TLR Staff Report
The North Carolina Botanical Garden will host the 2019 Environmental Summit on Wednesday, Dec. 4, as the first step toward identifying wildlife corridors in the Eno River and New Hope Creek watersheds.
Convened by the Orange County Commission on the Environment, the summit will focus on preserving wildlife corridors as our area develops. Working collaboratively with Chatham, Durham and Wake counties, as well as with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Orange County is trying to create policy for identifying, protecting and restoring habitats for local animal populations.
The first step will be identifying high-priority landscape corridors in order to create an interconnected system of wildlife habitats. Once recognized and analyzed, efforts then can be made to coordinate and buffer animal habitat locales. By working together, officials said, the four counties can create, to the extent possible, a structure of protected land for wildlife.
According to the state wildlife resources commission, other dangers to wildlife in addition to habitat loss include multi-lane road routes, algae growth due to nutrient loading, forest health due to different beetle infestations and impaired waters.
The animal focus for the local efforts is the eastern box turtle, four-toed salamander and bobcat.
The status of the turtle has been downgraded from “near-threatened” to “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their naturally low reproduction rate, along with the loss of habitat that has resulted in increasing contact between the turtles and automobiles, has resulted in the lowering of the turtle population’s outlook.
In North Carolina, the salamanders are labeled a “species of special concern” because of their limited numbers. The status of the four-toed salamander is of concern on the Greene Tract, currently being evaluated for development.
According to David Pfennig, a UNC biology professor, salamanders are sensitive to environmental degradation and, as such, are bio-indicators of environmental quality. While the bobcat is not threatened, it is part of our local fauna and has its place in the ecosystem.
The meeting, which takes place from 9 a.m. to noon, is open to the public but registration is required. Call the botanical garden at 919-962-0522 for further information.
The wildlife resource commission report is available at https://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Conserving/documents/2015WildlifeActionPlan/Decision%20Support%20Tools/Threat%20Category%20Metadata%20v1.pdf