Web Content Display
February 28, 2017
February 6, 2017
December 12, 2016
September 19, 2016
July 15, 2016
June 06, 2016
February 04, 2016
June 15, 2015
June 1, 2015
April 20, 2015
March 16, 2015
January 9, 2015
November 26, 2014
November 13, 2014
September 09, 2014
June 25, 2014
May 30, 2014
May 9, 2014
March 27, 2014
October 16, 2013
September 5, 2013
July 22, 2013
June 14, 2013
May 21, 2013
April 29, 2013
April 4, 2013
March 12, 2013
February 8, 2013
January 24, 2013
January 4, 2013
December 14, 2012
November 14, 2012
November 7, 2012
October 10, 2012
September 25, 2012
August 31, 2012
August 15, 2012
July 31, 2012
July 10, 2012
June 18, 2012
May 22, 2012
December 2007 E-Update
Web Content Display
A fresh take on the region's salty affairs
Sound Science Guiding Conservation of the Albemarle-Pamlico Region
By Misty Buchanan, Director, NC Natural Heritage Program, published February 28, 2017
Flyway tract marsh. Photo by Justin Mercer.
North Carolina’s Natural Heritage Program (NCNHP) has been exploring the natural areas of the Albemarle-Pamlico region throughout most of its 40-year history. The northeastern corner of North Carolina was one of the first regions to be systematically surveyed by Natural Heritage Program biologists. The first county-wide natural area inventories included Dare, Gates, Hyde, and Tyrrell, and were funded by the Coastal Energy Impact Program. They were conducted between 1981-1983, and during this time the NCNHP pioneered the survey approach used through the inventory program. Information from later surveys was compiled in three large volumes describing the ecology, rare species, and special habitats found in the region. Many of the natural areas have not been revisited since the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine Study (APES) surveys were conducted in the late 1980’s, while others have gone on to become game lands, state parks, and nature preserves.
Photos of Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine Study (APES) reports by Misty Buchanan
The Natural Heritage Program was created in 1976 when The Nature Conservancy developed a 2-year contract with the Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources to study the efficacy of creating a state program with the mission of using scientific data to help make sound conservation decisions (pardon the pun), to help preserve our state’s vast natural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. What began as a good idea has developed into a powerhouse of scientific discovery, exploration, and conservation.
The approach has been to survey natural areas and document locations of rare species, high quality habitats, and unique natural areas by writing reports and keeping maps of the locations, and sharing that information with anyone who asks for it.
Chuck Roe, founding director of North Carolina’s Natural Heritage Program reviewing topo maps (photographer unknown)
Over the years, the Natural Heritage Program has become North Carolina’s central clearinghouse of biological survey data. We have compiled almost 30,000 records of occurrences of rare species and high quality habitat, and we have used this information to help establish nature preserves totaling almost 1.2 million acres.
Working under the authority of the Nature Preserves Act, the Natural Heritage Program establishes two different types of nature preserves, Dedicated Nature Preserves and Registered Heritage Areas. North Carolina’s 176 Dedicated Nature Preserves are permanent land allocations set aside by state agencies, such as the Wildlife Resources Commission and the Division of Parks and Recreation, and private conservation organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy. These Dedicated Nature Preserves include some of our state’s most cherished natural areas, such as Grandfather Mountain, The Green Swamp, and Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
Biologists Laura Robinson and Dale Suiter surveying for rare marsh species. Photo by Misty Buchanan.
Registered Heritage Areas are popular conservation agreements with landowners who want to signal their intent to protect their land but are not ready to commit to a permanently binding agreement. Registered Heritage Areas also include some federal lands, such as Wright Brother’s Dunes, much of Ocracoke Island, and Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
As North Carolina’s Natural Heritage Program looks ahead to our golden anniversary, we have a lot more to accomplish in our state and in the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership (APNEP) region. At the western edge of the ecoregion, as part of the NatureServe Network, we are working with the Virginia Natural Heritage Program to develop species habitat models for the endangered Smooth Coneflower. This beautiful plant is only known from a handful of locations from Virginia to Georgia. In North Carolina, it grows in a rapidly urbanizing landscape in Granville County, along roadsides and in powerline rights of way.
Photo of Smooth Coneflower (Echinacea laevigata) by Johnny Randall
Throughout the APNEP region, we are working with the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to survey sites where local land trusts and government agencies have applied for funding for land conservation. In recent years, our data and surveys have helped Currituck County receive a grant for Flyway tract in Currituck County, and helped The Nature Conservancy and the United States Air Force acquire easements in Hyde County. Both areas were recognized as highly valuable wetlands that contribute to the conservation of the region’s natural heritage.
Salt marsh at Ocracoke Island Registered Heritage Area by Michael Schafale
Map of Dedicated Nature Preserves, credit: www.ncnhp.org
APES Studies Conducted by the NC Natural Heritage Program:
· Regional Inventory for Critical Natural Areas, Wetland Ecosystems, and Endangered Species Habitats of the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine Region: Phase 1, Complete (1990)
· Regional Inventory for Critical Natural Areas, Wetland Ecosystems, and Endangered Species Habitats of the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine Region: Phase 2 (1992)
· Regional Inventory of Natural Areas, Wetland Ecosystems, and Endangered Species Habitats of the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine Region: Phase 3 (1993)
Other APNEP projects with NC Natural Heritage:
· Soundings: Treading softly on the banks of the mighty Roanoke