For more than five years, the LandTrust has been working with the Bittinger family to ensure protection of their 370 acre farm along the Yadkin River just north of the City of Salisbury’s water intake. Thanks to a grant from the North Carolina Clean water Management Trust Fund, The LandTrust was able to purchase the farm this past winter to protect its nearly one mile riverfront buffer, its naturally significant bluffs, its mature hardwood forests, and about 80 acres of fertile hay fields.
This property jumped on the radar screen of The LandTrust in 1999 after its purchase of the 300 acre Catawba College Wildlife refuge property along the South Yadkin River. We quickly realized that there were several large tracts of undeveloped land in the immediate vicinity that also had remarkable wildlife resources. The Bittinger property, with its dense forests and river frontage, quickly became a top priority as we crafted what soon became a “Two Rivers Preserve” Strategic Conservation Plan. Conservations took place with the Bittinger Family, who had been incredible stewards of the property for the previous four decades. Dr. Isabelle Bittinger, who is a retired physician in Winston Salem, already knew that this corridor was special and agreed that it should be protected if possible. She and her daughters worked patiently and lovingly with The LandTrust to make sure that the bountiful wildlife and special natural areas of the property would forevermore be protected.
Jason Walser, Executive Director noted that this property is one of the premier outright acquisitions The LandTrust has ever made. “With extensive frontage along the Yadkin River just above Salisbury- Rowan water intake, this property needed to be protected in order to preserve the drinking water supply. It also sits adjacent to the Davis farm which was protected with a conservation easement last summer, and is bounded by only the other property that we hope to have protected in the not so distant future. Truly, this property represents just about everything The LandTrust is about – preservation of water quality, the incredible wildlife habitat, some working farm-land, and remarkable natural areas.”
Peter Hairston, Board President of The LandTrust and resident of Davie County added that “This property is in the heart of what is probably the most important natural area in our county. When combined with the other properties The LandTrust has helped protect in the immediate vicinity, it’s exciting to think that we may have more than 1000 acres of land managed exclusively for wildlife habitat and water quality. This Bitenger acquisition is a crown jewel in what I think will be one of the most important natural areas in all of Piedmont North Carolina.”
The LandTrust hopes to work with a variety of state and federal resource agencies to assist in the long term management of the Bitenger property for wildlife. In the interim, Catawba College Environment science students are already using the site for outdoor study along with their nearby 300 acre wildlife refuge.