The Redlair Observatory

The Redlair Observatory is a multidisciplinary initiative for long-term environmental, ecological, and hydrological monitoring at the Spencer Mountain Conservation Area. The land on which the Observatory operates is a collective of several privately and publicly owned, preserved and conserved land parcels adjacent to the South Fork of the Catawba River in Gaston County, North Carolina (Map). The largest parcel of the conserved area is the Redlair Preserve, owned by the North Carolina Plant Conservation Program (PCP). View this story-map for an overview of Redlair from the PCP.

View this video related to ongoing research related rock cracking being conducted at Redlair by Dr. Martha Cary (Missy) Eppes.

Redlair Observatory activities are maintained and managed through a partnership of Universities, the State of North Carolina , and other non-profit organizations.

The mission of the Redlair Observatory is to provide a much-needed, long-term, high-resolution database of groundwater, surface water, soils, ecology and weather that spans the South Fork floodplain up to small (95% of the watersheds of local streams and rivers. These small watersheds are major contributors to water quality in large rivers of the Piedmont, and the Observatory is located on the uban fringe of the largest metropolitan area in this region of the Carolinas. Observatory data will be available for researchers, planners, land managers and K-16 educators – providing long-term insight into undeveloped watersheds adjacent to the rapidly growing urban areas of Charlotte and Gastonia. The Observatory is broadly similar in its long-term mission in both research and education to federally funded Critical Zone Observatories and Long-Term Ecological Research Sites. Combined with its proximity to the rapidly growing Charlotte metropolitan area, the Observatory has strong potential to achieve distinction as a key location for natural data in the Piedmont of the southeastern United States.

Note: Access to the Redlair Conservation Area is restricted and not open to the public except for permitted events. For more information contact Redlairleadership at