Guest Blog Post by Naturalist Tom Earnhardt

The Fourth of July has always been special. There are other national holidays, with religious or secular significance, but because it occurs during the warm vacation months, Independence Day generates more picnics, concerts, parades, and fireworks than the others. This year with a pandemic, a troubled economy, and an important national conversation about equality and racial justice, we have a lot on our plates as a state and nation. Celebrations this summer will be different and more subdued, with large gatherings put on hold because of the coronavirus.


As we observe the Fourth of July in our own ways, I remind myself that Nature also knows how to throw a party and mark important events. Granted, festivities in the natural world may not always coincide with our Independence Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or Presidents’ Day, but I’d like to offer some examples of celebration in the wild. Of course, you may question whether Nature is capable of putting on a big soirée. After looking at the “evidence” below, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.


As you’ve likely observed, we humans are particularly fond of celebratory sound in the form of great music, roaring engines, and even fireworks. We also like to celebrate by with “over-the-top“ decorations like garlands, colorful banners, and lights at Christmas. We are attracted to parades with marching bands, military armor, and brightly colored headgear. Finally, when we really want to pull out all the stops, we put on shows with aircraft performing aerobatics and flying in formation.


With all due respect to the ways you may be used to observing the Fourth, you can’t hold a candle to Nature! Let me start with sound. Almost any night in July, go to an isolated pond or freshwater wetland anywhere in North Carolina, preferably well away from a shopping center or interstate highway. I can almost guarantee that you will hear deep baritone voices singing “chug o’ rum…chug o’ rum…chug o’ rum.” Just last night, in Raleigh, I heard bullfrogs in a creek near our house. Listen closely, and you’ll also hear smaller frogs with equally distinctive voices. 


North Carolina is home to more than a dozen species of cicadas, and during the summer you are likely to hear a circadian chorus. Some sing in the heat of the day, while others provide nocturnal music. Additional members of the night chorus include North Carolina’s several species of owls. If you want to experience an owl symphony, try spending a night on the Roanoke River near Plymouth, or along the Neuse River near Kinston. Even on small waterways, like Morgan Creek in Chapel Hill, you can often hear multiple barred owls chanting “who…who…who cooks for you?” Biologists may tell you that cicadas and owls are trying to attract mates, but what if they are just having a good time?


We humans like to decorate, but Nature does it better. Is there anything more grand than an entire mountainside covered with rhododendron during the month of June? And have you ever seen large patches of flame azalea—oranges, yellows and golds—on several North Carolina highland “balds.” During the same months across much of eastern North Carolina you are likely to encounter ditches lined beautiful rose mallow. If such color displays are not a natural celebration, I don’t know what it is.


It may also be coincidence, but around the Fourth of July Nature tends to break out the red, white, and blue in both birds and wildflowers. There are red cardinals, summer tanagers, and scarlet tanagers. Lots of coastal birds dress in white, but my favorite is the great egret. Tar Heel birds wearing blue include indigo buntings, blue jays, and bluebirds. Many of our most beautiful wildflowers are red, but none are more stunning than columbine or the deep red Gray’s lily on our highest northwestern peaks. Throughout the summer, Nature also flouts several spectacular white flowers—southern magnolia, fairy wand and spider lily. Finally, the natural world of North Carolina offers multiple blue wildflowers, including spiderwort, monkshood, and blue flag iris (our largest native iris).


I told you that Nature is also into “armor” and showy military headgear. During warm months there are displays of shiny armor inland and on our coast. Most North Carolinians have seen our state reptile, the eastern box turtle, lumbering near a hiking trail, or perhaps crossing a road. North Carolina is also home to 20 other freshwater turtles with various carapace (the hard upper shell) shapes. In coastal waters you can see loggerheads, green turtles, and the giant leatherback. Five years ago on the Fourth of July, my wife and I watched a magnificent leatherback turtle, perhaps 8 feet in length, surface several times near Cape Lookout. Nature gave so many turtles to North Carolina that they must be part of a celebration. 


