Matthews-based Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK), a local chapter of the N.C. Wildlife Federation, has done amazing things over the past two years.
The group was started in 2006 by Carol Buie-Jackson and several conservation-minded folks. It was the first local chapter in the state. There are now eight local chapters, with two more on the way.
Buie-Jackson says she's still amazed by the interest in the group.
“Two years ago, we were afraid no one would come to our first meeting,” she said. “We had 80 in attendance. That showed us two things. First, a lot of people out there are concerned about the environment and want to know how to make a difference. Secondly, they want a place where they can meet like-minded people and share ideas. HAWK is that place.”
HAWK's fingerprints are evident on a number of nature and conservation projects around town.
It has installed and maintained bird feeders, birdhouses and gardens at Squirrel Lake Park. For the past two years, it has partnered with the Town of Matthews for Earth Day festivals.
It has created a Habitat Garden at an area retirement center, and has lobbied the town board on occasions when conservation causes were up for a vote.
It has assisted in the rehabilitation of two hawks – one adult bird found injured on the side of the road and a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. Both birds have been successfully returned to the wild.
It has taken field trips to spot birds and identify animals by their tracks, and has assisted with Habitat Steward Training sponsored by the N.C. Wildlife Federation.
It has sold 120 rain barrels, which for every inch of rain, prevent 8,400 gallons of water runoff and conserve 8,400 gallons of water for later use in area gardens.
HAWK also holds monthly meetings, open to the public. It focuses on topics that include native plants, snakes and organic farming.
Members kicked off their third year last Tuesday evening with a program on bats, presented by Scott Bosworth of the state Wildlife Resources Commission.
Far from living up to reputations as bloodsucking, rabies-spreading terrors of the night, the little mammals are an important part of the ecosystem and are especially good at controlling insects, Bosworth explained.
HAWK is planning a fall filled with nature topics including: “Spiders” in October; Composting with worms in November; and “The Story of Stuff” for December, a guide for buying environmentally friendly items with reduced packaging.
Want to know more? Visit www.ncwildlife.ning.com to get information specific to HAWK as well as other local chapters. You also can e-mail Carol Buie-Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 704-814-0877.