WILMINGTON – While teleworking in compliance with Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order in response to COVID-19, the Coastal Land Trust completed the purchase of more than 568 acres adjoining Croatan National Forest in Craven County.
Trust officials announced this week the acquisition of the property at the intersection of Brices Creek Road and Perrytown Loop Road near New Bern. It features scenic ponds, older stands of mixed pines and hardwoods, pocosin wetlands and longleaf pine forest and provides habitat for wild turkey, black bear, songbirds and waterfowl.
The purchase is the Coastal Land Trust’s fifth acquisition in two years using a portion of the $7.3 million awarded in April 2018 as part of the Havelock bypass settlement. The settlement resulted from a challenge by the Sierra Club to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s proposed routing of U.S. 70 Havelock Bypass through a portion of the Croatan National Forest.
As part of the settlement, Sierra Club and NCDOT entered into an agreement with the Coastal Land Trust to use the funds to purchase lands within or adjacent to the boundary of the Croatan National Forest. A grant from the Fred and Alice Stanback Fund was also went toward making the project possible.
“Once again, having funds in hand from the Havelock bypass settlement and from generous individual donors like Fred and Alice Stanback was a key factor in securing another property for conservation,” Janice Allen, director of land protection for the Coastal Land Trust, said in a statement. “In today’s time of unprecedented uncertainty, one thing is certain, the Coastal Land Trust continues to conserve special places on our coast, places that buffer ecological gems like the Croatan, which provide more habitat for wildlife, and provide people with a quiet place to walk in the woods.”
The land trust said the property, purchased from Bern Land & Timber, LLC, will provide needed buffer from increasing residential development for the Croatan.
“We have always recognized the distinctive characteristics of this land adjacent to the Croatan National Forest – with mature trees, and bountiful wildlife – and we were pleased to work with the highly-respected North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, as we have on many projects, to preserve and protect its natural beauty and pristine character,” said Elaine R. Jordan, General Counsel to Bern Land & Timber LLC, seller of the property.
“We are so pleased to see this significant conservation project completed by the Coastal Land Trust, adding to the list of key lands protected around the unique Croatan National Forest,” said Cassie Gavin, senior director of Government Relations for the Sierra Club’s North Carolina Chapter, in Raleigh. “The Croatan is treasured by our members and this project will help protect the unique plants and animals that live there.”
The Coastal Land Trust’s has also made the following land purchases using money from the Havelock bypass settlement:
- A 113-acre tract of longleaf added to Gales Creek Preserve at Camp Sam Hatcher along a scenic tidal creek that empties into Bogue Sound near Newport.
- A 182-acre tract of pond pine woodland, pocosin and bottomland hardwood forest along a tributary of the Trent River in Craven County.
- Almost 250 acres of the Island Creek natural area in Jones County, its rare marl forest known among botanists throughout the state.
- Almost 350 acres known as the Bate Tract in Craven County that’s surrounded on the three sides by the Croatan National Forest.
In addition to Fred and Alice Stanback, the Coastal Land Trust acknowledged the Harold H. Bate Foundation and the North Carolina Attorney General’s Environmental Enhancement Grant Program, whose grants contributed to the previous projects.