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Land Trusts and the Ecosystem Enhancement Program a historic partnership

2003-2005 PROGRESS REPORT

threatened land and waterways

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protecting North Carolina’s


January 15, 2004

contents 1 Introduction

The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee and The Nature Conservancy close on a real estate deal with Crescent Resources to preserve the 4,500-acre Needmore Tract along the Little Tennessee River, one of the most biologically important and threatened areas in North Carolina.

2 Why is the EEP important? North Carolina’s rich aquatic ecosystems need protection.

4 EEP and North Carolina Land Trusts: a unique solution This powerful partnership combines the strengths of each. January 23, 2004

6 EEP—the right program at the right time An increasingly urbanizing state needs the EEP partnership.

The Piedmont Land Conservancy protects more than 2,000 acres along headwater streams of the Mitchell River in Surry County, a major source of drinking water for the Triad.

8 Partnering for Success A dozen protection efforts . . . successes and on-going challenges. . .

21 The Years Ahead

January 7, 2005 The Sandhills Area Land Trust purchases more than 1,200 acres along Drowning Creek, including about 1,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forests.


introduction

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At left are three significant conservation purchases, in different parts of the state, by different conservation groups. Yet they share two common elements: Each protects a high-quality segment of a stream or river with intact wetlands and wildlife habitat, and each was aided by the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP), in conjunction with North Carolina’s land trust organizations. They are representative of similar purchases that have been made since 2003 when the EEP, the state’s highly successful initiative to restore, enhance and protect streams, wetlands and their natural functions, began to partner with local land trusts. The EEP program was created through the leadership of the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT), N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Since EEP was established, more than 60 land preservation transactions have been completed by the land trusts with the program’s funding, protecting more than 177 miles of high quality streams and 7,194 wetland acres. Another 87 projects are approved and in the pipeline. The partnership demonstrates that local, regional and national land trusts are a skilled and efficient force for wetland and stream protection. In fact, the land trusts have met EEP’s preservation goals far ahead of schedule. This booklet is a progress report on the first biennium of the Ecosystem Enhancement Program’s preservation partnership with North Carolina land trusts. It is also a demonstration of how this partnership is advancing four important state goals: ● Protecting the state’s streams, wetlands and water quality ● Promoting responsible growth by expediting necessary road construction and other economic development ● Combining the strengths of public agencies and private land trusts ● Providing public access to new recreational areas. 1


why is the EEP important?

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The aquatic ecosystems of North Carolina and the entire Southeast are among the most biologically diverse in the country. Thousands of species of algae, fish, crayfish, freshwater mussels and aquatic insects form long and varied food chains. Some of these species cluster on the stream bottom, others are adapted to the water column and still other plants and animals colonize the land adjacent to the stream. The EEP is an initiative that aims to restore, enhance, preserve and protect the ecosystem functions associated with North Carolina’s streams and wetlands. EEP is housed in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and most of the program’s funding for its preservation, restoration and enhancement projects is provided by the N.C. Department of Transportation. EEP joins the Clean Water Act and other federal and state initiatives created more than 30 years ago to reduce and mitigate the effects of development on rivers, wetlands and water quality.

The great blue heron inhabits both freshwater and saltwater wetlands.

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Mitigation is required if the construction of new roads destroys or damages wetlands, thus impairing their important natural functions. Under the Clean Water Act, such road construction can be permitted if these losses are mitigated or compensated for. Mitigation can be accomplished by creating a new wetland to replace one destroyed, restoring a damaged wetland or stream, or enhancing a stream or wetland by improving it. Mitigation also includes preserving an intact high-quality wetland or stream by buying the land or by negotiating with the

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landowner to create a conservation agreement that protects the land. By preserving intact wetlands and healthy streams, the EEP-land trust partnership enables both effective water-quality protection and necessary road construction.

THE CLEAN WATER ACT A NATURAL LANDSCAPE Wetlands and forested buffers help keep water clean for drinking water. Floodplains safely hold water following flood events. Wetlands and forested buffers cool and filter water that flows overland into rivers, maintaining viable conditions for fish and other aquatic species.

