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  • Seeing American history through its trees | UNC Charlotte Urban Institute | UNC Charlotte
    dummy placed it in a coffin and led a procession past the home of the royal governor The mob later turned unruly and battered down the newly built stamp office They also burned the effigy in front of Oliver s home and broke his windows Oliver had privately been against the tax all along and the next day he made it clear he would not administer it Within a month the Boston Sons of Liberty a group that included Samuel Adams and Paul Revere returned to the tree and affixed a copper plate bearing the words The Tree of Liberty Thereafter they used the tree as an outdoor meeting spot Rutkow notes that it was an egalitarian venue where no one was excluded In May 1766 they also gathered there to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act Having the colonists rally around the Liberty Tree rankled the British It fell to a party of redcoats in August 1775 soon after the start of the Revolutionary War Rutkow quotes a newspaper s account of the event After a long Spell of laughing and grinning sweating swearing and foaming with Malice diabolical they cut down a Tree because it bore the Name of Liberty A year later in the wake of the Declaration of Independence the citizens of a self proclaimed sovereign nation reclaimed the site and erected a flagpole on the stump of the Liberty Tree These stories strike a chord as we celebrate Independence Day and they re indicative of the approach Rutkow uses throughout the book We learn about our nation s relationship with trees through the likes of romantic iconoclasts such as Daniel Boone and Johnny Appleseed Presidents Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and David Thoreau naturalists John Muir and John Bartram creator of the U S Forest Service Gifford Pinchot and the agency s mascot Smokey Bear timber magnate Frederick Weyerhaeuser and archetypal logger Paul Bunyan In Rutkow s hands the trees themselves become compelling characters There are rapturous stores about the giant sequoias of California and poignant ones about the demise from disease of our stately chestnuts and elms The book begins with the casual felling in 1964 of the world s oldest tree a bristlecone pine named Prometheus that had survived nearly 5 000 years in what is now Nevada Early colonists from a denuded England sometimes feared the impenetrable forests they encountered here and even saw them as a nuisance an obstacle to overcome before building shelter and working the land In time American forests were seen as an opportunity a resource of infinite abundance This misguided notion as well as evolving technologies and introduced diseases led to unsustainable levels of harvest In the face of exponential losses people began to realize our forests weren t limitless If we wanted to maintain our industries and our standard of living not to mention some semblance of wilderness we had to learn how to manage and conserve this precious resource That

    Original URL path: http://ui.uncc.edu/story/american-canopy-rutkow-trees-us-history (2016-02-18)
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  • Restoring habitats: Start with a baseline inventory | UNC Charlotte Urban Institute | UNC Charlotte
    to think we provided them with a good place to rest and refuel before the next leg of their journey That kind of evidence lets us know our changes are having the desired effect That said the primary target of these interventions the bobwhite quail has been elusive I hear them sporadically throughout the breeding season but I haven t detected any significant increase in the population I don t know what this means Maybe they re more numerous in areas beyond my hearing range Maybe we need to continue to tweak the habitat Maybe the northern harrier that shows up each fall keeps their numbers in check Or maybe it s the arrival of coyotes Or maybe the coyotes have yet to make a dent in the number of skunks opossums and raccoons Even though these aren t the results I d hoped for they let us know we still have work to do Plans to remove a relic dam on the Uwharrie River have prompted a similar effort to document and monitor aquatic species Last spring a team of scientists from the U S Fish and Wildlife Service N C Natural Heritage Program N C Wildlife Resources Commission N C Zoo Landtrust for Central N C Progress Energy and American Rivers surveyed fish and mussel species around the Lassiter Mill dam To get a sense of how productive the habitat might be once the dam has been removed all they had to do was sample areas on both sides of the structure They didn t even have to make the intervention before getting a sense of the results that s my idea of immediate gratification Upstream where the impounded water resembles a pond they found 40 fish and seven different species in a brief sampling period That might sound like a decent catch but in the free flowing section below the dam they found 388 fish and 23 different species in the same amount of time Those numbers ought to put a smile on any angler s face The contrast was even more dramatic for the mussels Below the dam they counted more than 130 individuals and nine different species Behind it they didn t find a single one Restoring this stretch of river is especially important when you consider that the Southeast is home to almost two thirds of all the freshwater fish species in North America and over 90 percent of its freshwater mussels Habitat restoration isn t for the faint of heart It can be time consuming labor intensive and expensive Please note government programs are often available to help offset the costs These projects require dedication and diligence There are plans to be developed forms to be completed weeds to be sprayed and seeds to be planted There is earth to be moved And heaven too it often seems Having data from baseline inventories can help to spur us on They allow us to see the progress we ve made and they serve as

