Here’s to Volunteers!!!

IBM volunteers working at the Boiling Spring Lakes preserve

IBM volunteers working at the Boiling Spring Lakes preserve

I would like to dedicate this post to all of our hard-working volunteers.  It is always a pleasure working with our volunteers, whether it be on a fire or helping plant wiregrass or doing some trail maintenance, we always have a good time!

making Venus flytrap puppets at Fire in the Lakes

making Venus flytrap puppets at Fire in the Lakes

The Fire in the Lakes festival is a great place to see volunteers, this year we had 25 UNCW students help us out, many thanks to all of their enthusiasm!

Green Swamp trail workers looking tough!

Green Swamp trail workers looking tough!

And let’s not forget about the Green Swamp trail.  Twice a year we have to maintain the trail, and this is a great time because once we cut back all of the brush we get to enjoy the interesting plants…needless to say this work day turns into an interpretive day every time 🙂  Which reminds me!  This Saturday we will have our spring Green Swamp trail maintenance day, click here for more details!

volunteers on a fire at McLean savanna

volunteers on a fire at McLean savanna

Oh yeah!  Our fire program is very dependent on volunteers, without them we would have a tough time getting all that fire on the ground every year.  And what an interesting opportunity, doing ecological controlled burning, amazing!

volunteers planting away...thanks for the help!

planting away at Haw Bluff…thanks for the help ladies!

About two years ago with the help of some very dedicated volunteers we planted 3000 wiregrass plugs at our Haw Bluff preserve, and what a rainy day it was!  In fact it poured most of the time we planted, but that didn’t stop our volunteers, they plugged away (no pun intended) until every wiregrass plug was in the ground.

wiregrass plugs looking very healthy at our Haw Bluff preserve

wiregrass plugs looking very healthy at our Haw Bluff preserve

Last week Angie and I went out to monitor the wiregrass plugs and they are doing amazing!  We think about 90% survival.  A huge success!

So here’s to you volunteers, we appreciate every bit of help we get from you!!  Let’s keep up all of the good work so our preserves will be healthy and beautiful ❤

Cheers!

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Spring is in the air!

Spring bloomer purple butterwort, Green Swamp preserve

Spring bloomer purple butterwort, Green Swamp preserve

Spring has sprung here in the southeast, flowers are blooming, trees are budding and pollen is abundant!  Spring is a good time for us, fire season has come to an end and now we get to see the beautiful results of all the hard work we did this winter.  We had an incredible fire season this year; here are the numbers from 2013:

Acres burned on TNC property – 1630

Acres burned on partner properties – 6290

Total acres burned –  7920!

First burn ever at the newly acquired Pinch Gut tract adjacent to the Green Swamp preserve

First burn ever at the newly acquired Pinch Gut tract adjacent to the Green Swamp preserve

These numbers reflect the best burn season we have had in years in the Southeast region of North Carolina.  We had great weather and plenty of rain, combined with an experienced fire crew and motivated partners, it marks a huge win for controlled burning.  This ultimately means we will see amazing diversity in our preserves and less burnable fuels in urban interface areas…a win for every team!

Possum Creek pickin' away under the big tent at Fire in the Lakes 2013

Possum Creek pickin’ away under the big tent at Fire in the Lakes 2013

We pulled off another successful Fire in the Lakes festival.  A huge THANK YOU to everyone involved!  We had the first ever Flytrap Half Hell Haul 7k trail run and it turned out an unexpectedly big crowd!  We pulled off a demonstration controlled burn before some rain showers, there were live animals galore, we had some bluegrass jams by Possum Creek, fire eaters, and yummy food.  Kids were happy bouncing in castles, making fire hats, and sitting in fire trucks.  We were very pleased overall.  Check out the Fire in the Lakes website for more details and photos of the event.

Venus flytrap, Green Swamp preserve

Venus flytrap, Green Swamp preserve

We would like to invite you to our annual Walk with the Meateaters hike in the Green Swamp on May 18th.  This is a guided hike by TNC staff experts in the Green Swamp preserve.  We will be looking at a many of the Spring flowering plants including the Venus flytrap and allowing the opportunity to ask questions about our program.  If you are interested in signing up for this walk please contact Sara Babin at sbabin@tnc.org.  Space is limited so sign up fast!

