Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/davidso9/davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/wp-content/plugins/shortcode-exec-php/shortcode-exec-php-class.php on line 148

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/davidso9/davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/wp-content/plugins/shortcode-exec-php/shortcode-exec-php-class.php on line 148

Ducks Unlimited

Example of a Wood Duck Box. Source: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/news/Yr2006/jan1606/box2.jpg.

Ducks Unlimited (DU) is an worldwide organization that focuses on conserving, restoring, and managing wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. In 1937,  a group of sportsmen formed DU in response to North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations after the Dust Bowl, a period of dust storms that plunged waterfowl populations to unprecedented lows. Since then, DU has grown significantly. With over 4,000 chapters across the United States, DU is the international leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation today.

Despite its membership increase, DU retains its grassroots, volunteer-base structure on the local chapter level. The Charlotte chapter was established in 1978. At the 1970s and 1980s, the Charlotte chapter was the only local DU group serving Lake Norman. Today, there are additional chapters in both the townships of Mooresville and Concord. Greg Green, the leader of DU’s Charlotte chapter, said his chapter has two main projects. First, the Charlotte chapter works to fund raise for wetland conservation. In addition, the local chapter works in tandem with Charlotte Park and Recreation to install wood duck boxes around green ways. As Green explained, “Wood ducks, a native species, thrive when nesting in a wooden, protected box environment. Through building and installing these environments, we work to support the wood duck population.” Above all, Green stressed conservation for generations. Without outdoor training and education there would not be anyone to carry on the work of DU in the future. Thus, DU allocates some of its funds to promoting wildlife education for children and students.


  • Green, G. (2013, April 2). Interview Ducks Unlimited Charlotte Chapter.
  • Wetlands, Conservation, Waterfowl, Duck Hunting – World Leader in Wetlands Conservation – Ducks Unlimited. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://www.ducks.org/

Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists

Volunteers of LNWC pose with an osprey nesting platform built earlier in the day. Source: http://www.lakenormanwildlife.org/images/Osprey%20nest%20build%201.jpg.

The Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists (LNWC) is a local chapter of the National Wildlife Federation. Unlike other states, the North Carolina Chapter of the National Wildlife Federation has local chapters that enable the organization to tackle specific projects that address regional concerns. Founded in 2006, the Lake Norman Wildlife Federation has implemented numerous programs to benefit local wildlife, particularly the wildlife dependent on Lake Norman.

One key issue the organization seeks to tackle is the water quality of the lake. As more land was developed around the lake, soil erosion and run off became a problem for the lake. To respond, the LNWC reinforced banks by planting over 1,000 silky dogwood trees around the banks of the lake. Don West, a volunteer of LNWC and longtime local resident, also expressed concerns over the rapid increase in permanent homes around the lake. In response to these concerns, the LNWC pushed the entire Lake Norman Community to obtain Backyard Habitat Certification and become a certified wildlife community. The achievement of this goal required the coordination of communities found in across 13 zip codes to certify the appropriate percentage of homes and schools. Upon the achievement of this goal in 2012, Lake Norman became the first community around a lake to become certified. In addition to this program, LNWC has taken many other measures to improve the quality of wildlife habitat on the lake, constructing nesting platforms for ospreys, basking platforms for turtles, and rock structures for fish habitat.


  • Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://www.lakenormanwildlife.org/
  • West, D. (2014, March 10). Interview Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists.

Save Our Lake Organization


SOLO volunteers pose with trash collected on clean up day. Source: Jackson Feldmeyer.

Formed in 2004, Save Our Lake Organization (SOLO) is dedicated to promoting a clean Lake Norman. Over the years, recreation and power generation have stressed the waters of Lake Norman. When asked what sparked the creation of SOLO, Founder Jill Feldmeyer explained, “When I moved to Mooresville, I did not see an organization or any advocacy for clean, fresh water. One afternoon, I saw a woman teaching her kid how to sink beer bottles into the lake and I knew I had to do something.” Since its establishment, SOLO has collaborated with other local non-profit organizations. For instance, SOLO participates in the NC Wildlife’s Adopt and Island Program. As an important location for heron breeding, SOLO’s adopted island is also protected by the Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists.

Since 2007, SOLO has shifted its complete focus to addressing pollution in and around the lake. The SOLO team meets once a month to discuss concerns and plan upcoming events. SOLO hosts two large clean up events each year (before and after the boating season) with over 600 volunteers participating annually. Moreover, SOLO emphasizes getting children involved during clean ups and educational events. Every year the volume of trash collected grows and SOLO anticipates this trend to continue with development around the lake. As Feldmeyer said, “SOLO’s little part is keeping Lake Norman clean and promoting that mission. As long as there are people, there will be trash.”


  • Feldmeyer, J. (2014, March 26). Interview Save Our Lake Organization.
  • Save Our Lake Organization of Lake Norman NC | About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://saveourlakeorganization.org/aboutus.html

Catawba Riverkeepers

Catawba Riverkeepers Speak About Charlotte’s Coal Ash. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/waterkeeperalliance/9355500454/in/photolist-eRzVQG-eRzVHb-eRzVSb-eRoy4R-ffHokY-ffHnFh-fftayt-ffHp9Y-fftaeg-ffHpV9-fft9xF-ffHq9E-ffHn9C/

