Paving through the Croatan National Forest

Acres of rare longleaf pines in the Croatan National Forest—remnants of the great forests that once covered the southeastern coastal plain—would be cut for an unnecessary highway.

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Photo © Bill Lea

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NCDOT seeks to build highway through unique forest

Nestled between coastal estuaries, the Croatan National Forest in eastern North Carolina is home to rare longleaf pine forests —reminders of the great forests that once covered the southeastern coastal plain and defined both our cultural and natural histories.  This unique expanse of Southern forest is home to a black bear sanctuary and many rare and sensitive  animals and plants, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

Disregarding all that makes this forest so special, the North Carolina Department of Transportation plans to build a costly, unnecessary highway straight through parts of the forest with trees more than 100 years old to bypass the town of Havelock.  The 10-mile long bypass would clear cut and pave irreplaceable parts of the fragile, unique Croatan forest, removing acres of longleaf pine habitat and creating a serious impediment to the prescribed burning that is essential for proper maintenance of the forest.

For more than two decades, the Southern Environmental Law Center has alerted government agencies to better alternatives to  this project.  The Department of Transportation has insisted on moving forward with the unnecessary and expensive bypass.   On behalf of the Sierra Club, we are working to ensure  that NCDOT considers less damaging and less  costly transportation solutions, such as upgrades to the existing highway system, as required by federal law.