Lake Norman & Mooresville

Conservation group plans busy year

The Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists want more people to help preserve the environment in 2012, members said last week.

The group, which is a chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, will launch a number of campaigns in the New Year, including one aimed at attracting area youth.

"There's a lot of organizations that are trying to bring children outside. Getting children outside and away from the video games - most people in our society feel that way at this point," said founding member Julie Higgie.

The group also will continue its free monthly nature programs in 2012.

The next program will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Mooresville Public Library, 304 S. Main St.

Joe Kaestner, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Huntersville, will tell attendees about the various species of songbirds in the area as well as the most effective way to use bird houses and bird baths to attract birds to one's backyard.

Don West of Terrell, who's the president pro tem of the conservationist group, hopes that entertaining programming like the one Thursday will help grow the organization, which currently has about 40 active members.

The Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists will need all the manpower they can get if they want to accomplish their goals for the year, he said.

For instance, the group wants to create nesting platforms in the north part of the lake for heron.

Currently, many of the birds flock to an island near Cornelius. It's such a popular destination for the nesting birds that the locals now refer to it as Heron Island, said West.

But the large number of heron on the island has started to destroy its vegetation. Thus, the group hopes to lure the birds to the Mooresville side of the lake by installing nesting platforms.

Such platforms have proved wildly successful over the last several years as the group has installed osprey nesting platforms around the lake, Higgie said.

"It was very helpful. We've been seeing more and more osprey so we know we were successful," she said.

The group also hopes to maintain its designation as a community wildlife habitat in 2012, West said.

The National Wildlife Federation awards the designation to raise awareness about what it takes to create a wildlife-friendly habitat.

A habitat is any place that offers food, water, shelter and a place to bear young.

Last year, the Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists helped the lake community secure the designation after 17 months of preparation.

To qualify, the community had to get a certain number of individual backyards certified as wild-life friendly as well as host a number of environmentally-friendly projects, said West.

"The residents of the lake responded admirably," he said, adding it usually takes communities 3 to 5 years to earn the certification.

West said that lake conservation should be at the forefront of everyone's minds, even if they don't live on the lake.

Added Higgie: "Living together with our wildlife friends is important for those who love creatures and wildlife as well as those who enjoy recreational activities on the lake."

Higgie said residents can have a big impact on wildlife conservation with even the smallest adjustments, such as refraining from littering.

"It does concern us when people throw things out their (car) windows and it blows right into the water," she said "Things like hamburger wrappers and plastic bags are bad for the fish and harmful for the birds."