The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust hit a milestone with the conservation of more than 200 acres in Carteret County through a partnership with the Boy Scouts.
Camp Sam Hatcher in Newport has long been used as a primitive camping site for Boy Scout troops across Eastern North Carolina — the hundreds of acres of longleaf pine sandhills, savannas and wetlands ideal for hiking, nature study and light recreation.
Just the kind of property Coastal Land Trust works to preserve.
“It’s a good fit for us,” Executive Director Camilla Herlevich said.
Coastal Land Trust has joined with the East Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America to conserve land at Camp Sam Hatcher. The organization acquired 201 acres and the Boy Scouts donated a conservation easement of more than 20 additional acres to the Coastal Land Trust. The Boy Scouts retain title to 122 acres.
With the conservation easement, the Boy Scouts continue to own that share of the property but agree to only minimal uses to continue to preserve the land.
The project puts the Coastal Land Trust over its goal of 50,000 coastal conservation acres saved.
Herlevech said it is appropriate that the land has so many of the natural features and habitat they strive to protect, including a host of unusual plants and animals, including the red-cockaded woodpecker and Venus flytraps.
It also adjoins the Croatan National Forest, and part of the land fronts Gales Creek.
“It has just about everything a conservationist could want for. So the fact that the Camp Sam Hatcher is the project that has tipped us over the 50,000-acre mark is just icing on the cake,” she said.
While Camp Sam Hatcher is the first project of the trust involving camp property, it’s one of several that have been completed in Carteret County.
Earlier this year, the group announced that nearly 700 acres at Luken’s Island had been protected through a project partnering with the Marine Corps and the Navy to protect areas near military training from incompatible development.
Last year, a similar project preserved farmland in western Carteret County to protect it from development that could encroach on the use of nearby Marine auxiliary landing field at Bogue.
“We’ve done a lot lately because of the military partnership,” Herlevich said.
But not all projects in Carteret County have a military connection.
The Camp Sam Hatcher project is a reminder of the diversity of coastal lands worthy of protection.
“Coastal Land Trust gave us the vehicle to protect and preserve this unusual biosystem while still being able to use the property for primitive camping, hiking and nature study,” said Ray Franks, scout executive for East Carolina Council BSA. “Our buildings at Camp Sam Hatcher, next to the land placed in the conservation easement provide convenient facilities for use to partner with Coastal Land Trust and others wanting an indoor education center or camping facilities next to a very special environment.”
Herlevich said they don’t have any specific plans in place, but Coastal Land Trust will be exploring ways to expand environmental and recreational use of the property.
Funding for the project was provided by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s North American Wetlands Conservation Act and by what is being called “a very generous” private donation from Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury, who are among the nation’s leading conservation philanthropists.