LandTrust transfers property to Morrow Mountain, Uwharries

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 15, 2016

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina completed the official transfer of a 5-acre property to Morrow Mountain State Park on Aug. 11.

The transfer will provide for the perpetual protection of a unique and nationally significant hillside seepage bog. This globally rare habitat is home to a variety of frogs, toads and salamanders.

“The LandTrust is thrilled to transfer this small but important property to Morrow Mountain State Park,” said Executive Director Travis Morehead. “The unique natural area, wildlife habitat, and scenic views from atop this property are special features that merit permanent protection.”

Other wildlife such as deer and turkey use the mature hardwood forest habitat found on the property. In addition, this property is home to a rare plant, the crested coralroot, and the large rocks and boulders are habitat for timber rattlesnake, a state endangered species. The property will also add to the recreation, research and education opportunities at Morrow Mountain State Park.

“We first began working to save this special piece of property more than eight years ago,” said Land Protection Director Crystal Cockman. “It is very rewarding to see this naturally significant property finally become a part of Morrow Mountain State Park.”

The property is located in the northeastern portion of Stanly County sharing two of its three boundaries with Morrow Mountain State Park. It is located on Morrow Mountain Drive, is visible from the N.C. Scenic Byway of Valley Drive, and is relatively close to the municipality of Albemarle.

“This 5 acres on Biles Mountain is within a registered Significant Natural Heritage Area and is considered nationally significant due to its natural communities, rare plant and animal populations, and because its geologic features are among the highest quality in the nation,” said Jeff Davidson, park superintendent of Morrow Mountain State Park.

“Morrow Mountain State Park is fortunate to have such great support from The LandTrust for Central N.C., the Friends of Morrow Mountain, and many others in the local community who stepped up and got involved to help purchase and transfer this land to the park to ensure it is now permanently protected.”

In addition to the State Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, The Cannon Foundation and the Stanly County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau also contributed financially to the transfer of this property to the park.

The Friends of Morrow Mountain State Park were supportive of this transfer, as well. “It is very important to protect and expand the boundaries of Morrow Mountain State Park so that the long range view  from atop Morrow Mountain remains natural and scenic,” said John Young of Friends of Morrow Mountain State Park. “It is also important to protect the unique seep on the new 5 acre tract. Thanks to The LandTrust and everyone who made this addition possible.”

“This property transfer echoes the same community support that established Morrow Mountain as North Carolina’s third state park in 1935, following an initial 1,800 acres of land donations made by local citizens, land protection groups, and community supporters,” said Davidson. “This new property will bring the park to 4,747 acres, with the majority of the land being donated throughout the park’s 81 year history.”

The LandTrust has also sold a 185-acre property in Montgomery County to the U.S. Forest Service. The lands will connect two sections of the Uwharrie National Forest, protecting habitat connectivity, improving public accessibility and increasing future recreation opportunities.

“The LandTrust is very excited to transfer this property to our longstanding partners at the U.S. Forest Service,” said Morehead. “This transfer will enable more people to enjoy this special place.”

The property lies north of Eldorado Township and is composed of forestlands and a large pond. It also encompasses the headwaters of McLean’s Creek, which feeds into the Uwharrie River, a nationally significant aquatic habitat.

The recent transfer puts the total amount of LandTrust transfers to the Uwharrie National Forest over 500 acres. The LandTrust supports the increase in public access and recreational opportunities provided by putting these lands into public ownership.

“Public lands provide many benefits to the citizens in central North Carolina, as well as across our state and nation,” said Alicia Vasto, operations director at The LandTrust. “Transferring these lands to a public agency means all citizens equally own and can access this valuable place, and are free to recreate and enjoy it.”