Today The Nature Conservancy announced that it has acquired 459 acres in Pender County. The U.S. Navy covered half of the purchase price, because the newly protected area will expand habitat for the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and help buffer nearby Camp Lejeune firing ranges from development.
Red-cockaded woodpeckers prefer to make their homes in living longleaf pines. The Conservancy will restore the longleaf pine forest through additional planting and careful, controlled burning.
“There’s little history of soil disturbance in the area, which means the plants and wetlands that dot the land are in excellent shape but for the need for fire,” says Hervey McIver, who leads the Conservancy’s work in Pender County. “It will respond well to fire – bringing out rare plants such as Venus flytrap.”
McIver says the area also has a significant cultural heritage. “George Washington did sleep nearby,” he explains. “We plan to call it Sage’s Ridge Preserve, named after Robert Sage who owned an inn nearby on the stage coach line from New Bern to Wilmington. George Washington stayed at Sage’s inn during his 1791 southern tour.”
The Nature Conservancy and its conservation partners have protected over 67,000 acres in the region known as Onslow Bight, stretching from the Northeast Cape Fear to the Pamlico Rivers. These lands are home to a wide array of plant species, many of them dependent on regular fire.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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