The first wildflower to totally capture my imagination in the 1950s was the Turk’s-cap Lily found along many mountain roads and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It may be our most spectacular summer wildflower—reaching 5 to 8 feet in height—often with more than a dozen speckled orange blooms. I’ve seen lots of marching bands and military parades, but none with headgear that can compete with the shape and colors of the Turk’s-cap lily.


Have you ever seen the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds perform? Nature also puts on air shows throughout the year. I don’t know what is more awe inspiring and celebratory than a sky full of pelicans or black skimmers on the edge of the Atlantic. Year-round it’s also possible to see a resident bald eagle high in the sky almost anywhere in North Carolina. During our cold months, from Thanksgiving to President’s Day, the sight and sounds of tens of thousands of swans and snow geese in the air at the same time will make you forget human celebrations. 


Other natural air shows that can be seen in wild places are much smaller, but equally magical. Several years ago near Elk Knob State Park I was attracted to a roadside patch of wildflowers, including Joe-Pye weed, ironweed, and Turk’s-cap lilies. As I walked closer to the flowers, dozens of large butterflies—swallowtails, fritillaries, and monarchs—arose in unison from the wildflowers. To this day, I cannot remember more beauty in a small place. Nature had to be celebrating something.


If you still doubt that the natural world has the ability to throw a party or put on a show, I don’t know what else to tell you. From my experience, no matter how, or where, you celebrate the Fourth of July, Labor Day, or New Year’s Eve, the natural world can top it! This week as we celebrate Independence Day here in North Carolina, take a few minutes and invite Nature to be part of the festivities, or better yet, see how Nature is celebrating. 


Wishing you a safe and happy Fourth of July,



There are many great voices in nature, but no summer songs of celebration are better than those of frogs (photo#1), cicadas (photo #2), and owls (photo #3)

Nature knows how to decorate hillsides with Catawba rhododendron (photo #4) and with “burning bushes,” like this fiery flame azalea on Roan Mountain (photo #5).

During spring and summer Nature displays many patriotic combinations of red, white, and blue in the world of birds and wildflowers. A good selection native wildflowers would cardinal flower (photo #6), spider lily  (photo #7), and blue flag iris (photo #8). I photographed these spider lilies in a Craven County wetland and the blue flag iris on the edge of a Hyde County canal.

With several species of giant sea turtles visiting our shores each summer, and some 20 different freshwater turtles, lots of Tar Heel “armor” can be included in Nature’s parades (photo #9).

The Turk’s-cap lily is arguably our most spectacular mountain wildflower of summer, reaching up to 8 feet in height with multiple blooms (photo #10).

Finally, from the mountains to coast, Nature loves air displays to celebrate important events. Bald eagles can be seen across North Carolina from the Blue Ridge to the Atlantic (photo #11). Among our most graceful birds are black skimmers shown here, which I photographed near Wrightsville Beach ((photo #12). Tundra swans and snow geese celebrate winter holidays with breath taking aerial displays (photo #13).

ExtremeTerrain’s Clean Trail Initiative Program Grants Land Trust Funds to Host Uwharrie Trail Work Day

Three Rivers Land Trust is proud to announce that the ExtremeTerrain’s Clean Trail Initiative Program has provided us with a $250 grant to assist with trail workdays on the Uwharrie National Recreational Trail throughout the year. This grant will assist with the purchase of supplies, equipment, refreshments, signs, and other essential items for trail workdays.

The Land Trust partners with the Uwharrie Trailblazers Club to host trail workdays every second Saturday each month of the year on the Uwharrie National Recreational Trail located in central North Carolina. This 40-mile trail is an incredible resource for the area, and has a variety of picturesque and challenging sections. The Land Trust has worked to fill gaps in the trail by working with the Uwharrie National Forest to acquire and transfer lands to them, and the trail can now be hiked in its 40-mile entirety.

