Race to the Top

Pilot Mountain State Park
Pilot Mountain State Park

No, we are not talking about improving public education, but an actual race to the top, of a mountain. Pilot Mountain that is, in Pilot Mountain State Park. A running race? No! A bike race? No! Actually, an auto race. On the state park roads.

You may have read about this a few weeks ago.  An auto club made a request to the NC legislature to “rent” the state park in order to hold a road rally. This meant closing the park, our park, to the public for at least a day, and making an exception to the 25 mph speed limit in the park. Preposterous right? No way our legislature would allow this. After all, the mission of NC state parks is to ” . . . conserve and protect representative examples . . . of the state’s natural heritage.” Actually, they would allow this. The NC General Assembly was all set to approve this request and to deny the public the use of its park, all in the name of “economic development”!

What happened? The people took exception to this inappropriate use of its park. The grass roots rose up and said “No way!” The legislature said nothing. But fortunately the auto club realized they were stepping hard on the public’s foot, and the club withdrew their request. Still no word from the legislature.

Why do I bring this to your attention? Simply as a reminder that we must be vigilant in protecting that natural heritage noted above, whether in state parks, national parks and forests or in our own local county and city parks and nature preserves. But surely something like this could not happen here in Guilford County, right? Again wrong. Several request have been made in the last couple years for inappropriate uses of our Guilford County Open Space preserves, many of which TGPAS has used for nature walks. So far the Open Space Committee has been able to point out to county staff that these natural areas exist primarily to preserve nature for the myriad benefits it provides, and these requests have been denied. So far. But you can bet that we will see more such requests in the future, and we all may need to rally around our natural heritage. Stay tuned. Be watchful.  – Jack Jezorek

 

Chapter Signs on to National Audubon Sage-Grouse Letter

Photo Courtesy of National Audubon
Greater Sage Grouse

Chapter co-chairs Jack Jezorek and Dennis Burnette recently signed a letter from National Audubon to Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Department of the Interior, asking that the department protect habitat for the threatened sage-grouse on public land in several western states.

The problem is that in the country’s headlong push to become energy independent and to promote alternative energy sources, western wildlands are being fragmented. Drilling leases for gas and oil extraction and for solar field construction are being granted without solid examination of the habitat loss that would result.

Audubon’s position is that we can have increased energy production as well as protection of habitat for birds and other wildlife, but only if the energy extraction areas are positioned based on good field science. So far this is not happening, hence the letter to the Interior Department. Check Audubon Magazine and publications of other environmental groups for more on this issue. — Marie Poteat

How Did They Do?

The 2014 Lake Daniel Bluebird Trail Report

The twelve bluebird boxes that the chapter maintains along the stream buffer in Lake Daniel Park had fairly good success this year. About 30 bluebirds fledged, compared to totals in the 40s the last couple of years. In addition, about the same number of other species fledged from our boxes, namely wrens and chickadees. So our total songbirds fledged remained about the same as in years past. The chapter did make one change to the trail this year, moving several of the boxes closer together for easier monitoring. We’ll see if these numbers continue in succeeding years, and if the greater proximity of the boxes may be discouraging bluebirds.

Many thanks to Barbara Hughes who coordinates the monitors, mostly from the Westerwood neighborhood, and reports the data to the NC Bluebird Society. Barbara had to do much of the monitoring herself this year, as several of those who signed up were not able to do their assignments. We encourage chapter members to volunteer to do some monitoring next breeding season, so watch for our invitation. This is a really enjoyable, family-friendly way to get away from the computer or TV and out into the park once or twice a summer to help our bluebirds — and a few wrens and chickadees, too. — Jack Jezorek

Birds, Burials and One Bat

Near Green Hill Cemetery in Greensboro
Near Green Hill Cemetery in Greensboro

About a dozen folks took advantage of the fall-like evening of August 14 to stroll the lanes of Green Hill Cemetery for the last of the summer Second Thursday Walks. Before we began our ambling, we visited the grave of T. Gilbert Pearson and talked about his early conservation work in our state and across the nation. We noted that Pearson started the NC Audubon Society in 1903 on the campus of what is now UNCG and was instrumental in the birth of the National Audubon Society shortly thereafter.

While walking through the cemetery we commented on some of the unusual plantings that were done by Bill Craft, a long-time chapter member who passed away a couple years ago. Birds were rather active that evening, too: bluebirds, house finches, robins, swifts, a cowbird, and yes, one bat were having late snacks before settling down for the night. This was an unusual outing for our chapter, but a very enjoyable one. V__2D27Green Hill Cemetery is a quiet and pleasant place to enjoy an evening or a morning walk. To enhance the experience the City of Greensboro has provided a number of benches and a picnic area for visitors to use while there. Several folks suggested having a morning birding walk there in the future. We may give it a try. — Jack Jezorek