Protecting a Longleaf Pine Legacy
To help stem this loss, COASTAL PLAIN CONSERVATION GROUP (CPCG), a 501 (c)(3) organization, has established a Go-Fund-Me Campaign to help us raise donations to buy, manage, and protect 10 (ten) acres of critically-important longleaf pine-wiregrass habitat in Pender County, NC.
THE GOOD NEWS IS: We have already raised $89,100.00 toward our overall goal of $105,000.00!
This particular longleaf pine-wiregrass habitat is an open, sunlit forest supporting several hundred species of wildflowers and a diverse array of animals—including 16 species of frogs! Longleaf pine forests once covered 93 million acres of the American southeast, and after two centuries of conversion for timber and agriculture, the tiny fraction of remaining longleaf habitat is now jeopardized by development.
CPCG is working to protect this 10-acre parcel of ecologically-priceless habitat as safe haven for Venus’ Flytraps, pitcher plants, and orchids; along with Carolina Gopher Frogs, Spotted Turtles, and a charming family of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers that use this acreage to raise and support their offspring.
THE NEED FOR ACTION:
This 10-acre habitat, current home to a unique suite of plants, is also a conservation stepping stone for wildlife, including rare frogs, turtles, and birds. As example, endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers use this acreage during the day to hunt insects and spiders hidden in nooks and crannies of living pine tree bark. Each evening the woodpeckers return to roost in a specific tree cavity excavated in a living longleaf pine growing in protected property adjacent to this site.
Individual cavities in multiple trees are constructed and maintained by an adult woodpecker, aided by its “helper” offspring—an effort that may require months for a single bird to complete because longleaf pine wood is dense and hard.
Together, the woodpecker family maintains this “cluster” as their permanent home. A tightly-knit family, young helper birds remain with their parents through their first year to help raise the family’s next generation of offspring; a rare cooperative breeding behavior with wildlife, especially among birds.
The Red-cockaded Woodpeckers that use these ten acres are descendants of avian families that have occupied this site for centuries, producing many generations of birds that can each trace its genetic heritage to this particular stand of longleaf pines.
You can help us protect the natural heritage of this endangered species with a contribution to CPCG’s Go-Fund-Me campaign.
Protect the integrity of a natural community that includes rare birds, carnivorous plants, and a suite of other plants and wildlife unlike any other on Earth. This endeavor is that significant, even though the acreage is relatively small.
CPCG needs $105,000.00 to buy and protect an ecologically priceless 10-acre piece of longleaf pine habitat. We have already received $89,900.00 toward that goal and we are now within $15,100.00 of completing this campaign!
CPCG is on a fast-track because the bulldozer is not far away. Our campaign to raise the remaining $15,100.00 to protect ten acres of longleaf pine habitat needs to be completed by October 15, 2015, to save a place in the wild for Venus’ Flytrap, Carolina Gopher Frog, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman’s Sparrow, and many other native plants and wildlife in need of help.
Thank you for your consideration of a donation to help protect this ecologically priceless “land of the longleaf pine.” Please feel free to contact me for more information about this and our other mission-driven COASTAL PLAIN CONSERVATION GROUP projects.
Donations to this CPCG Longleaf Pine Campaign are dedicated to Purchase, Monitor, Manage, and Protect a ten-acre tract of ecologically-priceless longleaf pine habitat in Pender County, NC.
Some donation categories to consider:
Wiregrass - $25.00
Pixie Moss - $50.00
Pitcher Plant - $100.00
Flytrap - $250.00
Live Oak - $500.00
Longleaf Pine - $1000.00
Habitat Acre - $2500.00
North Carolina’s state toast begins with, “Here’s to the land of the longleaf pine.” Your donation to our campaign will assure this tribute has value for future generations of people, and the plants and wildlife that enrich our lives.
Please accept my thanks for your interest in Coastal Plain Conservation Group (CPCG) and our work to protect rare and imperiled plants, wildlife, and the habitats that support them and us.
In the interest of efficiency, CPCG is maintaining this GoFundMe site as our go-to link for donations to support our work. So you will know, we originally established this campaign to raise funds for the purchase of a 10.5 acre tract of irreplaceable Longleaf Pine forest habitat that comprises more than 20% of the year-round territory "belonging" to an imperiled population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. The habitat is also used by critically imperiled population of Carolina Gopher Frog, for summer foraging and winter migration. Our property also supports Venus' Fly Trap, Southern Pigmy Rattlesnake, and at least 16 species of frogs!
The heartening news is, with help from generous donors, CPCG succeeded in securing the property. However, the purchase required a bridge-loan to meet the closing deadline. This GoFundMe campaign is still operating to help us repay that $15,000 bridge loan.
In addition to repaying the loan, CPCG also needs funding for habitat management to ensure the property remains in good order for the species that require the special features of a longleaf pine-wiregrass plant community.
