More Than 600 Acres of New Gamelands in the Uwharries Thanks to The LandTrust!

The LandTrust is excited to announce that in 2014, thanks to your support and our efforts, the gamelands in the Uwharries gained two new key additions for your hiking, hunting, kayaking, and fishing enjoyment! This is a monumental accomplishment, as the transfer of these two properties together directly opens more than 600 acres of gorgeous land to the public!

Both of these tracts are strategically located adjacent to existing national forest land, and they possess unique views of the surrounding Uwharrie Mountains, high biodiversity, and unlimited recreational opportunities. “These are two tracts of land that should belong to the people of North Carolina,” Executive Director, Jason Walser, observes. “From the Native American archeological significance here that has yet to be fully explored, to the trophy deer, smallmouth bass, and gorgeous panoramic views, these are two landmark properties in our region that we have always known should be available for all to enjoy.”

The LandTrust was able to act quickly to secure these tracts with private donations and loans in 2006 and 2009. In the meantime, our staff worked diligently to write grants and work with our partners at the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to find the funds needed to fully pay off the debt on these tracts and transfer them to the state for inclusion in the gamelands system.

One of these tracts is our 310-acre Capel Property located at the confluence of the Uwharrie River and the Yadkin-Pee Dee River, with frontage also on Hidden Lake. NCWRC will not only make this tract open for hunting, but they have plans to develop a formal canoe and fishing access here as well by 2016. The development of this access is a continuation of our partnership with NCWRC on the Uwharrie River Blueway, with newly opened access locations upstream at Highway 109 on NCDOT-owned land, and at our Land Trust-owned Low Water Bridge Preserve. “This final stretch of the Uwharrie River has to be my favorite - hands-down,” says Associate Director, Crystal Cockman. “It was the first place I ever kayaked and had a bald eagle fly directly over my head. This year I caught my first Uwharrie River smallmouth bass. It won’t be my last. It is incredibly rewarding to have worked to make this stretch of river more easily accessible by all.”

The second property that became gamelands this year is our 290-acre Birkhead property. This tract provides the only eastern access to the Birkhead Wilderness area, and ties into the historic Camp 3 trail. This unique trail (scouted and blazed by Uwharrie Trail founder Joe Moffitt himself) takes you by several of the sites mentioned in his book, An Afternoon Hike Into the Past, including such mystical-sounding locations as Fern Valley and Stegosaurus Rocks.

Many partnerships and grants made the public accessibility of these properties possible, including private donations, grants from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the State Wildlife Grants Program, the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and the National Wild Turkey Federation. Only through your dedicated financial support of The LandTrust are we to make big things like this possible. Thanks as always for your support as we work not only to save, but also to enjoy the places we love in the Piedmont!

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