ENVIRONMENT

Jun 21, 2016
The pace of growth in northern York County concerns residents, who worry officials aren’t paying enough attention to the environment or moving quickly enough to deal with problems.
Jun 20, 2016
Beset by funding gaps, a recession and other delays, the second phase of the Toby Creek Greenway near UNC Charlotte is finally underway 18 years after the first plans were drawn.  
Mar 28, 2016
Lurking silently beneath the beauty of Charlotte’s tree canopy is a persistent problem with ailing trees. The issue significantly affects the city’s efforts to preserve and replenish its most treasured amenity.
Mar 25, 2016
With spring upon us, many Charlotteans might have already taken notice of the numerous butterflies seen dancing around the area. Chances are you've run into an Eastern tiger swallowtail, the butterfly most common to this area.
Mar 16, 2016
Air quality is important inside buildings as well as outside. A UNC Charlotte associate professor is using indoor plants to filter out pollutants in the air inside several new buildings. A conversation with Jefferson Ellinger. Part of the KEEPING WATCH on AIR initiative.
Mar 08, 2016
In Charlotte, a shared passion about trees inspires community activism, marked by a keen admiration of the beauty of trees and pragmatism about protecting their environmental significance to the city. Part of 2016’s KEEPING WATCH on AIR.
Feb 26, 2016
In a city that loves its trees, some stout survivors have won a special, statewide honor: Champion Trees. For more about Charlotte’s tree canopy and the role of trees in protecting air quality, visit keepingwatch.org.
Feb 24, 2016
What’s the state of air quality in Mecklenburg County today? A discussion with Brian Magi, a UNC Charlotte academic who studies air pollution. Part of the KEEPING WATCH on AIR initiative.
Feb 05, 2016
In cities, squirrels are considered garden marauders and ingenious plunderers of bird feeders. But decades ago in rural North Carolina, they provided tasty meat for subsistence farmers, and a first job for one young hunter.
Feb 02, 2016
Jim Matthews, a retired UNC Charlotte biology professor, is a botanist whose mission is to collect and catalog the plants of the 15-county region of the North Carolina Piedmont, preserving a record of what we have, before it’s lost to development.
Dec 15, 2015
The annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count gives citizen scientists a chance to assist in research, and the formal bird count at the Pee Dee National Wildlife Refute offers the opportunity to see tundra swans, among other waterfowl.
Nov 18, 2015
A day of banding birds can provide insights about an early successional habitat created in the Uwharries: Are all the expected species found? Any unusual species? Is the habitat sustaining healthy birds?
Oct 26, 2015
A mostly volunteer team of “citizen scientists” is helping Mecklenburg County track which bird species are reappearing, or disappearing as development changes the local habitat. An interview with naturalist Don Seriff.
Oct 26, 2015
One of the most abundant fall wildflowers is the yellow goldenrod. That flower also happens to be one of the favorite hunting grounds of a unique spider, the crab spider (Misumena vatia).
Sep 23, 2015
Three environmentally minded Charlotte entrepreneurs contemplated food waste and instead of seeing a stinky mess, they sniffed out potential for a new business focused on sustainability. Enter Crown Town Compost.
May 28, 2015
The Mecklenburg Soil and Water Conservation District has honored UNC Charlotte Urban Institute Associate Director Mary Newsom and the institute’s KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks project with its Urban Conservation Award. The Soil and Water Conservation District is a local organization...
May 27, 2015
Aided by some surprising coincidences, a curious and determined librarian located the Gaston County site where a famous French botanist first recorded the bigleaf magnolia tree.
May 13, 2015
Mecklenburg’s 3,000 miles of creeks run through every part of the county, including uptown Charlotte. But many of uptown’s small creeks are hidden from view. An 1877 map offers clues to finding where those creeks once ran.
Apr 21, 2015
Charlotte has fought leaf-devouring cankerworms for 25 years. New maps show where  this year's infestations are worst. Helping with the fight this year is a worm-hungry beetle. 
Apr 09, 2015
Public health expert Richard Jackson thinks it’s time to stop blaming individuals for the U.S. obesity problem. The problem, he says, is more systemic, including the auto-centric design of daily life and easy access to high-sugar and high-fat food.
Mar 18, 2015
To whet your appetite for next week’s series of "City of Creeks" articles at PlanCharlotte, test your knowledge of the creeks of Mecklenburg County with a short quiz. 
Mar 18, 2015
A series of events is planned, as part of the KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks collaborative project. 
Mar 11, 2015
The KEEPING WATCH initiative enters year two with KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks. The project includes articles at PlanCharlotte.org and an exhibition opening Friday, March 27.
Feb 18, 2015
After three years of citizen engagement, which led to a Regional Growth Framework for the Charlotte region, the CONNECT Our Future initiative moves into implementation, including a set of 31 quality-of-life indicators, now available online.
Jan 27, 2015
The ruffed grouse is North America’s most widely distributed game bird. Crystal Cockman shares her experience hunting grouse in the West Virginia mountains.
