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Adams 2006

Dr. Richard Adams has now completed his second conservation easement donation to The LandTrust. Dr. Adams recent conservation easement donation totaling 346 acres compliments the donation he made last year and brings the total size of protected property to 531 acres. However, Dr. Adams does not plan to stop his efforts there.

In all, Dr. Adams owns over 2,400 acres in northwestern Rowan County, with a portion spilling over into Iredell County. This impressive property contains nearly eleven miles of stream frontage, six of which are on the South Yadkin River. He plans to work with The LandTrust to protect the remaining acreage in the near future. Once completed, this will be the largest conservation easement held by The LandTrust. Each property that Dr. Adams has so graciously protected is distinctive, but the network of protected lands he is developing promises to provide an important large-scale habitat truly unique to the region.

Adams 2007

Following up on his second donation last year, Dr. Richard Adams has now completed his third conservation easement donation to The LandTrust! This most recent easement protects 300 acres, with portions of the property located in both Iredell and Rowan Counties.

Located off Cool Springs Road, a portion of this year’s donation possesses stream footage on the South Yadkin River, which has been identified as important for drinking water supplies, migratory wildlife, public recreation, and also for Native American history.

This most recent donation brings the total acreage Dr. Adams has protected to an amazing 831 acres, including a state significant natural heritage site, a Piedmont/Coastal Plain Heath Bluff identified as the South Yadkin River Heath Bluff in the Rowan County Natural Heritage Inventory. Dr. Adams hopes to donate conservation easements on even more of his wonderful properties in the future. These will compliment these previous donations and conserve a wonderful large-scale habitat for wildlife for generations to come.

Adams Farm 2012

For several decades, Dr. Richard Adams – a prominent orthopedic surgeon who practiced in Iredell County – has been buying land around his farm.  And almost as quickly as he buys it, he tries to ensure its permanent protection.

Dr. Adams has been featured in previous newsletters, as he has protected more than 900 acres so far through conservation easements. In 2012, he protected an additional 349 acres of farmland adjacent to the South Yadkin River and where Rowan and Iredell Counties converge. A good portion of this newly protected farmland was purchased within weeks of him putting conservation easements on them to ensure their long term protection. Although there are a couple of existing farm houses on these properties, no new homes will be allowed, and riparian buffers will be implemented to ensure long term protection of the water quality in the South Yadkin River.

Dr. Adams reminisces, “When I was growing up on a farm in Forsyth County, I could go out and walk or ride my bike for hours on end, exploring the countryside. My parents never worried about me, and I learned much in those formative years that would stay with me for the rest of my life. Today, that farm that I explored every nook and cranny of is filled with roads and houses and fences, and I wonder what the children growing up there learn about this earth. I want to do my part to make sure that the lands I own will serve to educate future generations about how nature works.”

Dr. Adams’ partner and land manager, Renee, has worked diligently to care for the land herself. She has advocated for and oversees the permanent protection of this land.

She stated at the most recent closing, “If we don’t ensure the protection of this land, who will? This land is really, really special. It takes a lot of work to keep it productive and accessible, but it is worth it. I hope that in 500 years, people will still be coming to this farm and be as inspired by it as I am every day.”

Alexander Long Farm

Another protection project in Rowan County involved the enlargement of the previously protected Alexander Long House in Spencer. Tommy Thomas and his wife, Dr. Barbara Thomas, owners of the historic home, purchased an additional 33 acres situated adjacent to their existing tract.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1792, the residence is believed to be the second oldest residential structure in Rowan County constructed in 1783 and the one time home to famed Salisbury Confederate Prison doctor, Alexander Long.

“We were very excited to learn that we could enlarge the protected site to a total of 68 acres. The more natural and open space we can permanently protect around the 18th century historic home the better,” said Tommy Thomas regarding their recent addition.

Along with extending the buffer around the home, the easement also protects significant wildlife habitat and serves as a safeguard for water quality, as the property is adjacent to Grant’s Creek near its confluence with the Yadkin River. The Alexander Long House, once the seat of a several hundred acre plantation is the second oldest house in the county, built in 1783.

Anna Lois Knox Property

This summer The LandTrust completed conservation of the 194‐acre Lois Knox property in western Rowan County. The farm is in an important conservation area for The LandTrust; several other landowners in the area have given conservation easements to The LandTrust, including almost 400 acres conserved by other members of the Knox family.

Transaction funding for this project was provided by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. Sadly, Lois Knox died as we were completing work on this easement, but her heirs, Ben Knox and wife Angela Knox, Robert Knox II, and wife Karen Knox, and Clark Knox, completed the easement donation according to their aunt’s wishes. We wish to thank everyone involved in this project, including the Knox family who graciously saw through what their Aunt Lois had begun ‐ permanent protection of the Historic Knox Farm in Rowan County.

Arnett Branch Old-growth Longleaf Pine Forest Preserved!

The LandTrust and the N.C. Zoo have officially purchased the largest remaining known stand of old-growth Piedmont longleaf pine in North Carolina, located in northern Montgomery County. Longleaf pine forests historically covered more than 90 million acres all along the southeastern United States, but have been reduced to only 3% of that acreage currently. This newly preserved tract is a truly one-of-a-kind forest, with some trees near 200 years old. Many of the trees here have been “boxed” and bear the old scars from the turpentine industry of the past when tar and resin from the trees was used on naval ships. Longleaf forests are a unique ecosystem home to a whole suite of endemic species.

On December 30th, the NC Zoo acquired half of the 116-acre property and The LandTrust purchased the other half. The Zoo obtained grant funds through the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund, which preserves natural areas and rare species across our state. The LandTrust obtained interest-free loan funding through the Norcross Wildlife Foundation to purchase the remaining acreage, and will continue to work with the Zoo to find grant funding to pay off the loan for eventual Zoo ownership of the entire tract. Funds were also provided by Fred and Alice Stanback to purchase a 2-year option in summer of 2010 with the family members who inherited the property, previously owned by the late Margaret Nichols. Ms. Nichols lived here until her death, and she loved the longleaf pines and would not let them be cut down. She was a naturalist herself, and knew the importance of longleaf forests for wildlife. A relative recounted that when she was young, a very old man told her he remembered a time when he could leave that property and ride all the way to Fayetteville and never be out from under the shade of a longleaf pine.

