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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

UNCP geographer updates ‘North Carolina Atlas’

UNC Pembroke geographer Dr. Tom Ross contributed an updated chapter on agriculture for the online version of the “North Carolina Atlas.” It is his second revision since the atlas was published in 2000.

Tom Ross“The online atlas is a marvelous tool for teachers, or anyone doing research on our state,” Dr. Ross said. “We could not afford to keep it current if we only had a print version.”

Dr. Ross said an update was needed this fall because agriculture in North Carolina is changing rapidly.

“In this revision, we emphasize the impact of the federal tobacco buy-out and floods in Western North Carolina,” he said. “Hurricanes this fall caused a lot of crop damage and a lot of soil was lost to erosion in the mountains.”

The tobacco allotment buy-out was approved by Congress on October 12, and the update was included in www.ncatlasrevisited.org just days later. Dr. Ross said he talked with state and federal farm agents and District Seven Congressman Mike McIntryre, who proposed the legislation.

“Congressman McIntyre’s office was very helpful,” Dr. Ross said. “The buy-out means that anybody can grow tobacco, but they might not be able to sell it.”

The buy-out will have a major impact on the region served by UNCP.

“It will give small operators a chance to get out of tobacco, and it gives bigger farmers the opportunity to invest in new types of farming,” Dr. Ross said.

Dr. Ross and the late UNCP geographer Dr. Robert Reiman, contributed sections on agriculture, forestry and mining to the “North Carolina Atlas: Portrait for a New Century.” Edited by Dr. Al Stuart and Dr. Douglass Orr Jr., the print version is 461 pages with 300 color maps and charts and 50 photographs.

A UNCP faculty member since 1969, Dr. Ross was named 2004 Educator of the Year by the North Carolina Geography Society. He has published numerous books including “American Indian of North Carolina,” and “A Cultural Geography of North American Indians,” in addition to atlases for Robeson, Richmond and Moore counties.

Dr. Ross is also a nationally recognized expert on Carolina bays, which are shallow depressions in the landscape of the Coastal Plains of the Southeastern U.S. His many travels in North Carolina also allowed Dr. Ross to do research for a chapter on restaurants to the travel guide, “North Carolina,” a Fodor’s Compass American Guide.

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