Environment

Oct 02, 2019
The National Land Trust Rally put on annually by the Land Trust Alliance, the umbrella organization for land trusts, is in Raleigh this year. The Land Trust Alliance also administers the national accreditation program and serves as a clearinghouse and learning center for land trust staff across the U.S. The rally includes optional field trips on Wednesday and Thursday of the conference week hosted by local land trusts, giving us an opportunity to show off the Piedmont region.
Aug 28, 2019
Today it’s hard for many, especially newcomers, to imagine Charlotte’s interdependency with the small towns and rural communities surrounding Mecklenburg County.  But Charlotte’s emergence as a New South city was the result of a manufacturing economy established throughout the region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  That economy was mostly built on textiles, with its concentration not in the urban core (as was the case with Pittsburgh’s steel industry or Detroit’s auto sector), but in small towns scattered throughout the Carolina Piedmont – where brick textile mills were built along the banks of the South Fork River in Gaston County and the Great Falls of the Catawba in South Carolina, and along the rail lines that stretched in every direction to places like Kannapolis and Hamlet.
Jul 24, 2019
Hellbenders - a species of large salamander with an evocative name - can tell us something about the health of a river. Macroinvertebrates are good indicators of water health across the state. Insects, crustaceans, molluscs, and arachnids can all tolerate water quality in different degrees. Mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, hellgrammites are all highly sensitive to pollution. Their presence anywhere indicates good water quality. Dragonflies, damselflies, crayfish and clams are somewhat tolerant of pollution. Black fly larvae, lunged snails, and leeches are all pollution-tolerant.
Jul 23, 2019
Common rush (Juncus effusus) is often used in riparian restoration projects. It provides cover for wildlife and helps stabilize soil and filter stormwater runoff, and it can be found throughout the Uwharries. Jim Matthews, professor emeritus at UNC Charlotte and founder of Habitat Assessment and Restoration Professionals, calls it the “Cadillac of wetland plants” because it can grow in standing water but also tolerate dry spells.
Jun 24, 2019
Found primarily along the Southeast coast, white-bracted sedge also grows with abandon in wet, sunny meadows you can create in your Charlotte backyard. The flowers attract a crazy array of pollinators - bumblebees and honeybees, bizarre bugs and colorful moths, tiny bees and flies. And the bracts remain attractive deep into fall, even after a hard freeze has turned them to parchment.
Jun 17, 2019
Most people who visit the Uwharrie region, east of Charlotte, for recreation probably know about spots like the Uwharrie Trail and Morrow Mountain State Park. Or maybe you’re used to driving west, to Crowders Mountain State Park. However, there are a lot of lesser-known gems in the region that many tourists miss out on, and some that even locals have never been to see.
Jun 11, 2019
The world uses millions of tons of phosphorus per year in fertilizer, and almost all of that is mined. But Charlotte Water plans to start extracting the mineral from a new source: What you put down the drain. 
Jun 04, 2019
Wildlife habitat comes in all shapes and sizes, as does opportunity for improving it.  The rural nature of the Uwharries and other areas around Charlotte allows us to restore grasslands and forests on a landscape scale, but the same management techniques have also proven successful on smaller parcels in urban parks and nature preserves. One of the most promising interventions in the rapidly developing Piedmont is to enhance backyard habitat. 
May 22, 2019
From field sparrows to gnatcatchers to scarlet tanagers, from local residents to neotropical migrants from thousands of miles away, there’s a wealth of biodiversity of birds in the Uwharries near Charlotte. 
May 20, 2019
Eight years ago, Charlotte set a goal for itself: 50 percent tree canopy coverage across the city by 2050. But because of rapid development and an aging tree population, the city likely won’t reach that goal, officials said last week. Instead, they’re refocusing on smaller, neighborhood-level targets and other “fifty-themed” tree promotion efforts.
May 13, 2019
At first glance, the proposed fiscal 2020 budget for Mecklenburg Park and Recreation looks like a slam dunk. With the clarity of a slow-mo replay, however, stripped of its glitter and pizzazz, the budget looks a lot more like a mediocre layup.
May 06, 2019
The Sandhills are one of the more diverse landscapes in the state, mainly because longleaf pine ecosystems house so many unique and endemic species. The transition area between Sandhills and Uwharries is especially diverse as you may find species found in the coastal plain, Sandhills, Piedmont and the mountains all in one place.
May 03, 2019
Mecklenburg County is poised to substantially increase funding for its park system, after years of stagnating budgets and staff cuts following the 2008 recession. It could help the county improve its ranking of dead last among major U.S. cities for parks and open space. 
May 01, 2019
Responsible and thoughtful design entails understanding the relationship between the built environment and its impact on ecological systems.  With 6.7 billion people projected to live in urban areas worldwide by 2050, there are many achievable strategies that should resonate with architects, developers and local governments to sustain the natural environment even as growth and development continue. 
Apr 26, 2019
When I was a novice birder, attending bird walks in New York’s Central Park, I asked the leader which field guide I should buy.  Without missing a beat, and without a hint of sarcasm, he replied, “All of them.”  While I’ve come to appreciate his wisdom, there’s also something to be said for having a basic, indispensable guide you can turn to again and again.
Apr 25, 2019
As cities continue to grow and thrive, with downtowns reviving and old neighborhoods being redeveloped, is their future still really in the suburbs? That's what one advocate said this week at a real estate forum, provoking debate about growth, transit and sprawl.
Mar 28, 2019
 I was a preschooler with a bad case of eczema so my pediatrician sent us to an allergist in downtown Greensboro with an office on Elm Street.  Growing up in the Uwharries, I’d never laid my country eyes on anything so grand — block after block of offices and shops towering over the sidewalks. 
Jul 09, 2018
A new report finds Charlotte and its region are underperforming in many measurements of its local food economy. 
Jun 19, 2018
Charlotte first adopted a greenhouse gas emission reduction resolution in 2007.  Now, 11 years later, the City Council is considering a new resolution to move the initiative ahead.
Apr 17, 2014
Our Regional Indicators website now has a new home on the institute’s main website. You’ll find all the data that was on the previous site, but with improved functionality and a new look.
Apr 16, 2014
Find the story in the numbers. See below to explore facts about Environment in the Charlotte region. See how the region's counties compare to one another and how the metro area compares to peers around the country. Browser not compatible.
Apr 06, 2014
Regional statistics you can visualize, customize and share Welcome to the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute's data portal. See below to explore facts about the Charlotte region from among 11 topic areas, compare your county to the metro region and the state, and explore in-depth data from...
Feb 06, 2014
Charlotte's carbon footprint is dwarfed by other metro centers like Washington and Atlanta, but within the Charlotte region some areas produce much more carbon than others. Interactive maps from UC Berkeley now let you see the differences by ZIP code. (Graphic: UC Berkeley CoolClimate Network)
Mar 13, 2013
Which neighborhoods use the most water in Mecklenburg County? Or electricity? See how neighborhoods compare in resource use. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)