The Zoo will develop hiking trails and partner with local schools to develop an outdoor environmental education program here. Some neat critters who call this special place home are spotted salamanders, timber rattlesnake, and Kentucky warbler.  For more info you can visit our website at www.landtrustcnc.org or call us at 704-647-0302. Please contact us if you want to learn more about the project or to donate towards its completion.

 

Baldwin Forestland

     

     

605 acres Conservation Easement

The heirs of the Baldwin Forestland, siblings Barbara Baldwin Highfill and Al Baldwin, Jr. and their spouses, John Highfill and Erin Baldwin, permanently protected the historic 605-acre property in Richmond County in December of 2011. This impressive conservation property preserves a large stretch of stream frontage along Mountain Creek, a significant natural heritage area of regional significance due to the high quality water and rare aquatic species found there.

The project was actually two-part, as 90 acres of riparian area were protected through a purchased easement by the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, and the Highfills and Baldwins also donated a conservation easement on 515 acres on the uplands. In addition, the family plans to use the funds for the riparian area to purchase and preserve another piece of historical family land in Montgomery County.

This project is only our second conservation easement in Richmond County, and one of the largest conservation easement projects in the history of The LandTrust. “This project is an incredibly important one, partnering the protection of both working forest and water quality,” staff member Crystal Cockman says. “Mountain Creek is one of only a few streams in our area with this level of significance, both in terms of the water quality and species found here. In addition, this property is known to be home to other priority wildlife species including ovenbird, box turtles, and only the second-known occurrence of scarlet snake in our region.”

The project preserves mature hardwood forest riparian buffer along the stream, and also conserves pine plantations on the uplands that are being actively managed both for forestry and for wildlife with regular prescribed burns. A Wildlife Resources Commission put-in is located south on Mountain Creek in the beautiful Grassy Island area of Richmond County. Thanks to the Highfills and Baldwins for protecting such a special place.

Barber Farm

Utilizing the North Carolina Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, The LandTrust for Central North Carolina assisted in the permanent preservation of two active family farms, representing 335 acres, in the past several months.

The first project completed (which was briefly mentioned in our last newsletter) came through the dedication of sisters Rebecca Barber Floyd and Joyce Ann Barber who acted to protect their family’s legacy farm in Cleveland, North Carolina near Barber Junction. Protecting this 242 acre National Register Historic Landmark in Rowan County reached “High Priority” status the moment it was introduced to The LandTrust in 1997. The farm truly allows for a step back in time – a living museum demonstrative of agricultural landscapes and equipment from days gone by. The pastoral beauty of the farm is matched only by the striking splendor of the mid-19th century home-place lovingly restored by Rebecca and Joyce Ann.

Executive Director Jason Walser noted, “Protection of the Barber Farm is an incredible victory for us. Not only have we preserved an important piece of Rowan County history with this project, we have also protected prime agricultural soils, scenic vistas enjoyed from Highways 70 and 801, important wildlife habitat, and a significant riparian buffer along Witherow’s Creek. In a way this project encapsulates all that the LandTrust is about – farmland, natural area, cultural heritage, and water quality conservation.”

While the use of the North Carolina Farmland Preservation Trust Fund does pay the landowners are still donating a much greater value than what they are receiving. That is, the value of what they give up far exceeds that amount of money they receive – typically by 70-90%.

Another interesting aspect of this project is that The LandTrust was also able to utilize funds from the Federal Farmland Preservation Program of the USDA. With help from the local Natural Resource Conservation Service, we were able to put together the first successful federal funds into Piedmont North Carolina for farmland preservation. Since the new Farm Bill allocates hundreds of millions of dollars to Farmland Preservation, this successful project utilizing both state and federal sources bodies well for our ability to tap into these funds again in the future. In fact, we will be reporting in the next newsletter about receiving a huge allocation from the federal program for this year as well, although details were not available as of press time for this publication.

To date, The LandTrust has accomplished 5 projects employing the state and federal farmland preservation programs. Combined, these two programs have helped us ensure the permanent protection of 934 acres. Due to current budget constraints the immediate future of the state program is uncertain. However, the LantTrust is optimistic the outlook will eventually improve and we will continue to move forward in preserving the southern Piedmont’s finest family farms.

Barber Farm II

The LandTrust is pleased to announce its participation in the establishment of the “Joyce Ann Barber Heritage Forest and Wildlife Perserve” on the Historic Barber Farm in Western Rowan County. This 70 acre mature hardwood forest has been protected with a very restrictive conservation easement that will ensure that the forest remains in a natural state in perpetuity. Rebecca Barber Floyd and Joyce Ann Barber grew up on the historic Barber Farm in the Barber community, and they had previously donated a conservation easement ensuring that their property would not be developed or subdivided in any way. However, the easement did permit commercial forestry operations. Joyce Ann and Rebecca decided they did not want the dense forest to ever be harvested.

When Joyce Ann Barber fell ill in late 2012, Rebecca Barber Floyd decided to move forward with protecting the forest in honor of her sister. Rebecca recounts, “Joyce Ann loved this farm so much, and she loved animals. She wanted to ensure that not only the farm, but also the forest, would continue to exist for future generations to get the same pleasure out of it that she had experienced.” Charles Floyd, husband of Rebecca and brother-in-law of Joyce Ann, noted “While the forest is really beautiful today, in 100 years, it will really be something unique in the state. I am really proud of Becky for her vision in making this commitment.”

Barry McSwain Family Farm

The rolling hills of pasture and cropland might well be the most defining characteristic of Stanly County in the minds of LandTrust supporters. Thanks to Barry and Angela McSwain, 320 acres of this fabulous farming character is permanently protected by a conservation easement.

