CRAVEN COUNTY – The Coastal Land Trust, using money from a settlement of the legal fight over the Havelock bypass project, has purchased for preservation 182 acres here that’s surrounded by Croatan National Forest.
The trust received $7.3 million as part of the settlement between North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Sierra Club after the organizations agreed to drop their opposition to the 10-mile, $221 million project now under construction that cuts a swath through the Croatan National Forest.
The trust announced Monday that it had used a portion of the money and a grant from the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund to purchase the wooded Craven County property that also features pocosin wetland habitat and bottomland hardwoods. It’s surrounded on three sides by the Croatan National Forest and includes a half-mile of frontage on Reedy Branch, a tributary of the Trent River in the Neuse River Basin.
The acquisition, which closed May 1, is the Wilmington-based conservation organization’s second acquisition using the settlement money after adding 113 acres in November to the Gales Creek Preserve at Camp Sam Hatcher near Newport.
“We’re pleased to see the new Croatan Protection Fund is being well-used by the Coastal Land Trust to help protect wildlife habitat and the unique properties of the Croatan National Forest. We hope that this recent acquisition will be one of many that Coastal Land Trust is able to add to the Croatan National Forest with the help of willing landowners and the ability to leverage funds from the Croatan Protection Fund,” Cassie Gavin, senior director of government relations for the Sierra Club’s North Carolina Chapter in Raleigh, said in a statement.
“We are thrilled to be able to acquire this forestland that is nearly surrounded by the Croatan and lies within an important ecosystem that includes several types of forested wetlands,” said Janice Allen, deputy director of the Coastal Land Trust in New Bern. “The tract will be forever preserved and will remain a healthy habitat for wildlife. The Coastal Land Trust will offer it to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion into the Croatan National Forest.”