Every October, Three Rivers Land Trust hosts a thru hike of the full 40-mile Uwharrie Trail with approximately 100 participants in partnership with the Uwharrie Trailblazers Club. A special trail workday will take place on October 10th and volunteers will assist the Land Trust and Trailblazers in helping get the trail ready for this event. The thru hike event is open for registration on the land trust website (, and has just a few spots left for this year. This year’s thru hike event will take place October 15-18. Please stay tuned to our website for updates on trail workdays and the thru hike in relation to how the current COVID-19 situation might affect these events.

ExtremeTerrain is an off-road outfitter with a goal of providing customers with the most accurate and reliable information for making decisions regarding the purchase of off-road parts. ExtremeTerrain will help customers build their ultimate off-road vehicle with the dependable performance items they offer. has experienced enthusiasts handle its customers’ service inquiries. They are passionate enthusiasts whose customers are the number one priority.

Three Rivers Land Trust works with private landowners and public agencies to conserve the most important natural, scenic, agricultural, and historic places in a 15-county region of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Since 1995, the Land Trust has worked to offer reasonable and attractive options to landowners who want to conserve their lands for future generations to enjoy. Our mission is to work thoughtfully and selectively with property owners to conserve our lands, vistas, and the essential nature of our region. For more information about Three Rivers Land Trust, please contact the Land Trust at 704-647-0302 or or visit their website at

To learn more about Three Rivers Land Trust or to sign up for trail workdays, please visit our website at or contact the Uwharrie Trailblazers at


Three Rivers Land Trust Receives Grant for New River Access From REI Co-op

Three Rivers Land Trust (TRLT) is excited to announce that it will be receiving support from the REI Co-op in the amount of $5,400 to assist with the development of a paddling access point on the Uwharrie River on Highway 49 near Asheboro, North Carolina. TRLT acquired 27 acres on the Uwharrie River on Highway 49 over two projects in 2018 and 2019.

The grant will assist with the development of a parking area on Highway 49 that will allow paddlers to access the river to launch canoes and kayaks. This stretch of the Uwharrie River does not currently have any formal access, and Highway 49 as a major highway does not offer the ability to park at the bridge and launch boats. The Uwharrie River is also a popular fishing destination, known for being the easternmost location for smallmouth bass.

As a member-owned co-op, REI invests deeply in stewardship of the outdoor places its members know and love. REI actively works with nonprofits across the country to steward and maintain local trails and public lands and connect people to the outdoors. This is the first co-op grant REI has given to TRLT, but they have been a strong supporter and partner of our annual Uwharrie Trail Thru Hike for the past 3 years.

“Three Rivers Land Trust is grateful to REI for supporting our efforts to expand recreational opportunities along the Uwharrie River,” states Executive Director, Travis Morehead. “We believe in connecting the public to local conservation, by opening up river accesses and expanding trails, and feel that this grant will help us provide a new and important river access for public usage in our region.”


In recent years, TRLT,  in partnership with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, has helped open three new kayak accesses on the Uwharrie River on Low Water Bridge Road, Highway 109, and Dennis Road.. TRLT also helped the town of Star acquire a 30-acre park,  which is also a river access point, at the confluence of the East Fork and West Fork of the Little River. Since 1995, Three Rivers Land Trust has transferred over 5,700 acres to public agencies providing recreational opportunities for residents and tourists alike.

To learn more about this project or how you can support Three Rivers Land Trust, contact Crystal Cockman at 704-647-0302 or 

About Three Rivers Land Trust 

Three Rivers Land Trust works with private landowners and public agencies to conserve the most important natural, scenic, agricultural, and historic places in a 15-county region of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Since 1995, the Land Trust has worked to offer reasonable and attractive options to landowners who want to conserve their lands for future generations to enjoy. Our mission is to work thoughtfully and selectively with property owners to conserve our lands, vistas, and the essential nature of our region. For more information about Three Rivers Land Trust, please contact the Land Trust at 704-647-0302 or or visit their website at

About REI

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 18 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 162 stores in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at, REI Outlet or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company, a global leader that runs more than 250 itineraries across all continents. In every community where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities.   To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.