Among other provisions, the Clean Water Act regulates the discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States, and sets water-quality standards adequate to protect aquatic habitats and the public health. Under Sections 401 and 404 of the law, anyone proposing an activity that might alter an aquatic site, such as a wetland, must apply for permits from the N. C. Division of Water Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and must mitigate any losses in wetland or stream habitat. Such mitigation serves a public good by forcing many applicants to forego harmful activities in wetlands and other aquatic areas. The law’s mitigation requirement has also meant that many wetlands have been restored, enhanced or created, advancing the national goal of preventing wetlands loss.

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EEP and North Carolina Land Trusts:

a unique solution

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North Carolina is leading the nation in the use of preservation as an effective tool against damage to streams and wetlands. Wetland and stream restoration has a mixed record of success. Most wetlands experts believe that preserving intact natural systems is an important complement to restoring systems that have been degraded. That’s why EEP has collaborated with the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC), a private, non-profit umbrella organization representing the 23 local and regional land trusts in the state, and The Nature Conservancy, an international conservation organization. North Carolina land trusts (see back cover) entered into a three year partnership with EEP to find and proRESTORATION vs. tect high-quality sites for preservation. PRESERVATION EEP funds the sites’ protection by feeRestoration is a consersimple purchase or through purchase vation strategy to return a damaged stream or wetland to an approximation of its condition before it was disturbed.

Preservation is a conservation strategy to protect the undisturbed functions of an intact natural stream or wetland threatened by development through purchase or conservation agreement.

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of a conservation agreement (easement) with the landowner. EEP is also committed to the long-term monitoring and enforcement of the properties’ conservation values. North Carolina’s network of local land trusts has been invested in watershed preservation for more than 30 years. These non-profit organizations have been safeguarding stream banks and wetlands, farm and forest land, natural areas, historic structures and recreational areas throughout the state primarily by acquiring land or interest in land through conservation agreements. Marshes are among the most important wetland habitats for fish and wildlife.


Land trusts offer a unique blend of skills, experience and success that have benefitted EEP. ● Detailed conservation plans that identify and rank significant wetlands and streamside parcels along North Carolina’s most threatened streams. ● Long-term relationships with landowners in their local communities. Their volunteers and staff are trusted members of their communities. ● Experience in negotiating complex, voluntary land transactions that fully consider the landowner’s interests. ● Skillful and efficient fundraising, with experience in leveraging grants from federal and state agencies, funds from private individuals and donations from landowners themselves. ● Protection of a combined 770,000 acres in North Carolina.

PROTECTING A WATERSHED Lighterwood Farm, owned by Jesse Wimberley, is a good example of how EEP and North Carolina’s land trusts work together to protect watersheds. Located in West End, Moore County, the farm was once a thriving turpentining and tar production site. Lighterwood refers to the resin-rich wood from stumps of century-old longleaf pine trees that cover the grounds of the farm. In 1986, Wimberley inherited the land from his mother and pledged to revive the upland longleaf pine and restore the headwaters of a creek that drains into Drowning Creek. With the help of the Sandhills Area Land Trust, Wimberley is doing just that. He negotiated a conservation easement with SALT that protects his farm and land forever. SALT was able to purchase the easement thanks to money from EEP. Each year Wimberley hosts a number of tours and educational events for elementary and middle-school children. He plans to increase his environmental education activities centering on organic farm production and wetlands preservation.

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EEP–the right program

at the right time

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EEP has arrived at the right time. For several decades, North Carolina has been transforming from a predominantly rural state to an increasingly urban one. From 1982 to 2003, the state grew from a little over 6 million people to 8.4 million, and in the next 20 years it is expected to rise by 3 million. Moreover, the state has lost 2.8 million acres of woodlands and farmland since 1982, a rate of almost 350 acres a day.

Much of this land has been converted to highways, streets, parking lots and other hardened surfaces that channel polluted runoff directly to streams. In the process, wetlands have been altered or destroyed, and forested buffers adjacent to rivers have been cleared. The increased runoff has caused rivers to cut deeply into their channels, scour their banks and smother fish and mussel habitat with heavy sediment loads.

