Monday, May 20, 2024

Governments buying Islands

North Carolina Family “Adopt” Their Own Island

A water-loving family from Charlotte, NC are giving back to their community in a unique way: by adopting a small island in Lake Norman through a local conservation program.

A man-made lake that sprawls out across more than 50 square miles of North Carolina, the immense Lake Norman is sometimes referred to as the state’s “inland sea”’. A popular spot for local residents to enjoy fishing, boating, or just playing on sandy beaches, it’s difficult for locals to imagine life without it – although it didn’t actually exist until the construction of the Cowans Ford Dam in the 1960’s. Since then, the lake has become a haven for wildlife, as well as humans – a plethora of birds breed on the lake’s shores and islands, including the rare Great Blue Heron.

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Protecting the habitat of this majestic bird has been a focus of a highly ambitious local group, the Save Our Lake Organization (SOLO). Since its founding several years ago, SOLO has adopted three public islands in Lake Norman through program run by the state Wildlife Federation, including Heron Island, an important breeding ground. SOLO has also facilitated the adoption of other islands by concerned local residents, such as the Fernandez family.

Eugene Fernandez and his family enjoy Lake Norman just like tens of thousands of other residents – boat trips on sunny days, stopping here and there to visit the peaceful little isles sprinkled across its waters, a favourite activity of their small children. After discovering the Island Habitat Program at a local library, it seemed like a perfect fit: in order to “adopt” an island under the program, participants must have the time (and access to a boat) to check in on the island on a regular basis.

Responsible for monitoring the island’s general health and well-being, adoptive parents clean up trash and detritus, survey the growth of vegetation, assess whether the island is being used inappropriately (such as being an unwilling host to partying teenagers or a source of firewood) and in some cases, facilitating the breeding of bird species by building stands that await the creation of nests.

According to SOLO leaders Jill and Jim Feldmeyer, there are 56 more islands that need adopting in Lake Norman, and those who volunteer their time are providing an essential service to the local environment. Well-suited to local residents who, like the Fernandez family, are regular visitors to the lake’s islands anyway, the organization hopes that this summer, more people are willing to get involved – and sometimes, get their hands dirty.

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To read more about the Island Habitat Program, visit:

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