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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Get the answers you're looking for about North Carolina's Natural Heritage Program.

FEES FOR DATA SERVICES AND DATA PRODUCTS

What happens on October 1, 2018?

On October 1, 2018, North Carolina’s Natural Heritage Program will implement fees for:

  • Use of the project review tool within the Natural Heritage Data Explorer.
  • GIS shapefiles of Natural Heritage Element Occurrence records.
  • Customized environmental review services.

Access to all other functions of the Natural Heritage Data Explorer will remain free for all users. GIS shapefiles for the following data will be provided without fee:

  • Natural Heritage Natural Areas
  • Managed Areas
  • Biodiversity and Wildlife Habitat Assessment
  • Open Space and Conservation Lands
  • Agricultural Lands Threat and Viability Assessments
  • Forestry Lands Assessments

 

Are there fee exemptions?

Federal, state and local agencies are exempt from fees, as well as nonprofit agencies who use the project review tool and/or Natural Heritage Element Occurrence data to establish nature preserves.  All other individuals and organizations will be required to pay fees.

 

I already have a Data Explorer account, what steps do I need to take to continue using it?

All existing user accounts will remain active. When users logon to their account on or after October 1, 2018, they will be asked to select the type of service or data they wish to use/receive (options described below).  Those users required to pay fees will receive a prompt to pay for selected services or data. The fee can be paid by credit or debit card. Access to previously submitted projects will be provided with payment.

Exempt users (as described above) will not receive a prompt to pay and be able to access the project review  tool and previously submitted projects without fee.

 

What are my options for access to project review, GIS data, or other services?

Data Explorer Project Review annual subscription: $600.00 per individual user.
Allows user to generate an unlimited number of natural heritage resource reports.  These reports include information on rare species, natural communities, natural areas, and nature preserves for user-defined project areas.  Users can view and query natural area, managed area, conservation planning, and reference layers in the online map viewer, perform species/natural community searches and receive summarized results by county or quad.

Data Explorer Project Review without an annual subscription: $100.00 per project review.
Allows user to generate one (1) natural heritage resource report for a user-defined project area. Users can view and query natural area, managed area, conservation planning, and reference layers in the online map viewer, perform species/natural community searches and receive summarized results by county or quad. A separate fee will be charged for each project review submitted.

This option may be best for users familiar with the functionality of the Natural Heritage Data Explorer who wish to receive an immediate response (typically within 5 minutes of submitting a query) and who do not anticipate the need for more than 6 project review queries per year.

Customized environmental review request: $65.00 per hour.
Requestor will receive a natural heritage resource report similar to reports provided through the Natural Heritage Data Explorer but prepared by NHP staff.  These reports include information on rare species, natural communities, natural areas, and nature preserves for project areas defined by requestor.   When submitting the environmental review request, requestor will submit a cover letter describing the proposed activity and a map of the project area.

This option may be best for individuals and organizations who do not wish to submit a project through the Natural Heritage Data Explorer and do not need an immediate response (up to 2 week response time).

GIS shapefiles of Natural Heritage Element Occurrence records: $100.00 per species, county, or 8-digit hydrologic unit.

Biological field survey: $65.00 per hour.
Customers may request a field survey of a project location.  Natural Heritage field biologists will conduct a field survey and provide a report of their findings. The survey report will include a summary of observations and maps of rare species, natural communities, natural areas, and nature preserves within the project area.  Upon submitting a request for a biological field survey, the customer will be contacted by Natural Heritage Program staff to develop a work order, including scope of work and timeline.

 

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

Please contact Rodney Butler at rodney.butler@ncdcr.gov, or 919-807-8603.

 


 

What Is a NHP Natural Area?

A NHP natural area is an area of land or water that is important for the conservation of the natural biodiversity of North Carolina. The Natural Heritage Program identifies these natural areas based on biological surveys, as authorized in the Nature Preserves Act (G.S. 113A-164.1 to 164.11). Although biologists receive permission from land owners and land managers prior to conducting any biological surveys, identification of these natural areas is based on ecological and biological information, rather than political or property boundaries.

Collectively, the full set of more than 2,500 natural areas that have been identified in North Carolina is expected to contain the best populations of rare species, their habitat, and exemplary natural communities. Overall, the goal is to include the full spectrum of organisms and ecological processes that compose North Carolina’s Natural Heritage.

A few NHP natural areas are added each year as biologists gain access to new tracts of land. Likewise, a few NHP natural areas are removed from the data set annually, as they are degraded by impacts or if better examples of priority species or natural communities are found.

Because conditions on the ground may change based on natural forces or land management decisions, we recommend that boundaries and data related to these natural areas be verified with a site visit before any land use decisions are made based on Natural Heritage Program data.

Visit the following links for more information on the subject:

What is a Registered Heritage Area?

When a landowner signs an agreement with the Secretary of DENR to voluntarily protect the natural heritage value of a natural area identified by the Natural Heritage Program, the site is considered a Registered Heritage Area. The Registry agreement is non-binding and can be canceled at any time, although the Natural Heritage Program appreciates 30 days written notice. The Registry is authorized in the Nature Preserves Act (G.S. 113A-164.1 to 164.11).

More on Registered Heritage Areas

What is a Dedicated Nature Preserve?

Publicly or privately-owned Significant Natural Heritage Areas can be dedicated as State Nature Preserves under the Nature Preserves Act (G.S. 113A-164.1 to 164.11) to establish a lasting conservation commitment. A dedication agreement is similar to a conservation agreement in that it identifies specific activities, such as foot trails, that can occur on the property, and other activities, such as commercial development, that are prohibited. Dedications are approved by the Governor and the Council of State and are held in trust for the benefit of the people of North Carolina.

Learn about Dedicated State Nature Preserves