ECU class, Sierra Club develop map of Tar River
(Apr. 27, 2004)
An East Carolina University Recreation and Leisure Studies class and the Sierra Club will provide two maps of the Tar River for Pitt County residents and visitors this summer. The new set of maps, called the Tar River Paddle Trail Maps, will offer a guided tour of the historic waterway as well as information about some of its ecological and cultural attributes.
Joseph Flood, a recreation and leisure studies professor from ECU's College of Health and Human Performance, worked with the local NC Sierra Club Cypress Group to create the interpretive map.
Flood said the project provides a way for his students to put the service-learning component offered in his courses to good use.
"I want to get my students to interface with the environment and the community, and have them work to produce a final product they are proud of," Flood said. "Our portion of the project identifies and interprets cultural and ecological areas of significance."
Students in Flood's Recreational Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources class spent their fall semester exploring what makes the TarRiver both special and unique to this region from cultural, historicaland ecological perspectives. They also identified and researched aspects of its history and interviewed local planners, ecologists and historians to confirm the accuracy of their findings.
Flood said the little creeks and runs found along the Tar River reflect local history, from the Civil War battle sites at Chicod and Tranter's Run as well as a vibrant ecosystem supporting diverse wildlife species such as bald eagles at Conetoe Creek. The map also explores other aspects of the river's history, including how people have been impacted by its presence over time.
"It's important for people to understand the history of the Tuscarora Indians, their experience, as well as how the river played a part inthe tobacco trade and how that evolved," he said. Informing people as to the rich cultural and ecological diversity out their front doors and providing a paddle map to accomplish this is the primary goal of theproject. The students' interpretive map will go on sale in August.Proceeds for the interpretive map will go to support the RCLS' Interpreter's Club, Flood said.
Flood credited the efforts of Vince Bellis, retired ECU biologist, and local chair of the Cypress group, who spent countless hours working with thestudents.
"This type of collaboration is one of my primary teaching goals. Mentors like Vince offer students guidance in assessing questions of values and how open space and historic sites are used, presented and preserved, are all ethical questions all interpreters must consider," he said.
In addition to creating the map, one of the most important aspects of the interpretation course, said Flood, is that the students were able to experience firsthand the processes of researching and presenting information about natural resources to the public.
"Iwant the public to understand their relationship to the natural world and capture for them what is significant in our culture and natural world," Flood said. Prior to becoming a RCLS professor, Flood spent 20years as a park manager and interpreter in the western Montana,including Glacier National Park and the Mission Mountains Wilderness.
Inthe fall, Flood and his students will lend their energy torevitalization efforts afoot at River Park North. "I believe the mostimportant thing interpreters can do is provide quality information tothe public. Our best support comes when the public understands thesignificance of protecting these legacies for future generation to enjoy."