How Green Spaces Are Saving Humanity

Great article from  Sierra Magazine!

Need to get your green on and recharge your humanity? Check out our Mecklenburg Park & Rec Nature Preserves. You’ll be glad you did!

How Green Spaces Are Saving Humanity

It’s like The Giving Tree, but in real life.
Park bench on a summer day

Thanks, Mother Nature.

Parks and green spaces are little oases nestled in a city’s fabric, offering respite from stressful bustle and ideal spots to picnic or walk. But urban green spaces—parks, gardens, or simply the trees that line sidewalks—also afford a host of less visible health benefits. Even living around leafy areas can provide perks you don’t even realize you’re getting, from lower blood pressure to lower crime rates.

1. Green spaces make you less stressed.

Anyone who’s ever sat in a park after a harrowing day of work knows that trees just have a way of making you feel better. Scientists have backed up this phenomenon, with studies that found lower blood pressure and heart rates, as well as lower levels of cortisol, a marker of stress found in saliva, among people who spend time in green spaces.

Trees are there for you during the harder times, too. Dutch researchers surveyed over 4,500 people going through stressful life events, including the death of a loved one, serious illness, or financial hardship. The ones who lived within 3 kilometers of green space reported higher levels of well-being and fewer health complaints in the face of their struggles than those who didn’t. And several studies have shown that people who live near green spaces are much less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.

2. You’re less likely to die from stress or pollution-related problems.

These positive effects can go a long way. A study of 575,000 urban residents of Ontario, Canada showed that who lived near trees had lower rates of mortality, and were especially less likely to die of respiratory disease. This makes sense: Trees are air-filtering workhorses, taking in pollution and pumping out that sweet, sweet oxygen.

Another vivid study in 2013 used a natural experiment to confirm this trend. Scientists tracked the emerald ash borer, an invasive green beetle, as it demolished tens of millions of ash trees in Michigan and the northeast U.S. Over a period of five years, they found that in the areas the beetle hit hardest, about 21,000 more people had died from lower respiratory tract illness and heart disease than those who lived where ash trees survived.

3. Spending time in nature makes you a better employee.

Hanging out with trees during your lunch break can give your brain a rest by replenishing attention, say researchers at the University of Michigan. Unlike urban environments that require focused attention (say, dodging a speeding car), natural environments are filled with “intriguing stimuli” that modestly grab your attention—a funky-looking insect, the wind rustling through leaves—letting your higher concentration faculties rest. When you get back to work, you’ll be refreshed and more prepared to make savvy, career-advancing decisions.

4. Trees make inner-city neighborhoods safer.

Trees can even fight crime, according to a study by the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois. Researchers analyzed police crime reports from a Chicago public housing development to discover that buildings with greener surroundings had fewer reports of crime, both property and violent.

The idea that trees can act like leafy Batmen is cool enough, but how does it happen? In a later study, the same researchers found crimes in low-income areas often occurred because people were constantly mentally fatigued or stressed. Since the mere sight of trees is restorative, as we know, being surrounded by vegetation helped people recover from their stress, check their aggression, and keep the peace.

To top it all off, research has shown that these psychological benefits are even more pronounced when a park contains more biodiversity. Researchers from the University of Sheffield, England quizzed park-goers about their psychological well-being and how many bird, butterfly, and plant species they thought lived in the parks they frequented. The parks’ species richness, the scientists found, correlated with the people’s well-being. Moreover, the visitors themselves were able to tell on some subconscious level which parks were more diverse. That knowledge, it seems, did them good.

Sierra Club on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

Take the time to watch this very good and short video about the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. It will definitely make you want to  Sign Up Today for the NC Sierra Club Wilderness Weekend!

