A Fabulous Festival!

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about one of the neatest things that we have ever been involved with here in the Southeast Coastal Plain.  It’s not very often that The Nature Conservancy gets to help plan a festival, but we are no ordinary TNC program.  That’s right!  We are planning a festival!  It’s called the Fire in the Lakes Festival and it happens in March.  This March will be the third festival we have helped plan and it will certainly be the best so far!

kids watching the controlled burn, festival 2011

So what is it?  It’s an event that is designed to raise awareness about controlled burning and wildfire.  As you may know the coastal plain of North Carolina has several fire dependent ecosystems, which means they need fire to be healthy and productive.  Fire helps spread seeds, it clears underbrush so plants can get sunlight, and it puts much-needed nutrients in the soil.  Historically fires burned all over the coastal plain but after European settlement fires were regularly suppressed, causing ecosystems to become overgrown.  This is why we as a conservation organization mimic natural fire with controlled burning and why it’s so important to keep communities involved in what that means for them.

face painting, festival 2011

The Fire in the Lakes Festival is a gathering of local and State organizations that come together and share information with the communities in this region about fire and why it is so important for ecosystems and community safety.  It’s not just educational though it’s also FUN!  We have lots of kids activities and games, raffle drawings, live bluegrass music, food, and even a live controlled burn!  Something for everyone!

NCDFR plane flying over the festival, 2011

The event is held at the Boiling Spring Lakes Community Center in Brunswick County.  This years event will be March 24, 2012 from 11:00 to 3:00.  I know it’s like 5 months from now but we have started planning for the event with the City of Boiling Spring Lakes and the NC Division of Forest Resources so I thought I would give y’all an early heads up, so you can mark your calendars!  Here is the festival website, hope you will come check out the fun!

learning about longleaf pine savannas from andy walker of the north carolina botanical garden, festival 2011

In other news last Saturday I had the pleasure of hosting the Cape Fear Audubon Society on a bird walk in the Green Swamp.  It was a lovely crisp fall morning and we had plenty to look at.  From hairy woodpeckers, cardinals, and brown headed nuthatches to Venus flytraps…we got an eye and an ear full!

early morning at the borrow pit, green swamp trailhead

This summer we had very little rain so the summer savanna flowering plants didn’t do very well.  This is not the same for the fall bloomers!  With all the rain we have had in the past three weeks the fall plants are looking great!

The rain gauge on the Green Swamp trail read 3.5 inches!  That is good!

venus flytrap

All the rain and thunderstorms did lead to one loss.  Along the Green Swamp trail there was one lone red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) cavity tree.  The RCW is an endangered species.  It was one of the first species to be put on the endangered species list in 1970 and remains there today.  There is not a population of RCW’s in the Green Swamp today, just one lone abandoned cavity tree along the trail, but not for much longer.  The tree was struck by lightning and pretty much destroyed, though it is still standing it may not be for much longer.  The top of the tree burned and the side of the tree was completely blown out.  Funny how things in nature can change so suddenly.

lightning struck RCW tree


Well I leave you with this peaceful little video of a Green Swamp longleaf pine savanna.  For more information on visiting the Green Swamp check our website.



About secpnc

My name is Sara Babin and I am the Conservation Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy Southeast Coastal Plain program in Wilmington, NC. Our office is responsable for the maintenance and restoration of 35,000 acres of preserve land owned by The Nature Conservancy. We protect the land for ecologically significant species in hopes to ensure a lasting natural history legacy for future generations to enjoy. This blog will highlight our most exciting activities and events with much of the focus being on our controlled burn program. With this blog we hope to share the ins and outs of what we do and how it is bettering the world for plants, animals, and people.
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