Funding for Forks of Little River Park Awarded – Partnership with Town of Star and The Land Trust for Central NC

The Town of Star will soon have a beautiful new passive park and important paddling and fishing access to the Little River thanks to a partnership between the Town of Star and The LandTrust for Central NC, and recently secured funding being provided by the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.

The Mayor of the Town of Star, Mary O’Brien and Land Trust Associate Director Crystal Cockman went to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) meeting in Raleigh on July 11th and at that meeting the grant for the Forks of Little River park was recommended for funding. This grant matches funds already awarded for half of the purchase of the property from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF). PARTF had 64 project requests and the Star project ended up tying for 5th in terms of funding priority, with the top 17 projects recommended by the Authority to be funded under proposed state budget appropriations.

This 30-acre property to be acquired by the Town of Star is a critical access to the Little River for paddlers and anglers alike.  Furthermore, it has beautiful mature hardwood forests, with large rock outcrops and mountain laurel and galax.  The natural communities throughout this property provide a mountainous feel uncommonly found in the Piedmont. It is a noteworthy natural area located at the confluence of the West Fork and the East Fork of the Little River on Okeewemee-Star Road. These streams are classified as Nationally Significant Aquatic Habitat by the NC Natural Heritage program, and eight species of rare or endangered mussels have been found in the river on this property. Rare plants including Amorpha schwerinii (Piedmont Indigo Bush) are found here, as well.

“This property is a real jewel in this region, both ecologically and aesthetically,” states Associate Director Crystal Cockman. “This is a truly gorgeous spot – perfect for a family picnic, where children can play on the rocks and in the river, and enjoy the beauty that this area has to offer. The Land Trust is so excited to partner with the town to protect this special place for all to enjoy.” The Town of Star and The Land Trust will work together to administer the grants and acquire the property, and once it is owned by the Town it will be open for hiking, fishing, picnicking, and as a canoe access point. The Land Trust, the Town and other partners hope to work together to develop parking and a more formal canoe access in the future as a second phase of the project.

The Land Trust worked with the Town to apply two years in a row for NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund monies for half the purchase price of the property, and these were awarded in December of 2013. The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund required dedicated matching funds before being eligible for their funding, and securing this CWMTF funding made that application possible. CWMTF dedicated $60,000 to the project for acquisition and transactional expenses, and PARTF awarded the remaining $47,500 for purchase of the site. The landowner, Kevin McFetters, is excited about this truly unique site becoming a passive park for the town, and granted The Land Trust a year-long option to purchase the site.

*For more information about The Land Trust for Central NC, please contact The Land Trust at 704-647-0302 or crystal@landtrustcnc.org, or visit their website at www.landtrustcnc.org.