Grants will help save Poison Fork Creek, Randolph farm

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 21, 2019

Three Rivers Land Trust has been awarded a $545,500 grant by the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund for the acquisition of a 250-acre conservation easement on Poison Fork Creek in Randolph County.

In July, Three Rivers closed on Phase I of the project, another 250-acre conservation easement. The new funding will protect an additional 250 acres south of the land protected in July, for a total protected area of 500 contiguous acres.

In addition, Three Rivers was awarded a $236,250 grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s conservation easement program for acquisition of a 130-acre conservation easement on a farm also in Randolph County.

The Poison Fork Creek property has more than a mile of creek frontage and is designated an outstanding resource water, the highest water quality designation the state bestows. Also found on the site are the endangered Schweinitz’s sunflower and the rare Georgia aster. Timber rattlensakes are frequently found there.

“The protection of this 500-acres is a significant conservation achievement for the Piedmont region,” says Three Rivers Executive Director Travis Morehead. “The opportunity to protect a large, intact hardwood forest of this size does not come very often, and we are excited to be a part of seeing this fantastic property permanently conserved.”

The property is adjacent to Uwharrie National Forest and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission gamelands. Fred and Alice Stanback and the Open Space Institute funded the first 250 acres of the project. The clean water trust fund and Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will pay for the second 250-acre phase.

The Randolph County farm has frontage on the Uwharrie River, which is designated a nationally significant aquatic habitat.

Submitted photo Three Rivers Land Trust got a grant for an easement on this Randolph County Farm with frontage on the Uwharrie River.

The farm consists of agricultural fields now in crop production that will eventually house beef cattle. The property has more than 85% prime and statewide important agricultural soils. The farm is adjacent to another farmland conservation easement that Three Rivers closed last year and is in the heart of the Uwharrie region.

“Farmland protection has always been a focus of Three Rivers Land Trust,” says Morehead. “Land protected by agricultural conservation easements provides additional public benefits, including environmental quality, wildlife habitat, and protection of open space.”

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and related benefits. Under the agricultural easements component, the Natural Resources Conservation Service helps Native American tribes, state and local governments, and nongovernment organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit nonfarm uses of the land.

For more information, contact Crystal Cockman oft Land Trust at 704-647-0302 or crystal@threeriverslandtrust.org.

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