ENVIRONMENT

Sep 24, 2019
Charlotte has a reputation as a car city, but many of its leaders badly want to promote more biking, walking and transit use. That’s one reason an intriguing idea kept surfacing at this week’s City Council Transportation & Planning Committee meeting: Why not take all the cars off a major street in uptown or South End, creating a pedestrian-only space?
Jul 29, 2019
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. 
Jun 11, 2019
The world uses millions of tons of phosphorus per year in fertilizer, and almost all of that is mined. But Charlotte Water plans to start extracting the mineral from a new source: What you put down the drain. 
May 20, 2019
Eight years ago, Charlotte set a goal for itself: 50 percent tree canopy coverage across the city by 2050. But because of rapid development and an aging tree population, the city likely won’t reach that goal, officials said last week. Instead, they’re refocusing on smaller, neighborhood-level targets and other “fifty-themed” tree promotion efforts.
May 13, 2019
At first glance, the proposed fiscal 2020 budget for Mecklenburg Park and Recreation looks like a slam dunk. With the clarity of a slow-mo replay, however, stripped of its glitter and pizzazz, the budget looks a lot more like a mediocre layup.
May 03, 2019
Mecklenburg County is poised to substantially increase funding for its park system, after years of stagnating budgets and staff cuts following the 2008 recession. It could help the county improve its ranking of dead last among major U.S. cities for parks and open space. 
May 01, 2019
Responsible and thoughtful design entails understanding the relationship between the built environment and its impact on ecological systems.  With 6.7 billion people projected to live in urban areas worldwide by 2050, there are many achievable strategies that should resonate with architects, developers and local governments to sustain the natural environment even as growth and development continue. 
Apr 26, 2019
When I was a novice birder, attending bird walks in New York’s Central Park, I asked the leader which field guide I should buy.  Without missing a beat, and without a hint of sarcasm, he replied, “All of them.”  While I’ve come to appreciate his wisdom, there’s also something to be said for having a basic, indispensable guide you can turn to again and again.
Apr 25, 2019
As cities continue to grow and thrive, with downtowns reviving and old neighborhoods being redeveloped, is their future still really in the suburbs? That's what one advocate said this week at a real estate forum, provoking debate about growth, transit and sprawl.
Jan 29, 2019
For vegetable gardeners in the Piedmont, 2018 was a challenging year. The weather whipsawed between mundane and extreme.
Jan 02, 2019
This book aspires to be much more than just another field guide. It’s a longitudinal documentation of avian life in the Piedmont, a region undergoing tremendous change.
Dec 31, 2018
As the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019, we are reflecting on how our history and growth mirror both the region we focus on and the university that nurtures us.
Oct 24, 2018
Monarch butterflies generally start arriving in the Uwharries in May.  Their timing seems to coincide with the flowering of the common milkweed in our grasslands. 
Sep 06, 2018
A special spot of ancient prairie, never worked or plowed, has been preserved.
Jul 25, 2018
On a preserved tract in Gaston County, one determined man is fighting a long-term war to remove the invasive plant species that choke out native plants and wildlife.
Jun 19, 2018
Charlotte first adopted a greenhouse gas emission reduction resolution in 2007.  Now, 11 years later, the City Council is considering a new resolution to move the initiative ahead.
Jun 06, 2018
You may not have considered how justice, the environment and climate change intersect. But Jacqueline Patterson has.
May 24, 2018
Moving back to Charlotte after 10 years away, I noticed changes in Latta Park. Were my memories idealized? Had it always looked like this? Or had it been neglected in my absence? Commentary.
Oct 17, 2017
Projections are for the Catawba-Wateree River watershed to reach its capacity to provide water to the growing Charlotte region by 2065. With no state laws managing water rights, what happens?
Aug 09, 2017
As the Charlotte region urbanizes, scientists from UNC Charlotte describe how they’ll use a Gaston County site as a long-term observatory to monitor natural systems.
Jun 07, 2017
This interactive map takes you on a virtual visit along the proposed Cross Charlotte Trail, with photos, updates on construction, little-known facts and information on plans for the future.
Apr 04, 2017
In 1988, the city built a coliseum off Tyvola Road. In 2007 the city demolished it, and new development has covered most of the site. But nature is reclaiming the one crumbling parking lot that remains ... 
Mar 10, 2017
Teams of fourth- and fifth-graders competed to learn who knew the most about water pollution and local science, history and geography related to the creeks in Charlotte. 
Mar 06, 2017
A new initiative is using prizes as incentive to encourage people to reduce single-occupancy trips by car. The project runs March 1-Oct. 31.
Feb 23, 2017
Birds’ futures and fortunes are inextricably twined with those of humankind. As lands and buildings change with development across the Piedmont, bird species are profoundly affected. Part of KEEPING WATCH on HABITAT.
Feb 21, 2017
When a wildlife habitat lacks natural predators, some species become over-abundant. Deer herds are healthier, experts say, when controlled hunting is allowed. Part of the 2017 KEEPING WATCH on HABITAT project.