This property epitomizes the popular phrase of “No Farms, No Food.” With a rotation including corn and soybeans, this property is a remaining part of North Carolina’s breadbasket. Managing a farm requires a great deal of skill and experience, particularly when faced with unexpected weather conditions such as this year’s drought. As many acres of farmland are lost each year in North Carolina, few realize the true importance of and work that goes into keeping our state’s farms viable and in production. For this we should all be appreciative to our farmers, particularly those as dedicated as the McSwains.

The donation of this easement marks the largest individual property under conservation easement in Stanly County, and one of the largest easements in The LandTrust’s history.

Beallgray Farm

124 acres Conservation Easement

Like their great-grandfather Dr. James Franklin Beall,* Jim Beall Graham and his brother, Charles Graham, have taken a heroic step to insure their legacy family farm in Davidson County stays intact. In 1872, it was Dr. Beall saving the farm from forced sale at an auction on the Lexington Courthouse steps. One hundred thirty-one years later, it was Jim and Charles signing a conservation easement halting the otherwise inevitable path of development along the I-85 corridor.

Historically known as “Beallmont Farm,” the property rests just east of the interstate along Belmont Road in Linwood, North Carolina. The sprawling farm, which in total claims well over 500 acres, has been in the same family since 1763. It was at that time that King George III of England, acting through Lord Granville, granted the land to Jim and Charles’ forefathers. And, despite the numerous family farm owners that have held other jobs along the way (including state legislators, county commissioners, educators, and physicians), Jim and Charles are now the sixth generation to perpetuate agricultural practices on their land.

The farming practices utilized include all the latest innovations in sustainable conservation agriculture and federally recommended best management practices. They include never-till crop production, riparian buffers, field stripping, rotational grazing and cropping, and controlled chemical application. Additionally, great capital expenditures have been made to outfit the farm with modern agricultural infrastructure, from renovated dairy machinery to three new silos.

Another structure existing on the farm is the historic early 19th century Beallmont homeplace, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in July, 1984. The goal of the Graham Family is to complete the farm’s preservation using a phased approach. This first phase comprised 124 acres situated on the north side of Belmont Road.

Clearly this leg of the project was made possible only through the conservation ethic of the Graham Family. However, both the North Carolina and U.S. Departments of Agriculture played an important role in aiding the Graham Family in fulfilling their conservation goals. Programs funded by the N.C. Farmland Preservation Trust Fund and the National Resources Conservation Service assisted in partially mitigating the financial disadvantage incurred by restricting the farm from future residential or commercial development.

*Dr. James Franklin Beall was a medical doctor for the Confederacy. He was a ranking officer for the North Carolina 21st Division, and served in several celebrated Civil War battles, including tending to the dying Lt. General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson at Chancellorsville (May 2, 1863).

Bevan Property

50 acres Conservation Easement

If the name Ricky Bevan sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. He is one of the three partners who owned the King Mountain Property, purchased by The LandTrust in April of this year, and was truly instrumental in seeing that important property protected. The King Mountain Property was a crucial acquisition, as it provides a critical link in the Uwharrie Trail, possesses natural heritage elements including the federally endangered Schweinitz’s sunflower, and also houses a tributary within the Barnes Creek outstanding resource watershed.

After Ricky sold his interest in King Mountain, he took the money and bought a tract beside the property where he lives in the Trinity area of Randolph County, and knew immediately what he wanted to do with it – preserve it. This year’s donation of 50 acres is actually adjacent to this newly purchased tract, and has three tributaries to the Uwharrie River and hardwood forests. Ricky and his wife, Kay, plan to donate an easement on the newly acquired portion next year, and include with it about thirty acres adjacent to his residence, which has a beautiful rocky stream and pond on it. In total, they will have protected over 130 acres.

A quick drive around this area reveals a beautiful landscape of Uwharrie Mountains. In the fall the reds, oranges and yellows brighten the landscape, with rolling hills around every bend in the road. But the area’s close proximity to High Point and Winston-Salem threaten this gorgeous landscape, as this area of Trinity is facing increasing development pressures. But there are a few landowners here who are working hard to keep it beautiful. Ricky’s property is near the protected John Holton Farm, 244 acres with a historic home, forests and fields. Other landowners and farmers in the area have also expressed interest in conservation easements.

Bevan Property

 If the name Ricky Bevan sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. He is one of the three partners who owned the King Mountain Property, purchased by The LandTrust in April of this year, and was truly instrumental in seeing that important property protected. The King Mountain Property was a crucial acquisition, as it provides a critical link in the Uwharrie Trail, possesses natural heritage elements including the federally endangered Schweinitz’s sunflower, and also houses a tributary within the Barnes Creek outstanding resource watershed.

After Ricky sold his interest in King Mountain, he took the money and bought a tract beside the property where he lives in the Trinity area of Randolph County, and knew immediately what he wanted to do with it – preserve it. This year’s donation of 50 acres is actually adjacent to this newly purchased tract, and has three tributaries to the Uwharrie River and hardwood forests. Ricky and his wife, Kay, plan to donate an easement on the newly acquired portion next year, and include with it about thirty acres adjacent to his residence, which has a beautiful rocky stream and pond on it. In total, they will have protected over 130 acres.

A quick drive around this area reveals a beautiful landscape of Uwharrie Mountains. In the fall the reds, oranges and yellows brighten the landscape, with rolling hills around every bend in the road. But the area’s close proximity to High Point and Winston-Salem threaten this gorgeous landscape, as this area of Trinity is facing increasing development pressures. But there are a few landowners here who are working hard to keep it beautiful. Ricky’s property is near the protected John Holton Farm, 244 acres with a historic home, forests and fields. Other landowners and farmers in the area have also expressed interest in conservation easements.

Bill & Gwendolyn Webb Property

The LandTrust is proud to announce the protection of the Webb Farm in western Rowan County. This 131 acre property sits alongside Third Creek, and houses significant wildlife habitat and historic buildings. The owners of the property, Dr. William and Gwen Webb of Salisbury, donated an easement on the farm preventing all additional residential development.

