Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category


H. H. Brimley, founding director of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Image from the State Archives.

When the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, activists sought to harness the increased consciousness Americans had about the environment and the counterculture movement then sweeping the nation to motivate people to speak out and act on environmental issues.

In celebration of the watershed moment 46 years ago, here are the stories of eight North Carolina conservation leaders and the places they sought to protect:


Baum at Jockey’s Ridge. Image from Friends of Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

Carolista Baum. After her children saw a bulldozer flatten out part of Jockey’s Ridge on a quiet morning in August 1973, Baum went to investigate and discovered that the dune was slated for destruction to make way for a residential development. Baum planted herself in the way of the earth moving equipment, halting construction.

She went on to help found the People to Preserve Jockey’s Ridge, which led to the creation of a state park in 1975.


Plan Your Visit to Baum’s Legacy, Jockey’s Ridge State Park →



“Big Hugh” Bennett. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

“Big Hugh” Bennett. Now know as the “father of soil conservation,” Hugh Hammond Bennett grew up in the drainage basin of the Pee Dee River in Anson County and became aware of the woeful effects of soil erosion at an early age.

He is widely credited with selling the benefits of soil conservation to a skeptical public and spreading the message of the importance of topsoil preservation among farmers. Bennett served with the federal Soil Conservation Service for 50 years.

Learn More About Bennett’s Life on NCpedia →


H. H. Brimley. After emigrating to North Carolina from England, Brimley and his brother opened a taxidermy shop in Raleigh. They quickly gained reputations as two of the South’s leading naturalists.

After Brimley created an exhibit on waterfowl and fishes for the State Exposition of 1884, the state Department of Agriculture found the exhibit too valuable to discard. The department found a more permanent place in its halls for the exhibit and, in time, found a more permanent place for Brimley, too, as the exhibit’s curator and director of the museum it began, now the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.


Explore the Museum Brimley Helped Create →



Kephart camping in the Smokies. Image from his book.

Horace Kephart. A former librarian from Pennsylvania, Kephart came to the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina in 1904 seeking solace. He would spent the rest of his life living outside of Bryson City, writing about the environment and outdoor life. By 1913, he had published three books on self-reliant living and the natural world.

An early advocate of the mountain region, Kephart tirelessly promoted the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. His book Our Southern Highlanders, published in 1913, is the classic work on the region.


Read More About Kephart on NCpedia →


Hugh Morton. Perhaps best-known as the developer of Grandfather Mountain, which he inherited in 1952, Morton was also instrumental in saving some of the state’s historic treasures including the Battleship North Carolina and Cape Lookout Lighthouse.

Morton gained notoriety for his fight to keep the Blue Ridge Parkway from crossing Grandfather Mountain and spoiling its aesthetic appeal, and took close to a quarter-million photographs which helped promote North Carolina’s scenic beauty.


Plan Your Trip to Morton’s Grandfather Mountain →


Margaret Nygard. After the city of Durham announced plans to build a reservoir on the Eno River to increase the area’s water supply, Nygard and her husband ignited a grassroots campaign to fight to preserve the unique history and environment of the Eno and advocate for the creation of a state park along it.


Discover the Magic of the Eno at Eno River State Park →


T. Gilbert Pearson. Originally from Illinois, Pearson settled in North Carolina after studying biology and botany at Guilford College and UNC. He had a strong interest in birds and assembled one of the largest collections of bird eggs in nation at the time.

After writing his first book, Stories of Bird Life, Gilbert became active in policy work, founding the Abudon Society of North Carolina and advocating for state and national legislation protecting birds and their habitats. He founded the International Committee for Bird Preservation in 1922 and served as its first president for more than a decade.


Dive Deeper into Pearson’s Story on NCpedia →



Carl Schenck. Image from NCSU Libraries.

