LandTrust buys tract in Uwharries

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina has bought the 355-acre King Mountain property in southern Randolph County, reputed to be the highest peak in the Uwharrie Mountain range.
“With this purchase, the land trust feels it has protected one of the most important natural resources in central North Carolina,” Jason Walser, the organization’s executive director, said.
The LandTrust is based in Salisbury and covers several counties.
Walser said the property has been classified a Natural Heritage Site and includes a population of the rare Piedmont Indigo Bush. The mountain serves as the headwaters for some of the region’s cleanest streams, home to rare mussel species.
Walser said the property also may serve as a critical link along an expansion of the Uwharrie Recreation Trail, one of the Uwharrie National Forest’s most popular recreational amenities.
The property connects two U.S. Forest Service tracts just north of the existing trail corridor and could eventually be a key link in a 20-mile expansion of the trail.
“The LandTrust has identified expansion of the Uwharrie Recreational Trail as one of its key strategic initiatives,” Walser said. “Although King Mountain is not the only remaining gap, it is a pivotal one and a very real step toward strategically enhancing what the Uwharrie Forest has to offer to local residents and tourists, both state and nationwide.”
Walser said the LandTrust is interested in working with both private and public entities to extend the trail into the Birkhead Wilderness Trail, a restoration of the trail’s historic route.
“The original trail corridor covered more than 40 miles,” Walser said, “but over time, as properties along the route changed hands, the corridor became disconnected.”
Walser credited many people with helping to complete the acquisition, which took more than 18 months to complete.
“We’d like to thank in particular Rex Boner of the Conservation Fund; Isaac Harold, Jeff Marcus, Kacy Cook and other staff of N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission; Fred Stanback and The Conservation Trust for North Carolina, who was instrumental in helping us obtain financing for this project.
“Also, Rep. Howard Coble and his staff are to be praised for requesting a specific appropriation to help us pay off this project through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.”