The Webb family worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NC Wildlife Resources Commission to create a model wildlife habitat property. With a mix of cropland, wetlands, creek frontage, hardwood forests, and a large pond, the site is a destination for a diversity of wildlife. Dr. Webb notes “We have put a lot of time and effort creating something we are very proud of. It is a place where our whole family loves to spend time together in the country. We wanted to make sure that the farm continues to be respected and enjoyed for future generations to come.”

Executive Director Jason Walser observed that every aspect of the farm has been lovingly restored or improved. From the old cabin the Webb’s restored, to the barns and outbuildings, to the floodplain impoundment, they have worked diligently to make the farm a showplace. They also share the farm with children from Rowan County hosting wildlife hikes and school outings to introduce them to the wonderment of nature and farming. The citizens and wildlife of Rowan County will indeed benefit from the conservation of this meticulously cared for farm for a  long time to come.

Bill Webb Farm

As you drive down interstate 73-74 and cross into Richmond County, it’s almost like you’ve entered a different world. Transitioning from the Uwharries, you’re leaving the rugged terrain of granite outcrops and rocky bedded streams, into a world of flat lands, sandhills, fox squirrels, pygmy rattlesnakes, and wiregrass. The land of the longleaf pine. This is truly a portion of our region unlike the rest, unique and beautiful. And now thanks to Bill Webb, 115 acres of this picturesque setting is permanently protected by conservation easement. In fact, the entire Webb Farm, which encompasses more than a thousand acres, is situated directly on this transition area, and possesses both Uwharrie type ecosystems, with mountain-like streams, and sandhills ecotones, with longleaf pine and flat lands.

Bill Webb, an attorney in Rockingham, was raised in a hunting tradition, and has worked hard to manage his historic family farm as a hunting preserve. In addition to restoring longleaf pines, he actively manages for quail habitat with prescribed burns. Not surprisingly, his excellent wildlife management efforts garnered him the title of WRC Small Game Conservationist of the Year in 2004. The Webb Farm has been featured in Business North Carolina, the Upland Gazette, and the Progressive Farmer, which states that “Webb has worked diligently on his wildlife habitat, and it’s paying off for him.” The hunting here has been featured on ESPN and OLN. This easement protects the current uses of the property and restricts development, allowing no home sites. The property has a beautiful hunting lodge on an adjacent tract.

“As a wildlife conservationist and habitat manager, Bill Webb is a great model and leader in conservation efforts in this area,” says Crystal Cockman, Uwharrie Conservation Specialist with The LandTrust. “The LandTrust is very excited to have closed its first easement in Richmond County, and couldn’t have asked for a better landowner to work with or a more ideal project. From the conversion of a tobacco farm into a recreation based hunting preserve, to the restored longleaf and excellent management practices, this easement has everything you could ask for in a project.” This easement is a wonderful example sure to open doors to more conservation here in the future.

Bingham Lands

Spend a few minutes at the Low Water Bridge in Montgomery County and you’ll likely feel as though you just stepped back in time. The clear flowing Uwharrie River waters run inches beneath the bridge; towering oaks and sycamores line the banks, while nearby otters dive in search of their favorite foods. Excluding the bridge, the scene probably looks much as it has for hundreds of years. Yet, the most impressive aspect is the complete peacefulness experienced while taking in the forested scenery and listening to the waters rush by below. Add in the local history and appreciation of the site and you have just the type of spot that The LandTrust prides itself on protecting - the places you love!

The LandTrust is very pleased to announce the acquisition of the Bingham Lands, a 1,160 acre tract of forestland surrounding the Low Water Bridge. This marks the largest single acquisition in our eleven year history. It also greatly advances our work in the Uwharrie Mountain region and along the Uwharrie River itself. “This project is a great achievement for our organization,” says Kevin Redding, Associate Director. “It protects a tremendous forest, maintains a recreational resource for the public and will hopefully springboard additional conservation in the Uwharries.”

In the summer of 2005, a Uwharrie River Corridor Plan was completed by then Duke University Stanback Intern and now full-time Uwharrie Conservation Specialist Crystal Cockman. The plan looked at river frontage, buffer quality, rare plants and animals and other factors to identify those properties with the highest conservation values. In the end the Bingham Lands were, by far, the highest conservation priority along the Uwharrie River. The site contains nearly five miles of river frontage, another 32,000 feet of crystal clear tributaries, mature hardwood buffers and a significant occurrence of white pines, all while linking together four isolated parcels of the Uwharrie National Forest. Crystal returned to The LandTrust staff just in time to see the culmination of efforts to protect this spectacular property. “Although we believed the property as special to begin with, to see it rank as the single most important piece of land in this corridor and then to return to see it protected is truly an amazing and unique experience,” she states.

The Bingham Lands provide the backdrop for some of Piedmont North Carolina’s best paddling stretches. A popular local launching site, Low Water Bridge has provided access for several generations of canoers, kayakers and fishermen. The stretch of Uwharrie River downstream winds through a combination of Uwharrie National Forest and private lands, yet not one house can be seen from the water. Cross under Highway 109 and continue downstream and you’ll join the Yadkin River just across from Morrow Mountain State Park, where the two converge to form the Pee Dee River.

Funding for this project was made possible though the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP) and contributions from Bill and Nancy Stanback, and Fred and Alice Stanback. The LandTrust would also like to thank the prior owners of their property: Max and Ruth Bingham, Thad and Mary Bingham, and Jack and Peggy Bingham Sparks. As Executive Director Jason Walser affirms, “this tremendous conservation achievement could not have happened without the patience, commitment and generosity of all these individuals.”

Bingham Lands Addition

The southernmost portion of the Bingham Lands, an additional 126 acres, was purchased this spring. With the addition of this tract, this now brings the total acreage of this LandTrust owned property to1,288 acres. This property is bordered to the north by another parcel of Bingham Lands, and to the south is an Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP) easement on another 18 acres of riparian buffer on the Uwharrie River.