Carl Schenck. A German by birth, Schenck came to North Carolina to manage the woodlands on Biltmore Estate for the Vanderbilt family. He started the nation’s first school of forestry on the Biltmore grounds in 1898, teaching students about the care of nurseries; the transplant and cultivation of seedlings; timber selection; felling; logging; and sawing, and using Biltmore’s tens of thousands of acres of forest as a classroom.


Read More About Schenck on NCpedia →


This Earth Day weekend we hope you get in touch with North Carolina’s scenic beauty and natural splendor at the state park, aquarium or science museum near you or at the North Carolina Zoo.

You can also learn more about the conservation movement in North Carolina on NCpedia and find a guide to resources related to North Carolina’s environmental heritage produced by the State Library.

Happy exploring!

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Earlier this week, Dr. Jb Minter and other members of the veterinary team North Carolina Zoo gave Reilly, the zoo’s 17 year-old male African lion his annual checkup.

Reilly’s preventative health exam, which was conducted under general anesthesia, included a physical and dental exam, vaccinations and blood draw. Abdominal ultrasonography was also performed to check Reilly’s internal organs.


Learn More About the N.C. Zoo’s African Lions →


Here’s a look behind-the-scenes at this important health measure:

Getting Ready. Veterinary technician Heather Shaub, offloads the equipment needed for Reilly’s annual examination. Nearly all of the Zoo’s medical equipment is portable and can be moved to any location in the zoo.

Checking Vital Signs. Dr. Jb Minter, the Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian, monitors Reilly’s vital signs during the exam. Reilly was anesthetized and intubated for the procedure.


A Full Check Up.  Dr. Lori Westmoreland, a first year Zoological and Aquatic Medicine Resident, performs a thorough physical examination on Reilly during his annual check-up.



The Zoo, in partnership with North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine and the North Carolina Aquariums, conduct a formal American College of Zoological Medicine approved residency program in zoological and aquatic animal medicine.

Checking Reilly’s Teeth. Veterinary technician, Andrea Persson, conducts a dental examination, which is an integral part of Reilly’s annual examination.


Drawing Blood. Veterinary Technicians, Andrea Persson and Heather Shaub obtain a blood sample from the Reilly’s tail.  Blood samples provide useful information in evaluating the health status of animals at the Zoo.


Wrapping Up with an Ultrasound.  Dr. Lori Westmoreland, under the guidance of Dr. Jb Minter, performs an abdominal ultrasound on Reilly. Abdominal ultrasound allows veterinary professionals to see a visualization of Reilly’s internal organs and gives the veterinary staff a better understanding of what is going on inside the body.


The North Carolina Zoo’s veterinary team and animal care staff are dedicated to providing superior health care for all of the animals housed there, and annual checkups allow the veterinary team to pick up on subtle changes early and act if needed.

Reilly was given a clean bill of health and returned to the exhibit with female Mekita and their offspring the following day.


Learn More About Animal Welfare at the N.C. Zoo →


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Devastation from the Flood of 1916. Image from State Archives.

Devastation from the Flood of 1916. Image from State Archives.

In mid-July 1916, the remnants of two hurricanes collided over western North Carolina, inundating the mountain region and the western Piedmont with historic rainfall.

The result was catastrophic. Landslides wiped out whole families. Currents ripped babies from their parents’ arms. Rivers washed away thousands of jobs. When the water finally receded, at least fifty lay dead, damages totaled in the millions of dollars, and a thick black sludge remained where crops once stood. The scope of the devastation was almost inconceivable.

Exhibit Examines Flood’s Impact

One hundred years later, the storm remains one of the worst ever experienced in the Tar Heel state. To commemorate the event, the North Carolina Office of Archives and History has developed a traveling exhibit that will visit 12 different venues throughout the region over the course of the next year.

The exhibit, entitled “So Great the Devastation: The 1916 Flood,” debuts at the History Museum of Catawba County in downtown Newton next Tuesday, March 1.

A schedule of the exhibit stops over the next six months appears in the table below. Click on the Venue name for directions.

