The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust has completed the purchase of more than 568 acres of land adjoining Croatan National Forest in Craven County.


Located at the intersection of Brices Creek Road and Perrytown Loop Road near New Bern, the property features ponds, older stands of mixed pine-hardwoods, pocosin wetlands and longleaf pine forest, and provides habitat for wild turkey, black bear, songbirds, and waterfowl, according to information provided by the Coastal Land Trust.


The purchase marks the Coastal Land Trust's fifth acquisition in two years using a portion of the $7.3 million awarded in April 2018 as part of the Havelock bypass settlement. The settlement as the result of a challenge by the Sierra Club to the N.C. Department of Transportation's proposed routing of the U.S. 70 Havelock Bypass through a portion of the Croatan National Forest. As part of the settlement, the two parties entered into an agreement with the Coastal Land Trust that provided $7.3M, including funds which may be used to purchase lands within or adjacent to the proclamation boundary of the Croatan National Forest. A grant from the Fred and Alice Stanback Fund was also part of the capital funds used for the project.


The property, which was purchased from Bern Land & Timber, LLC, will provide a needed buffer for the Croatan, whose borders face increasing residential development, according to Janice Allen, Director of Land Protection for the Coastal Land Trust.


"Once again, having funds in hand from the Havelock bypass settlement and from generous individual donors like Fred and Alice Stanback was a key factor in securing another property for conservation,” said Allen. “In today's time of unprecedented uncertainty, one thing is certain, the Coastal Land Trust continues to conserve special places on our coast, places that buffer ecological gems like the Croatan, which provide more habitat for wildlife, and provide people with a quiet place to walk in the woods."


The Coastal Land Trust has also used funds from the Havelock bypass settlement to purchase a 113-acre tract of land added to Gales Creek Preserve at Camp Sam Hatcher near Newport; a 182-acre tract along a tributary of the Trent River in Craven County; almost 250 acres of the Island Creek natural area in Jones County; and the Bate Tract, nearly 350 acres in Craven County surrounded by the Croatan National Forest.


"We are so pleased to see this significant conservation project completed by the Coastal Land Trust, adding to the list of key lands protected around the unique Croatan National Forest," said Cassie Gavin, senior director of Government Relations for the Sierra Club's North Carolina Chapter. "The Croatan is treasured by our members and this project will help protect the unique plants and animals that live there."