Environment

The Charlotte metropolitan region’s future depends on the health of its natural and built environment, from tree canopies to preserved natural areas to sound land use planning and urban design. The institute offers articles and research on a variety of environmental topics.

For even more articles about the environment visit PlanCharlotte.org

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Articles about environmental topics

  • Heller’s blazing star in the Amphibolite Mountains. Photo: Crystal Cockman

    Preserving rare plants: In search of Heller’s blazing star

    How do you protect a plant that grows only on rocky outcrops at high elevations in the Amphibolite Mountains of northwestern North Carolina? It takes a team. 
  • The I-77 bridge (foreground) over the Catawba River, south of Charlotte. Photo: Nancy Pierce

    Why isn’t Charlotte built on the water?

    After visiting a city with a waterfront, maybe stopping for a drink and a bite to eat along whichever river or ocean it’s built along, I’m usually left with one overriding thought: “Wow, Charlotte could really use some of this.” Water plays a prominent role in the design and history of most cities, whether it be a river, bay or ocean. And Charlotte’s skyline and downtown sit tantalizingly close-but-yet-so-far from a major river and lake system. So, the question looms: Why isn’t Charlotte built on the water?  It’s a straightforward question I realized I had never actually asked, despite a decade living in Charlotte. So I called up an expert. 
  • A hellbender being measured on the New River.

    Hellbenders offer a window into water’s health

    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.
  • a corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus) in a garden setting.

    Rushes can restore some ecosystems - and beautify your backyard

    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.