Three Rivers Land Trust permanently conserves 250 acres in Harnett County on Upper Little River

Three Rivers Land Trust is excited to announce the conservation of a 250-acre property located in Harnett County. The landowner donated a permanent conservation easement on his longtime family farm in April 2020. This working lands conservation easement allows for continued agricultural and forestry practices, while restricting the future development and subdivision of this important parcel.


“Our staff is very grateful to have worked with this family to conserve such a remarkable property. We are also thankful for our partners at the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, who provided funding for transactional costs through their mini-grant program,” states Executive Director Travis Morehead. As a result of the mini-grant funding, the easement will also protect a forested riparian buffer on the Upper Little River and the tributaries that flow through this property.


“This newly protected property has considerable frontage along the Upper Little River in Harnett County,” states Crystal Cockman, Director of Conservation. “By conserving this property, we are not only protecting the agricultural land, forest land, and wildlife habitat but are also protecting water quality along the Upper Little River and the tributaries that flow through this property. We are committed to working with property owners to conserve tracts like these, while they are still available.”

It was important to this landowner that the legacy of agriculture continue on this farm in perpetuity. Farmland conservation has been a focus of the land trust since our inception, having protected more than 15,000 acres of farmland since 1995. Three Rivers Land Trust merged with the Sandhills Area Land Trust in 2019, and expanded our conservation footprint to include Harnett County and four additional counties in the Sandhills and Coastal Plain.

To learn more about how to protect your own property, or how to support Three Rivers Land Trust in our conservation mission, contact Crystal Cockman at 704-647-0302 or

About Three Rivers Land Trust

Three Rivers Land Trust works with private landowners and public agencies to conserve the most important natural, scenic, agricultural, and historic places in a 15-county region of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Since 1995, the Land Trust has worked to offer reasonable and attractive options to landowners who want to conserve their lands for future generations to enjoy. Our mission is to work thoughtfully and selectively with property owners to conserve our lands, vistas, and the essential nature of our region. For more information about Three Rivers Land Trust, please contact the Land Trust at 704-647-0302 or or visit their website at

Guest Blog Post by Naturalist Tom Earnhardt

Everything is connected. Perhaps more than any other time in our lives, many of us now realize just how dependent we are on the skills, sacrifice and courage of perfect strangers. Men and women we do not know leave their homes to perform important jobs and critical services, and some put their own health and well-being at risk to protect our lives and property. In this difficult moment in the life of our state and nation, many of us are also “serving” the community by simply staying at home.  

In an incredibly short period of time we have changed daily habits and routines at home, school and in the workplace. We have quickly adapted to alien routines— “social distancing” and “sheltering in place”—to “flatten the curve.” We accept the changes because we understand these new behaviors are essential for the common good. Each of us is part of a community, and at no time in my life has this been more clear. We are connected.  

Biologists and students of the natural world have long understood that in nature, everything is connected. In our remaining wild places we have all observed functioning ecosystems—natural communities of living things interacting with each other. Plants, animals, fungi and even bacteria have an important place in the natural community. Without beneficial microbes in the soil and specific fungi in natural communities some trees and plants cannot flourish, which impacts the number and type of insects and the birds/fish/reptiles that depend on them.  

Which ferns, beetles, wildflowers, butterflies, and tiny fish are of little use to mankind? Which caterpillars and beetles can we eliminate? Should it make any difference to us that a few species of birds, which we rarely see, are sputtering on the edge of oblivion?   

One of the founders of the modern environmental movement, Aldo Leopold, developed his “land ethic” in the 1949 classic, Sand County Almanac. Leopold wrote: “…(O)nly a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”  

We are too often unaware of the profound impact a tiny piece of the natural mosaic has on the plants and animals around it. And in the past, we have all been guilty of discounting the importance of the work and contributions of strangers.     

