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Exploring the Outer Banks: North Carolina's Coastal National Parks

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We will begin by traveling to Fort Macon to study its role from the time of the Civil War until its last working days protecting the coast from German U-Boats during WWII. We will then visit the Croatan National Forest, one of the south's most important undisturbed sites of long leaf pine savannah and pocosin habitat, and maybe have the chance to see the Endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. The Croatan Forest is also home to many species of carnivorous plants, and is the only known habitat for the Venus Fly Trap. We will examine the role of the lighthouses that protected ships from the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" on a field trip to Cape Lookout, site of one of NC's remaining working lighthouses. This trip will include a talk with a Cape Lookout Park Ranger, and a tour of the Keeper's House and Museum. After this trip, we will have lunch at a restaurant in Harker's Island, and then visit the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum (also on Harker's Island) dedicated to preserving the unique heritage of eastern North Carolina. We will also visit the Rachel Carson Research Reserve, part of the NC National Estuarine Research Reserve System. We will take a walk with the reserve's research coordinator and learn about the current research projects studying the dynamics of estuaries and long-term changes in water quality.
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