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Over 100 miles of fish habitat being restored in the Uwharries
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Rowan County Landowner Restoring Disappearing Forest Ecosystem
King Mountain project helps to connect the historic Uwharrie National Trail
Uwharrie National Forest and NC WIldlife Resources Commission buy the King Mountain tract with assistance from the Land Trust for Central NC.
Longleaf Pine Restoration Program
Do you have Piedmont Longleaf Pines on your land? If so, you may qualify for a habitat restoration program that will fund longleaf pine planting and habitat restoration on your land.
For more information, contact Laura Fogo, US Fish & Wildlife Service: 910-695-3303.
In order to conserve wildlife, habitats and associated natural resources in the Greater Uwharries of the South Central Piedmont, the Wildlife Resources Commission aims to collaborate and work cooperatively with local government, landowners, leaders, industry, land trusts and natural resources agencies to achieve the best ways to conserve wildlife habitat.
Central Park NC and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are partners in the Greater Uwharrie Conservation Partnership. The Partnership’s mission is, “to work for the long-term conservation and enhancement of biological diversity and ecosystem sustainability throughout the Greater Uwharries landscape.”
The Partner Organizations are: N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Natural Heritage Program, N.C. Plant Conservation Program, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and N.C. Zoological Park, and Piedmont Land Conservancy, USDA Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, Central Park NC, Environmental Defense Fund, the Land Trust for Central NC, and The Nature Conservancy.
• Promote an active and broadly inclusive public discourse on sustainable land use;
• Assess opportunities and work cooperatively to enhance, protect, conserve, and restore the sensitive and unique flora and fauna of the Greater Uwharries region by identifying priority conservation lands and pursuing conservation options;
• Encourage projects that focus on protecting, conserving, and restoring the integrity of the landscape, airshed, and waters, along with their natural communities;
• Serve as an educational resource to private landowners, institutions and organizations, and the general public on land conservation and management tools and opportunities;
• Facilitate collaborative efforts and joint land management activities among members to achieve common conservation objectives across jurisdictional and ownership boundaries; and
• Recognize and promote the vital role science must play in responsible sustainable land use.
The Partnership is organized into 6 groups with different functions listed below.
Steering Committee - Made up of the 12 partners that have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to share information and collaborate on projects that promote biodoversity conservation. The primary responsibility of the Steering Committee is to enhance collaboration among the participants in order to reach the GUCP’s goals by holding a Forum to promote cooperation and collaboration among members. The regularly scheduled Forums are intended to provide a venue for the partner organizations, or other interested parties or stakeholders, to discuss common issues relating to the GUCP goals and activities, to share activities of individual organizations that relate to GUCP goals, to vote on decisions when the Partnership acts to support funding for partner organizations, and to coordinate on-the-ground activities for surveys, land acquisition etc.,
The GUCP Forum - The purpose and function of the Forum is to share information relevant to biodiversity conservation in the Greater Uwharries region. The function of this information sharing is to foster collaboration and to work together toward common goals.
The GUCP Working Groups
The function of the four working groups is to collaborate and work together on projects that have some role in biodiversity conservation in the GUCP focus region. All working groups coordinate to share information on grants, build on each other's efforts and provide outreach and technical guidance to landowners and community leaders.
Land Protection Working Group
- Identifies and works on common priorities for approaching and working with landowners on voluntary easements and land acquisition .
- Collaborates on technical guidance to local governments regarding priority wildlife conservation through land use planning methods.
Stewardship Working Group
- Identifies the needs of habitat stewardship-based agencies and works to meet those needs.
- Collaborates to contact landowners in priority areas and to provide the best habitat enhancement and management to meet landowner objectives.
Recreation and Tourism Working Group
- Provides for various entities to share information on ecotourism, land conservation and people-powered recreation.
- Work with municipalities, small business and Tourism Development Authorities.
- Disseminates information on lessons learned and brings attention to the importance of the Greater Uwharrie area.
Conservation Planning and Research Working Group
- Development and update of the Greater Uwharrie Conservation Plan and the Conservation Planning Map.
- Develop a web-based database to share information on research relevant to biodiversity conservation and management in the Greater Uwharries.
- Facilitates academic and student research in the Uwharries
- Builds capacity for long-term monitoring of appropriate species in the region.