In the interest of brevity here, the following link will carry you to CPCG's website where we have our Winter 2017 newsletter posted on the home page: www.coastalplaincg.org. In it you will find updates about our current and hoped-for works, all of which require generosity and kindness from people who care about the world that sustains us.
I am deeply grateful for the support we have received from individuals across the country and I invite you to contact me for more information about our works and plans for the future.
Thank you for helping CPCG achieve its mission and please share our campaign with anyone interested in helping us leave our natural resources improved for future generations to enjoy.
Andy Wood, CPCG Director
The ten-acre tract of longleaf is home to a family of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, but on this cold morning the birds were probably sleeping-in, snug inside their tree cavities just a few hundred feet away. However, as I stepped into an open patch of wiregrass, a lone Carolina Wren flitted ahead of me, no doubt in search of cold-stunned insect or spider prey for breakfast.
In winter repose, signs of spring are already apparent as evidenced by swelling buds on twigs of various shrubs, notably Cyrilla plants, many of which still hold their autumn leaves even as their spring buds grow.
The property CPCG owns is precious for many reasons, most notably because it harbors a diverse array of rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The property is safe from development, thanks to generous donors, but we still need funding to pay-off a bridge loan, and we need to implement habitat management including a prescribed burn to reduce woody vegetation, including some Cyrilla that will otherwise crowd-out sun-loving rare plants.
As you might surmise, I am sending this end of year note to ask for your help in the form of a financial donation to help us keep this irreplaceable piece of habitat in good order for woodpeckers, flowers, and other longleaf pine community members. Donations may be made directly to our GoFundMe site: https://www.gofundme.com/f77qnhm4c, or sent to our mailing address:
PO Box 1008
Hampstead, NC 28443
CPCG is engaged in other conservation works, including stewardship of the last remaining members of two freshwater snail species that once inhabited beaver ponds and swamp streams associated with the Lower Cape Fear River. Sadly, saltwater intrusion resulting from river dredging has altered or destroyed the snails’ last known wild habitats. I’ve kept these animals from extinction since 1992, and I am glad to have done so.
Moving forward, these snails need to be returned to the wild, and State and Federal agencies responsible for allowing river dredging to destroy tens of thousands of acres of bottomland swamp, need to be held to account for this loss of our natural heritage. Ghost trees are not anything to celebrate. They are stark reminders that we have created a problem worsening with continued dredging, let alone with a rising sea.
And then there is the matter of swamp logging to power Europe with wood pellets. This wholly inefficient method to generate electricity oversea may not be sustained for long, but the negative consequences resulting from this wholesale loss of habitat will impact people, plants, and wildlife for generations.
CPCG is working to educate people about the folly of burning trees to power 21st century cities but that will take much more work than CPCG can do without financial support. So again, we greatly appreciate your consideration of a donation to keep us working to protect habitats for people, plants, and wildlife.
Thank you for your support and, “Here’s to the land of the Longleaf Pine.”
Andy Wood, CPCG Director
This is a quick update to let you know where we are with the 10.5 acres of longleaf pine habitat that COASTAL PLAIN CONSERVATION GROUP (CPCG) purchased in October 2015, with help from donors making financial contributions to our successful Protecting a Longleaf Pine Legacy campaign. If you have visited our GoFundMe site, you know we are still fund-raising to repay a $15,000.00 bridge loan that enabled us to close on the property, with three days to spare, after which time the property was going to be sold to a competing buyer who had a detailed plan that included converting the entire site to horse pasture, beginning with removal of all the longleaf pine trees, grubbing-out their roots, and trucking-in topsoil.
That alternate reality is now in the past, with our thanks to everyone who helped us create a more pleasant reality, especially for a family of charming Red-cockaded Woodpeckers that use this 10.5 acres as forage habitat within their year-round territory. Though 10.5 acres may not sound like much, to these woodpeckers, it represents nearly 20% of their permanent territory. Without this important parcel of forage habitat, the woodpeckers would likely have had to abandon the site that they and others before them have occupied for countless generations.
With spring now fully underway, planning and preparation for a prescribed fuel-reduction burn is now on a fast-track. We hope to conduct the burn in late March or early April, weather depending, and NC Forest Service schedule permitting, to reduce the accumulated wiregrass and pine straw accumulated on the forest floor. The thick layer of straw and grass, accumulated during past growing seasons is now thick enough to shade-out sun-loving plants, including pixie moss, Venus’ fly trap, and hundreds of other plant species that dwell within CPCG’s property.
This week (mid-March) we will mow and lightly disk a firebreak around the property to delineate the specific areas we want burned and create a line of defense to help contain the fire, with Forest Service help. It’s an exciting process, and while the immediate results are harsh for the uninitiated to see, the outcome is a fire-adapted habitat less vulnerable to potentially-damaging wildfire. Once we reduce the fuel load within the property, future burns will take place in summer, in keeping with life cycles of the longleaf pine community’s plants and wildlife.