    Original URL path: http://ui.uncc.edu/story/habitat-restoration-north-carolina-uwharries-birds-mussels-fish-wildlife (2016-02-18)
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  • Offsetting habitat loss | UNC Charlotte Urban Institute | UNC Charlotte
    same area dazzled me on a recent visit Ferns and white wood asters now blanket the slope Redbud serviceberry rhododendron and native azaleas crowd around the canopy trees as if they were commuters squeezing into a subway car during the morning rush Dragonfly and damselfly species new to the park have shown up around the pond Bird populations have increased since native vegetation was installed during the restoration of the Hallett Nature Sanctuary in the southeast corner of the park Being an island Manhattan has built up not out Some of its parks are also skyscrapers The 28 acre Riverbank State Park sits atop a waste water treatment facility along the Hudson River in Harlem It has an Olympic sized pool skating rink community garden plots and tennis and basketball courts Downtown the High Line was recently established along an abandoned elevated freight line This linear park begins at the edge of Greenwich Village and will eventually reach 34 th Street Native plants such as serviceberry sumac and bigleaf magnolia now have a place in the heart of a previously park starved Chelsea For many years the city turned away from the rivers that surround it but during the time we lived there an effort began to reclaim decrepit piers along the Hudson River They provided space for playgrounds skate parks and ball fields Paths for walking and biking now loop most of the perimeter Our friends on 106 th Street recently set off from Riverside Park and biked to Battery Park at the southern tip of the island In the Piedmont the luxury of open space can make us wasteful Historically we haven t had to treat our land as a precious commodity Often it isn t as productive for wildlife as it could be Some of our land use practices have damaged our working lands and natural habitats alike Think of the terrible loss of topsoil we experienced before farmers started using no till methods In an effort to control the erosion we introduced kudzu an invasive species that created problems of its own Before the establishment of best management practices forests were routinely clear cut right to the edge of rivers and creeks leaving banks unstable and raising water temperatures Rather than install watering stations ranchers allowed their cattle to access fragile riparian areas Now with no till farming as our standard practice we can go another step and install wildlife buffers around our fields This land is often marginal land for crops but it can be vital habitat for rabbit bobwhite quail and other songbirds In addition to following streamside management zones our loblolly plantations will harbor more wildlife if we thin them aggressively and burn them frequently We can also diversify our timber stands with Piedmont longleaf and shortleaf Cattle can rotate on pastures of native warm season grass On our farms and in our forests and natural areas we can be more vigilant about removing invasive species Sometimes when people who want to justify

    Original URL path: http://ui.uncc.edu/story/habitat-restoration-north-carolina-new-york-city (2016-02-18)
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  • The abundant diversity of the hardwood forest | UNC Charlotte Urban Institute | UNC Charlotte
    forest but during breeding season prothonotary warblers are the gems of this habitat These small yellow birds are denizens of Southern bottomlands and swamps They flash through the foliage singing sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet My path curves around the base of a long flat ridge that roughly parallels the river To the east the land pitches up a slope and the community transitions to a moist hardwood forest The scientific word for these forests is mesic which means in between or medium I like to think of it as being just right This forest is magical in spring The beech and poplar mingle with hickory and oak The shrub layer is dominated by painted buckeyes but I also see an occasional viburnum The density and diversity of spring wildflowers makes me feel as though I m in a mountain cove The riotous assortment includes an initial flush of trout lily bloodroot trillium and mayapple with a second wave of larkspur geranium woodland phlox chickweed spiderwort and blue star Migratory songbirds descend on this forest in droves making the canopy as lush as the forest floor As my path continues the slope is steeper and faces due west and the forest becomes more open The trees are more widely spaced and the shrub layer is dominated by isolated patches of mountain laurel There s a native hydrangea at the edge of a rocky drain The wildflowers transition to species such as coreopsis woodland aster ginger and alumroot I m also partial to a trail that begins in another mesic forest near the headwaters of a small creek It zigzags up a northwest slope gaining almost 500 feet of elevation in less than a mile Serviceberry and Carolina silverbell appear among the beech trees Farther up the mountain they re replaced by sourwood and a canopy dominated by hickory and oak This is one of the dry oak forests that occur on our upland slopes Rocky areas near the top are marked by chestnut oak The tract was probably high graded for shortleaf 50 to 75 years ago The resulting gnarled and twisted hardwoods are a forester s nightmare but I love their odd and graceful shapes They break at artful angles creating snags for wildlife Every species of woodpecker known to the region seems to be represented on this tract Their hammering and their rattling calls sound as dry as forest itself The shrub layer consists primarily of knee high patches of blueberry and deerberry There s also a scattering of Piedmont Indigo bush probably one of the best populations in the state Often a somewhat spindly shrub it has dainty leaves paired along its branches They look a bit like locust seedlings Fuzzy pink blooms typically appear in early May but this year they were finished by the end of April Rattlesnake plantain is my favorite wildflower in the sparse herbaceous layer Its range seems to overlap with its reptilian namesake That s certainly the case on this particular

