LandTrust acquires Longleaf Preserve in Montgomery County

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 2, 2017

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina has acquired Smith Branch Longleaf Preserve in Montgomery County.

This 105-acre property adjoins Uwharrie National Forest. Previously protected with a conservation easement in February, the previous landowner offered to sell the preserve to LandTrust. This purchase ensures continual management of the longleaf pine ecosystem on the property.

The previous landowner had managed Smith Branch Longleaf Preserve for longleaf pine enhancement and restoration for the past 25 years. Management practices included replacing loblolly stands with longleaf pine plantings and prescribed burns.

Old growth longleaf pines are found on the property.

Prescribed burns are conducted every two years on the 105-acre property. This habitat management practice prevents hardwood trees from overtaking longleaf stands.

Prescribed burning also opens the forest floor to sunlight, allowing a variety of wildflowers to grow. The rare blue flag iris (Iris prismatica) and bog spicebush (Lindera subcoriacea) grow found on the property.

Other wildflowers on the preserve include yellow-fringed orchids, green-fringed orchids, Piedmont indigo bush, Carolina lily, grass pink orchid and Virginia bunchflower. Fox squirrels and timber rattlesnake also live there.

“The LandTrust is both excited and humbled to take over ownership of this unique site,” said Executive Director Travis Morehead. “It will be our honor to continue the great management started here so many years ago to the benefit of the plants and wildlife found on the property.”

The purchase of the conservation easement was made possible by grants from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Open Space Institute’s Southeast Resilience Landscapes Fund. Private donations to LandTrust also were made for the purchase.

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To learn more about this project, contact Crystal Cockman at 704-647-0302 or