This new addition is listed as a Significant Natural Heritage site in the Montgomery County Natural Heritage Inventory as a result of the high quality hardwood forest buffer it provides for the Uwharrie River. The Uwharrie River is classified as Nationally Significant Aquatic Habitat. Two other streams, Horsepen Creek and another tributary, also join the Uwharrie in the northern section of this property.

In addition to being a huge contiguous block of habitat for large-range wildlife, the Bingham Lands also hosts a native stand of white pines, miles of river frontage, and are home to a large variety of flora and fauna, including numerous rare and endangered mussels. With the addition of this beautiful tract, the Bingham Lands are truly a unique conservation success story. In this area, for recreation, wildlife habitat, and natural areas protection, there simply is not another property like it.

 

Birkhead Property

The LandTrust has always prided itself on working solely with willing landowners. These landowners come to us with a desire to see their land protected against future development. However, in the case of one expansive tract of pristine forestland in Randolph County, it was actually the developer, with bulldozers on site, who offered The LandTrust a last minute opportunity to purchase the highly threatened property. As illustrated by the map, this site was an exciting opportunity to protect 290 acres (affectionately called the “Birkhead Property”) of forests and streams adjacent to the Birkhead Wilderness Area.

Tucked away in southwestern Randolph County, the Birkhead Wilderness Area lies just beyond the horizon of the Piedmont’s major cities and highways. This obscurity has allowed the region to maintain its rural roots, which helps provide the perfect backdrop for the Birkheads. As the only designated Wilderness Area within the Uwharrie National Forest, the Birkheads are free of motorized vehicles and other modern niceties. Its nearly 6,000 acres are intended to be a reprieve from traffic, cell phones and all the other headaches brought about by everyday life. Primitive hiking trails allow visitors to trek many miles, interrupted only by a squirrel scampering in the leaves or birds chattering in the forest canopy.

The rolling Uwharrie Mountain landscape houses a wealth of farms and forests. These rural conditions combine to create some of North Carolina’s cleanest and most aquatically significant streams. Near the top of the list is the West Fork of the Little River, a recipient of the Nationally Significant Aquatic Habitat designation due to the presence of six species of rare freshwater mussel. The Birkhead Property houses over 9,000 feet of Little River tributaries that originate either on the site or within the Birkhead Wilderness Area. Had these small streams been carved up by roads, culverts and houses, the negative impact on downstream water quality would have been drastic.

Additionally, the Birkhead Property is home to many plants and animals that rely upon mature hardwood forests for their survival. Plants like jacks-in-the-pulpit, cinnamon and royal ferns, and wild blueberries welcome the shady, moist environment. The same conditions are also conducive to habitat for the four-toed salamander, a rare amphibian found in North Carolina. Other species like this box turtle have also found a home on the property.

The LandTrust would like to thank the Conservation Trust for North Carolina for providing the necessary financing for this project. Without their involvement, we would not be able to celebrate this tremendous conservation achievement. Thanks to CTNC’s assistance, we can now take pride in the fact that 290 acres that were to be paved over by year’s end are now helping to maintain the peaceful serenity of the Birkhead Wilderness Area.

Bishop Buffer

80.55 acres EEP Easement

The Bishop Buffer in Anson County is an Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP) easement on Palmetto Branch and Canal Branch. The 80.55 acre easement protects the riparian buffer on 7,606 feet of stream footage along Canal Branch.

Bishop-Watkins Farm

“Bob-white…bob-whiiite…bob-whiiitee!” Once a commonly encountered sound in North Carolina, the call of the bobwhite quail is so close to its namesake it’s not easily mistaken. These once plentiful birds have been in serious decline and have largely disappeared from most areas. Spooking up a covey of quail will challenge the austerity of any man. Flushing all at once, these birds take off en masse with loud flapping and flailing – an experience in the field that you won’t soon forget – and one that staff member Crystal Cockman had just minutes after setting foot on John Bishop’s farm.

John has already protected nearly 800 acres with The LandTrust, and this year added another 159 acres that adjoins the rest of the property to the north. This gorgeous rolling Anson County farmland is located at the confluence of the Rocky and the Pee Dee Rivers. This project was made possible by conservation funding from the Federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program and the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. Additionally, transactional costs were provided by The Conservation Trust for North Carolina from their Farmland Forever Fund grant program.

John’s farm is not only beautiful and expansive; he also manages it impeccably for wildlife. Frequent prescribed burns and large thinnings of pine plantation provide open sunlight and provide the conditions necessary to create a diverse understory for species like quail, rabbit, turkey, and deer. His excellent management was recognized when he was awarded the 2009 Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. If more landowners manage their own farms in a manner similar to John, bobwhite quail may one day be common again along the Rocky River.

Brown Farm

2001’s largest protected tract of land came through the generosity and concern of the family of Charles Brown of Rowan County. A telling of the Brown Family story reveals both a keen awareness of the necessity for conservation as well as a heart-warming story of a father’s dying wish.

During the year 2000 hunting season, Charles Brown III and his brother Arthur Brown made a commitment to one another that their family farm near Cleveland, NC would remain in its current natural and undeveloped state for generations to come. Regrettably, the two brothers would not have an opportunity to act upon their wishes together for Charles would meet his untimely passing just a couple of months later.

This past summer, in an effort to fulfill their father’s wish, Thomas Brown and Christina Snipes, in collaboration with their Uncle Arthur, have accomplished that which Charles could not. The Brown Family placed a conservation easement on their 250 acre family farm in Western Rowan County. This easement will insure the protection of their beautiful farmland and natural habitat along Third Creek.

The property protected by the Brown Family is distinguished by rolling hills, large pastures, an extended forest, scenic bluffs, and a stand out of Young’s Mountain. It also boasts significant frontage along third Creek, a major tributary of the South Yadkin. Andy Abramson, Director of Land Protection with LandTrust for Central NC noted, “the Brown’s donation to conservation is quite remarkable. Not only have they eliminated a tremendous tract of land from developmental consideration, but they have also acted as a wonderful role model for their neighbors.” With the Browns as the catalyst, two other landowners (including family members) in the immediate vicinity are considering making the same commitments on their land. If these landowners follow suit as expected, it will result in almost 350 acres receiving permanent protection, which would constitute the largest permanently protected tract in western Rowan County.