This April we have the time—and the social distance between us—to consider the wisdom of Aldo Leopold’s advice to keep “every cog and wheel.” It is also an opportunity to remember the natural communities we have observed in the springtimes of our memory in the mountains, Piedmont, and coastal plain. Nature teaches us that we are dependent on the services, skills, and sacrifice of all members of the same community. Be thankful for the intricate relationships found in nature…and thankful for your friends, neighbors and perfect strangers of the North Carolina family. And who knows, celebrating all of our communities and connections may be habit-forming?   

With good health, strength and endurance to all Tar Heel cogs and wheels… 

Tom Earnhardt

North Carolina’s Natural Heritage program has identified over 300 distinct natural communities. These communities are comprised of associated plants, animals, and even fungi and bacteria. Each tiny part plays a role in the success and survival of the community. The photographs of a Carteret County salt marsh (Photo 1),  Hanging Rock’s rocky summit (2), a rich cove forest near Black Mountain (Photo 3), and a Jackson County waterfall/spray-cliff community (Photo 4) represent only a hint of the diverse natural communities in North Carolina.  





These magnificent birds are no longer common in their natural communities. One of my favorite coastal birds, the graceful black skimmer, with a tucan-like bill, is now found on only a few Tar Heel beaches (Photo 1). Although not rare, gaudy oystercatchers are a welcome sight in the new green of an April salt marsh (photo 2). Their specialized bills show they have a special job in their natural communities. 



North Carolina is a fungi capital of the world with an estimated 8,000 species of fungi within our fields and forests. Each species has a function and a role in a natural community. Although roles and functions are sometimes difficult to define, I wouldn’t want to lose any of them. Fungi, too, are cogs and wheels.  



Some of the most vivid memories of my childhood come from the slow-moving creeks and small farm ponds in Davidson County, all of which were home to native crayfish (photo 1) and sunfish (photo 2). I had no idea at the time the two creatures were integral parts of a natural community. 



Some of the most colorful members of Tar Heel natural communities are insects. Cicadas (Photo 1) appear in the spring and early summer as do a myriad of shiny beetles, like this ground beetle (Photo 2) 



In the Triangle’s Umstead State Park, April is a time to celebrate floral members of the natural world, including our delicate, native Pinxterbloom azalea (Photo 1) and the simple beauty of a flowering Mayapple (Photo 2). Again, each is a “cog and wheel” of a natural community and of the Tar Heel experience. “Only a fool would discard seemingly useless parts.”



Three Rivers Land Trust conserves 89 acres on Deep River in Moore County

Three Rivers Land Trust is excited to announce the permanent conservation of 89 acres located along the Deep River in Moore County. The Deep River has long been a focal area for conservation efforts for the land trust, and is designated by North Carolina as a High Quality Watershed. This section of the Deep River is also identified as a natural heritage natural area known more commonly as Deep River Below High Falls Aquatic Habitat. The federally listed as endangered Cape Fear Shiner has been documented in the river just off this tract.

“We were happy to work with this landowner to complete their conservation vision for the property,” states Executive Director Travis Morehead. “This section of the Deep River is particularly important from a water quality and a recreation perspective, and we are glad to see another property here permanently protected.”

The primary purpose of the conservation easement is to protect and enhance the natural features and resources of the wetlands and riparian areas associated with Deep River and unnamed tributaries. The easement will also improve and maintain water quality, control sediment runoff, and provide habitat for unique native flora and fauna that rely on the riparian ecosystems.

Funding for this acquisition was provided by the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Anne Leahy in honor of her mother Jane M Mueller.

