Redlair Observatory History: The partnership of data collection and research management has largely been in place since 2004. With the purchase of the core Redlair Preserve parcel by North Carolina and the receipt of a large grant from Duke in 2017, we have more formally and clearly established the Redlair Observatory, with its own mission and partners, as being distinct from the land – the Spencer Mountain Conservation Area as well as the Redlair Preserve.

Land Description: In sum, the Spencer Mountain Conservation Area comprises an 1200 acre area on the South Fork of the Catawba River. The Redlair Preserve consists of 758 acres in Gaston County owned by the NC Plant Conservation Program, with 450 adjacent acres owned or protected by the Catawba Lands Conservancy. This overall site supports North Carolina’s largest population of Magnolia macro- phylla, as well as a population of Schweinitz’s sunflower, Helianthus schweinitzii. The land includes a diverse array of hardwood forest types, plus old field pine forest and farm land. Because of the steep, hilly nature of this tract, only a small portion was previously cul- tivated, resulting in less degradation than has happened to most land in the Piedmont. Redlair is remarkable for the extent and integrity of its upland hardwood forests, many of which have not been cut for a century and are unusually free of invasive plants.

History of the Adam Hunter Prairie – Home of the Schweinitz’s sunflower.