Bryant Property

Ron and Nancy Bryant take their environmental commitment very seriously. They serve in numerous environmental organizations. They attend events to support environmental causes and are outspoken proponents of land and water conservation in the region. Now, through a conservation easement donation on their southern Stanly County farm, the Bryants have put their land where their mouth is.

The Bryant’s 169.7 acre property consists of productive agricultural fields, upland mixed hardwood forests, beaver swamps, and bottomland hardwoods along nearly 2/3 of a mile on the Pee Dee River. As you travel down the winding paths to the river, you’re certain to spot some interesting flora and fauna along the way. The first stop by a creek reveals monarch caterpillars, spotted bee balm, and tadpoles. In the forest, a yellow-billed cuckoo sings from a treetop, and fruits dangle from a nearby paw paw. One massive beaver swamp is flooded with American lotus, the huge flowers overwhelming the pond on which they float. The best is last, though, as you settle down on the river banks, you’re almost guaranteed an eagle will soar by majestically, flapping his wings to the tune of the lapping water.

That bird may even be one of the namesakes of Three Eagles Preserve. After much searching, Ron and Nancy knew they’d found their home when they peered from the banks across the mighty Pee Dee and saw first one eagle fly  downstream, then another upstream, and lastly one dive – marking the sign of the cross. Ron and Nancy have dedicated a small room adjunct adjunct from their house as a sanctuary for Lutheran ministers to take sabbatical.

This house is an energy efficient roundhouse. Its shape is more aerodynamic which prevents drafting, provides less wall space for heated or cooled air to escape through, and also takes less lumber to build. The Bryants have photovoltaic panels for solar power that they eventually hope will run the whole house, and a highly efficient HVAC unit, as well.

“It’s a real pleasure to work with landowners with their conservation ethic and who are so excited about land and wildlife,” says Uwharrie Conservation Specialist Crystal Cockman. Worlds apart from their previous existence in the bustling metropolis of Charlotte, with their beautiful piece of land and their environmentally conscious housing and lifestyle choices, Ron and Nancy have now taken the finally step to protect their property for perpetuity. Now the rolling agricultural fields, mature forests, and wetland areas will remain a safe haven for beaver, heron, eagles and more for generations to come.

Capel Property

A critical Uwharrie conservation tract in Montgomery County has been protected by The LandTrust. The LandTrust recently purchased 245 acres of a larger 308 acre tract which has long been considered one of the most important unprotected large parcels in the Uwharrie National Forest and Morrow Mountain State Park area. With the closing, we also received a three year option to purchase the remaining 63 acres, which fronts on Lake Tillery directly across from Morrow Mountain State Park. The LandTrust is working with the national conservation group “Trust for Public Land” (TPL) to get the property into public ownership and management.

The tract, formerly owned by the Capel Rug Company in Troy, is located at the convergence of the Uwharrie River and Dutchman’s Creek, adjacent to the confluence of the Uwharrie River and Lake Tillery. It is at this point where the “Yadkin River” becomes the “Pee Dee River.” The recently purchased parcel is located directly across from the boat launch in Morrow Mountain State Park, and is prominently visible from many hiking trails within the park. The land to be protected features unique natural rock formations, a rare and scenic piedmont waterfall, scenic vistas of the Uwharrie Mountains and Morrow Mountain State Park, and access to both Lake Tillery and the Uwharrie River. There are also significant archaeological resources on this property which will be studied and protected.

“We are extremely proud and excited to announce the conservation of this tract, long considered one of the most important land conservation opportunities in the region,” says Jason Walser, executive director. “Our long-term goal is to see this property opened to the public as an expansion of Morrow Mountain State Park or perhaps an expansion of the Uwharrie National Forest. For many years, we have been working to make the Uwharrie National Forest and the Uwharrie River more accessible to the public, and this parcel is critical in terms of enhancing paddling and fishing opportunities on the Uwharrie River. It also represents the only opportunity to tie the 25 mile *Uwharrie Trail into Lake Tillery, as well as Falls and Badin Reservoirs. Furthermore, this property is the key to connecting the National Forest to the State Park, which is critical to the long term goal of promoting this region as North Carolina’s Central Park. The public recreational opportunities for this parcel truly cannot be overstated.”

Walser says the tract was acquired with major assistance from Fred and Alice Stanback. Fundraising for the second phase of the property is just beginning, and donations from the public are encouraged.

Catawba College Ecological Preserve Expansion

As a boy, LandTrust Board Member John Wear, Jr. enjoyed the wild & rugged country along the South Yadkin River. It was here that Dr. Wear, now Director of the Catawba College Center for the Environment, discovered his passion for the outdoors, from camping out on a bluff overlooking the South Yadkin, to floating down the river face-down in a canoe to observe wildlife up close. This love of nature eventually led Dr. Wear to devote his life to protecting the environment and teaching others to do the same.

Thanks to a $500,000 grant from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, this property will now be preserved as at the Catawba College South Yadkin River Wildlife Refuge. With matching funds from Fred & Alice Stanback, the Salisbury Community Foundation, the Cannon Foundation, the Proctor Foundation, and ongoing fundraising efforts, the property was purchased in December from Mr. Joe Stirewalt, owner of Piedmont Hardwood Lumber Co. Located along a tremendous bend of the South Yadkin River, the refuge will protect over 1.5 miles of river frontage, part of the Second Creek Wetlands (identified by Dr. Mike Baranski in his Natural Areas Inventory of Rowan County), and  nearly 300 acres of significant wildlife habitat. Equally important will be the use of the property by Catawba College’s Center for the Environment for the teaching of wildlife management and related topics such as ornithology, botany and ecology.

