CHARLOTTE, NC – In the last week of December, Catawba Lands Conservancy (CLC) worked with landowners to preserve 138 acres of farmland in Lincoln County and 29 acres in Huntersville. In addition, CLC assisted Davidson Lands Conservancy with the protection of another 54 acres in Huntersville.
“We’re thrilled to close out 2023 with an additional 221 acres of conserved land that will enhance the health and quality of life of our region,” said Bart Landess, executive director of Catawba Lands Conservancy. “These projects embody three of our key conservation focus areas: water, wildlife and farmland.”
Landowners Wayne and Carrol Mitchem worked with CLC to protect 138 acres of prime farmland in Lincoln County. This is the Mitchem brothers’ second conservation project with CLC. The land will remain in agricultural use in perpetuity, and Wayne Mitchem’s daughters plan to take over the farm in the future. The State of North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund and federal grants through NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program funded conservation of Mitchem Farm II.
The American Farmland Trust recently awarded $100,000 to CLC to expand its landowner outreach and education over the next four years to help increase farmland protection regionally.
In Huntersville, another piece of the Historic McCoy Farm dating back to 1768 is now permanently protected. The 29 acres of forest and fields will remain in its natural state forever thanks to the generosity of landowner Tom McCoy.
The project increases the existing Gar Creek Conservation Area to 423 acres, much of which was conserved by Tom McCoy and his family. The large forest near Latta Nature Preserve helps protect the water quality of Mountain Island Lake, the source of drinking water for more than 2 million people.
“The McCoys first settled at what is now known as The Old Homeplace in 1768. The farm has been good to us, and through the most recent conservation easement, we are happy to be good to it,” said McCoy.
Watch video about the neighboring Joseph Bennett McCoy Preserve conserved in 2020
In another win for water, wildlife and history, CLC assisted Davidson Lands Conservancy with the protection of 54 acres of forest in Huntersville. The Washam Farm South Conservation Easement increases the existing Ramah Creek Conservation Area to 829 acres making it important to a variety of wildlife including uncommon songbirds, wild turkeys, and two NC Species of Concern. The National Audubon Society’s Christmas bird count recently took place on one of the Ramah Creek area’s conserved properties. The forested buffers also help protect the water quality of Ramah Creek, which is part of the Clarke Creek Watershed that feeds into the larger Yadkin River Watershed.
With the addition of these three projects, Catawba Lands Conservancy has permanently protected 17,799 acres of land to date.
Photos of Mitchem Farm I and Joseph McCoy Property by Nancy Pierce
About Catawba Lands Conservancy
Catawba Lands Conservancy is a local, nonprofit land trust dedicated to saving land and connecting lives to nature in the Southern Piedmont of North Carolina. The Conservancy protects more than 17,000 acres of land and serves Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg and Union counties. The Conservancy is committed to improving the quality of life in the communities it serves by protecting clean water, wildlife habitats, farmland and natural open spaces for public benefit. The Conservancy also leads the Carolina Thread Trail, a regional network of trails, greenways and blueways focused on linking more than two million citizens through 15 counties in North and South Carolina. For more information, visit catawbalands.org.