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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

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Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership - 2017-02-27

Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership

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Soundings Archive

2017

November 15, 2017
The 2017 Albemarle-Pamlico Ecosystem Symposium: Eyes on the Horizon

October 16, 2017
From Dust Came Soil Conservation

September 11, 2017
Taking Nature's Pulse

August 18th, 2017
Teaching Teachers to ExPLORE NC

July 13, 2017
Protecting North Carolina's Coastal Habitats with Jimmy Johnson

May 19, 2017
Cypress Trees as Sentinels of the Sounds

April 5, 2017
Becoming the Napa Valley of Oysters

February 28, 2017
Sound Science Guiding Conservation of the Albemarle-Pamlico Region

February 6, 2017
Celebrating Five Years of SciREN Coast

Jul-Dec 2016

December 12, 2016 
Proud Shaddys and Shamommas! A "Shad in the Classroom" Tale

November 2, 2016 
Cape Hatteras National Seashore Provides Opportunity for Scientific Discovery

September 19, 2016 
Restoring Estuaries, One Bag of Recycled Oyster Shells at a Time

July 15, 2016
Landscapes Standing Sentinel in Eastern North Carolina

Jan-June 2016

Jul-Dec 2015

Jan-Jun 2015

Jul-Dec 2014

Jan-Jun 2014

Jul-Dec 2013

Jan-Jun 2013

Jul-Dec 2012

Jan-Jun 2012

 

 

 

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Soundings

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

Learn more:

North Carolina Natural Heritage Program: visit www.ncnhp.org

APES Studies Conducted by the NC Natural Heritage Program:

 
 
 
Other APNEP projects with NC Natural Heritage:
 

 · Soundings: Treading softly on the banks of the mighty Roanoke

 

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