Hello! We are still here!

TNC fire crew, left to right: David, Brian, Garret, and Jessica.

TNC fire crew, left to right: David, Brian, Garrett, and Jessica.

It has been quite a while since the last post in September, but now with monitoring season behind us and fire season roaring away I have found a moment for an update on all of it.

Brian enjoying the nice fire effects.

Brian enjoying the nice fire effects.

Monitoring season finished without issue, all of our easements look great and so do all of our fee tracts.  Now with fire season well on its way we are happy to announce that we have burned 1095 acres on TNC property in the Southeast Coastal Plain, a huge accomplishment!  If you are interested in where we have been burning check out this Google map. https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zFl-ZXYzr5ww.kLNIi6XqM4BY

Keeping warm by the light of the ATV torch.

Keeping warm by the light of the ATV torch.

Our fire crew has traveled from far and wide to help us put fire on the ground this winter.  Our crew leader and returning for his second year is Garrett, a smoke jumper from Oregon.  Our three crew members are also well seasoned veterans of fire from the western states; we are happy to have Brian, Jessica, and David with us until April.

UNCW wildland fire students.

UNCW wildland fire students.

Our UNCW fire class had its field day, which was a success.  Every year we partner with UNCW Environmental Studies and host a beginner wildland fire class to train students interested in fire stewardship.  Part of the class requirement is once the students pass the training they have to volunteer on one of our burns.  This is a great way for us to get the much-needed help to get our burning done and a great benefit to the future of fire stewardship.

UNCW students digging a fire line, part of the wildland fire training field day.

UNCW students digging a fire line, part of the wildland fire training field day.

As you may be aware in the spring once fire season has about ended we do a fire festival to help raise awareness about controlled burning in the Southeast Coastal Plain.  Well this year we are making some big changes to the fire festival.  First, we will be having the festival in October, this year it will be Saturday, October 11th.  We changed from spring to fall in hopes of better weather!  Also we will be changing the venue.  We are happy to announce that the festival will take place at Halyburton Park in Wilmington, NC.  In an effort to reach a broader audience we are moving the festival to Wilmington and are happy to be partnering with the City of Wilmington.  The Wilmington Fire Department and Parks and Recreation Department are very enthusiastic about raising wildfire and controlled burning awareness and we couldn’t be happier to have them on board!  Please check out the festival website for updates http://fireinthelakes.weebly.com/ and be sure to like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fire-in-the-Lakes-Festival/305204719532234

flytrap_5K_logo

Also the second annual Flytrap Half Hell Haul is March 22nd.  This 7k trail run will zig zag through the Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve in Boiling Spring Lakes, NC.  All proceeds from the race go to Venus flytrap protection in the Southeast Coastal Plain.  Here is the link to register https://its-go-time.com/halfhellhaul2014.  We are also looking for volunteers to help out with the event.  Please visit the volunteer page on this blog for more details on volunteering for the race.

David and a UNCW student hard at work on the fire line.

David and a UNCW student hard at work on the fire line.

Happy Spring!

Posted in education, fire, General, interns, outreach, partnerships, pine savanna, restoration, volunteers | Leave a comment

Conservation Esasement Monitoring

Well it’s officially fall and with the change in seasons comes conservation easement monitoring.  A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a private landowner and a conservation entity that limits the land modification activities on a piece of property.  Conservation easements are a great way to have land in conservation but still allow the landowner to recreate on the property and in some cases even have a residence or a hunt camp.  We have 14 easements in the coastal plain region and they have to be monitored yearly to ensure landowner compliance with the terms of the easement.  It’s a great opportunity to get out and see some interesting places!

Some easements are monitored by kayaking...so fun!

Some easements are monitored by kayaking…so fun!

This is work?

This is work?

The Black River

The Black River

The Black River in Sampson County

The Black River in Sampson County

A small creek on an easement in Sampson County.

A small creek on an easement in Sampson County.

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Fall Interns Are Rolling In!

So every year around this time we get a fresh crop of interns from our local academic institution UNCW.  The Environmental Studies program at UNCW offers a practicum program where students can intern for an organization and receive credit.  We take full advantage of this program and have had wonderful interns come out of it.

This Fall we welcome Evan, Catherine, and Brittany!

Evan Sonderman is an undergrad and will be our general stewardship intern.  He will be doing some interesting monitoring using wildlife cameras and will also be doing some work on the Green Swamp trail parking lot.

Catherine Mauch is also an undergrad studying environmental science and will be assisting with our annual easement monitoring.

