Conservation

National Land Trust Rally comes to North Carolina

The Birkhead Wilderness, part of the Uwharrie National Forest east of Charlotte. Photo: Dan Harvey.

Thanks to a brutal early fall heat wave, much of September felt more like July. As a result, I have not spent as much time outside as I would have liked. 

Last Friday, however, I was able to break away and spend the morning at Morrow Mountain State Park. A friend and myself hiked the Fall Mountain Trail, which is a good length at four miles and not too strenuous. Temperatures in the morning are not too terrible, so we didn’t have much difficulty making the loop in good time.

One reason I took that hike that morning was to scout it out and make sure I remembered where the trail goes. On October 16, I’ll be leading a group of 36 individuals from across the country on this hike as part of a field trip during the National Land Trust Rally conference, which is being held in Raleigh this year. The event will bring practitioners from across the nation to North Carolina to talk about conserving our precious lands.

The National Land Trust Rally is put on annually by the Land Trust Alliance, the umbrella organization for land trusts. 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.

We wanted to give folks an introduction to the Uwharries, so we settled on this hike in the morning followed by a paddle in the afternoon on Falls Reservoir (also known as the Narrows). Fortunately these two locations are in close proximity, and offer two different natural encounters – hiking and paddling. And fall migration has just begun, so some birds who flew further north for the summer are making their way back through here on their way to Central and South America for the winter.

Our field trip is one of about a dozen that various land trusts in the Piedmont are hosting during the rally event. These trips feature everything from geology walks and birding hikes, to tours of historical sites, to paddle trips and everything in between. 

The event will carry on through Saturday, with workshops and seminars on Friday and Saturday. Our hope is those who attend will stay a few days extra and explore all the wonderful natural areas our state has to offer, including the Uwharries. Though our mountains and beach undoubtedly have much to offer, we don’t want people to miss out on the great adventures they can have right here in the center of our state, as well.

Crystal Cockman is Land Protection Director at the Three Rivers Land Trust.