Jan. 27 lecture, Endangered and Rare Species, Ft. Bragg, Camp McCall


On January 27, Save Our Sandhills will host Beth Evans, a Certified Wildlife Biologist, to speak about Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall’s commitment to endangered species. Both military installations are located within the rare longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem. Less than 3% of the original 92 million acres of this ecosystem still exist. This ecosystem, dependent on fire maintenance, supports a wealth of flora and fauna populations, many of which are endangered or rare.
Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall contain 23 vegetative community types with over 1,200 plant species, approximately 200 bird species, 51 reptiles, 44 amphibians, 41 mammal species, and over 50 known aquatic species. Among these species, 5 are federally endangered; namely, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Saint Francis Satyr Butterfly, American Chaffseed, Rough-leaved Loosestrife, and Michaux Sumac. Overall, 48 species are considered rare. A few rare species of flora, such as the Sandhills Lily and Sandhills Pixie Moss are on the Army’s Species at Risk list, and could potentially impact military training if they become federally listed. Some rare fauna species, such as the Gopher frog, Eastern Salamander, Northern Pine Snake, Southeastern Bat, and Rafinesque Big-eared Bat are also being studied for their survival and management requirements.
Of the 5 federally endangered species, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW), listed in 1970, was declining through loss of habitat by fire suppression, forest management practices, and urban development. In 1990 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Jeopardy Biological Opinion and recommended specific military training restrictions, monitoring, surveys, and habitat restoration in order to stem the decline. In 1992 Fort Bragg biologists began monitoring the RCW population, provided cavity enhancement, worked on habitat restoration, and placed protective measures around cavity trees. And in 2005, Fort Bragg succeeded in reaching its goal of 350 breeding pairs with assistance from the Sandhills Conservation Partnership and was able to reduce training restrictions by 50%. The Saint Francis Satyr Butterfly, listed in 1995, was thought to be extinct. It has been rediscovered, however, and is being studied by Fort Bragg biologists and university researchers in order to understand its survival requirements and to manage its habitat. The 3 federally listed plants, American Chaffseed (listed in 1992), Rough-leaved Loosestrife (listed in 1987), and Michaux’s Sumac (listed in 1989), are found in open uplands and in wetland ecotones. The areas in which these plants are found are monitored and managed by midstory removal and frequent fire.
Beth Evans will identify these 5 federally endangered species, and will discuss their life histories and their management requirements. She will also highlight a few other rare species in our globally rare longleaf pine ecosystem of the Sandhills. Evans received a B.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Vermont in 1990. Subsequently, she served as a Research Assistant at Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida, surveying RCW cavity trees and becoming a member of one of the first teams to initiate banding of these endangered birds. Evans has been with the Fort Bragg Military Installation since 1993, working her way up from Biological Science Technician to Certified Wildlife Biologist. She monitors and surveys Fort Bragg’s endangered and rare flora and fauna species, and is involved with all aspects of protection and habitat restoration. Nevertheless, the majority of her work pertains to the RCW. Evans also participates in the NC Sandhills Conservation Partnership and the NC Chapter of the Wildlife Society, and conducts educational presentations to military personnel and the general public.

Join us for an informative and interesting evening; refreshments will be served Thursday, January 27 at 7 PM in the Southern Pines Civic Club, corner of Ashe and Pennsylvania.


Hearing, Jan. 18, Pine Forest PUD


After months of quiet, the Pine forest proposed PUD slid its rezoning application through the Planning Department quietly during the last days of December. In order for this rezoning to take place, a water agreement (whereby the developer would pay $3 million for water line work) was to have been worked out by the county and developer. Evidently the water agreement is in place, but details are not forthcoming until the hearing. Withholding information like this is unheard of, and its legality could be questioned.
What is Pine Forest
Pine Forest is a huge project. It is 1,799 acres, of which 1,623 are being requested to be rezoned. This includes Nicks Creek, ultimately part of Carthage’s’ water supply, which runs through the middle of the entire property from west to east, with small tributaries feeding it throughout the property. In all, a great deal of wetlands abound, all of which are crucial to the welfare of birds and other wildlife, as well as to rare and unusual native plants.
The two largest functioning longleaf pine forests in North Carolina – Fort Bragg and the Sandhills Gamelands preserve – are both public lands that will remain protected. However, Bruce Sorrie, a botanist with the NC Natural Heritage Program, advises that this 1,799-acre tract is one of the two largest privately-owned functioning natural longleaf pine forests remaining in the North Carolina Sandhills. This property is in Moore County and has the greater biodiversity of these two remaining large tracts. It has a Sandhills lily population, other rare plant and animal species, and is the foraging area for red-cockaded woodpeckers, according to Jay Carter Associates. This property has not only state significance, but also national significance.