To learn more about how to protect your own property, or how to support Three Rivers Land Trust in our conservation mission, contact Crystal Cockman at 704-647-0302 or

About Three Rivers Land Trust

Three Rivers Land Trust works with private landowners and public agencies to conserve the most important natural, scenic, agricultural, and historic places in a 15-county region of the Piedmont and Sandhills of North Carolina. Since 1995, the Land Trust has worked to offer reasonable and attractive options to landowners who want to conserve their lands for future generations to enjoy. Our mission is to work thoughtfully and selectively with property owners to conserve our lands, vistas, and the essential nature of our region. For more information about Three Rivers Land Trust, please contact the Land Trust at 704-647-0302 or or visit their website at

Books Take You Anywhere!

As a small non-profit, we are acutely aware of the challenges facing small businesses in our communities right now. We urge each of you to do something each day to support local businesses or organizations that might be negatively affected by the outbreak. At the heart of everything, we are all in this together. In that light, we wanted to share some of our favorite books that reflect conservation issues, with links to two of our favorite local bookstores The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, and the South Main Book Company, in Salisbury.

With the state under a stay-at-home order, books can be a great way to pass the time or for a little escapism. Kimberly Taws, general manager of the Country Bookshop, has noticed many people purchasing books about nature, gardening, and “classics that they never got around to reading.” All in all, it seems, most “people just really want a good, engrossing book right now,” Taws says.

The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering curbside service and free local delivery to customers to who order online or over the phone.  Meanwhile, The South Main Book Company is doing its part by making a donation to a Salisbury-based Pack The Pantry Program with every gift card sold, while also making personal deliveries to customers’ mailboxes. The good news is that as the Governor considers bookstores essential businesses, so they will remain open during the state-wide shelter in place order.

Read on for a selection of books that reflect the conservation spirit of the Land Trust, with links to both bookstores. We hope these picks expand your understanding of a wide-range of conservation issues, and also keeps you company in the days ahead.

Do you have books you think should be on this list? Send us and email and we’ll be sure to add it to the website!















Guest Blog Post (UNC-TV’s Tom Earnhardt)

During the next few weeks and months while many of us are “hunkered down,” it is important to remember that the world around us is still beautiful, ever changing, and very much alive.  Across North Carolina new wildflowers will pop up every week, different birds arrive and depart each month, and beaches, rivers, and forests can provide sanctuary and respite in these difficult times.

Even though we may be physically isolated, we are supported by our families, friends, and by an unseen army of community heroes. Support and solace can also be found in the natural world around us. Several of you have observed that springtime is your season of healing and renewal.

March and April are major transition months in natural North Carolina. It is the time of year when change is most visible. Gray and brown landscapes can turn chartreuse…and then green…in a couple of days. These transitions happen so fast that we see only a fraction of what is occurring just a few steps from our doors…and in the streams, fields and forests of our Tar Heel universe. While we are hunkered down, the natural world is still a very busy place!

Each plant and animal has a role in its community, “tasks” to perform and a reason to be here. As much as we know about quantum physics, artificial intelligence, and the cosmos, we still have much to learn from nature about collaboration on this tiny rock called Earth. Ever the optimist, I celebrate the extreme natural diversity found in North Carolina knowing that it improves quality of life and provides comfort for each of us.

After many years of observing North Carolina‘s “lifescape” (the interdependence of plants and animals) with UNC-TV, I still experience the same curiosity and awe that I felt at age 12. My passion is rooted in small farm ponds in the Piedmont, tiny trout streams near Brevard, tidal pools in Carteret County, the mysteries of a longleaf savanna, and the miracle of Appalachian wildflowers. As you will see in the images below, nature is already decorating the land, rehearsing songs and preparing for our return.

Health, hope and joy to you and your families,

Tom Earnhardt



Our “birds of winter”—ducks, swans, and snow geese—will depart coastal wetlands in early/mid March and fly to the far North.



In longleaf pine forests near Sanford, you’ll see the “fiddleheads” of various ferns unfurling in late March.


In the same places look for one of our most dazzling wildflowers, the 4-inch dwarf violet iris (Iris verna) emerging from the detritus of winter.