Feb 17, 2017
Mecklenburg County’s greenways are more than places to jog, bicycle or escape the city’s hurly-burly. Surrounded by urbanization, they provide increasingly rare refuges for wildlife. Part of KEEPING WATCH on HABITAT. 
Feb 13, 2017
Birds and animals need food, water, cover and a spot to raise young. If you can provide those things, you can help create wildlife habitat, even in the city. A part of our KEEPING WATCH on HABITAT project.
Feb 13, 2017
How some local residents scrapped pesticides and herbicides and created a haven for native plants and animals – and even welcome insects. Part of KEEPING WATCH on HABITAT.
Feb 09, 2017
Blessed with an unusually rich natural diversity of plants and animals, North Carolina is losing species in large part due to habitat loss. What you can do to help – in your own yard. 
Jan 26, 2017
For 2017, the KEEPING WATCH initiative focuses on wildlife habitat in our urban ecosystem. PlanCharlotte.org editor Mary Newsom talked with UNC Charlotte’s Sara Gagné, who researches landscape ecology.
Nov 15, 2016
Charlotte's tree canopy faces serious long-term threats. An urban forestry management plan in the works would encourage more public involvement and education.
Oct 26, 2016
One of North Carolina’s rarest plants – the formerly “Lost Shortia,” which is found along a few stream banks in only one county in the world – has a history that involves two giants in the world of botany.
Sep 09, 2016
An almost forgotten sapling bears unexpected fruit, opening a door into new explorations. A photo essay.
Aug 31, 2016
Concerned about Charlotte’s tree canopy? The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the nonprofit TreesCharlotte are sponsoring an Urban Forestry Summit on Sept. 20. The event is free and open to the public. 
Aug 16, 2016
Mecklenburg County wants to hear from residents about recycling. With the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute’s help, the county has launched an online survey. Those who take it can register for a chance to win an Apple iPad.
Jun 21, 2016
The pace of growth in northern York County concerns residents, who worry officials aren’t paying enough attention to the environment or moving quickly enough to deal with problems.
Jun 20, 2016
Beset by funding gaps, a recession and other delays, the second phase of the Toby Creek Greenway near UNC Charlotte is finally underway 18 years after the first plans were drawn.  
Mar 28, 2016
Lurking silently beneath the beauty of Charlotte’s tree canopy is a persistent problem with ailing trees. The issue significantly affects the city’s efforts to preserve and replenish its most treasured amenity.
Mar 16, 2016
Air quality is important inside buildings as well as outside. A UNC Charlotte associate professor is using indoor plants to filter out pollutants in the air inside several new buildings. A conversation with Jefferson Ellinger. Part of the KEEPING WATCH on AIR initiative.
Mar 08, 2016
In Charlotte, a shared passion about trees inspires community activism, marked by a keen admiration of the beauty of trees and pragmatism about protecting their environmental significance to the city. Part of 2016’s KEEPING WATCH on AIR.
Feb 26, 2016
In a city that loves its trees, some stout survivors have won a special, statewide honor: Champion Trees. For more about Charlotte’s tree canopy and the role of trees in protecting air quality, visit keepingwatch.org.
Feb 24, 2016
What’s the state of air quality in Mecklenburg County today? A discussion with Brian Magi, a UNC Charlotte academic who studies air pollution. Part of the KEEPING WATCH on AIR initiative.
Feb 02, 2016
Jim Matthews, a retired UNC Charlotte biology professor, is a botanist whose mission is to collect and catalog the plants of the 15-county region of the North Carolina Piedmont, preserving a record of what we have, before it’s lost to development.
Oct 26, 2015
A mostly volunteer team of “citizen scientists” is helping Mecklenburg County track which bird species are reappearing, or disappearing as development changes the local habitat. An interview with naturalist Don Seriff.
Sep 23, 2015
Three environmentally minded Charlotte entrepreneurs contemplated food waste and instead of seeing a stinky mess, they sniffed out potential for a new business focused on sustainability. Enter Crown Town Compost.
May 28, 2015
The Mecklenburg Soil and Water Conservation District has honored UNC Charlotte Urban Institute Associate Director Mary Newsom and the institute’s KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks project with its Urban Conservation Award. The Soil and Water Conservation District is a local organization...
May 27, 2015
Aided by some surprising coincidences, a curious and determined librarian located the Gaston County site where a famous French botanist first recorded the bigleaf magnolia tree.
May 13, 2015
Mecklenburg’s 3,000 miles of creeks run through every part of the county, including uptown Charlotte. But many of uptown’s small creeks are hidden from view. An 1877 map offers clues to finding where those creeks once ran.
Apr 21, 2015
Charlotte has fought leaf-devouring cankerworms for 25 years. New maps show where  this year's infestations are worst. Helping with the fight this year is a worm-hungry beetle.