Jan 13, 2015
Resolutions to make the Earth a better place, and enjoy it more in 2015. 
Nov 21, 2014
Crafting knives, guns and baskets by hand. Gathering wild plants for medicine. Whispering a Bible verse over a burn to take away the pain. Those might sound like lost traditions, but they're still alive the Uwharrie Mountain region.
Nov 18, 2014
The 115 ideas for creating a more livable Mecklenburg range from protecting more historic buildings to better training the local workforce to rethinking local residents’ reliance on fescue lawns.
Nov 18, 2014
The grasslands of the Uwharries are enchanting in fall. The tones are muted and monochromatic, allowing the understated sparrows to take center stage after the brightly colored migrants depart for warmer climates.  
Nov 11, 2014
Small groups of people can have a big impact. Find out about some of these groups working for a better environment in our region.  
Nov 06, 2014
Is there a hornets' nest in your local park? Your backyard? Bald-faced hornets might have built an elaborate home nearby that you never noticed.
Oct 29, 2014
Flycatchers are excellent fliers. They have been observed bathing not by standing in water, but rather by diving into water from above, hitting the water with their chest, and then returning to a perch to preen and shake.
Oct 23, 2014
Tarantulas are not native to the Carolinas, or anywhere east of the Mississippi. That doesn’t mean there are none here, so keep your eyes peeled.
Oct 16, 2014
The Rocky River is a little known paddling pleasure found in our region. Starting in Mooresville, it continues into Cabarrus, Union, Stanly and Anson counties, before joining the Pee Dee River.
Oct 02, 2014
They only live a few days, so consider yourself fortunate if you have a chance encounter this striking and beautiful creature.
Sep 10, 2014
Technology is making it simpler to know what you're looking at, or hearing, when you head out for a walk in the woods. Several apps bring new help to birdwatchers, soil scientists and stargazers alike. (Photo: Crystal Cockman)
Sep 04, 2014
As you kayak along the Uwharrie River, you might run across a unique fish, the bowfin. It is the only surviving species of the order Amiiformes that dates to the Jurassic period, more than 70 million years ago. (Photo: Cody Hough via Wikipedia CCA 3.0)
Aug 14, 2014
Kayaking and canoeing are fun and healthy ways to enjoy the outdoors. A great stream in the N.C. Piedmont that’s now easily accessible is Hitchcock Creek in Rockingham, about 70 miles east of Charlotte. (Photo Crystal Cockman)
Aug 05, 2014
A new sustainability report card for Charlotte-Mecklenburg from Sustain Charlotte finds the area lags the nation on most measures, but it sees upward trends in five of nine categories. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Jul 31, 2014
Saltbush, native to the North Carolina Coastal Plain, has begun to move into the Piedmont. Is it time to accept it as a native plant further inland? (Photo: Ruth Ann Grissom)
Jul 23, 2014
Redlair Farm & Forest in Gaston County has been named an N.C. Plant Conservation Program preserve, providing recognition to the unusual native plants that make their home on the property - including the imperiled bigleaf magnolia. (Photo: Crystal Cockman)
Jun 19, 2014
The natural gems of the Piedmont of North Carolina are often overshadowed by the state’s mountains and coast. Take a little extra effort to find the hidden treasures to explore right in our back yards. (Photo: Jessie Maynor)
Jun 10, 2014
Although the city arborist says Charlotte's trees are healthy enough, for now, that no more aerial spraying to kill cankerworms is planned for next spring, the city's infestation with the leaf-munching caterpillars remains high.
Jun 05, 2014
If we cross paths with a large cat in the Carolinas, it’s likely an exotic pet that was released or escaped, not a native animal. But not always. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Jun 03, 2014
If a new ranking finds Charlotte has the largest parks, by size, in the country, why does the city rank so low overall? The latest ParkScore ranking takes more into account than size alone. (Photo: Mary Newsom)
May 29, 2014
Can you identify 50 species of plants and animals native to your region? Naturalist Kenn Kaufman believes making the effort to do that will profoundly enhance your connection with the natural world. (Photo: Ruth Ann Grissom)
May 22, 2014
North America has the highest diversity of mussels in the world. Mussels depend on host fish for reproduction, so they are also indicators of fish species health. (Photo: Crystal Cockman)
May 20, 2014
Benjamin Ross, author of "Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism," will discuss his book at the UNC Charlotte Center City campus today at 6 p.m. Ross' talk will be followed by a panel discussion.
May 15, 2014
Mountain laurel, with their masses of light pink flowers, should be at their peak in the coming week, but some of our most interesting spring-blooming shrubs aren’t so abundant. Look for them in mature hardwood forests, along streambanks and tucked in rocky ravines. (Photo: Ruth Ann Grissom)
May 07, 2014
On May 16 the KEEPING WATCH initiative hosts a screening of Bag it: Is your life too plastic?, a panel discussion and a reception with local food and drinks. (Photo: bagitmovie.com)