Dates Venue City/Town
March 1 to March 31 History Museum of Catawba County Newton
April 1 to April 30 Madison County Public Library Marshall
May 1 to May 31 Mountain Gateway Museum Old Fort
June 1 to July 15 Pack Memorial Library Asheville
July 16 Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Asheville
July 17 to August 31 Belmont Historical Society Belmont
September 1 to September 30 Lincoln County Historical Association Lincolnton

4/22 Update -additional tour stops have been announced. Check out our website for the whole list.

Symposium to Take a Closer Look

As part of the commemorative initiatives, the Office will also be hosting a symposium on the flood at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College on July 16. We’ll announce more details about this landmark event as they become available.

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Staff from the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer showing off their Panthers pride.

Staff from the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer
showing off their Panthers pride.

Governor Pat McCrory today made a wager with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper over this weekend’s Super Bowl between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos.

If the Panthers prevail as Governor McCrory predicts, Hickenlooper will donate Colorado products to North Carolina food banks and animal shelters. In the unlikely event that the Panther lose, Governor McCrory will donate North Carolina turkey products to Colorado food banks and animals shelters.

Two state historic sites and the North Carolina Zoo have followed Governor McCrory’s lead by either accepting or making friendly wagers with their counterparts in Colorado.

Zoo Directors Put State Pride On The Line

The North Carolina Zoo accepted the Denver Zoo’s Super Bowl challenge. The losing zoo’s director will be welcoming visitors next week in the winning team’s jersey.

Transportation Museums Participate in Turntable Challenge

The North Carolina Transportation Museum will deck out its diesel engines in Broncos regalia with staff riding the turntable while singing the Broncos fight song if the Panthers lose, in addition to supplying to the Colorado Railroad Museum with a number of the Tar Heel State’s favorite foods.

This afternoon the Colorado museum accepted NCTM’s challenge.

Gold ore is being wagered by the Reed Gold Mine..

Gold ore is being wagered by the Reed Gold Mine..

Mine Museums Wager Gold

North Carolina and Colorado are connected through the spread of gold discoveries across the United States during the 19th century, and Reed Gold Mine and the Western Museum of Mining and Industry are raising the stakes on Super Bowl wagers by putting a gold ore specimen valued between $40 and $50 on the line.

Discounted Admission for #PanthersPride

To celebrate the Panthers and help get everyone in the team spirit, the North Carolina Zoo will be offering $2 off admission to guests wearing Panthers’ gear now through Sunday.

The North Carolina Aquariums at Pine Knoll Shores and Fort Fisher and Jennette’s Pier will be offering $1 off admission to visitors in Panthers’ gear Sunday only.

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Aquarists at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher check sea turtles for strength and mobility.

Last week, the North Carolina Aquariums worked with a number of state and federal partners to rescue more than 600 cold-stunned turtles that turned up on the North Carolina coast after the drop in temperature.

Four Questions About Cold-Stunned Turtles

As we shared news of this effort led by the Aquariums, we received several questions about the science of sea turtles and the cold-stunned phenomenon. We consulted with some of the experts at the aquariums and wanted to share some answers they gave us.

What, exactly, does “cold-stunned” mean? Does it cause permanent damage?

“Cold-stunning” is a physical response to cold water temperatures. As the turtle’s body temperature falls, its body systems start to shut down. They become paralyzed with a decreased heart rate and lethargy, followed by shock, pneumonia and possibly death. It’s similar to what happens when humans become hypothermic. 

Often, the turtles are found floating inshore (shallow coastal waters and sounds) or stranded on beaches.


Rehabilitated cold-stunned turtles just before their release.

Is this something that’s seen every year of the North Carolina coast?

Cold-stunning is typically seen each year to some extent along the Eastern Seaboard, starting in the turtles’ northern range (New England) and moving south as seasonal temperatures take effect. In mid-December, the North Carolina Aquariums assisted with a large cold-stunning event that occurred in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, by taking in turtles for rehab.

This year’s cold-stunning event is unique because of its severity. The rapid and drastic change in temperatures led to a record number of cold-stunned turtles. 

