Geum radiatum, known more commonly as spreading avens, at Roan Mountain State Park in Roan Mountain, Tenn., in July.

North Carolina is a state of natural and sometimes fragile beauty. People come from across the country and around the world to experience our mountains, our shoreline and other parts of the state for themselves. We’re grateful for the many concerted efforts put forward to preserve that beauty for residents, for tourists and for the future.

In a joint effort, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Three Rivers Land Trust recently purchased 2,463 acres, including 45 miles of shoreline along the Yadkin and South Yadkin rivers in Davie, Davidson and Rowan counties, to preserve for future generations, the Journal’s Richard Craver reported Sunday. The two organizations paid $7.7 million to buy the land from Alcoa Power Generating Inc. under a 2007 relicensing settlement agreement.

“Many of the parcels have been open for hunting, fishing and wildlife-associated recreation as a part of our game lands program for more than 30 years,” Brian McRae, chief of the commission’s Land and Water Access division, said. “We are thrilled to permanently protect this land that provides high-quality wildlife habitat, public recreational opportunities and protects water quality in the Yadkin River basin.”

Another 2,420 acres, with 31 miles of frontage along the eastern shore of the Tuckertown Reservoir, is also available for preservation, if the commission and trust can raise $8.5 million by September 2021.

They deserve to succeed.

A more delicate preservation effort is occurring in the Southern Appalachians, where the pretty yellow flowers known as spreading avens are in decline and under threat of extinction, the Asheville Citizen-Times’ Karen Chavez reported recently.

They’ve been listed as an endangered species since 1990. As of 2013, there were 15 known populations, found only in seven western North Carolina counties and two in Tennessee.

The major reasons for the species’ decline are an increase in recreational use, such as hiking and rock climbing; development, including ski slopes and forest succession; or the influx of woody plants, according to botanist Rebekah Reid with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

And climate change plays a role, according to a 2015 study co-authored by Blue Ridge Parkway botanist Chris Ulrey. The study found that half of the habitats that support spreading avens will be lost by 2050.

“This is given the most conservative, smallest amount of change in any of the climate models,” Ulrey said. “It’s definitely a species that is at risk now and probably will be in the future as well.”

Spreading avens can withstand harsh snow and ice, but the changing climate has dried the air to the point that the flowers don’t receive enough moisture.

Some may think it needlessly nitpicky to concentrate on preserving one flower or animal species when there are so many. But they all fit closely together in a web of life, each depending on the other — with us depending on many of them. Upsetting the balance could be devastating for agriculture, nature and human health and life.

Following Friday’s well-attended climate protests and the United Nations’ climate summit on Monday, this may be a good time to think about the impact we have on our planet and our responsibility as its current stewards.

Climate change is an extremely important and consequential issue, but it’s not the only one that affects our environment. Fortunately, many conscientious individuals and dedicated groups are concentrating their efforts on preservation and balanced land usage. They need our support to keep working.

Make sure you never miss our editorials, letters to the editor and columnists. We’ll deliver the Journal’s Opinion page straight to your inbox.

Load comments