It seems only fitting that the place that inspired John Wear as a child will now be an integral part of the Catawba College Center for the Environment, a place that he and others have worked so hard to establish as a model for environmental education.

The LandTrust must raise additional funds to cover the total costs of the land purchase, which will be included as part of a larger campaign to finance the continued conservation efforts of The LandTrust. You can help us protect this important regional asset. Please send your tax-deductible gift to The LandTrust for Central North Carolina, PO Box 4284, Salisbury, NC 28145-4284.

Clarke Creek Rookery

34 acres Fee Title Ownership

The 34 acre Clarke Creek Rookery in Cabarrus County was protected through fee simple acquisition in 1999. The property provides waterfowl habitat and urban open space area, in addition to 1000 feet of streamfootage on Clarke Creek.

Crowther Farm

On a brisk fall day, Milton Crowther guides me on a tour around his property. After making our way through a dense bottomland forest with 100 year old oaks and sycamores reaching the clouds, we head to a farm fields.”These here are some of the finest tomatoes you’ll find in the county,” he says.”Since we’re so close to the water here, we have never been affected by the drought- a bumper crop year after year.” We move on to a sea of green and yellow.”Here, take some of these zucchini and squash with you. Oh there’s nothing like fresh picked vegetables.” Loaded up with more Vegetables than my wife Meredith (a vegetarian) and I will ever be able to eat, we head back to the house to chat.

In 1955, the New England native relocated to Salisbury to work as a chemical Engineer for proctor Chemical Company. With a keen interest in birds and wildlife, and a yearning to be surrounded by nature, the chemist and his wife Louise were drawn to a lush forest of 215 acres just ten minutes from down- town Salisbury. Another unique characteristic of the property that drew the Crothers to the site was the 1.5 miles of frontage along the South Yadkin River.

This feature is also what first caught the attention of The Land Trust. With our ongoing effort to promote water quality in this region, the densely forested river shoreline is extremely significant, especially in light of the fact that the Salisbury pump station, that supplies drinking water to much of Rowan County, lies adjacent. But the site is also ecologically significant for the functioning wetlands it is home to, as well as the locally significant “Pickler’s Bluff” (as identified by Dr. Michael Baranski in his natural area inventory of Rowan County.)

Another key factor that attracted the interest of The Land Trust to the property was its proximity to another permanently protected site on the river. The Crowther tract is situated just two small tracts to the south of the 300 acre South Yadkin Refuge purchased by The Land Trust in 1999. These two protected tracts will guarantee a 3.5 mile nearly continuous buffer along the South Yadkin River. And not only does this property represent the end of residential encroachment on the South Yadkin River at the water pump station, but the impressive hardwood forest hosts a unique variety of wildlife, game, and migratory and native waterfowl. In fact Milton, an avid birder, also participated in the inaugural turkey production program in the 1980s and 1990s which ultimately saw the release of countless turkeys into the wild. Today, Milton’s birds are known to inhibit many tracts in Rowan, Davie, and Davidson counties. And if you visit the Crowther Farm today, you’ll still see an eclectic collection of jungle fowl, Toulouse geese, multiple species of pheasant (Japanese Green, Silver, and Elliot), wood duck, peacocks, and numerous dove species.

Back at the house Milton says,” I’ve seen what’s gone on around us in some places and I just don’t want that to happen here. It’s too beautiful.” Speaking of the clear cut forests and unsightly development that has sprung up nearby, Milton and Louise want assurances that their land…their home, will be preserved for future generations.

These considerations lead the Crowthers to graciously sell the property to The Land Trust, so as to effectively extend the boundaries of the South Yadkin Refuge to 515 acres.

The Crowther’s steadfast commitment to conservation and preservation is matched only by the immense ecological value their land provides to the region. We are very fortunate to have them as part of The Land Trust family and cannot over-state our eternal gratitude for their cooperation and willingness to collaborate on this critical land protection effort.

This project is being made possible through a generous grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the late Elizabeth Stanback. Details of the large “Two Rivers” project grant from the Clean Water management Trust fund will be discussed more fully in the next newsletter when other exciting projects are publicly revealed.

Curtis & Harrison Easements

In January, Julie and Tom Curtis and Julie’s mother, Jane Harrison, together protected nearly 40 acres adjacent to Morrow Mountain State Park, preserving a scenic viewshed of the park and an important buffer along Mountain Creek and four of its tributaries.

This beautiful and now protected land is a pristine natural area, with some huge hardwood trees along the streams. In addition, it is home to two rare plants, thick-pod White Wild Indigo (Baptisia alba) and Ravine sedge (Carex impressinervia). The streams on both properties are also known to house Carolina Creekshell (Villosa vaughaniana), a mussel that is a Federal Species of Concern. Bald eagle and timber rattlesnake are no stranger to these properties either.  And the mature hardwood understory is home to such plants as Atamasco lily and Carolina beauty as well. In addition to sharing a boundary with the park, the easement preserves the viewshed for one of the popular equestrian trails that also follows the stream.

Thanks to the Curtis’s and Jane Harrison, this truly special place will be protected in perpetuity. A special thank you also goes to the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund for providing a mini-grant for transactional costs, the Stanly County Friends of the Land who also helped with these costs, and Bank of Stanly and Clegg Mabry, attorney, for their remarkable contributions towards this project’s completion.

Curtis-Harrison Property

In January, Julie and Tom Curtis and Julie’s mother, Jane Harrison, together protected nearly 40 acres adjacent to Morrow Mountain State Park, preserving a scenic viewshed of the park and an important buffer along Mountain Creek and four of its tributaries. This beautiful and now protected land is a pristine natural area, with some huge hardwood trees along the streams. In addition, it is home to two rare plants, thick-pod White Wild Indigo (Baptisia alba) and Ravine sedge (Carex impressinervia). The streams on both properties are also known to house Carolina Creekshell (Villosa vaughaniana), a mussel that is a Federal Species of Concern. Bald Eagle and timber rattlesnake are no stranger to these properties either. And the mature hardwood understory is home to such plants as Atamasco lily and Carolina beauty as well. In addition to sharing a boundary with the park, the easement preserves the viewshed for one of the popular equestrian trails that also follows the stream. Thanks to the Curtis’s and Jane Harrison, this truly special place will be protected in perpetuity. A special thank you also goes to the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund for providing a mini-grant for transactional costs, the Stanly County Friends of the Land who also helped with these costs, and Bank of Stanly and Clegg Mabry, attorney, for their remarkable contributions towards this project’s completion.

