Spirit of Rowan 2022: Eagle Point Nature Preserve is ‘a neat place to go’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 27, 2022

Eagle Point Nature Preserve has been fulfilling its mission for more than 20 years.

The park, about 180 acres, is a passive preserve that keeps the natural environment at the fore. Its only amenities are some trails, picnic tables, canoe access, and a portable toilet.

Rowan County says the preserve is home to a number of wild animals, including barred owls, varieties of egrets, kingfishers, great blue herons, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, raccoons and the titular bald eagles that fish in Goldeneye Cove.

The park opened in 2001. The county acquired the first 100 acres in 1998 via purchase from Neal Sansovich and was placed under a conservation easement with what would become Three Rivers Land Trust.

Rowan County Animal Services Director Bob Pendergrass said the additional 80 acres was originally under a long-term lease with Alcoa, but last year that property was given to the county.

Pendergrass was involved in the creation of the park. He was the county nature center supervisor at the time. He said the land that hosts the preserve is rocky, so the idea to make it part of the county park system was raised.

“It came about as a result of an opportunity,” Pendergrass said, adding places like the preserve make a difference for wildlife.

Pendergrass said Jimmy Foltz, county parks and recreation director at the time, was good at rallying people to support projects. The department created a presentation for people who would support the project. Pendergrass noted Fred and Bill Stanback were supporters.

“The funds were raised fairly quickly to acquire the land,” Pendergrass said.

A professor at Catawba College performed an ecological survey on the property and the county decided to limit the development to just provide access to the park and some walking trails to highlight the natural aspects of the area.

There are some plant identification signs on the “plant loop” trail. Pendergrass said one year an eagle scout project led to creating a guidebook for plants and nature walks at the property. He said over the years those have continued.

The preserve was named Eagle Point because of the bald eagle sightings, but Pendergrass said it was not created specifically because of the presence of the eagles. The eagles are a success story of species recovery efforts. The species was reclassified from endangered to threatened in 1995 and removed from the list entirely in 2007.

“It’s a neat place to go,” Pendergrass said, adding it is one of his favorite projects he has been involved in.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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