Land Development, Stream Morphology, and
Human-Nature Relationships in the North Carolina Piedmont
This study addresses changes in the morphology of headwater streams and human-nature relationships in several communities north of Charlotte, North Carolina within the context of recent increases in land development in the region. Morphological changes were measured via water temperature and stream flashiness. Human-nature relationships were considered through ethnographic interviews focusing on place attachment and place identity. Results demonstrate initial changes in stream morphology in response to development. Interviews did not reflect decreased place attachment but did demonstrate important shifts in place identity and mode of interaction with local streams and natural areas. There were also notable differences in experiences of residents based on race and socioeconomic status. The changes observed here call for a preservation of community access to local streams and highlight the importance of vegetative buffers and the management of the introduction of impermeable surfaces. Furthermore, these results indicate a need for additional inquiry into the impacts of development in the area, both human and ecological, especially in terms of issues relating to environmental justice.