Thursday, October 30, 2008

Paving over paradise

Back in May, I wrote about an ongoing plant rescue taking place at the site of a future road extension project in Raleigh. Local conservationists and plant lovers were granted permission from city and state officials to dig and claim plants from the forested site—from diminutive spring wildflowers to larger shrubs and trees. Over a period of a few years, hundreds of people did just that. Tom Harville of the North Carolina Native Plant Society has compiled a list of at least 70 species of native plants that were collected. Tom took this photo of the site this week, where construction of the road is finally under way.

"I am saddened by this loss for many reasons, but I take a bit of solace in the fact that we did move thousands of native plants that would otherwise be gone," he says. "It also reinforces the idea that when we find a site like this, we should not procrastinate. If you know of a site that is going to be developed, let me know—please!" (You may contact Tom at

I'd like to use this forum to thank Tom for his tireless efforts throughout the project—for showing up mornings and afternoons to help us navigate the woods (in all seasons, rain or shine); for locating, identifying and pointing out specimens; for retrieving lost trowels, gloves and keys; and not least of all, for securing permission from the proper authorities and seamlessly coordinating the effort. He must be a real smooth talker to convince landowners that we're not all a bunch of loonies!

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