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AN ALTERED LANDSCAPE Without the natural filtering action of floodplains and wetlands, runoff from lawns and streets carries harmful pollutants (e.g. oil, pesticides and fertilizers) into rivers. Without the sheltering vegetation along the rivers, water temperatures in the rivers run higher and oxygen levels run lower, resulting in fish kills. Such environments are not only bad for aquatic organisms, but also for people. Pollution and flooding require expensive cleanups, the construction of floodcontrol reservoirs and increased water-treatment costs.

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Offsetting these effects by protecting important natural areas is one of the EEP-land trust partnership’s most important results. In less than two years, with the aid of EEP funding, land trusts have preserved more than 177 miles of high-quality streams, protected 7,194 acres of wetlands and riparian buffers, negotiated to protect another 158 miles of streams and 1,199 wetland acres that are approved and in the pipeline. Significantly, the partnership between state and federal agencies and

the conservation groups accomplishes many important conservation goals. ● Protection of wetland and stream functions. The ecological functioning of restored wetlands may not occur for years or decades, yet preserved high-quality wetlands deliver a fully functional ecosystem immediately. ● Protection of rare and endangered species. Rivers are critical habitats for many rare species. ● Protection of landscape-scale properties. The larger the property preserved, the greater its effects on surrounding ecosystems. ● Protection of natural lands for public use. Many of these lands offer North Carolinians additional opportunities to hike, fish, hunt, observe wildlife and enjoy the solitude and tranquility of the natural environment. ● Protection of scenic views. Landscapescale properties protected by EEP and land trusts remind passers-by of North Carolina’s natural beauty and diversity.

Lands and waterways protected by the EEP-land trust partnership include wetlands (above left), rare and endangered freshwater mussels (above right) and scenic views in the mountains (left).

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partnering for success

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The powerful partnership between local land trusts and the EEP has left its imprint on many of North Carolina’s most spectacular ecosystems—from the rich swamplands of the Roanoke River to the Piedmont’s bountiful rivers, from the blackwater streams of the Sandhills to the highlands of Linville Gorge. The partnership has accomplished a great deal in only a short time. It has laid the foundation for even

greater accomplishments to come. In the following pages, you will find just a few of the projects where EEP funding has helped protect outstanding examples of wetlands and streams, expedited necessary road construction and combined the strengths of public agencies and private conservation groups.

The land trust partnership with EEP is helping to safeguard the water quality of many North Carolina streams.

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DROWNING CREEK BEAVER DAM PINES

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Acquisition date: Jan. 7, 2005 Conservation Partners: EEP, Sandhills Area Land Trust (SALT) Owner and Manager: Dr. Presley Rankin

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You can easily get lost in this wild swamp forest that flanks the meandering course of Drowning Creek across the North Carolina coastal plain. In the floodplain wetlands adjoining the creek, old pond cypress elicits reverent attention, while in the upland areas, pine forests sigh in the breezes. At least seven state-listed rare species have been documented in Drowning Creek, including the sandhills chub, pine barrens tree frog, sarvis holly and bog spicebush.

MOORE COUNT Y

● Acres: 1,214

More than 6 miles of stream frontage along Drowning Creek and about 1,000 acres of wetlands along with their diverse species have been protected with this significant purchase, with funding provided by EEP. Much of the drinking water for Moore County comes from Drowning Creek. The Drowning Creek Corridor has long been a conservation target of several agencies and groups engaged in a landscape-scale effort to secure habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Drowning Creek Beaver Dam Pines is a critical link between two natural heritage areas of regional significance—the Upper Drowning Creek Swamp Forest Natural Area and the Camp MackallDrowning Creek Natural Area. The Sandhills Game Land adjoins the tract on two sides. 9


