Program Report: Fred Annand – The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy in North Carolina: A Bird’s Eye View of Conservation

Lynn Richardson, a lifelong member of the Nature Conservancy, introduced Fred Annand who is Director of Conservation Resources for this non-profit organization whose mission is to “protect the lands and waters on which all life depends.”  Lynn pointed out that coincidentally Rotary International has begun taking a keen interest in environmental issues.  Fred has worked for thirty-seven years with the Nature Conservancy in North Carolina.

Founded in the late 1940’s in the United States and with chapters in all fifty states, the Nature Conservancy has evolved into a global organization with more than a million members and with projects in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands and elsewhere.  Fred points out that the work of the Conservancy has been grounded in science with about 600 current staff members bringing scientific backgrounds to their work.

In North Carolina, some 700,000 acres are protected by the Nature Conservancy working with individuals, corporations such as the giant landowner Georgia-Pacific and federal agencies including the Department of Defense.

Fred gave us snapshot views of the major areas of priority.  The New River Headwaters, located in “the lost province” of northwestern North Carolina, has rare plants that thrive in the acidic soil of the Amphibolite Mountains.  The bog turtle, weighing in at four ounces, is not only the smallest turtle but one of the rarest in North America as well.  The mountains of northwestern North Carolina are a paradise for birders looking for unusual species.  One is the peregrine falcon that is no longer on the endangered species list.  The tiny Northern Saw Owl is common but rarely seen.  (Some birds mentioned in Fred’s presentation are not found in common field guides to birds.  Instead go to Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology website: for descriptions and sounds.)

Because the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment rises 2000+ feet from the Piedmont to the Blue Ridge it produces a great variety of wildlife and vegetation.  Raptors and wood thrushes are commonly seen.

The Sandhill and Carolina Bays area includes Fort Bragg.  Cooperation with that Army base was crucial to increasing the number of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, a non-migratory bird whose nearby habitat had been decimated by encroaching development.

The largest concentration of wildlife refuges in the eastern U.S. is found from the Outer Banks of North Carolina into southeastern Virginia where some 500,000 acres are protected.  Animals that once flourished in this region, such as black bears and red wolves, are once again increasing in numbers.  Tundra Swans winter here and Sand Hill Cranes are beginning to make an appearance.  The Nature Conservancy’s Nags Head Woods Preserve Maritime Forest offers five miles of trails and respite from the throngs of tourists at Jockey’s Ridge and Kill Devil Hill.

The Nature Conservancy has brought under protection 100,000 acres of Roanoke River floodplain from Lake Gaston to Albermarle Sound.  This is the only place in eastern N.C. to see the Prothonotary Warbler, the “lemon drop,” because of its brilliant yellow plumage.  Another priority of the Nature Conservancy is the Black River of southeastern N.C. where the oldest trees—2000 years—are found.  This subtropical area is also the native home of the carnivorous Venus flytrap.

After this presentation I am ready to pack my binoculars and bird books and head out for a birding adventure.

Prepared by Allen Cronenberg                  

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