In an average season, the N.C. Aquariums might only rehab between 40 and 60 turtles. The season has just begun, and already they have taken in more than 400 turtles.

How are the turtles rehabilitated?

The turtles are assessed by veterinary teams from N.C. State University College of Veterinary Medicine and state Aquariums husbandry staff. Some simply need time in warmer water temperatures to regain strength and mobility.

Others need extensive care due to infections, pneumonia and injuries. So, there’s a range of treatments depending on the severity.

Members of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Living Collections Section also volunteered to rehabilitate seven juvenile green sea turtles that required several weeks of medical care.

Several of the turtles have already been released into the wild.


A girl meets a rehabilitated turtle just before its release.

Is there a reason mostly green sea turtles are affected?

In cold-stunning events, aquarists typically see juvenile turtles and mostly green and Kemp’s ridley turtles. Each turtle species is sensitive to different water temperatures. Age and size have an effect, too. Greens start to stun when water temperatures reach the mid-50s. Whereas, a larger loggerhead sea turtle might be fine.

There are various theories on why this all happens. One is that the turtles are young and don’t know yet to move closer out to the Gulf Stream as temperatures drop.  Another is that because of the sudden weather change, they just didn’t have time to get out.

Where You Can Learn More

You can learn more about sea turtles by visiting the North Carolina Aquariums on the coast. Though the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island is closed through March. The aquariums at Fort Fisher and Pine Knoll Shores are both open and will offer free admission to everyone on January 18 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher also has a great educational website on sea turtles that you can explore from the comfort of your own home.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores offers special behind-the-scenes tours, where you can see how sea turtles are cared for.

How You Can Help

Both the N.C. Aquariums and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences need your support to keep doing this important work. Both the aquariums (use promo code: SEATURTLE2016) and the museum accept donations online.

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A look at the lifesaving service in Beaufort, Beethoven’s Ninth for kids in Raleigh and discussions of a Thomas Wolfe short story in Asheville are just a few of the opportunities for fun and discovery you’ll find this weekend with the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Here are 10 things on our weekend agenda:

1. Discover the storied history of the U.S. Lifesaving Service in North Carolina Thursday at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.



2. Join the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh for a lively performance by funk, soul and jazz musician Kim Arrington Sunday.





4. Enjoy a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony adapted for kids and families by the N.C. Symphony Saturday in Raleigh.



5. Explore facts about the majestic black bear Saturday at South Mountains State Park in Connelly Springs.



6. Help the New Hope Audubon Society count the number of bald eagles at Jordan Lake in Apex Sunday.



7. Take your kids to Lake James State Park in Nebo Sunday to explore leaves up close with ranger.



8. Hear about how mammals are reacting in an era of extreme environmental change Thursday at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.



9. Learn the basics of using maps and a compass for navigation Sunday at Pilot Mountain State Park in Pinnacle.



10. Create a cool three-color illusion piece with Perler beads inspired by M. C. Escher Friday at the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh.



Check out DNCR’s calendar for more information on these and other events, and a enjoy a great North Carolina weekend!

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Still looking for a way to ring in 2016? We have a few ideas for both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day across North Carolina:


1. Start your new year off Friday with a First Day Hike at one of North Carolina’s state parks. Most parks will have guided programs, and all parks will be open.



2. Ring in the new year Thursday with First Nigh Raleigh activities at the N.C. Museum of History and N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.



3. Commemorate the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with patriotic music, historical reenactments with costumed characters and a dramatic reading of amendment’s text Friday at Tryon Palace in New Bern.



4. Swing in the New Year with Camel City Jazz Orchestra and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem Thursday at the Resolution 2016 Jazz Party.



5. Celebrate the arrival of 2016 with music by Strauss, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and others as performed by the N.C. Symphony Thursday in Raleigh.



Check out DNCR’s calendar for more information on these and other events, and a enjoy a great North Carolina weekend!

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