In addition to being cautious with fire itself, we are taking extra care to monitor the local population of Carolina gopher frog (Lithobates capito) to avoid burning while adult frogs are migrating from their winter breeding pond (less than 1,000 feet from CPCG’s property) to their summer forage habitat, including CPCG’s property. As its name implies, this rare frog is an adept burrower that establishes a summer territory using the base of a longleaf pine stump as their “base of operations.” From their well-kept burrow, this medium-size frog ventures out into the longleaf forest floor in search of beetles, crickets, spiders, and other small creatures to eat.
Though not yet listed as endangered, Carolina gopher frogs are rarer than the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. In an effort to bolster the Holly Shelter gopher frog population, CPCG is partnering with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, to raise gopher frog tadpoles in captivity. This “head-start” project will help tadpoles complete their larval stage free from aquatic predators, before being released back into their natural habitat as transformed froglets.
There is more to report on behalf of CPCG, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll close with mention of another species we are working to protect from extinction. This past week I visited Danville, Virginia, to accept the 2016 Fred A. Harris, Fisheries Conservation Award, presented by the NC Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (AFS), for my conservation education works, and efforts to prevent extinction of the Magnificent Ramshorn (Planorbella magnifica), a critically-imperiled freshwater snail that once inhabited beaver ponds within the swamps and creeks associated with the lower Cape Fear River. Sadly, the snail is now thought to be gone from the wild, but fortunately I have kept alive the last living members of the species since 1992.
How’s that for a humble-brag? Unabashed, I know, and I share it to make a relevant point. I’m truly honored and flattered by AFS’s gesture, but truth be told, I am right now more deeply moved by the generosity and support provided by the individual persons who stepped-up to help CPCG secure an ecologically-priceless longleaf pine habitat, supporting myriad kinds of plants and animals, including many found nowhere else on Earth (or the Universe for that matter).
Friends of CPCG are responsible for protecting a family of endangered woodpeckers, and a population of imperiled frogs. CPCG may have been the catalyst for this imperative work, but without help from donors, there would have been little chance for collective success.
Of course our work is not done. A longleaf pine habitat that CPCG now owns must be monitored, conserved, and managed to protect birds, frogs, and plants that dwell there. And of course, snails have to be maintained in their aquaculture tanks. We can provide the work, but it takes a community of people for us all to succeed. That said, I hope you will consider making a financial contribution to CPCG, a 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting rare and imperiled plants, wildlife, and their habitats.
Please let me know if you would like to have more information about CPCG and its goals, and/or other information about matters environmental.
Thank you, and “Here’s to the land of the Longleaf Pine,”
Andy Wood, CPCG Director
PO Box 1008
Hampstead, NC 28443
Eye of newt and bump of toad,
Into a vessel the witches load.
A splash of water from a bog,
Some tiny insects from a log.
Leafy mulch from a forest floor,
This is what newts and toads adore.
Witches don’t cook small amphibians,
They safely house them in terrariums.
It’s Halloween, the eve of Feast of All Saints, and who better to celebrate on this hallowed day, than newts and toads, the supposed favorite ingredients in any number of menus prepared by witches. I don’t believe witches would cook newts and toads because these amphibians are just too charming for even a witch to harm. To support this claim, I include the attached pictures of a broken-striped newt, (Notophthalmus viridescens dorsalis), and a southern toad, (Bufo terrestris).
Broken-striped newts are aquatic salamanders that dwell in and around ponds, swamps, and other freshwater habitats in southeast North Carolina and northeast South Carolina. Fierce predators, these otherwise charismatic amphibians eat almost anything they can catch and swallow whole, including mosquito larvae, other insects, and even frog tadpoles and small fishes.
Southern toads, often found in the same pond habitats as newts, use ponds as nursery habitats for their eggs and tadpoles. Toads are commonly found in forests, grassy meadows, and around our neighborhoods where porch lights attract beetles, crickets, and moths; the bulk of a toad’s diet.
Newts and toads may figure in fabled recipes concocted by witches because both groups of amphibians possess poison glands in their skin. The poison helps ward-off predators that would dine on the otherwise easy to catch animals. Tasting bad reduces the need for speed and agility.
Contrary to Mother’s myth, toad skin does not produce warts. Mother knew telling a child that toads are poisonous may only incite greater curiosity. Tell a child, “toads will give you warts,” and surely no toad will be touched.
As for witches using these animals in their brews…I don’t believe it.
Charming newt and bumpy toad,
As any witch will surely tell,
Are creatures of ponds and forests;
Hallowed places where they dwell.
This includes the longleaf pine and pocosin habitat you help protect by contributing to Coastal Plain Conservation Group.
Thank you, and Happy Halloween!