State of the Triangle's Environment

What is this site?

State of the Triangle's Environment reports the condition of the Triangle’s environment, initially from the perspective of the four public benefits pursued by Triangle Land Conservancy : Wildlife Habitat, Clean Water, Local Farms & Food, and Connecting People with Nature. We expect it to be expanded later to include other environmental issues. Our long-term vision is of a living document, owned by the community, and accessible to all for reading, editing, and expanding – think wikipedia.

Condition is reported through a set of measures, or indicators, that reflect how well these public benefits are being supported. An indicator is a measurement designed to allow us to track changes in the environment through time, usually with the intent of reflecting the condition of something people value, such as clean water.
Gray foxes, Wake County Open Space. (Captured by a research trail camera.)
Triangle Land Conservancy's White Pines Preserve, Chatham County.

Holding Farm Conservation Easement, Johnston County.
(photos by George Hess)

Who created this site?

This site is a work in progress. It was initiated in 2010 by a group of 12 students from NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Duke Universities under the direction of one NCSU faculty member and Triangle Land Conservancy. Further author information is presented at the end of this section, and each indicator contains a section listing Authors and Reviewers.

Triangle Land Conservancy's Public Benefits Approach

Triangle Land Conservancy ’s mission is to protect important open space [land left intentionally as fields and forest while other land is developed into homes and businesses] to help keep our region a healthy and vibrant place to live and work. TLC's land conservation efforts focus on four public benefits provided by open space to meet the needs of people in the Triangle Region.

Wildlife Habitat: Natural areas and well-managed forests support healthy ecosystems and balance our built environment by providing habitat for native plants and animals.

Clean Water: Abundant clean water is essential for all populations – people, plants, and animals – living in the Triangle.

Local Farms & Food: Well-managed farms and associated woodlands enhance our communities by producing food, wood products, other crops, and other ecosystem services.

Connecting People with Nature: Opportunities for outdoor exercise, fresh air, contemplation, and relief from stress support our healthy and vibrancy while reminding us of our place in the natural world.

Who is this site intended for?

This site is intended for everyone who cares about the Triangle’s environment. We have included highlight boxes (set off from the main text in blue letters) to help readers unfamiliar with environmental concepts and terminology.

What region and time period does this report cover?

The site covers the Triangle Region, defined as the six counties served by Triangle Land Conservancy: Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Lee, Orange, and Wake.

The time period covered varies by indicator, depending in large part on data availability. Population data are reported back to 1950; some indicators are reported for the first time.

The greatest value of a site like this is an examination of trends – how things have changed through time. Where long-term datasets are available, we can report trends. In other cases, we report current values that can serve as points of comparison for future evaluations.

Long-term Vision: A Community-Owned Resource

Living Document. We think of this site as a living document and have designed the site so that it can be modified, amended, and enhanced relatively easily – and we invite others to submit indicators for inclusion (you will need a login ID and membership with this wiki to add content). Our long-term vision is of a living document, owned by the community, and accessible to all for reading, editing, and expanding – think wikipedia.

Organization. Currently, it is organized according to Triangle Land Conservancy's public benefits, each of which can be accessed directly from the navigation bar on the left. We expect other sections to be added as the contributing community grows. Each public benefit has an introductory section followed by links to the individual indicators at the bottom of that introductory page. Each indicator is reported on a separate page, making it easy to download and print selected indicators, simplifying the addition of new indicators in the future, and making it easier to reorganize the site as needed.

Comments and Discussion. At the top of each page you will find a tab labelled Discussion. This part of the wiki is open for public comments and discussion (though you must establish a free WikiSpaces account to do so); there is no implied promise by the authors to respond to comments. Although open debate and even dissension are welcome, the site administrator reserves the right to remove inappropriate comments.

Project Information

Coordinated by: George Hess, Associate Professor, NC State University
Triangle Land Conservancy:
  • Tandy Jones, Director of Special Projects
  • Doug Nicholas, Director of Communications

Founding contributors: Steve Allen (NCSU), Kevin Bigsby (NCSU), Amanda Campbell (UNC-Chapel Hill), Lauren Forbes (NCSU), Brunell Gugelmann (NCSU), Katherine Hebert (UNC-Chapel Hill), Elina Inkilainen (NCSU), Leah McManus (NCSU), Ginevra Ryman (Duke), Aimee Schmidt (NCSU), Jessica Stocking (NCSU), Amanda Willis (NCSU)

This wiki is administered by George Hess (NC State University). Please contact him with comments, concerns, or to request membership so that you can participate in the project.

Copyright (c) 2010 George Hess

Neuse River, Wake County. (photo by George Hess)