    Original URL path: http://ui.uncc.edu/story/nc-hike-uwharries-hardwood-forests-nature (2016-02-18)
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  • Ruth Ann Grissom | UNC Charlotte Urban Institute | UNC Charlotte
    their canvas In time their works became known as earth art or land art The Lightning Field by Walter De Maria is one of the best Native spring vines Mar 31 2011 Every spring I walk along scanning the forest floor for wildflowers Sometimes I light on an odd arrangement of blossoms It takes a few seconds for my mind to shift gears I finally realize the flowers aren t attached to plants on the ground they ve The Metaphysical Bigfoot Mar 17 2011 Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy That famous and some might say blasphemous quote from Benjamin Franklin came to mind recently when I was at the grocery store Sierra Nevada s Bigfoot Ale hit the shelves with Wildflower of the Year Mar 03 2011 This time of year our gardens are perfect We hole up indoors pore over catalogues and magazines and imagine the exemplary specimens and captivating combinations at peak performance in our borders Alas our gardens rarely live up to our lofty expectations In short order We had chickens when chickens weren t so cool Feb 17 2011 Chickens are all the rage these days All the fashionable neighborhoods have them I recently met a gentleman who d built a stately coop behind his home in Charlotte s Myers Park In Raleigh residents flaunt their urban flocks during the annual Hen side the Beltline Skulls Feb 03 2011 The weeks following deer season are typically busy for taxidermists in the Uwharries Some hunters might be reluctant to part with several hundred dollars right now even for a prized buck but a European or skull mount can often be done for less than half the price of a traditional mount Christmas Snow 2010 Jan 21 2011 As

    Original URL path: http://ui.uncc.edu/aboutus/contributors/ruth-ann-grissom?page=10 (2016-02-18)
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  • Native magnolias | UNC Charlotte Urban Institute | UNC Charlotte
    jealous we have other interesting and impressive species of magnolias native to our local forests The sweetbay magnolia Magnolia virginiana is also a tree of the coastal plain but occurrences have been documented in Uwharries The blooms resemble smaller versions of the Southern magnolia but the fragrance is a little brighter a bit more lemony Instead of thick leathery leaves these are more delicate in texture size and appearance Light green on top and silvery underneath they flash like schools of fish when they re ruffled by the wind Sweetbays are widely available in the nursery trade but it s important to do some research and ask a few questions before you purchase one The varieties can look quite different I ve had one that was rather coarse multi trunked and entirely deciduous while another was refined single trunked and evergreen The cucumber tree Magnolia acuminata is a species of the mountains and piedmont so they re at the eastern edge of their range in our region Even though they re fairly common in the Uwharries it s easy to miss them in the forest Their greenish yellow blooms aren t as showy as the white ones of the previous species and they re typically borne on higher branches Their fruit resembles a small bumpy cucumber about the size of a gherkin The blooms of the bigleaf magnolia Magnolia macrophylla are large and sprawling but in my experience they aren t as fragrant They don t produce as many blooms and the flowers don t last long No this species is all about the leaves Some are as long as my arm This gives the tree a tropical look When you run across one in our typical hardwood forest it seems like an exotic interloper In North Carolina they re found primarily in and around Gaston County and a few other scattered locations I m convinced there s one somewhere in the Uwharries that hasn t been discovered or documented yet Magnolias continue to provide interest long after the blooms are finished Years ago my husband s brother and his family came from Connecticut for a visit Our niece who was four or five at the time was enchanted by the Southern magnolia s fuzzy seed cones She picked one up and stroked it and named it Little Mousey I believe she took it home with her The cones are also popular with wildlife The seeds are eaten by squirrel opossum turkey and quail as well as songbirds such as the yellow bellied sapsucker and red eyed vireo Clearly Yankees aren t the only ones who covet these magnificent trees Ruth Ann Grissom For more information about using our native magnolias in your garden there s no better source than Michel Dirr s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants As the quotes above indicate it s a livelier read than the title might suggest See more of Ruth Ann s magnolia photos below Related articles Today s backyard pests were once

