Ask a Ranger: What is the theme for our state parks this year?

May. 04, 2013 @ 09:05 PM

Our state parks have a theme each year to help highlight a certain aspect of N.C. state parks.

In 2012, we celebrated the Year of the Bat. We highlighted that the state is home to 17 species of bats that inadvertently help out humans a great deal by controlling insect population (eating those pesky insects such as mosquitoes).

Bats in some parts of the world are beneficial because they pollinate plants (not all bats eat insects, some eat fruits and pollen). Bats are also great indicators to the health of our immediate ecosystem. Think about the canary in the coal mine concept.

This year we again have a fantastic theme, Year of the Wildflowers. What a colorful and aromatic theme for N.C. state parks!

Wildflowers are defined as any flower of uncultivated variety or a flower growing freely without any human intervention. This state is home to many beautiful, common and rare native flowers.

Wildflowers can be viewed as pesky yet beautiful, such as the American wisteria, dandelion or clover. They can also be so common we may forget to appreciate their beauty as in the yucca plant,pPhlox, and bluets.

Then there are some wildflowers that are rare and perhaps appear to be exotic such as the pine lily, Ssowy orchis, and the bearded grasspink.

N.C. wildflowers are beautiful and with spring in full swing we are experiencing many species of wildflowers blooming all over the state.

Kerr Lake is located in an area called the Piedmont region. Piedmont refers to an area that is at the base of a mountain, in our case it refers to the region from the foot of the Appalachian Mountains to the coastal plains.

Wildflowers that are native and common to the Kerr Lake area are slender-leaved bluet, chickweed, white clover, common dandelion, May apple, woodland sunflower, American strawberry-bush, trumpet honeysuckle, and periwinkle.

A few great places at Kerr Lake to encounter these flowers are the new growth field located at the north side of Nutbush Bridge SRA, the Ole Still Trail at Bullocksville State Recreation Area, the Cemetery Trail at Hibernia SRA, and the Big Poplar Trail at J.C. Cooper Campground.

So put on some walking shoes, grab your camera and come out and enjoy the beautiful scenery the springtime has to offer. A fantastic reference to help you identify some of the flowers you encounter can be found at http://www.dpr.ncparks.gov/nrid/gallery_park.php. More information about the Year of the Wildflower can be found at http://ncparks.gov/News/special/year_of_the_wildflower.php.

Programs for May
May 4 — Satterwhite Point main office: Handicap Accessible Hike, 1 p.m.

May 10 — N.C. Welcome Center: Tourism Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

May 15 — Oxford Library: Reading with a Ranger, 10:30 a.m.

May 18 — Bullocksville Park: Dugout Canoe Project, 2 p.m.

May 25 — Nutbush South: Flower Garden Tending; a practical workshop, wear gardening clothes and bring gloves, 3 p.m.