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Bertie County land dedicated to state parks division

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The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust has conveyed nearly 1,000 acres of land along Salmon Creek in Bertie County to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Friday, January 4, 2019

A 3 ½-mile stretch of property in Bertie County that’s rich in ecology and perhaps has a link to the earliest English colonist is now property of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation for conservation.

The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources announced Wednesday that nearly 1,000 acres of property along Salmon Creek had been conveyed to the state by the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust. The property will be managed as the new Salmon Creek State Natural Area, according to a news release.

“State natural areas are focused on conservation of rare and sensitive habitats based on flora, fauna, and other ecosystem components,” said Katie Hall, a spokeswoman with the Division of Parks and Recreation. The areas typically have few facilities and are managed by staff at the nearest state park.

“They are protected for research and, when safe for the resources and visitors, for wildlife observation or photography,” Hall said.

The property is located south of U.S. 17 near where the creek enters the Albemarle Sound.

There are floodplain forests of cypress-gum swamp and bottomland hardwood forest, along Salmon Creek, the news release said. It also contains tidal freshwater marsh recognized as ecologically significant by the N.C. Natural Heritage Program.

The property is the subject of archaeological research by The First Colony Foundation. Native Algonkin and English artifacts indicative of settlement by the Roanoke colonists have been found on the site. Some researchers theorize the artifacts could provide evidence that survivors from The Lost Colony relocated to the area in the late 1580s.

“We are thrilled to have saved this property to make it available to the people of North Carolina, and we appreciate the public’s outpouring of support for conserving this area,” said Camilla Herlevich, executive director of the N.C. Coastal Land Trust.

Two years ago the Salmon Creek property was listed for sale as a prime waterfront development by a Raleigh real estate broker.

The property was transferred to the state thanks to funds awarded by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, N.C. Attorney General’s Environmental Enhancement Grant Fund, N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund and the U.S. Department of Defense.

“The Salmon Creek property stands out due to its rich cultural history, truly pristine ecosystems and unique archaeological resources,” said Susi Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “We are grateful for the tireless work of the N.C. Coastal Land Trust and all of the partners in funding this project. We look forward to offering this new state natural area in Bertie County, a beautiful part of our state currently underserved by our state parks system.”

Because the area is a rare habitat and contains archaeological sites there is no plan for it to become a state park, Hall said.

The master plan will include provisions for protecting the archaeological site if the public is allowed to access the area. Hall said future exploration of archaeological sites will be determined by existing partnerships, with advice from archaeologists, and will be included in the master plan.

The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust has conserved more than 72,000 acres of land with scenic, recreational, historic and ecological value in eastern North Carolina. They work to enrich the coastal communities of our state through conservation, education, and promoting land stewardship.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.