestic elephants. But how often do you think of bogs, sandbars and the slimy rocks coated in spray? A recent Natural Heritage Program Rare Plant and Natural Communities Workshop in Hendersonville highlighted theimportance of these unusual ecosystems for […]

This Piedmont field guide will take the mystery out of identifications

Mid-spring is a heady time for naturalists in the Uwharries. The diversity of flora and fauna often sends us reaching for a field guide. Thanks to Mama’s month-by-month acquisition of the entire Peterson Field Guides series, I have 42 books at my fingertips. Some we consult on a regular basis: Eastern Birds, Eastern Forests, Eastern […]

When this vine invades, watch out

In August, “it becomes apparent that porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) is making a bold attempt at taking over the world.” This witty observation from the Virginia Native Plant Society no longer strikes me as hyperbole. In all my years of conservation work in the Uwharries, I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered porcelain berry in anyone’s […]

He’s (almost) winning a war with invasives

Tall and slender even into his 70s, Haywood Rankin claims he was never much of an athlete. He says he lacked the speed and agility needed for football or basketball and the hand-eye coordination for baseball or tennis. After college, he spent time in Oxford, England, and finally found a sport that fit his skill […]

A young owl finds freedom

On Father’s Day, my sister and I honored the finest man in the Uwharries and beyond, and also a remarkable barn owl named Harvey. According to the Carolina Raptor Center, the lifespan of a barn owl (Tyto alba) in the wild is generally only two to five years. They can easily live twice as long […]

Taken for ‘granite’: The flowers of flatrock habitat

I recently stumbled on an especially interesting habitat while exploring the flora and fauna on a site that once held granite quarries. I was with Crystal Cockman from the LandTrust for Central North Carolina and Nell Allen from the North Carolina Zoo. Today trees and luscious foliage cover the property just east of Salisbury. But […]