CREEDMOOR — In a bid to protect water quality in Falls Lake, a group of local governments and nonprofits earlier this fall helped preserve 214 acres of undeveloped land in southern Granville County.
The Tar River Land Conservancy paid $725,000 for the land, with funding from Raleigh, Creedmoor, Granville County and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, a federal grant program.
The land features about 4 miles of creeks and streams that eventually flow into Falls Lake, which is Wake County’s primary source of drinking water. By blocking development on the land, the groups aim to prevent further degradation downstream.
“We see this as a continuing effort to protect Falls Lake. It’s just that simple,” Creedmoor Mayor Darryl Moss said.
The Tar River Land Conservancy will manage the land, which eventually will open to the public for low-impact recreational uses such as hiking. The Conservation Trust for North Carolina holds the conservation easement that prevents development on the land.
Derek Halberg, executive director of the conservancy, said the group could start the work that would allow for public access in six to eight months.
The group purchased the land from the estate of the late Ann Summers Jordan, whose family had owned it for centuries. The tract runs along Brogden Road with more than a mile of frontage on Ledge Creek and a half-mile on Holman Creek. The creeks converge to form Lake Rogers before flowing into Falls Lake.
The city of Raleigh and the federal grant program contributed the bulk of the funding for the land and costs associated with the purchase, at $376,500 and $371,00, respectively. Granville County gave $20,000, and Creedmoor gave $15,000.
Halberg said that while the donations varied significantly in size, the smaller contributions were critical because they allowed the group to move quickly to purchase the land, heading off potential development.
Ed Buchan, the environmental coordinator for Raleigh’s public utilities department, said the city evaluates and contributes to conservation purchases through the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative. The City Council must approve any contributions, which are funded by a watershed protection fee that is charged to residents through their water bill.
Typically, the city has been able to leverage about $10 for every $1 they invest in land conservation. But with major cuts to state funding for land conservation, Raleigh likely will be a major player in future purchases, Buchan said.
“It’s going to be a paradigm shift,” he said. “We’re going to be becoming bigger partners.”