ENVIRONMENT

Apr 27, 2020
Across the Charlotte region, parks have been full and streets largely empty for the past several weeks, as people try to get out of their houses for fresh air and exercise while staying home from work and school. Other cities have been opening vast stretches of their streets to walkers, joggers, bicyclists and others seeking outdoor space while following social distance guidelines. The logic is simple: Auto traffic has plunged to levels no one could imagine two months ago, while millions of people need more places to be outside than often-inadequate parks. 
Feb 11, 2020
It’s all around us, but we usually can’t smell or see air pollution. A major art piece and a series of events coming to Charlotte this spring could help change that.
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 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. 
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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. 
Apr 09, 2015
Public health expert Richard Jackson thinks it’s time to stop blaming individuals for the U.S. obesity problem. The problem, he says, is more systemic, including the auto-centric design of daily life and easy access to high-sugar and high-fat food.
Mar 18, 2015
A series of events is planned, as part of the KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks collaborative project. 
Mar 18, 2015
To whet your appetite for next week’s series of "City of Creeks" articles at PlanCharlotte, test your knowledge of the creeks of Mecklenburg County with a short quiz. 
Mar 11, 2015
The KEEPING WATCH initiative enters year two with KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks. The project includes articles at PlanCharlotte.org and an exhibition opening Friday, March 27.
Feb 18, 2015
After three years of citizen engagement, which led to a Regional Growth Framework for the Charlotte region, the CONNECT Our Future initiative moves into implementation, including a set of 31 quality-of-life indicators, now available online.
Nov 18, 2014
The 115 ideas for creating a more livable Mecklenburg range from protecting more historic buildings to better training the local workforce to rethinking local residents’ reliance on fescue lawns.
Nov 11, 2014
A Friday “sustainability fair” in uptown Charlotte will mark the city’s participation in America Recycles Day. And Saturday and Nov. 22 will be the annual Creek ReLeaf tree-planting events.
Aug 05, 2014
A new sustainability report card for Charlotte-Mecklenburg from Sustain Charlotte finds the area lags the nation on most measures, but it sees upward trends in five of nine categories. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Jun 19, 2014
PlanCharlotte kicks off an occasional series of conversations with planners around the metro region. The first visit is with Keith Wolf of Albemarle, a town dealing with slow population growth. (Photo: Chuck McShane) 
Jun 10, 2014
Although the city arborist says Charlotte's trees are healthy enough, for now, that no more aerial spraying to kill cankerworms is planned for next spring, the city's infestation with the leaf-munching caterpillars remains high.