Brittany Pace is a grad student working toward a masters in environmental science.  She has a BS in Marine Biology and has spent lots of time educating kids for Marine Quest but wanted a change of scenery so she will be doing field work this fall leading our bi-annual photomonitoring.

Evan and Leroy

Evan and Leroy

Evan started this week and on his first day had a close encounter with the famous Orton Pond resident Leroy, he was pretty excited.

Catherine and Brittany start on September 13th, pictures of them from the field soon to come.

Now for your enjoyment here are a few photos from Big Island in the Green Swamp taken by Angie.

Sebatia and yellow fringeless orchid

Sebatia and yellow fringeless orchid

Yellow fringed orchid

Yellow fringed orchid

Yellow fringed orchid

Yellow fringed orchid

Pine lily

Pine lily

Marshallia

Marshallia

Thanks for looking!  Cheers!

Posted in education, Green Swamp, monitoring, partnerships, pine savanna, plants, volunteers | Leave a comment

High water in the Black River.

 

Paddling along...

Paddling along…

And so the alligator weed flea beetle project continues on the Black River with a monitoring trip to Ivanhoe last Friday 6/28.  You can read about the entire project in these posts from 2011 and 2012; flea beetles?Flea beetles cont., and Flea Beetle Success!!

Alligator weed flea beetle on alligator weed.

Alligator weed flea beetle on alligator weed (photo taken summer 2012).

Alligator weed is an invasive species from South America and it is growing in the Black River.  For the past 3 years we, The Nature Conservancy, have been working with DENR Aquatic Weed Control Program to try to abate some of the alligator weed along the Black River using a bio control called the alligator weed flea beetle; a beetle native to South America as well.  The flea beetles eat the alligator weed, they are brilliant, and they don’t eat anything else.

Alligator weed growing all along the river edge.

Alligator weed growing all along the river edge.

In the spring of 2011 and 2012 we released 3500 beetles along a section of the Black River in Ivanhoe, NC.  The beetles did their job, munching away at the alligator weed decimating it to nothing but stems.  This year we decided not to release beetles and see if any of them manage to overwinter; which would be a good thing for controlling the alligator weed because it would mean we wouldn’t have to release beetles every year.  Our findings on this  were not as positive as hoped.  Though we didn’t find any beetles we did see evidence of beetle munching, which could mean they are there we just didn’t see them.

Evidence of flea beetle munching.

Evidence of flea beetle munching.

It is also worth noting that since we have had so much rain here in the southeast coastal plain the Black River is the highest it has been in years, flowing over the banks and sandbars demonstrating what a true floodplain looks like.  Because of this inundation the alligator weed is thriving.  For the past several years under drought conditions the alligator weed along the Black River struggled in certain areas but this summer it has doubled in acreage and looks very healthy.  Ironically enough we desperately need the rain to reduce our deficit but it is not helping the alligator weed situation.

A very full Black River!

An inundated Black River!

Stay tuned for more on our alligator weed flea beetle project!

 

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Spring Guided Walks

 

Panoramic of big island Green Swamp preserve

Panoramic of big island Green Swamp preserve

Spring is our busiest time of year for “guided walks”.  Groups and organizations from all over the region want to get out and see the interesting and beautiful plants of the Southeast Coastal Plain.  This spring we had garden clubs, non-profit organizations, school groups, and photographers visit our preserves hoping to get a look at something special, and boy did they ever!

Venus flytraps in bloom

Venus flytraps in bloom

Hobby Greenhouse Club

Hobby Greenhouse Club

Giant sundew!

Giant sundew!

I recently did a walk in the Green Swamp for the Hobby Greenhouse Club.  They were a very fun group that was interested in seeing Venus flytraps and other carnivorous plants in their natural habitat opposed to in greenhouses where they typically see them.  We had a great walk!  Here are some of the highlights.

Rosebud orchid

Rosebud orchid

Ladies tresses orchid

Ladies tresses orchid

I also took a TNC photographer around to some of our preserves so that he could get carnivorous plant photos for a layout that will feature the Southeast Coastal Plain carnivorous plants in the national TNC magazine!  We are very excited that our region will be showcased in the national publication.

TNC photographer Christian hard at work at Shaken Creek preserve

TNC photographer Christian hard at work at Shaken Creek preserve

Crazy pitcher plant hybrid

Crazy pitcher plant hybrid

And it wouldn’t be spring without some amazing photos from our local photographer hero Skip Pudney.  We love how he captures the savannas, you can tell he really connects with the ecosystems in our region.  Thanks again Skip for showcasing all of our hard work!

