I'm just getting introduced to these organizations, so I can't go into great detail about them. I do know nature conservancies do what their name implies, and they do so by acquiring land. Last year, we purchased A Guide to Nature Conservancy Projects in North Carolina, and we sometimes refer to that book for outing ideas. However, KT informed us regional conservancies exist as well by recommending one of Triangle Land Conservancy's projects, Flower Hill.
Unaware a newly constructed parking lot sits beside the trailhead, we parked alongside the road and trudged through the woods, up one of the few rolling hills in the coastal plain.
The hike through Flower Hill is short, but we managed to make it longer with frequent stops to examine a variety of plant life along the predominantly dirt path. KT had hoped to show us a forest blooming with Catawba rhododendron—the reason TLC purchased the land—but we missed the peak—bloom season. The blossoms we spotted were enough, though, since this species usually grows in or near the mountains. (See Update below slideshow.) Below are a few images from our trip.
UPDATE (April 2011)
Spring rolled around, and a member of CA reported sighting of rhodos at Flower Hill. Naturally, we jumped in the car and headed up the road. And what a sight we saw. I took pictures from several angles, but still couldn't capture the number of blooms growing along the slope. Here, in eastern North Carolina.
For more info on the Triangle Land Conservancy, go to www.triangleland.org/