Field Trips

Three concurrent field trips will be conducted Wednesday, September 23, during the conference to visit transportation project sites across North Carolina that demonstrate successful ecological and environmental solutions. Field trips are organized and hosted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and their partners from various state and federal agencies.

Field Trip 1: Mingo CreekWetland and Stream Mitigation

Mingo Creek Mitigation Site MapThis half-day tour (4 hours round-trip) will visit the distinctive Mingo Creek mitigation site, a large piedmont North Carolina wetland complex, surrounding buffer, and uplands that have been preserved despite suburban development pressure. Located just east of Raleigh and the Neuse River, the mitigation site is bordered by major transportation corridors for U.S. Highway 64 and the Norfolk Southern Railway. Within this unique site participants will observe vegetation typical not only of piedmont North Carolina, but also representative species from the mountains and the coastal plain. Discussions will address the site’s history from its inception to its future long-term stewardship. While viewing this wetland complex and several piedmont streams, participants will also learn about North Carolina’s own wetland (NCWAM) and stream (NCSAM) assessment methods developed by an interagency team of state and federal staff from NCDOT, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Sturdy walking shoes or boots are recommended for this tour.  Participants will return to downtown Raleigh in time for lunch on your own.

View the trip brochure.

Field Trip 2: Longleaf Pine Ecosystem—Endangered Species Mitigation

Venus FlytrapThis full-day tour (8 hours round-trip) will highlight mitigation sites in the North Carolina’s Sandhills region and coastal plain, home to the longleaf pine. Covering 92 million acres of the southeastern U.S., the longleaf pine ecosystem was, in its prime, one of the most extensive and biologically diverse ecosystems in North America. The decline of these once dominant forests now threatens such wildlife species as the red-cockaded woodpecker, rough-leaf loosestrife, and the Venus flytrap. The first tour stop will be at the Plantation Road site in New Hanover County, purchased by NCDOT for wetland and endangered species mitigation for the I-40 interstate highway connector. Discussions will address mitigation site management highlighting interagency cooperation. Participants may view rare carnivorous endemics such as Venus flytrap and pitcher plants. Next stops will include sites along the future widening of U.S. Highway 17 in Pender County, where NCDOT is creating habitat for a red-cockaded woodpecker population in the adjacent Holly Shelter Game Land. Participants will visit the game land to observe a red-cockaded woodpecker cavity tree—and hopefully a bird—as it is the only woodpecker known to excavate cavities in living trees. The tour will also look at a swing-span bridge, due for replacement, over the state’s Intracoastal Waterway and discuss the challenges of replacing this infrastructure in a developed coastal environment.

View the trip brochure.

Field Trip 3: The Outer Banks—Resiliency and Disaster Response

Herbert C. Bonner BridgeThis extended-day tour (12 hours round-trip) will take participants to the dynamic and fragile ecosystems of the Outer Banks of North Carolina—a chain of narrow barrier islands along the state’s coast. Linked together by N.C. Highway 12 and the NCDOT Ferry System, the Outer Banks is a major economic region of the state and home to many endangered species. The tour will visit infrastructure sites that continually face significant impacts from routine storms, hurricanes, and other natural processes. Discussions will address the efforts of recovery and the challenge of implementing ecologically sensitive solutions to the transportation needs of Outer Banks residents and visitors. The tour will cross over the ever-changing Oregon Inlet on the 2.5 mile-long Bonner Bridge—opened in 1963 and due for replacement—and travel through Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to the New Inlet that breached Highway 12 during Hurricane Irene in 2011. Tour stops will include the historic U.S. Coast Guard lifesaving station on Pea Island for a view of Bonner Bridge and the Oregon Inlet, a visit to the temporary bridge over New Inlet, and lunch at the Bodie Island lighthouse.

View the trip brochure.

Photo Credits: Mingo Creek site aerial by Google Earth. Venus flytrap by NCDOT. Herbert C. Bonner Bridge by Smkybear (http://www.flickr.com/photos/smkybear/3557182271/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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