On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law one of our country’s greatest conservation laws, the Wilderness Act. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wild lands for the use and enjoyment of the American people. Over the past 50 years, and as a result of America’s support for wilderness, Congress has added nearly 100 million more acres to this unique land preservation system—in 44 out of 50 states. The 1964 Wilderness Act defines “Wilderness” as areas “where the earth and its community of life …appear to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable…”

Wilderness Interviewees

Forest Service to Host Uwharrie National Forest Trail Strategy Meeting – Sept 18

If you spend anytime over in the Uwharrie you know it is a special place. The Salisbury Post just ran this article about the endangered and threatened species being studied there – Researchers use Uwharrie National Forest as living lab.  On the same page as the article are 2 sidebars worth reading – “Archaeology, anthropology research significant” and “A little history with your hike”.

If you want to be a part of the long term planning and use of the forest, plan to attend the meeting. For more information or to get on the email distribution list, contact:

Theresa Stevens Savery (Terry)
District Recreation Staff Supervisor
National Forests in North Carolina
Uwharrie National Forest
789 NC Hwy 24/27 East
Troy, NC 27371-9332
Phone #: 910-576-6391 x 102
Cell #: 910-975-0274

Uwharrie Trail Meeting

Forest Service to Host Trail Strategy Meeting

TROY, N.C., Sept. 10, 2014 – The USDA Forest Service National Forests in North Carolina today announced that it will host a workshop on Sept. 18 to address management of non-motorized and motorized recreation trails across the Uwharrie National Forest. The meeting will be held 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Garner Center, 210 Burnette St., Troy, N.C.

Representatives from a wide range of trail-user groups, individuals who represent local communities and ecotourism, or individuals not represented by larger user groups are invited to collaborate in the process, which is expected to take up to a year to complete. The result will be recommendations for a comprehensive trail management plan for the Uwharrie National Forest in North Carolina, along with a stronger community of volunteers to assist with these efforts.

The Forest Service initiated this process because use of forest trails in North Carolina is increasing every year. Resources used to maintain trails have been static or decreasing. The emphasis will be on high-quality experiences on sustainable trail systems. The trail strategy is the next step in implementing the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Uwharrie National Forest, which called for designated non-motorized and motorized trails.

With more than120 miles of system trails, the Uwharrie National Forest encompasses 50,000-plus acres in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Visit for more information.

Sign Up Today for the NC Sierra Club Wilderness Weekend!

The Sept. 26 – 27 Sierra Club Wilderness Celebration happening at Morrow Mountain State Park is just around the corner.  If you haven’t already reserved your spot, it’s not too late.  Click here to let us know you are coming.

There are plenty of great outings for this weekend celebration.  Click here to see the full list of outings!

Here are 5 things that we are looking forward to, and hope you are as well!

Canoeing on Lake Tillery, Yadkin-Pee Dee River and Hidden Lake

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This paddle goes upriver to the Yadkin Falls Dam and back, exploring the mouth of the Uwharrie River and the hidden lakes.  Bald eagles are often seen in these areas. The trip begins at the Morrow Mountain State Park Boathouse and will last about 2 hours.

Click here for more information and to reserve your spot on this outing! It’s certainly going to fill up.

A Service Outing

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Morrow Mountain rangers and staff have been very generous with their time and facilities for our celebration weekend.  This is our opportunity to give something back!  So be sure to bring your work gloves with you to this party!

Click here to let us know if you will be a lending a hand at this service outing

Birkhead Wilderness Hike

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A wilderness celebration wouldn’t be complete without a wilderness hike.  This hike will take about two hours and space is very limited.

Click here to join Henry Fansler for a hike in the Birkhead wilderness area!



Anyone can get a campsite of their own, but Nancy Card has reserved a group site for folks coming to celebration!  Email Nancy at ( if you want to stay at the group site – it too is filling up fast!

Campfires! Ghost stories!  S’mores!

The Kron Homestead


Ranger Ron Anundson will open the buildings and guide us through the restored homestead, office, greenhouse and family graveyard of Dr. Francis Kron.

Those who sign up for this tour are in for a treat indeed! Don’t be left out! Click here to sign up.  Space is limited!

Thanks and we look forward to seeing you at Morrow Mountain State Park!

Nancy Card

Chair of the Wilderness Celebration Committee

p.s. – Be sure to bring your lunch on Saturday! And click here to choose your food option for Saturday night’s celebratory event!  

