On Earth Day, April 22, 2017, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) is proud to partner with Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC). Together, we will celebrate the public opening of the 613-acre George and Julia Brumley Family Nature Preserve in Orange County. The Brumley Nature Preserve is being designed as a model for sustainable land management practices. The preserve will benefit the Triangle regionby:
- Connecting people with the land through a variety of recreational and educational opportunities
- Protecting ecological communities; and by
- Safeguarding Raleigh’s water supply as part of the Neuse River Basin.
We caught up with TLC’s Communications Manager Chris Fowler to learn a little more about his work.
Tell us about your role at TLC.
In my role, I collect, produce and share TLC’s stories with our members and the community at large. Some days that role looks pretty typical. These days include dealing with spreadsheets, email, meetings and all the other trappings of the modern office environment. Many days, though, are extraordinary. One day I’m hustling down a hiking trail at 5:30 am, with a camera and tripod slung over my shoulder and my dog trotting along beside me. I’m trying to beat the rising sun to the confluence of the Deep and Rocky Rivers out at White Pines Nature Preserve to get a photo when the light hits just right. Another day I’m interviewing a third-generation family farmer about why they chose to protect their farm with a conservation easement. And in the process, I’m learning about their connection to the land their family has stewarded and the pride that they take in carrying on that legacy.
The work is consistently interesting. I have the benefit of working with a dedicated team of talented people who endeavor to conserve land in this quickly growing-region. I’m proud to say our efforts result in public benefits, such as safeguarding clean water, protecting natural habitats, supporting local farms and food, and connecting people with nature. Getting to collaborate with the team here is my great pleasure.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
That’s a tough one. There are so many really excellent parts of the work that I get to do. How about two favorite things? I really enjoy that I get to go outside often and experience our beautiful Triangle landscapes. Whether it’s a nature preserve like the Brumley Nature Preserve in Orange County, or a farm that TLC holds the conservation easement on down in Johnston County, I always relish the chance to get outside.
My other favorite part is the opportunity to connect with members of our community. These include supporters, easement land owners, folks who hike at our preserves. I meet interesting new people every day.
In my job, I do a lot of outreach to the Triangle’s business community. We’re really lucky to have corporate partners that are so supportive of outdoor recreation. One of the reasons we reached out to BCBSNC to take part in our Brumley Nature Preserve opening is the company’s Hike NC campaign. Encouraging North Carolinians to adopt more active lifestyles is vital to making our state a better place to live; and it’s another reason why preserving outdoor spaces to be active is so important!
What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
After opening this brand new nature preserve next month, I’d really like to see our communications program and organization as a whole engaging in wider and deeper ways with our friends and neighbors. I’d like for us to be connecting with new faces. This includes both newly arrived residents of the region and those who have been here for multiple generations, but haven’t yet connected with our work. Everybody that lives here is a stakeholder. Clean drinking water is one of those essentials that every person needs and deserves. Land filters the water we drink. And the decisions that we make about how lands are used affects every one of us.
Everyone deserves access to natural spaces to recreate, and to reflect. This is especially crucial in these times of instantaneous and sensational news and hyperbole. In the last few years a great reawakening has happened around food and farming issues. And our region is a nationally celebrated destination for both of those things, but good land and water are prerequisites. Our work affects everyone who lives here and the Triangle community is vast and diverse—that’s what makes us whole. I want to make sure we include and reflect that diversity.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Yes! They’re all invited to experience everything that the Brumley Nature Preserve has to offer on Earth Day and every day after. With 15 miles of trails to hike or bike, forests, meadows, four ponds and Stony Creek all in one place, do yourselves a favor and come check it out. It is a really special property and we’re lucky to have it so close. At the grand opening on April 22 we’ll have lots of family-friendly and fun programming. This includes everything from guided hikes and mountain biking workshops to food trucks and local beverages. We’re grateful to our friends at BCBSNC for their support of the opening. We look forward to seeing them this Earth Day!