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GRANVILLE COUNT Y

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GUTHRIE FARM

● Acres: 233 Acquisition date: Dec. 29, 2004 Conservation Partners: EEP, Tar River Land Conservancy, USDA Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund and landowner donation Owners: Randall and Barbara Lee Guthrie The Upper Tar River and its tributaries teem with sixteen rare and endangered aquatic species, a number of them found nowhere else in the world. No wonder the Upper Tar has become one of the premier targets for conservation in North Carolina. Lifelong farmer Randall Guthrie wanted to do something that would protect the nationally significant streams on his farm, located in Granville County’s Gooch’s Mill Township at the confluence of Shelton Creek and the Tar River. He also wanted to keep his farm intact. Conservation agreements were designed to permanently protect these unique resources. The agreements restrict all but the recreational use of the land along the river and creek and require the owners to maintain these areas in their natural condition. The farmland agreement allows the Guthries to continue their farming operations and manage their timber outside the protected stream buffers. Tar River Land Conservancy has completed three protection plans to identify the most significant natural resources in the Upper Tar River basin. It has worked with EEP to prioritize these properties for conservation. So far, 250 landowners have been contacted about permanently protecting the properties. Forty-four properties representing 28 miles of stream and 5,000 acres have been preserved.

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LENS KNOB AND LITTLE MOUNTAIN

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Acquisition date: Jan. 23, 2004 Conservation Partners: Piedmont Land Conservancy, EEP, N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund Owner and Manager: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

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Thanks to EEP, anglers can still count on seeing a brown trout take a fly on the Mitchell River, one of the state’s best streams for trout fishing as well as for smallmouth bass. EEP funding enabled the purchase of Lens Knob and Little Mountain, two forested tracts in the Mitchell River watershed. The two properties account for nearly 9 miles of forested buffers adjoining tributaries of the Mitchell.

SURRY COUNT Y

● Acres: 2,152

Little Mountain is managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, ensuring that generations of fishermen, hunters, boaters and hikers will continue to enjoy the benefits of this highly scenic mountain tract. The beautiful forests will help safeguard the river’s excellent water quality. The Piedmont Land Conservancy, which helped put the purchase together, has been working on the Mitchell River since the late 1990s. In addition to these properties and the Saddle Mountain Wilderness Area, the conservancy has protected 10 other properties in the Mitchell River Watershed, including the 1,751-acre Mitchell River Game Land at Little Mountain. 11


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BURKE COUNT Y

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LINVILLE RIVER-WHITE CREEK

● Acres: 1,425 Acquisition date: Jan. 27, 2005 Conservation Partners: EEP, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, N.C. Natural Heritage Trust Fund Owner and Manager: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission This 1,430-acre property protects nearly 10 miles of streams and wildlife habitat! The tract features forested buffers flanking small, seasonal streams that run through the interior of the tract, and along the Linville River. If you canoed the Linville River, you’d pass the property for a mile before entering Lake James, a major source of drinking water for the region. This location gives the property a significant role in protecting regional water quality. Lake James is described as being the cleanest lake in the Catawba River Basin, and the state has designated the Linville as High Quality Waters. The tract has further regional significance because it is a link to the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, one of North Carolina’s most scenic mountain areas, and to tens of thousands of acres of the Pisgah National Forest. The tract provides a migration corridor and habitat for many wildlife species, including black bear, peregrine falcons and bald eagles, which nest just below the tract on the Linville arm of Lake James. The Linville River is also known for its biodiversity. It supports a number of species considered rare or threatened by the state, including two rare freshwater mussels and a rare mayfly.

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LITTLE TABLEROCK MOUNTAIN ● ● ●

Acquisition date: Jan. 23, 2004 Conservation Partners: EEP, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, private donor Owner and Manager: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission The Blue Ridge Parkway stretching from Bear Den Overlook to the orchard at Altapass offers a mile of spectacular views to tourists, especially in the fall as Jack Frost colors the leaves with a vibrant palette of crimsons and golds. Kettles of migrating hawks rise high on the warming currents of air. Much of that scene overlooks the steep slopes of Little Table Rock Mountain, where this 544-acre site lies. Yet it’s the forests’ ecological function that is especially noteworthy. EEP funds that purchased about 60 percent of this tract are helping to protect the forested buffers of several headwater streams on the property. Half the streams drain to tributaries of the North Toe River, which contains several rare aquatic species. One of these streams, Honeycutt Creek, is an important trout stream. Other headwater streams on the property drain to tributaries of the North Fork of the Catawba River.