What is Planned
Planned are two separate communities – a resort hotel and residential community with a neighborhood retail center, as well as a gated residential community. These communities will include:
· Up to 890 residential and/or hotel rooms (with up to a maximum of 300 hotel rooms)
· 2 championship golf courses
· A golf short course
· Golf clubhouses for each course
· A resort spa, conference center, and fitness center
· A retail and office center
· An on-site wastewater treatment plant for use by Pine Forest and the nearby Dormie Club

What Is at Stake
· Water Where is water to come from within a 15- to 20-year timetable for total buildout? Who is to pay for this development’s water? If water is to come from other counties, will it still flow during droughts?
· Herbicides and Pesticides How will herbicides and pesticides be kept from seeping into Nick’s Creek? This project is in Watershed 3, and the waterways, with their floodplains, are in jeopardy. The chemicals used for both lawns and golf courses will eventually also have disastrous consequences for humans and nature alike.
· Traffic How will traffic be handled on local roads? The cumulative effect of Pine Forest and other projects proposed for this area should be taken into account. Three development projects are currently planned: Stonehill Pines (1,050 homes), Dormie Club (250+ homes), and Pine Forest. At present, at least 2,100 homes would be built in these developments. The planning rule of thumb is 10 trips per day per home. This totals 21,000 more trips a day onto the local roads, including Route 211. The cumulative effect of these proposed developments and the additional school traffic of buses and cars from the new West Pine Middle School (whose entrance is only ½ mile east of Pine Forest on Route 211) will be staggering. Route 211 is scheduled to start construction on widening from 2 lanes to 4 lanes by 2012. The widening will be between Route 73 and the Pinehurst traffic circle. Nevertheless, with new schools, new developments, and new hospital facilities all either proposed or under construction, the planned road infrastructure does not appear adequate for future needs. In fact, traffic volume at the traffic circle in Pinehurst already often functions at a low level.
· Costly Infrastructure Problems Raise Taxes All these new homes may necessitate more schools and additional services. Traffic will back up farther at both ends of the widened Route 211 because of the cumulative effect of these projects. Increased accidents could jeopardize the safety of school children, parents, teachers, and school administrators along with residents of nearby communities; and jammed traffic lanes could prevent emergency vehicle access.
· The Wastewater Treatment Plant What are the real facts concerning the wastewater treatment plant – its safety, odor, maintenance? In Cumberland County, documented problems have occurred. Other counties have had such terrible experiences that they now prohibit their use. Moore County Public Works has only a draft of conditions and standards, and it has no experience with private systems which could be turned over to a homeowners’ organization to operate. Will this really provide enough water for all the golf courses, common areas, and lawns at Pine Forest and the Dormie Club? Could water contamination be an issue?
· Loss of Habitat for Flora and Fauna With so much area allotted for houses, businesses, roads, and golf courses, how will animals have corridors and native plants flourish?

What to Do
In the fall of 2009, Save Our Sandhills voted to resist this PUD. We have an attorney helping us challenge this, and have a list of supporting speakers. Attending the meeting is essential. Numbers are important. It is not necessary for you to speak. The Board of Commissioners needs to see that a large number of citizens are concerned with this project. A project of this size is a small city, and will catapult Moore County from a rural area into an urban area with all its inherent density problems.
County Courthouse, Jan. 18, 6:00, Carthage


Response to Shooting in AZ

Gabby's Gift by Martha Sterling-Golden on Saturday, January 8, 2011

I am a well of anger. So angry that it scares me. I am trying to find some semblance of the America I knew, flawed though she was, but beautiful at the same time. She aspired to perfection. It is a bitter irony that Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic from Arizona, should pay the price, along with 18 other victims, including a dead nine year old girl. Rep. Giffords supports gun rights.

I met “Gabby” when she came to the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University (WCSY) in 1999, and I was there as an alumna to moderate a panel. She was making the rounds of the various political training programs in preparation for a run for the Arizona State House. She spoke with deep affection for her family and her home state, and shared funny stories about running her family’s sizable tire business and riding a motorcycle around the desert. She was a star in her class.

Gabby won her election, and was invited back as a speaker. She served on our board until her election to Congress. Always, Gabby was full of optimism and excitement about the future for Arizona and America. She’s an American girl.