Grass pink - Skip Pudney

Grass pink – Skip Pudney

Colic root and butterfly - Skip Pudney

Colic root and butterfly – Skip Pudney

Grass pink and savanna - Skip Pudney

Grass pink and savanna – Skip Pudney

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The North American Sarracenia Conservancy

Accepting the NASC check.  left to right: Mark Todd, NASC Conservation director; Sheila Stewart, NASC Treasurer; Sara Babin, TNC Conservation Coordinator.

Accepting the NASC check. left to right: Mark Todd, NASC Conservation director; Sheila Stewart, NASC Treasurer; Sara Babin, TNC Conservation Coordinator.

We have some good news to share!  The North American Sarracenia Conservancy  (NASC) has raised $1,250 for a burn at our Old Dock preserve!  NASC has partnered with us on previous projects at some of our other preserves and we are happy to say that they are helping us out again.  The burn at Old Dock will be a growing season burn in 2014.  We have increased the frequency of our burning at Old Dock in the past 10 years to every 2 to 3 years and the results are magnificent.  Below are some pictures I took this week at Old Dock; it was amazing!

Loblolly bay flower

Loblolly bay flower

Longleaf milkweed

Longleaf milkweed

Yellow pitcher plant (those flies don't stand a chance)

Yellow pitcher plant (those flies don’t stand a chance)

Hooded pitcher plant

Hooded pitcher plant

Hybrid pitcher plant, hooded/purple

Hybrid pitcher plant, hooded/purple

Yellow pitcher plant, copper top variety

Yellow pitcher plant, copper top variety

Pale grass pink orchid

Pale grass pink orchid

More copper tops!!

More copper tops!!

Thanks for looking!!  Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!!

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Green Swamp Spring 2013

There is hardly any other place on earth like the Green Swamp in the Spring.  Cool breezes blow the tall longleaf pine trees and the warm sun wakes up the carnivorous plants and orchids…it is truly amazing.  Have a look at the Green Swamp this Spring in pictures.

Fly poison (Amianthium muscotoxicum) is commonly found in the ecotone areas of the Green Swamp.  This plant contains toxic alkaloids that are poisonous to livestock.  The bulbs of the plant if crushed and mixed with sugar can be used to kill flies.

Fly poison (Amianthium muscotoxicum) is commonly found in the ecotone areas of the Green Swamp. This plant contains toxic alkaloids that are poisonous to livestock. The bulbs of the plant if crushed and mixed with sugar can be used to kill flies.

Bearded grass pink orchid (Calopogon barbatus) is one of three types of grass pink orchid that grows in the Green Swamp region.

Bearded grass pink orchid (Calopogon barbatus) is one of three types of grass pink orchid that grows in the Green Swamp region.

Yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava) is the largest of the pitcher plant species that grows in the Green swamp.  These are a variant known as copper tops because of their coppery red pitcher tops.

Yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava) is the largest of the pitcher plant species that grows in the Green swamp. These are a variant known as copper tops because of their coppery red pitcher tops.

Spring green grass and ferns in the longleaf pine savanna.

Spring green grass and ferns in the longleaf pine savanna.

Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) about to bloom.

Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) about to bloom.

Sweet pitcher plant (Sarracenia rubra) is the smallest of the pitcher plant species in the Green Swamp region, very cute.

Sweet pitcher plant (Sarracenia rubra) is the smallest of the pitcher plant species in the Green Swamp region, very cute.

Pink sundew (Drosera capillaris) is a tiny little carnivorous plant.  It has sticky drops of dew on its leaves to catch bugs and as you can see it does the job well.

Pink sundew (Drosera capillaris) is a tiny little carnivorous plant. It has sticky drops of dew on its leaves to catch bugs and as you can see it does the job well.

If you would like to see the Green Swamp in person please visit our nature trail open every day from dawn to dusk.  Please contact Sara Babin at sbabin@tnc.org for directions.

Left to right: Jonathan Babin, Frank Aaron, and Lee Butzin

Volunteers Left to right: Jonathan Babin, Frank Aaron, and Lee Butzin

I would also like to give a shout out to the volunteers that helped me clean up the Green Swam trail this weekend.  We had a great work day Saturday and cut back all of the overgrowth from the trail.  Thanks guys!

Posted in Green Swamp, pine savanna, plants, Venus flytrap, volunteers | 1 Comment