So here’s to Spring!  May it be mild and sunny and full of great adventures in the Southeast Coastal Plain!

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What’s happening now!

Burn at McLean savanna

Burn at McLean savanna

Oh man, there are so many things going on in the Southeast Coastal Plain these days I just don’t know where to begin!

Flowering pixie-moss blooming in the Green Swamp

Flowering pixie-moss blooming in the Green Swamp

Let’s start with fire.  We have been burning up a storm.  The weather conditions have been in our favor this year and this has allowed burn boss Angie Carl to fire it up.  So far just our program has burned 1560 acres of TNC preserve land!  Go Angie!  It’s still early in March so we are hoping to get a few more burns in…shooting for 2000 acres!  Keep up with where we are burning on our Google burn map.

Venus flytrap seen in the Green Swamp

Venus flytrap seen in the Green Swamp

I took a walk on the Green Swamp trail last week with Kelly Oten, Forest Health Specialist with the NC Forest Service.  Kelly will be doing a Palamedes swallowtail butterfly count at a site in the Green Swamp over the next three years.

Palamedes swallowtail butterfly

Palamedes swallowtail butterfly

The butterfly count is part of a bigger project looking at Palamedes swallowtail butterfly numbers in areas where laurel wilt is present.  Laurel wilt is a tree disease spread by an ambrosia beetle that kills lauraceae species.  Red bay is a lauraceae species and the Palamedes swallowtail butterfly uses red bay exclusively for egg laying.  Scientists are expecting to see Palamedes swallowtail butterfly decline as more red bay trees succumb to laurel wilt.  Click here to read more about laurel wilt.

New Fire in the Lakes logo!

New Fire in the Lakes logo!

So the Fire in the Lakes festival is fast approaching!  On March 23rd from 11 to 3 bring your family out to the Boiling Spring Lakes Community Center for a free day of fire, flytraps, and fun!

flytrap_5K_logoAs part of the festival this year we will be hosting the Flytrap Half Hell Haul 7K trail run.  The run will start at 9 at the Boiling Spring Lakes Community Center and will follow the preserve nature trail.  For more info on the festival and the race check out the website and don’t forget to like the festival on Facebook!

Hope to see y’all at Fire in the Lakes!!

Posted in education, fire, Green Swamp, invasive species, outreach, pine savanna, plants, Venus flytrap | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fire Festival Update!

Planning for the Fire in the Lakes Festival is well on its way and we have some great stuff lined up this year starting with the return of Creative Flame, the most amazing fire juggling team in the world!  They will be performing throughout the entire event, so exciting!

Creative Flame performer

Creative Flame performer

Of course we will have the usual fun stuff…games, crafts, live music by Possum Creek, bouncy castles, a demonstration controlled burn, food, face painting, a big raffle, and lots and lots of live animals!  Visit our website and like us on Facebook for all of the latest updates.  As always the Fire in the Lakes festival is a free event so bring all of your family and friends!

Possum Creek pickin' at the 2012 festival

Possum Creek pickin’ at the 2012 festival

We will also be hosting The Half Hell Haul 7K race and 1 mile fun run/walk on the Boiling Spring Lakes preserve nature trail.  This run will be through biodiverse ecosystems that have recently been managed using controlled burning, not something you get to see everyday!  Click here for race registration details.

flytrap_5K_logo

I hope to see all of you at the Fire in the Lakes Festival!

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Photos From The Fire Line

Here we are in the midst of fire season in the Southeast Coastal Plain and I would just like to share with you some photos from the fire line.  These were taken in the Green Swamp on 1/22.  Enjoy!!

IMAG0471 (Small)

IMAG0469 (Small)

IMAG0468 (Small)

IMAG0465 (Small)

Don’t forget to follow the SECP 2013 Controlled Burn Map on Google Maps!  The map shows where we have burned and details about each burn, so check it out!!

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Fire Season Begins!

Smoke settling across the savanna

Smoke settling across the savanna; Meyers 3 burn.

Happy New Year!  It’s been a while since my last post, the holidays and vacation being reason for my slacking, but rest assured 2013 will be full of exciting news from the Southeast Coastal Plain, starting with FIRE SEASON!