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This property connects to other properties already protected by the Conservation Trust, and to a large tract currently in negotiation for future purchase. Together they form a protected block of habitat around the Parkway that will help sustain the region’s ecology and preserve its scenic views.

MITCHELL, MCDOWELL & AVERY COUNT IES

● Acres: 544

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WAKE COUNT Y

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MARK’S CREEK WETLANDS

● Acres: 31 Acquisition date: Jan. 4, 2005 Conservation Partners: EEP, Triangle Land Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Owner and Manager: Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Mallards and wood ducks explode from the open waters of a beaver pond as you explore this 31-acre tract along Mark’s Creek in Wake County. The beavers have claimed about 18 acres for their ponds, an important wetland complex in the Marks Creek floodplain. The rush- and cattail-covered beaver ponds lure many waterfowl and other wintering wildlife species, and they provide breeding habitat for amphibians and turtles. These wetlands also help filter out pollutants, which is of critical importance. Mark’s Creek flows in the area between Knightdale, Wendell and Clayton where construction of the U.S. 64 bypass is spurring development that threatens the creek and the cultural landscape of small farms. The beaver ponds help protect the creek’s water quality before it enters the Neuse River. This tract is the first acquisition in a public-private conservation effort aimed at preserving 7,500 acres of undeveloped land along Mark’s Creek. Scenic America named Mark’s Creek one of its 10 Last Chance Landscapes for 2002-03.

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NEEDMORE TRACT

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Acquisition date: Jan. 15, 2004 Conservation Partners: EEP, N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, N.C. Natural Heritage Trust Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, private donors Manager: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

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It’s hard to believe that this beautiful stretch of the Little Tennessee River was once slated to be submerged beneath the reservoir of a hydroelectric dam. Fortunately, EEP funding helped The Nature Conservancy and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee purchase 4,500 acres of the Needmore Tract, including 26 miles of spectacular river frontage.

SWAIN COUNT Y

● Acres: 4,500

Where it passes the Needmore Tract, the Little Tennessee is home to half the native freshwater fish species in North Carolina and the greatest diversity of freshwater mussels in the state. In fact, the Little Tennessee River through the Needmore Tract is the only major river in the Blue Ridge that still contains its full complement of original species. The level floodplains and steep forested slopes of the tract provide habitat for other species as well—black bear, grouse and wild turkey. Rural residents, local governments, sportsmen and conservationists united to conserve this extraordinary landscape, a heritage in which all North Carolinians can take pride. 15


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ASHE COUNT Y

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NEW RIVER HEIGHTS

● Acres: 110 Acquisition date: Aug. 27, 2004 Conservation Partners: EEP, National Committee for the New River Owner and Manager: New River State Park It’s not just the 125-acre New River Heights that’s so dazzling, but the entire National Scenic River section of the South Fork New River of which the Heights is an important part. Canoeists love this section of the river for its beauty, while anglers can try their hands at the smallmouth bass and birdwatchers can catch the flights of migrating birds in fall and spring. For many, it’s a recreational paradise. EEP funded the purchase of the entire tract, representing one and a half miles of stream with its intact floodplain and streamside buffers of mature oak-hickory forests, rhododendron, tulip poplar, shagbark hickory and other hardwood trees. It’s part of a larger forested area that stretches for more than 2 miles along one of the entrenched meanders of the South Fork New River. These forests help protect not only the state-endangered freshwater mussel that occurs here and that thrives only in clean water, but seven rare aquatic insect species. And they also help maintain the high quality of the New River’s water, designated a state Outstanding Resource Water. New River Heights’ location and scenic values made it highly desirable for residential and second-home development, only one reason why its protection is so important.

