Chatham Park has Treasured Wilderness
The truth is, five Natural Heritage Areas fall within the proposed Chatham Park development project. Natural Heritage Areas are defined by the NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources as areas identified by “… elements of natural diversity, including those plants and animals which are so rare, or the natural communities which are so significant, that they merit special consideration as land-use decisions are made.” A significant majority of the property north of 64 is identified as a Natural Heritage Area, and right in the middle of this beautiful woodland is where Chatham Park proposes development of a massive Activity Center and Mixed Use Development. Presently, this is one of the largest roadless areas left remaining in the Triangle. Yet, to Chatham Park LLC, the majority of this pristine and treasured land is best rezoned to allow for 90% impermeable surface (think pavement, office buildings and apartments).
The map shown here reveals the Natural Heritage Areas within Chatham Park. It was created by the Triangle Land Conservancy in their 2008 report, Southwest Shore Conservation Assessment, Chatham County, NC. The land studies is shown by the red line, which today depicts just about the size of Chatham Park LLC land holdings. You can download the full SWSA report at the following link: Southwest Shore Assessment
Learn more about the Triangle Land Conservancy on their website: http://www.triangleland.org
More information on Natural Heritage Areas and the NC Natural Heritage Program can be found on their website: http://www.ncnhp.org
Diversity of Species
Diversity of wildlife habitats, including plant and animal species, supports healthy ecosystems, including the adjacent Haw River and Jordan Lake. Greater consideration must be given in any planned rezoning that will impact these Natural Heritage Areas.
Native vs. Non-native
E.O. Wilson, a distinguished American naturalist and conservationist, said:
“on a global basis…the two great destroyers of biodiversity are, first, habitat destruction and, second, invasion by exotic species.”
One challenge with habitat destruction is that it allows for the invasion by exotic species. Development in these areas will inevitably fragment and reduce the quality of existing habitat. In addition to eliminating habitat on privately owned land, development will have negative secondary and cumulative impacts on habitats found on public lands around Jordan Lake. Built areas, roads, and utility and power line clearings will open Jordan Lake’s managed forests to invasion by “edge predators” like the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), raccoon (Procyon lotor), opossum (Didelphis virginiana), and the house cat. These edge predators can displace less common species—such as the scarlet tanager or spotted salamander–that are listed as priorities for conservation in the State’s Wildlife Action Plan. In addition, forest fragmentation will increase the susceptibility of Jordan Lake’s natural areas to invasive, exotic plants.
Invasive, exotic plants are species that do not naturally occur in North Carolina, but have been introduced by people. Many introduced plants pose no threat, but some grow out of control since the natural controls that keep them in check in their homelands do not exist here. Common invasive plants in North Carolina include Kudzu (Pueraria montana), Japanese Grass (Microstegium vimineum), and Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora). Invasive species can cause significant and costly damage to ecosystems, habitats, and native species.
If proper steps are taken, negative impacts to wildlife can be minimized, and important wildlife habitats can be conserved in the Southwestern Shore area. To do so, conservation must be strategic, based on science, and involve active habitat management over the long term.
- Microstegium vimineum)(grass), – Nepalese Browntop, Japanese Stiltgrass
- Elaeagnus Umbellata – Japanese silverberry, Autumn-olive
- Wisteria Sinensis – Chinese Wisteria
- Perrilla Frutescens – Perrilla mint
- Lespedeza Cuneata – Lezpedeza
- Pueraria Montana – Kudzu vine
- Fatoua Villosa – Hairy Crabweed, Mulberry Weed
- Lonicera japonica – Japanese honeysuckle
- Rosa multiflora – multiflora rose, baby rose, Japanese rose
- Ailanthus Altissima Tree– Tree of Heaven
- Paulownia Tomentosa Tree- Princess Tree, Empress Tree, Royal Empress Tree
- Albizia Julibrissin Tree – Mimosa or Silk tree