    Original URL path: http://ui.uncc.edu/story/magnolia-native-north-carolina-south (2016-02-18)
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  • Rattlesnakes can lower your taxes: The Wildlife Conservation Land Program | UNC Charlotte Urban Institute | UNC Charlotte
    The Wildlife Conservation Land Program WCLP is a visionary effort that gives North Carolina landowners who do right by wildlife some relief on their property taxes If a tract of land is confirmed as being a priority habitat or having a protected wildlife species the landowner can enter into an agreement with the N C Wildlife Resources Commission NCWRC then submit an application to the county tax office to have the property assessed at a lower value Biologists for the NCWRC have identified six priority habitats across the state longleaf pine forest early successional habitat small wetland community stream and riparian zone rock outcrop and bat cave A protected wildlife species is defined as any animal identified by the NCWRC as endangered threatened or of special concern This is where the rattlesnakes come in Even though many people fear them and loathe them Crotalus horridus is one of those protected species Lower taxes might make rattlesnakes more appealing Not to worry plenty of other species also are eligible People might be more inclined to protect habitat for bald eagles loggerhead shrikes yellow bellied sapsuckers or mole salamanders That said it often can be easier to document having one of the six priority habitats listed above than a single target species Shady creeks brushy fields and rock outcrops are more obliging when it comes to being photographed and you might have records on hand that support your history of land management If this all sounds too good to be true do know there are a few restrictions To be eligible you need to have owned the property for at least five years You also need to be able to document the presence of a protected species and demonstrate that the land has been managed as a priority habitat for the previous three years A priority habitat must consist of at least 20 contiguous acres and a landowner can claim no more than 100 acres per county If you think your property meets these qualifications and you want to learn more contact NCWRC biologist Brad Howard at 828 294 2605 or brad howard ncwildlife org As a society we have placed a value on working landscapes We ve been willing to accept less money going into the public coffers because we realize we all benefit from the production of food and timber The WCLP recognizes that we also benefit from having private landowners manage their tracts for priority wildlife species This is especially important in places like the Uwharries where it s possible to have a fully functioning ecosystem on a landscape scale Our public lands provide a solid foundation of protected habitat but the Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge and Morrow Mountain State Park are isolated and much of the Uwharrie National Forest is fragmented Private landowners in the region knit this patchwork together and now there s a program in place to reward their good stewardship Ruth Ann Grissom Disking Tilling soil to reduce competing vegetation Definition from http www

    Original URL path: http://ui.uncc.edu/story/nc-wildlife-conservation-land-program (2016-02-18)
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  • Get revenge on weeds: Eat them | UNC Charlotte Urban Institute | UNC Charlotte
    to learn they re actually related to chicory They were apparently given this misleading name because the leaf has a similar serrated edge Next spring I plan to try the real thing I ll avoid the areas where Buster likes to do his business and gather a mess of flat rosettes before they bloom and turn bitter As long as I can remember we ve always had a large patch of violets near my grandparents farmhouse I ve never thought of them as a nuisance but some people apparently resent having violets pop up in their lawn In addition to the common blue violet Viola sororia which can also appear in a white form two smaller species of violas are sometimes found in our yards field pansy Viola bicolor and Johnny jump ups Viola tricolor Napoleon Bonaparte was wild about violets His beloved Josephine often pinned them to the neckline of her dress or arranged them in her hair It might seem odd that a man who crowned himself emperor could also appreciate such a common flower but the French embrace this sort of contradiction They have a knack for elevating humble ingredients into culinary works of art In the south of France violets are candied or crystallized then eaten as sweets or used to decorate cakes The process sounds simple enough wash and dry the flowers dip them first in egg whites then in sugar and lay them out to dry Bejeweled with sugar crystals violets become worthy of a coronation I m not much of a baker but I have used common blue violets to great effect in salads They have a mild appealing flavor My godson Colin tried some and shrugged Tastes like salad he said My nephew Lee agreed I recently combined them with the pinkish purple blooms of our native redbud trees which a few people also consider weedy Their flavor is more assertive and complex nutty tangy and sweet When my niece Stella saw them together on a bed of local lettuce she seemed downright giddy at the prospect of eating flowers That s reason enough to add a few weeds to your diet If you re inspired to forage farther afield consult a guidebook first Not all plants are edible Some are palatable only during certain seasons or stages of growth and a few can be toxic You d do well to start with the Euell Gibbons classic Stalking the Wild Asparagus Perhaps best remembered for appearing in a Grape Nuts commercial Ever eat a pine tree Gibbons first turned to collecting food from the wild out of necessity to keep his family from starving during the Dust Bowl era but he later enjoyed it as a form of recreation He also liked having a connection to the food he ate and he thought the variety and quality was far superior to anything found in grocery stores Fifty years later with many of us attuned to the local foods movement his vision still

    Original URL path: http://ui.uncc.edu/story/edible-weeds-foraging-dandelions-violets (2016-02-18)
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