SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - The Salisbury-based LandTrust for Central North Carolina has purchased an 18.3-acre conservation property located on the Uwharrie River in Randolph County, according to a news release.
This property boasts a mature hardwood forest and over 530 linear feet of frontage on the Uwharrie River. The Uwharrie River is nationally recognized as a significant aquatic habitat and possesses several species of rare mussel.
"The LandTrust is excited to announce the conservation of this important site on the Uwharrie River," states Executive Director, Travis Morehead. "For biodiversity protection, wildlife habitat, education and recreation, the acquisition of this property provides for a wide variety of conservation purposes. The LandTrust has focused on conservation projects on the Uwharrie River for many years, and it will continue to be a focal area for us."
This project builds off of other conservation projects upstream and downstream including; the Becky Greer Property of 26 acres under conservation easement less than half a mile upstream of this property, as well as the 120-acre Uwharrie Farms conservation easement a partnership project of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program.
"This site offers a truly unique opportunity to provide a canoe and kayak launch location where none exists," states Land Protection Director, Crystal Cockman. The location of the site along Highway 49 is also an important NC Scenic Byway.
The LandTrust owns the 1288-acre property, more commonly known as the Low Water Bridge Preserve, several miles downstream stream from this site, where there is an existing canoe/kayak access. The LandTrust worked with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to establish a canoe access there, as well as a second access downstream on NCDOT owned land at Highway 109. In 2012, The LandTrust transferred another property to NCWRC on the Uwharrie River approximately 1 mile upstream of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River. With these new access areas, the Uwharrie River is truly becoming a regional blueway destination.
The majority of funding for this conservation purchase came from The Smithfield Agreement Environmental Enhancement Grant Program. This program is administered through the North Carolina Attorney General's office (NCAG). Smithfield contributes up to $2 million per year to a fund conservation related projects that provide long or short-term environmental enhancement.
The LandTrust also received a $3,000 grant from the North Carolina Native Plant Society (NCNPS) toward the acquisition of this property.
This grant supports the conservation of native plant habitats in North Carolina. The North Carolina Native Plant Society awarded this grant in honor of Alice Zawadzki who was a native of New Jersey and moved to North Carolina, where she taught high school chemistry for many years. Following her retirement, Alice became involved with several organizations and groups that had one thing in common: the conservation of native and rare plants.
The NCNPS chose to establish this fund in her memory, to continue supporting the land conservation work that Alice worked so tirelessly for during her retirement. More information on the The NC Native Plant Society can be found on their website http://www.ncwildflower.org.
The LandTrust works diligently to secure these grants in order to continue the important land protection work in our 10-county region. The grant funding for this project goes towards the purchase of property and does not go towards The LandTrust's operational budget.