Davis Buffer

80.65 acres EEP Easement

The Davis Buffer in Davie county was placed under conservation easement through the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP)  in 2004.  This 80.65 acre easement protects a buffer on 1,938 stream feet along the South Yadkin and 4,417 feet along the Yadkin Rivers.

Davis Family Farm

Several years ago, John and Kathy Davis set out to find the perfect piece of land. They had long lived in and around towns and had finally decided it was time to buy a tract of land in the country where their family could find a more peaceful existence. After an extended search they finally fell in love with a property in the rolling farm country of Stanly County.

Since acquiring this property, John and Kathy have instilled a tremendous conservation ethic. Their hardwood forests serve as buffers to the thress streams that traverse the property. Big Bear Creek forms the southeastern boundary of the property, prior to flowing south as one of Stanly County’s largest drainages. An unnamed tributary, locally known as “Catfish Branch” connects with Big Bear Creek on the property. Finally, a small tributary affectionately referred to as “pretty Creek” drains the heart of the farm prior to joining with Big Bear Creek.

Elsewhere on the farm, the Davis’ have continued their commitment to conservation. For some time, they have been working to gain recognition as a “certified Organic Farm.” Last year they finally received word that their efforts had been successful. Today, they can officially market themselves as being producers of certified organic milk and beef.

Despite all the hard work around the farm, John and Kathy have managed to find time to enjoy their love of horses. They can often be found on late evening horseback rides through their beautiful hardwood forests. Simply put, John and Kathy share a wonderful connectivity with this property. They collectively state that, “The combination of our new found rural lifestyle, the joy of organic farming, and the assurance our conservation easement gives us make these days some of the happiest of our lives. God has called us to be good stewards of the land; we believe The LandTrust helps us meet that calling.” John and Kathy were especially gratified by the support their children (Jocelyn & Brian Furr, Paul Davis, Karin and Erland Stevens) gave for their decision to place an easement on the property.

The LandTrust has long been aware of John and Kathy Davis’ commitment to conservation. With this donation of a conservation easement on their 140 acre farm, the Davis’ have insured that future generations will be aware of their appreciation of this property. Associate Director Kevin Redding states, “The Davis’ have been truly wonderful people to work with. From the beginning, their focus has always been on how to make sure their land would always be available for their children, their farm, and the wildlife. With this conservation easement they have done just that.”

Another noteworthy benefit of this project is the proximity to another protected property.

Just across Finger Road lies the Hatley property, a 73 acre conservation easement received by The LandTrust in 2001. With the protection of both of these tracts, we now have an area greater than 200 acres that will forever be part of the rolling Stanly County landscape.

Davis/Timberlake Property

16 acres Conservation Easement

The 16 acre Davis/Timberlake Property in Davidson County was purchased in 1999 as a Gifts Heritage Program property. The LandTrust placed a conservation easement on the land which will stay with it for perpetuity, then resold the property and used the monies to continue efforts to save other lands in the area. The property provides a buffer to 600 feet of High Rock Lake.

Dunn’s Mountain

The area known as Dunn’s Mountains (Dunn Mountain by some accounts) just east of Salisbury is one of Rowan County’s most special places. Not only is it the second highest point in the county, but it is also one of the county’s most botanically interesting places.

A great diversity of plants can be found there, including parts of ecological communities known as Granite Flatrock, Piedmont Monadnock Forest, and Flatrock Woodland Glades. The flatrock communities are unique to areas of out cropped granite such as occur sporadically in small areas in the Piedmont of the southeastern United States. Many of the vascular plants are endemic to these communities; that is, they are found only in these communities of restricted occurrence. Flatrock communities, in general, are imperiled because of their rarity and vulnerability.

Granite outcrops have been heavily exploited by the quarrying industry in Rowan County for many years. Very little intact natural flatrock supporting viable outcropped communities exist in Rowan County and the region. Dunn’s Mountain has suffered the impacts of several massive quarrying operations (most recently, in the late 1990s), widespread dumping of trash, rock-building, establishment of exotic species, and clear cut logging. Despite this high level of past disturbance, the mountain still supports some of the best examples of outcropped communities in Rowan County and The Piedmont , and it is also home to several species of rare plants.

Some of the rare endemic species that occur there include elf orpine ( Diamorpha smallii), fame- flower (Talinum teretifolium), sandwort(Arenaria species), in southern anemone (Anemone berlandieri). Also found there are several species that are more typically at home in the Coastal Plain,suggested an interesting affinity to that region. A few rare species previously reported for the mountain have not been seen since the early 1970s and may be extirpated. A number of the above species are included on state and federal lists of rare species.

Time heals wounds in nature. Natural succession proceeds slowly on bare rock and thin soils, but given enough time, and maybe some effort at restoration, much of the mountain should eventually recover and support good representative natural communities. Some of the quarrying scars will remain, however, and will probably not be recovered in any time frame that humans can imagine.

Dunn’s Mountain has been visited and studied by biologists since by at least the 1950s. We have a decent record of biological information about the mountain. In 1994, I ranked Dunn’s Mountains among the top seven sites in Rowan County deserving protection for their natural area value. One of my students, Wes Knapp, completed an update on the biological status of Dunn’s Mountain in 2001 and concluded that it still contains enough elements of natural significance to make it worthy of protection efforts.  At least 154 species of vascular plants have now been recorded for Dunn’s Mountains, making it one of the most botanically diverse small areas in the county. But, even more significant is the fact that the mountain represents the largest remaining complex of granite outcroppings and associated habitats in Rowan County.

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