Brunswick County, NC
842-acres situated in a transitional zone
The Coastal Dynamics Lab in collaboration with the NC State Department of Landscape Architecture and School of Architecture along with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension, the Gore Family and local communities researched an 842-acre site in Brunswick County, North Carolina to develop Master Plans that address the larger ecological matrix.
IMAGE: Aerial provided by ESRI, 2016.
Nestled between the Atlantic coast and the tidal swamps of the Waccamaw River, the 842-acre project site is situated at the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and N.C. Highway 904 in Brunswick County, North Carolina Brunswick is the southeastern-most county in the state, and the site is just a few minutes’ drive from the South Carolina border. The nearest densely populated areas are Wilmington, North Carolina and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, both of which are considered within the study area for the purposes of this project.
Immediately surrounding the site is a mosaic of neighborhood municipalities and farmlands that have taken over what was once a rich and diverse ecosystem. As recently as the 1950s, more than 77% of Brunswick County was classified as forested land (2). These habitats are quickly becoming fragmented as a result of human interference. Given this loss of vital regional habitat, and that more than half of the project site contains a unique ecological mix of covered forests, with pocosins and Carolina bays, the prospect of on-site development raises ethical and environmental questions. Should development even occur here at all? This property lies in a transitional zone within Brunswick County, where neighborhood developments begin to give way to farmland and preserved areas. Is it appropriate to keep expanding the human footprint further into these fragile environments? And if so, is it possible to create models that integrate proposed development with broader concepts of environmental integrity?
This property has the potential to expand our current understanding of neighborhood development. However, in order to get there, fundamental questions about the land and its role within the larger ecological matrix must be considered.