Sept 7th – Aerial America “Wilderness” Television Special

An aerial tour of some of America’s most spectacular wilderness areas. What a treat!

Tune in Sunday, Sept 7th, at 9:00 PM to the Smithsonian Channel and be inspired!

Aerial America Wilderness

The Smithsonian Channel is available through Time Warner Cable on channel 131/1019.

On Sunday Sept. 7, at 9:00 PM the Smithsonian Channel will broadcast a special wilderness episode of Aerial America. Through stunning vignettes, the program tells the unique stories behind some of the most interesting wilderness areas and the conservation leaders who helped bring them into being. Check your local listing for broadcast times.
For more information about our North Carolina Wilderness Celebration, go to OurWildNC.

For the Love of Ansel Adams and Our Wilderness

If you love wilderness, you need to Celebrate Your Wild Side – Sign Up Today for Our Wild NC Celebration!

This is going to be a great weekend of hikes, special events, and good times. The Celebration will be at Morrow Mountain State Park (just an hour drive from Charlotte, a little beyond Albemarle) on Friday and Saturday, September 26th and 27th. Come for the day or make a weekend of it. Camping is available!

Registration and more information at Celebrate Your Wild Side – Sign Up Today for Our Wild NC Celebration!

Read more

Capturing the Wilderness: An Interview with Peter Essick

For Peter Essick, a world-renowned nature photographer, capturing the Ansel Adams Wilderness area meant long spans of solitary days in the high Sierras — and all the beauty and adventure that entails.

Some of the winter shots required the most daring he’s ever needed in his 25-year career, including one memorable past snap of a radioactive alligator from a project on nuclear waste. Digging his own snow cave and trying not to suffocate during a four-day blizzard was worth it to Essick, who in his new book, The Ansel Adams Wilderness, celebrates Adams’ work.

Ansel Adams changed the face of nature photography and shaped America’s relationship with our landscapes, and also influenced Essick himself when he was a burgeoning young photographer. Inspired to do the project by a reprint of one of Adams’ early books, Essick discusses the experience with Sierra: reliving an earlier era of photography and bringing us all back to a simpler time.

Sierra magazine: What was it like for you, spending extended periods of time in the wilderness?

Peter Essick: After the first few days you forget about the office. At these higher elevations, above the tree line, it’s sort of like a lunar landscape, a different world. That’s when you can really start to feel a connection to the earth and the landscape, after those first few days, when you get away from all the emails and cell phones. It helps your photography too. You start to focus on trying to capture your feelings about the place, you feel more in tune and more responsive to the landscape.

Read more Read the rest of our interview and check out Essick’s work!

The photo above is an example of the black and white photography inspired by Ansel Adams. It is not the work of Peter Essick. To view his amazing photograpahy, click through to our interview.

Reclaiming Wilderness: Wilderness is where we come from, and we are adapted through evolution to the rigors and beauties of such landscape. It’s time for those of us who know wilderness, and who understand the idea of it, to wrest that idea back from its hijackers.

Why Wilderness: It’s crucial to expose all American–including low-income urbanites and people of color–to the country’s wildest places.

Resuscitating the Wilderness: Indonesian doctors show that stethoscopes might be the best defense against chainsaws.

Celebrate Your Wild Side – Sign Up Today for Our Wild NC Celebration

Celebrate Your Wild Side – Sign up Today for Our Wild NC Celebration!  This is going to be a great weekend of hikes, special events, and good times. Watch this short video to get fired up and then Sign up Today for Our Wild NC Celebration!

Celebrate Wilderness
Hope to see you all at Morrow Mountain State Park for our biggest celebration of the year!  We have a wide variety of outings to keep you busy and engaging speakers to keep you entertained!
Nancy Card
NC Sierra Club Wilderness Celebration Committee Chair


Here’s some information about cabins, camping, and local accommodations. Reserve your spot by contacting Nancy Card at or 910-540-3088. Remember to Sign up Today for Our Wild NC Celebration!

Morrow Mountain Accommadations