Measurable Results from the Collaboration of the Partnership
Since 2007 the conservation partnership collaborated on the following projects leading to measurable results. Partners have contacted over 200 private landowners in the region’s most valuable natural areas, to offer technical guidance about conservation options and cost-share programs, resulting in cooperative working relationships with 64 of these landowners. Collaboration of partners led directly to conducting biological surveys on 130 sites leading to the discovery of a 1,000 significant natural heritage area with the largest river sedge population, a rare plant, in the world in Anson County. The partnership has permanently conserved more than 2,818 acres and enhanced habitat on 2,154 acres for high priority wildlife and rare plant habitat in the last 2 years. We also collaborated to provide a forum to local governments in the region to discuss land use planning, leading to the formation of a public committee that completed a local county land use plan.
The Greater Uwharries Region
The Greater Uwharries (pronounced, ‘URE’) region contains some of the largest remaining tracts of wildlife and rare plant habitat in the Piedmont. The region is North Carolina’s Central Park. The Uwharrie Mountains are among the oldest mountain ranges in North America, a reason they are home to a diversity of species and habitats in need of conservation and stewardship. The GUCP focus region covers Anson, west Richmond, east Cabarrus, Stanly, Montgomery, northwest Moore, Randolph, Davidson, Davie and Rowan Counties.
The region is unique because it is mountainous, lies within the Piedmont and is on the edge of the Sandhills, one of the rarest ecosystems in the world. As such the Uwharries are home to an ecotone, a neighborhood, of habitats found nowhere else. The region ranks third in the number of the Outstanding and High-Quality Resource Waters within the Yadkin River Basin. The rivers of the Uwharries contain seven irreplaceable aquatic species as classified by The Nature Conservancy. The Pee Dee River is ranked among the top four priorities for conservation in the Southeast U.S. by the Southeast Aquatics Resources Partnership, while the Little River is one of only a few places in the world where the Carolina redhorse fish is found.
The Uwharries are home to more than 100 wildlife, plant species and habitats that range in state conservation status from Vulnerable to Critically Imperiled and two federally endangered plant and fish species. The region contains landscapes with all of the priority habitats identified for the Piedmont in the N.C. Wildlife Action Plan including bottomland and riparian forests, Piedmont prairies, Piedmont longleaf pine forests, upland depression swamp communities, and upland hardwood forests.
Across the Piedmont, the greatest immediate threat to the persistence of wildlife, rare plant populations and wildlife recreation opportunities is haphazard land development. We all need a place to live and work; however, using land more efficiently is an important tool in helping to accommodate vital economic growth, while still conserving wildlife habitat. There are excellent opportunities for wildlife conservation in this region due to relative remoteness, the presence of unique ecosystems and high quality terrestrial and aquatic habitats.
Unlike most counties of the Piedmont, the rate of growth is still manageable in the Uwharries and we have an opportunity to conserve many of the largest contiguous areas of wildlife habitat that remain before rapid growth occurs. There is a need to plan for growth now as these regions lie within less than a 90 minute drive of the largest cities in North Carolina. Four out of seven cities surrounding these regions are in the top 100 largest cities in the US, two of which are among the top ten fastest growing cities in the US (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008). Four of the ten fastest growing NC counties fall within or border this region (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). The conversion of land to developed uses is predicted to increase 23 percent by 2030 in the 24 counties surrounding Charlotte, according to the Open Space Protection Collaborative. The BRAC Fort Bragg Regional Growth Plan states that extensive growth will impact most of the Sandhills and Uwharries counties with the tens of thousands of new military personnel and families moving to serve and work at Fort Bragg.
The Wildlife Resouces Commission Piedmont Cooperative Land Conservation Project funded and guided a research project through the Renaissance Computing Institute at the University of Charlotte to map projected development growth to 2030 under a status quo scenario and a conservation-based scenario. The project built off of prior research by UNCC with the Land Trust for Central NC as part of the Open Space Protection Collaborative. The purpose of the project was to demonstrate future development patterns based on historic trends as compared to those expected to result from conservation-based land use policies, based in turn on recommendations of the WRC Green Growth Toolbox.
Research by UNC Charlotte shows that adoption of green growth practices would reduce conservation threats and conflict by 75 percent. Development is likely to increase from 13 percent (2006) to 25 percent by 2030 under both historic and green growth scenarios. Under the conservation-based scenario the same amount of land is developed because we felt changes in development density would be imprecise and more appropriately envisioned by local governments. Randolph and Rowan Counties would experience the greatest benefit of land conservation. More than 50 percent of areas of conservation value in these counties would be conserved by adopting green growth practices. Cabarrus, Davidson, Richmond and Stanly Counties would be able to increase land conservation by at least 25 percent. With increasing human populations and encroachment from urban counties there is a window of time in which to get ahead of sprawling growth patterns and develop land more efficiently, while maintaining economic growth, without unnecessary impacts to wildlife habitats.
• Photos from N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission unless otherwise stated.