With the mission to “advocate for the health, protection, and enjoyment of the Catawba River Watershed” the Catawba River Keepers have been leaders in protecting the local watershed since the organization was chartered in 1997.  As a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, the Catawba works with over 200 other organization chapters to protect watersheds worldwide. The Catawba River Keepers work closely with the other chapters to address statewide issues such as particulate pollution from non-pointsource runoff. As North Carolina (and particularly the Charlotte area) continues to develop and urbanize, the risk of erosion increases. Because soil particulates can reduce water quality and threaten wildlife, it is important to keep a close watch on the issue. The Riverkeepers are working to address this issue   The Catawba River Keepers oversee the 24 counties that make up the watershed, which spans two states. http://www.catawbariverkeeper.org/our-work/muddy-water-watch/

On a more local level,  there are subchapters of the organization that carryout the organization’s mission on the lakes in the watershed. The Lake Norman Covekeepers are responsible for Lake Normand the four counties that surround it. The Covekeepers train volunteers to participate in the larger chapter initiatives, such as the Muddy Water Watch. Additionally, however, the Covekeepers work directly on local projects such as litter pickups on Lake Norman. The Covekeepers have cleaned up trash on all 42 islands in Lake Norman, and hold annual events to ensure the water is as free of trash as possible.

These are just two examples of the diverse work conducted by the Catawba River Keepers. In the last 17 years, the organization has worked to promote community education, fight water contamination, establish buffer zones in critical areas, and  inform residents of current threats to local rivers and lakes.


  • Lake Norman Covekeepers — Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://www.catawbariverkeeper.org/our-work/covekeepers/lake-norman-covekeepers

Environmental Action Around Lake Norman

Non-profit organizations play a pivotal role in addressing environmental problems around Lake Norman; they fill the gaps of government and private sector efforts. Through fostering relationships among community members, academic experts, and government officials, non-profits provide important services and programs. But, what were the concerns or the events of the past that led to local community action around Lake Norman? Our research seeks to find trends in environmental concerns and social action from 1963-present around Lake Norman. Through our investigation, we looked to explore the following questions:

  • What were the main environmental concerns in the first half of Lake Norman’s History? Did these concerns vary by decade? How did the concerns evolve into organized community action?
  • How do non-profits serve Lake Norman today? How do these organizations address the environmental concerns that developed over time?

Three images: arial view of dam under construction, view of lake from top of dam, volunteers on clean up day

Historical Timeline: Tracking Environmental Action

To find trends in environmental concerns and non-profit developments from 1963-present around Lake Norman, we turned to archival research. We read weekly issues of The Mecklenburg Gazette  beginning in 1963 and following with every even-numbered year until 1988. We photograph and cataloged articles related to social or environmental concerns and events. Below is a timeline of our findings. The timeline covers the first 25 years of Lake Norman’s existence. Each entry was categorized as either a concern (publication highlighting a local environmental concern directly or indirectly related to Lake Norman) or event (publication highlighting an event that affected the Lake Norman environment or exhibited community action). We used this timeline to explore the relationships between concerns and community events across three decades.

Discussion of Historical Trends


While there were few concerns over the construction of Lake Norman, the Gazette ran many articles expressing concern in the first five years after the Lake’s Construction. Most of these concerns centered on human safety around the lake. These concerns were spurred due to accidents around the lake and a few drowning incidents. Not long after the lake was created, the articles also demonstrated a concern about a shortage in the water supply, the management of wildlife (particularly fish), and the temperature of the water.


The variety and frequency of articles relaying environmental concerns increased dramatically during the 1970s. In addition to continued concern over human safety and wildlife management, new concerns such as pollution, energy costs, nuclear energy, beatification,  and new damming projects emerged. Of these concerns, nuclear energy was the most marked concern. The concerns over town beautification led to initiatives like litter pickups. Interest in recycling programs also developed.


The concerns of the 1960s and 1970s carried over into the 1980s. Additionally, the frequency of articles expressing these concerns increased substantially, with the possible exception of nuclear energy, which was mentioned less frequently. In this decade, these concerns are beginning to evolve into action. In this decade, Huntersville begins its recycling program–becoming the second largest recycling program in the state of North Carolina. Numerous articles ran in the paper encouraging citizens to recycle. Announcements for fundraisers and events hosted by non-profits such as Ducks Unlimited and the Carolina Raptor Center also emerge.

Non-profits Serving Lake Norman Today

Today, a number of non-profits work to address environmental concerns related directly to Lake Norman. Below we highlight four non-profit organizations. We interviewed representatives from Save Our Lake Organization, Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists, and Ducks Unlimited to learn more about the organizations’ missions and goals. Click on the following logos to access more information about current projects.

Logo of organization

Catawba Riverkeeper logo. Source: http://www.catawbariverkeeper.org/.


Logo of Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited logo. Source: http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/imager/ducks-unlimited-oyster-roast/b/original/3120957/8942/ducksunlimited.jpg


Logo of conservations organization

Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationist logo. Source: http://www.lakenormanwildlife.org.


Logo of Save Our Lake organization

Save Our Lake Organization logo. Source: http://saveourlakeorganization.org/.



  • (1963, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988). The Mecklenburg Gazette.
  • 676287e3-f3fa-4a97-8c68-66912f10b54c.JPG (PNG Image, 700 × 525 pixels). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.huntersvilleherald.com/Images/Articles/Primary/Resized/676287e3-f3fa-4a97-8c68-66912f10b54c.JPG
  • Cowans-ford-dam-pic-1-03_08_1962crop_event-image.jpg (JPEG Image, 551 × 431 pixels). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://dukenuclear.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/cowans-ford-dam-pic-1-03_08_1962crop_event-image.jpg
  • Volunteers of Save Our Lake Organization Clean Up Lake Norman. (JPEG Image). (2014). Retrieved from Jackson Feldmeyer.

Timeline Group 1

Save Our Lake Organization

Lake Norman Photo


lkjaalsfjlaksdjal;jfioewj asdkljflakf alskdjlaksjfalskjflksfd