Uwharrie River property conserved in Randolph County

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina has bought an 18.3-acre conservation property on the Uwharrie River in Randolph County.

The property boasts a mature hardwood forest and over 530 linear feet of frontage on the river. The Uwharrie is nationally recognized as a significant aquatic habitat and has several species of rare mussel.

The site is on N.C. 49, an N.C. Scenic Byway.

“The LandTrust is excited to announce the conservation of this important site on the Uwharrie River,” said Travis Morehead, executive director. “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.”

The project builds off other conservation projects upstream and downstream, including the Becky Greer property of 26 acres under conservation easement less than half a mile upstream, 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,” said Crystal Cockman, land protection director.

LandTrust owns 1,288 acres known as the Low Water Bridge Preserve several miles downstream with a canoe and kayak access.

LandTrust worked with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to establish a canoe access there, as well as a second access downstream on N.C. Department of Transportation property at N.C. 109. In 2012, LandTrust transferred another property to the wildlife commission on the Uwharrie River about a mile upstream of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River. With these new access areas, the Uwharrie River is becoming a regional blueway destination.

Most of the funding for this conservation purchase came from the Smithfield Agreement Environmental Enhancement Grant Program, which is administered through the state Attorney General’s Office. Smithfield contributes as much as $2 million per year to fund conservation projects.

LandTrust also received a $3,000 grant from the N.C. Native Plant Society toward the acquisition of the property. The grant supports the conservation of native plant habitats in the state. The grant was in honor of Alice Zawadzki, a native of New Jersey who moved to North Carolina and taught high school chemistry for many years.

After her retirement, Zawadzki became involved with conservation of native and rare plants.

For more information on the Native Plant Society, visit http://www.ncwildflower.org.

LandTrust works to secure these grants to continue land protection in a 10-county region. The grant funding is used to purchase property and does not support LandTrust’s operational budget.

For more about this project or the LandTrust for Central North Carolina, contact Crystal Cockman at 704-647-0302 or crystal@landtrustcnc.org.