At the end of March, a newly arrived osprey couple in Bertie County, at the west end of the Albemarle Sound, is already squabbling over family meals and housekeeping chores.


In mountain cove forests, North Carolina’s native orchids will begin appearing in late April…

Salamanders of every shape and color (over 60 species!) will be active in Tar Heel creeks, ponds, and under damp leaves…


For much of North Carolina, 2020 is just beginning…


Nature Bingo!

Here is a little something to entertain you and your young ones during this difficult time while practicing social distancing!

We’ve created two scavenger hunts for you to print and circle the things you find – when you get four in a row you can be entered into a drawing to win TRLT swag and gift certificates. A special prize will be given to those who find everything in the hunt!

How to Enter:

To play this fun game of nature bingo at home, check out the following criteria. As long as you meet them, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win prizes!

It’s easy to enter. Here are the rules:

  • Post a photo or video of your completed scorecard on Facebook or Instagram, using the hashtag #explorewithtrlt
  • You must make your post public so we can see it and others can too.
  • You must post your photos before May 15, 2020.
  • You can share as many photos or videos as you like. However, a maximum of three entries per person will be entered in the drawing for prizes.
  • Parents may submit entries on behalf of their children.
  • If you’re not on social media, you can email your submission to
  • To win prizes, you must be a resident of North Carolina
  • TRLT may share your photo or video online, with credit to you as the creator.

The Prize:

A drawing will be held after the contest deadline on May 15, 2020, and will be for a $50 gift certificate to REI, a retailer selling sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment, and clothing. Special prizes go out to anyone who completes the whole sheet, finding every item and crossing it off, and for anyone who finds everything on both scorecards. Have fun and good luck!

Nature – Good For The Soul

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson

As communities increasingly practice social distancing and restaurants, bars, recreation facilities, and other businesses temporarily close, we’re reminded that  nature  can be a source of peace in the days ahead. We can find joy in the forests, trails, backyards, trees, gardens, streams, and other natural areas we love.

Being outside can be restorative. It can provide some respite from stressful, busy lives, and for many of us, the outdoors is simply where we’d rather be. So, during this tough time, it’s only natural to want to head outside. And for those who are able, we encourage you to do so.

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.

In one study, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. Other studies by Ulrich, Kim, and Cervinka show that time in nature or scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood, and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality.


While we want you to get outside and soak up the benefits of the great outdoors, here are some suggestions for practicing social distancing to help stem the spread of Covid-19:

  • Stay local as much as possible to avoid spreading the virus any further
  • Maintain at least a six-foot distance from others
  • Maintain excellent hygiene especially while traveling to and from the outdoors
  • Make sure to take proper precautions by packing all necessary safety equipment and letting someone know where you are going, what your plans are, and when they should expect you back (and don’t forget to tell them when you do get back!).

Some ways to enjoy nature from the comfort of your home:

  • Our friends at the National Wildlife Federation have made their Ranger Rick Magazine free online through June
  • PBS has complied these free documentaries that highlighting stunning vistas all over the world
  • Did you know you can contribute to wildlife research as a community scientist, without having to leave your home? Check out some of the nature projectsyou can assist with on Zooniverse, an online platform for volunteer-powered research that anyone can participate in!
  • Check out these virtual tours of some North Carolina State Parks
  • “iNatting” is a great solo or family activity that can be done in your backyard or out on the trails while you are#socialdistancing. iNaturalist even has an app just for kids with built in challenges, rewards, and activities called Seek:

 However you might be finding ways to explore the great outdoors, we hope you still get the chance to enjoy your love for the wildlife and wild places while staying safe and healthy.

 Catch up with us in the days ahead as we share ways you (and the kiddos) can get outside, explore nature, and enjoy the fresh air. When you head out, be sure to tag us at, and use the hashtag #dailydoseofnature to share your adventures with us.

 Happy Exploring!

The Team at Three Rivers Land Trust





(704) 647-0302


204 East Innes Street, Suite 280
Salisbury, NC 28144