So, on the morning of January 8th, 2011, a beautiful Saturday morning in Arizona, Gabby was out doing what she loved to do: listen to the people she served. A young man, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, allegedly ran toward Gabby Giffords and started shooting. Once she was hit, it appears he continued to spray the crowd with fire from an automatic weapon until he had accumulated 19 victims. He emptied two clips. I waited until I had seen for myself the image captures of his social networking sites. This young man didn’t cite Jodie Foster or Charles Manson as his “inspirations”; he cited Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

At his first press conference after the incident, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said, “It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America, pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office,” Dupnik said, “vitriol might be free speech, but it's not without consequences."

For months, Sarah Palin featured a number of Democratic incumbent politicians on a gun-site riddled target map she called a hit list of Democrats. “Don’t retreat, reload!” she shouted with smiley-faced enthusiasm, and Rush chimed in with “Oh yeah, (Giffords) is on my political hit list too!” Fun! Except, in the words of an eloquent and anguished young man at a vigil in downtown Tuscon, “It isn’t funny.” He looked up and out and asked, “Why, ask yourself, why do you want power; what is it for?” That’s a good question.

Once upon a time in America, it was considered worthy to argue for what one believed in, and one presented those beliefs in a well-reasoned argument. People disagreed, but they didn’t call one another cowards or traitors or Fascists or Nazis. Now, it’s about bullies. Bullies who no longer have the Fairness Doctrine to answer to, and so they can say whatever they want and call it fact, and a lazy American public takes it as such. We sit, in stupor, in front of our television sets and computers and soak up whatever we agree with and damn the rest. All Republicans are Christian dominionists and all Democrats are godless traitors.

I am tired of you all. I will never believe that all Republicans are bad people, and unfortunately, I know that not all Democrats are good people. Although I am a liberal Democrat, I don’t watch Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow. I take no comfort in the “echo chamber.” My teachers taught me to gather information from a variety of sources, and to reason out what I believed about it.

The rising level of hatred and mistrust in this country, which has really been growing since the Nixon impeachment and bloomed during the Clinton years, has finally taken over, completely overwhelming anything which might reasonably be described as civilized public discourse.

Tonight, people lay dead and dying in hospitals all over Tuscon, and one of them is my friend, Gabby Giffords. Another is a nine-year-old girl. Still another a judge. The rest are aides, shoppers, and townspeople. And for what? Because a young man with a skewed mental state heard the call one too many times? Even as the Washington Post updates their coverage, lunatics are smearing toxins over the page:

“I think there's something up here. This doesn't make sense that the Dems are getting death threats i.e. the 2 packages exploding and now this. Yes, they'll want to take away our guns, but thats the least of our worries. This almost sounds like an inside job by the dems or worse men in back rooms. Everyone knows that this country is on the verge of civil war or a revolution, either way, sometimes you gotta nudge things along. I think this is the beginning of whatever is to come, but I hope I'm wrong. http://thelibertarianblogs.com/ Posted by: TheLibertarianBlogsDotCom  January 8, 2011 9:41 PM   Report abuse”

This is exactly the kind of thing that drives marginally tethered people over the edge. It isn’t rhetoric, it’s incitement. Are we citizens or bullies? And when did it become acceptable in American society to encourage violence against one another? This sort of anonymous “speech” should not be tolerated another moment in this country. Anonymous posts on newspaper and television web sites should end, and if the sites can’t figure it out, stop the comments altogether. Letters to the editor require contact information; why should it be any different for online news?

To my Democratic friends, I will ask you to hold a little while, even as I have been so nearly over the wall myself, to see how things play out. To my Republican friends, and you know who you are; it is past time for you to ostracize the worst offenders; to stand the hell up and say, “Enough.” Otherwise, you make yourselves accomplices to this heinous degradation and violence. For the love of God, reach out that we may reach back.
I have no idea what news we will wake to; whether Gabby will still be alive, or whether she will ever recover enough to have a life with her husband, Mark, who is an American astronaut. What I do know is that we must take something better away from this mess than we brought to it. We can hate each other just a little less, can’t we? That is what Gabby would want this episode to teach us. Gabby Giffords is a gift to all who know her. Let her gift to us be her sense of fair play, and above all, her belief that America should be a civil society where people work through their problems, rather than shooting through a crowd.

The writer is an alumna and past president of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. A program that provides campaign skills training for women who aspire to public office.