For people who are starving for a little good news — and who isn’t? — the recent purchase of 2,424 acres along the Yadkin River to add to a game land preserve should fit the bill. It opens a new section of our beautiful state for refreshment and recreation and preserves it from development and exploitation — a move that will be beneficial to many and is likely to help us combat climate change that threatens all of us.
The N.C. Wildlife Commission has just completed the deal on the land, working in conjunction with Three Rivers Land Trust and The Conservation Fund. They compiled and acquired tracts, largely along the Yadkin River, throughout Davidson, Davie, Montgomery and Rowan counties, the Journal’s Richard Craver reported Tuesday. The tracts had once been known as the Alcoa Game Lands — the bulk of it, 2,162 acres, involves land owned by Alcoa Power Generating Inc. — but will now be known as the Yadkin River Game Land.
The $7.82 million price tag is a bargain.
The newly purchased tract contains 31 miles of shoreline along the eastern shore of the Tuckertown Reservoir in Davidson and Montgomery counties and a hardwood-covered monadnock (isolated hill), Bald Mountain, that rises 300 feet above the river.
“We’re already working with the state on a plan to build a 2-mile hiking trail to the top of Bald Mountain,” Mike Leonard, representative at The Conservation Fund, said, “where hikers can walk through the large hardwoods and see stunning views of the lake and the Uwharrie Mountains.”
Sign us up.
The purchase is part of a larger deal, much of which was completed in 2019 with the purchase of 2,463 acres, including 45 miles of shoreline along the Yadkin and South Yadkin rivers in Davie, Davidson and Rowan counties, from Alcoa for $7.7 million.
“We are now complete,” Travis Morehead, executive director of Three Rivers Land Trust, said. “The Yadkin River has 76 miles of shoreline and 4,800 acres total conservation in the past two, three years. That means there won’t be any development.”
The land will be open for public recreation — hiking, boating, hunting and fishing — one more bit of natural splendor made available to outdoors-loving North Carolinians.
The preserve will be accessible to quite a few, too; about 80% of North Carolina’s 10.6 million residents live within a 100-mile drive of the game lands, according to the commission.
Setting these tracts aside will also help protect water quality in the Tuckertown region. The water that flows into and out of the reservoir there is part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River.
It took a lot of dedication and hard work to turn the vision of this preserve into a reality, and it involved federal and state agencies as well as nonprofits and private donors. “Completing this project was a monumental goal of Three Rivers Land Trust since our inception in 1995,” Morehead said. “We are incredibly proud to have worked with the Wildlife Commission and all of our funding partners to ensure the permanent conservation of these lands and the public’s ability to utilize them. One of our main tenants within our strategic plan is to connect people to the outdoors and we are proud to say that North Carolinians will have access to these lands for generations to come.”
It’s an example of what we can accomplish if we work together.
For all the challenges through which we blunder, we never seem to go wrong when we preserve land for recreational use and future generations. Many of our most cherished memories are created while outdoors with friends and family. The natural world leads us into adventure, contemplation and transcendence. As naturalist John Muir said, “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.”
Conservation has a role to play in fighting the threat of climate change, as well. The flora preserved will help capture the carbon we’ve been burning into the atmosphere. We can’t do without it.
The game land will also provide wildlife habitat at a time when wildlife has been threatened by development elsewhere.
From mountains to ocean, North Carolina has some of the most splendid natural beauty to offer the world. It’s fitting to preserve it — and to take inspiration from it.