Angie Carl getting ready to start the first burn of the 2013 season.

Angie Carl getting ready to start the first burn of the 2013 season.

With the new year always comes the start of fire season in the Southeast Coastal Plain.  We have a new crew and they are ready to go.  Our burn priorities are set and all of our fire lines are in, all we need now is some nice burn weather and we are good to go!

Running an on site weather, you have to check the weather often when you burn.

Running an on-site weather.  You have to check the weather often when you burn.

As you know we burn our preserves because the ecosystems in the Southeast Coastal Plain are fire dependent, they need to be burned regularly to maintain their biodiversity.  We also burn our preserves to lessen the chances of a wildfire.  If we keep the fuel levels down in wooded areas it is less likely that a wildfire (from a lightning strike or a tossed cigarette) will have the damaging effects it would if fuels were high.  By burning our preserves on a regular basis we are helping lessen the chances of a wildfire.

Meyers 3 burn.

Meyers 3 burn.

So our first burn was completed on 1/14 in our Green Swamp preserve.  It was a 202 acre unit we call Meyers 3 (not a very exciting name, we know) and it burned very well.  We have to thank the North Carolina State Parks fire crew for helping us out with this one, and we look forward to partnering with them on more burns this season.  You can follow where we burn for all of the 2013 season on this Google Map.

Thanks to the North Carolina State Parks fire crew for helping out on our first birn of the season.

Thanks to the North Carolina State Parks fire crew for helping out on our first burn of the season.

The start of burn season also means something else…Fire in the Lakes!!  The Fire in the Lakes Festival is scheduled for March 23rd and it is going to be a good one!  Along with all of the usual stuff; kids games, bouncy castles, live music, demonstration controlled burn, raffle, food, etc…we are also hosting the Flytrap 5K!  This will be a 5K trail run through the Boiling Spring Lakes Nature Preserve and there will also be a 1 mile fun run for walkers and kids.  All proceeds will go to the Fire in the Lakes Festival to promote awareness about controlled burning and wildfire.  For more race details about the Flytrap 5K and to register click here.  For more details about the Fire in the Lakes Festival check the website and don’t forget to like Fire in the Lakes on Facebook!

fire-festival-logo-(2)

Here’s to the start of a busy 2013 in the Southeast Coastal Plain!

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Help from a local photographer

Venus flytrap, Green Swamp preserve

Venus flytrap, Green Swamp preserve           photo by Kelvin Taylor

The word has spread around the region about our Venus flytrap campaign to raise money for a comprehensive survey of the plant in our Green Swamp preserve. You can read all about our Sci Fund Venus flytrap project here.  We are so happy to have help from one local photographer, Kelvin Taylor, who is donating all of the proceeds from his work until Dec. 15th to our campaign.

Venus flytrap cluster, Green Swamp preserve

Venus flytrap cluster, Green Swamp preserve      photo by Kelvin Taylor

Kelvin Taylor is a native of North Carolina and took an interest in nature when he was just a boy.  Growing plants from seed, observing insects, and exploring the woods near his home was a favorite pastime in his childhood days.  Today gardening, hiking, and photography are his favorite activities.

In college Kelvin first visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the spring wildflower season he became captivated by the myriad of plant life in the natural world.  That visit to the mountains led him to study botany and photography and today the thrill of photographing wildflowers, waterfalls and nature scenes is as strong as his first encounter so many years ago.  You can read more about Kelvin on his blog “Exploring Scenic North Carolina” and see all of his amazing photos at his Red Bubble gallery or at his Pbase gallery.

Venus flytrap flowers, Green Swamp preserve

Venus flytrap flowers, Green Swamp preserve photo by Kelvin Taylor

Kelvin is very generously donating all proceeds from his Red Bubble gallery to our Sci Fund Venus flytrap project until it ends on the 15th of December.  We can’t thank Kelvin enough for his generous offering to help protect one of the coolest plants in the world.

So check out Kelvin’s gallery, all his cards and prints are available this month at a special Holiday price and would make great gifts this season.  It is like two gifts in one!

Thanks so much Kelvin!

Posted in fundraising, Green Swamp, outreach, partnerships, pine savanna, plants, Venus flytrap | Leave a comment