EEP praised at Horton Grove preserve dedication
October 7, 2012 2:13 PM
The N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program shared the spotlight on Oct. 5 with a range of public- and private-sector partners at the grand opening of the Horton Grove Nature Preserve in Durham County. The Triangle Land Conservancy sponsored the event at its new 708-acre preserve, which features a prairie ecosystem on part of the tract.
NCDENR Assistant Secretary for Natural Resources David Knight told the gathering of EEP's historic role in open-space preservation -- not only for the Horton Grove project, but on more than 130 tracts across the state. Much of the effort came through a 2003 partnership with North Carolina's land trusts, and the outcome is more than 50,000 acres perpetually preserved for future generations, with much of the total adding to state parks and gamelands.
"It made sense," Knight said. "EEP needed preservation credits from the regulatory agencies to meet North Carolina’s environmental and economic-development needs. So later that year, EEP and the Conservation Trust for North Carolina had the foresight to band together with local land trusts and landowners to preserve the 'best of the best' open spaces across our state. This partnership, which included TLC and more than 20 land trusts from the mountains to the coast, was unprecedented on its scale nationally."
EEP contributed $1.8 million to purchase 300-foot riparian buffers for the tract, helping to preserve streamside corridors and assisting in connecting a much larger protected landscape that benefits drinking water in Falls Lake, but also a wide swath of wildlife habitat. Other speakers at the event included Durham County Commissioner Ellen Reckhow and N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Keith Hardison.