Catawba Grasslands Project | Catawba Lands Conservancy

Catawba Grasslands Project

Spotted bee balm and a bumble bee in a utility right of way at Pinhook Preserve in Gaston County. Photo by Nancy Pierce

Imagine what the Carolina Piedmont looked like 300 years ago, before huge swaths were developed for homes, highways and cities. You might be imagining lush forested hills interspersed with clear running streams and full of diverse native wildlife. You would mostly be right.

But there is another ecosystem that was also part of this landscape…the grassland. Historic records indicate that many of our ridgelines used to be open savanna or prairie habitats. These grasslands played an important role in supporting pollinators, ground-nesting birds and other native wildlife. But over time, more and more ridgelines and hilltops were converted to farmland, housing developments or roadways. Now we have only a few relic grasslands left.

Through conservation, partnership and strategic land management, Catawba Lands Conservancy is working to restore native grasslands to the Piedmont. We are managing 10 protected properties for grasslands and working with partners like Duke Energy to expand the work to additional land. We have reintroduced prescribed fire, a requirement for many native plant species to thrive, and adjusted mowing schedules so that wildflowers have a chance to return.

Through this work, we intend to establish a network of connected corridors that support grassland ecosystems throughout our region.

Learn more about the Catawba Grasslands Project below. Or check out WBTV’s coverage of the project!


Catawba Grasslands Project is supported by


Grasslands on WBTV

Grasslands coverage on WBTV



Grassland Storymap

Grassland Articles


January 29, 2024

How Are We Using Prescribed Fire?

We are entering prescribed burn season for our area, which runs from February to April. We hope to conduct five burns on conserved land in 2024. […]
October 27, 2022

One Year Later: Schweinitz’s Sunflowers at Buffalo Creek Preserve

In the fall of 2021 we planted 800 endangered Schweinitz’s sunflower seedlings at Buffalo Creek Preserve, establishing the first recovery site for the plant in North […]
March 7, 2022


Project establishes first protected site in Cabarrus County for endangered sunflower Charlotte, N.C. – Native grasslands that once thrived across the Piedmont are making a comeback […]
December 17, 2021

Planting Hope in the Piedmont

It’s a warm, dry day in October, and about a dozen volunteers and staff for the Conservancy are out in the middle of a brush-covered field, […]


Grassland Videos


Photo by Nancy Pierce