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ROANOKE RIVER (BALTIMORE AND THUNDERBOLT)

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Acquisition date: Oct. 28, 2004 Conservation Partners: EEP, The Nature Conservancy Owner and Manager: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

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A cypress-gum swamp is a mysterious place that fills some visitors with foreboding. Yet the deep swamps along the Cashie and Roanoke rivers—some of the most extensive swamplands remaining in North Carolina—are full of life, providing critical habitat and travel corridors to white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkeys, raccoons, opossums, rabbits and squirrels. High in the trees above are swarms of pileated woodpeckers, wood ducks, white-breasted nuthatches and barred owls.

BERTIE COUNT Y

● Acres: 747

The nearly 750 acres of the Baltimore and Thunderbolt tracts on the Cashie River represent an investment, paid for with EEP funds, in aquatic habitat for spawning herring, shad and striped bass. There’s plenty of other game fish to be found here, too, including redfin, pickerel, sunfish, crappie, catfish and largemouth bass. Both tracts are adjacent to land already protected by the North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, contributing to a corridor of more than 2,384 acres along the Cashie River. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has acquired the tracts from The Nature Conservancy and will manage them as part of the Roanoke River Game Land. 17


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DURHAM COUNT Y

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STEVENS PROPERTY

● Acres: 71 Acquisition date: Jan. 31, 2005 Conservation Partners: EEP, N.C. Natural Heritage Trust Fund, Eno River Association Owner and Manager: N.C. Botanical Garden The 71-acre Eno Stevens Tract in Durham County is relatively small, yet it compensates for its modest size with significant features. Indeed, before the tract was purchased with EEP support, the N.C. Plant Conservation Program had identified it as one of North Carolina’s top 50 protection targets. Why so valuable? The site contains diabase soil, which is associated with one of the rarest plant communities in the state, the Piedmont prairie. Only 300 meters away is Penny’s Bend, a Piedmont prairie over diabase soil where tall larkspur, prairie dock, blazing star (above) and other rare species sway in a breeze. Perhaps even more significant is its 300-foot vegetated buffer along the Eno River and a mature Piedmont swamp-forest dominated by oaks, tulip poplar, sycamore and buckeye. The protection of the Stevens tract will help secure wetlands and habitat for endangered species and safeguard continuous habitat along the Eno River from Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve to West Point on the Eno State Park.

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UWHARRIE RIVER BLUFF

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Acquisition date: June 9, 2005 Conservation Partners: EEP, LandTrust for Central North Carolina Owner and Manager: LandTrust for Central North Carolina Many millions of years ago, the Uwharrie Mountains soared almost as high as the Himalayas, but today the Uwharrie River winds through a softer landscape of 1,000-foot-high hills. Time may have eroded the landscape, but not the significance of the river corridor, nor the Uwharrie River Bluff that is an important part of the corridor.

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The 101-acre property has been identified as a significant natural heritage area by the state’s Natural Heritage Program. The Uwharrie River’s waters are particularly rich in freshwater mussels, with six species occurring throughout the area, as well as fish, crayfish and other aquatic species. EEP’s support in the purchase of Uwharrie River Bluffs was motivated by the presence of 20 acres of a mature floodplain forest along the river. Many of the trees exceed 20 inches in diameter at breast height. Without the conservation purchase, the site would have been auctioned and the trees probably cut.

MONTGOMERY COUNT Y

● Acres: 101

The site is part of a protected conservation corridor that is being assembled by the LandTrust for Central North Carolina that also contains the 1,200 acre Bingham tract and a 723-acre farm. 19


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PENDER COUNT Y

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WELLS TRACT

● Acres: 100 Acquisition date: Feb. 15, 2005 Conservation Partners: EEP, North Carolina Coastal Land Trust Owner and Manager: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Past the ghostly shadow of a baldcypress tree inside the Wells Tract, you may come across a stately great blue heron impaling a redbreast. Or see the splash of an alligator hurtling off a mudbank. Indeed, the 100-acre tract along the Northeast Cape Fear River is home to many wildlife species adapted to its cypress-gum swamp. Yet, the purchase of the Wells Tract was funded by EEP not only because of the swamp forest, but also because of its mile-long river frontage and its position across from two other recently protected natural areas—the 310-acre Henline Preserve and the 14,000-acre Bear Garden Tract, managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Together, these properties form a powerful bulwark helping to protect the nationally significant floodplain forests of the Northeast Cape Fear. Paddlers and anglers have celebrated the Northeast Cape Fear as one of eastern North Carolina’s most beautiful riverine landscapes. The Wells Tract is a critical part of the effort to protect this river corridor in one of the most rapidly developing parts of the state.

