The Nature Conservancy acquired 463 acres in Brunswick County on December 29. The property, which is on the east side of the Conservancy’s Green Swamp Preserve, includes 100 acres of longleaf pine. The Conservancy hopes to plant additional longleaf pine on the tract, improving wildlife habitat.
Longleaf pine is fire-dependent, so the area will be managed with controlled burning. Acquisition of the new property will also help the Conservancy continue its restoration of longleaf pine in the Green Swamp. “This land will allow us to burn out of the Green Swamp up onto a ridge on the newly acquired property,” says the Conservancy’s Southeast Coastal Plain Project Director Dan Ryan. “There is more an impetus in getting fire into the Green Swamp. Being able to burn out to where you can control your fire lines is essential. We just didn’t have that on the east side of the Green Swamp.”
“This is probably the highest and driest land that is not yet developed in Brunswick County,” explains Ryan. Brunswick County has been one of the fastest growing counties in the state with its population tripling from 35,777 in 1980 to 108,410 in 2009. Although development has slowed somewhat due to the recent economic downturn, it is likely that this area will soon face increased development pressure as the economy improves.
The latest acquisition is funded by a $450,000 Environmental Enhancement Grant (EEG) from the North Carolina Department of Justice and $300,000 from an anonymous private donor. Ryan says that Ducks Unlimited also played a big role in the grant. Originally, Ducks Unlimited received a $150,000 grant for another project in the region. When that project fell through, Ducks Unlimited worked to have its grant money transferred to the Conservancy’s Project.
The Green Swamp and surrounding area are special to many people. The healthiest populations of Venus flytraps occur here. The swamp is home to a total of 14 species carnivorous plants and 18 species of orchids.
The Green Swamp is the largest of the Conservancy’s Preserves that is open to the public. It was created in 1977 when Federal Paper Board donated 13,850 acres to the Conservancy. Over the years, it has grown to more than 17,000 acres. The Conservancy has also preserved a number of nearby tracts, totaling more than 20,000 acres. Ryan hopes to continue growing the preserve in future years; a number of nearby properties are available. “This is a win-win for everybody,” he explains.
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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