We joined a team to survey the biodiversity of Haw River State Park. Haw River State Park is one of the newest parks in the NC parks system, sitting on about 1,400 acres of land in Guilford and Rockingham Counties. The park is located near rthe headwaters of the Haw River and includes a mix of habitats spanning piedmont forest, fields, uplands, and wetlands. Our mission was to help survey what species actually call these habitats their home. These sorts of survey efforts form the foundation of conservation and environmental stewardfship efforts worldwide. After all, you need to first know where species live in order to assess changes in population, the ecological and environmental needs of an organisms, or to ensure genetic connectivity across a landscape.
Led by Bryn Tracy at NC DEQ (Linkedin), we joined the fish team to see what lives beneath the surface of the park’s waters. Unfortunately for us, the weather decided to make this as challenging as possible.
Rain levels had been high and the water in the river was moving pretty rapidly. Check out this graph of the rapid rise of flow over the last few days.
High flow also meant that the usually shallow river had spilled into the flood plain. To access the river required wading chest deep, and in one case canoeing, over deeper parts of a powerline cut that provided the only access to the river. Still despite these challenges we were able to find and add an assortment of turtles, invertebrates, and over a dozen species of fish to the roster of species living in the park.