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the

Years Ahead

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North Carolina is unique in fostering conservation innovation. The EEP joins other creative efforts by the state to honor and protect its natural heritage, such as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Natural Heritage Trust Fund, the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. Since 1986, these four trust funds have helped protect 470,600 acres of significant natural communities, farmlands, wetlands and streams. These innovative programs have never been more important to North Carolina. They represent a commitment to preserve the state’s magnificent rivers, sounds, forests, mountains and farms for our children and grandchildren. Given the growth and development that are transforming the state, North Carolina must continue supporting programs like these. Without them, the state risks losing the very places that make it distinctive, watching air and water quality decline, and seeing critical wildlife habitat disappear. We congratulate the N.C. Department of Transportation, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their vision in creating the Ecosystem Enhancement Program and forging its historic partnership with land trusts. We urge them to continue this program, because land preservation is one of the most cost-effective ways to protect North Carolina’s rivers, wetlands and drinking water for future generations. EEP and North Carolina’s conservation groups are leading the way!

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EEP’S PRESERVATION PARTNERS Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust. 828-263-8776 or 336-359-2909. www.brrlt.org. Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. 828-697-5777. www.main.nc.us/cmlc. Catawba Lands Conservancy. 704-342-3330. www.catawbalands.org. Conservation Trust for North Carolina. 919-828-4199. www.ctnc.org. Davidson Lands Conservancy. (704) 892-1910. www.davidsonlands.org Eno River Association. 919-620-9099. www.enoriver.org. Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina. 828-437-9930. www.foothillsconservancy.org High Country Conservancy. 828-264-2511. www.highcountryconservancy.org. Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. 828.526-9938, ext. 25. LandTrust For Central North Carolina. 704-647-0302. www.landtrustcnc.org. Land Trust for the Little Tennessee. 828-524-2711. www.ltlt.org The Lumber River Conservancy. 910-738-5257. National Committee for the New River. 336-246-4871. www.ncnr.org. The Nature Conservancy. 919-403-8558. www.nature.org. Northeast New Hanover Conservancy. 910-686-0362. North Carolina Coastal Land Trust. 910-790-4524. www.coastallandtrust.org. North Carolina Rail-Trails. 919-542-0022. www.NCRail-Trails.org. CREDITS Produced by: Conservation Trust for North Carolina Text, editing, project management: Lawrence S. Earley Design: Kimberly K.C. Schott, Red Gate Design Photographs: Ken Taylor (cover, p. 2, 3, 4-5, 7 [top left and right], 11, 12, 17, 19); Bill Lea, p. 7 (bottom); Lawrence S. Earley, p. 9; Johnny Randall, p. 18; Tom Pender (p. 13, inside back cover); N.C. Land Trusts, all others Graphic p. 2-3, 6: courtesy of Wildlife in North Carolina Printed on recycled paper by Theo Davis Printing, Zebulon, N.C.

Pacolet Area Conservancy. 828-894-3018. www.pacolet.org. Piedmont Land Conservancy. 336-691-0088. www.piedmontland.org. Sandhills Area Land Trust. 910-695-4323. www.sandhillslandtrust.org Smith Island Land Trust. 910-457-4562. www.bhic.org A subsidiary of Bald Head Island Conservancy. Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. 828-2530095. www.appalachian.org. Tar River Land Conservancy. 919-496-5902. www.tarriver.org Triangle Greenways Council. 919-715-4191. www.trianglegreenways.org Triangle Land Conservancy. 919-833-3662. www.tlc-nc.org.


Land Trusts and EEP