Six adjoining tracts along the Chowan River in Bertie County, North Carolina are now permanently protected thanks in part to a grant made by the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund. As a recipient of the grant, The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust secured the 421-acre easement, which consists primarily of mature cypress gum swamp, located along more than 1.7 miles of Chowan River frontage. The property is classified as having high ecological significance and lies within the Colerain/Cow Island Swamp and Slopes Significant Natural Heritage Area and is part of the 32,570-acre Chowan Swamp Game Lands.
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View of the Chowan River Tracts recently transferred to North Carolina near Keel Creek (Photo by Tom Earnhardt)
“The Coastal Land Trust is ever thankful for the vision and partnership of 6 adjoining landowners in Bertie County that were willing to come together to sell portions of their beautiful floodplain forest along the Chowan River for conservation. This type of collaboration with multiple landowners to put pieces of land together for a single sale has never happened before in our 30 year history of land conservation! We are thrilled it all came together to forever conserve such a special place on our coast,” said Janice Allen, Director of Land Protection at the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust.
Currently, the site hosts a habitat for numerous migratory bird and bat species, including the federally threatened Northern Long-Eared Bat, and many others listed on the “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” (SGCN) by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. SGCN species believed to be inhabiting this tract include the Prothonotary Warbler, Anhinga, Spotted Turtle, Snowy Egret, American Woodcock, Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bat as well as the Southeastern bat.
“The permanent protection of this tract along the Chowan River will not only protect significant cypress gum swamp, but it will also serve as a key wildlife corridor. This beautiful tract of land will benefit and protect a suite of high conservation value species as a result of being located within the Colerain/Cow Island Swamp and Slopes Significant Natural Heritage Area,” said Teal Edelen, Program Officer at the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.
“Enviva is proud to continue to make progress on the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund’s 10-year commitment of protecting sensitive bottomland and wetland forests,” said Brandi Colander, Chief Sustainability Officer at Enviva. “We will continue to play an active role to ensure forestland remains as forestland and precious habitats and ecosystems are preserved.”
The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund’s goal is to be a catalyst for investments in forest and habitat conservation in southeast Virginia and North Carolina’s coastal plain. As the fund enters its eighth year of the planned 10-year partnership, 31 projects have been funded with a total commitment of over $3.2 million, including the project announced today. When these projects are completed, the Fund will have helped protect an estimated 31,000 acres of sensitive wetland forests and other habitats.
About the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund:
The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund is a $5 million, 10-year program established by Enviva in December 2015 to protect environmentally sensitive bottomland and wetland forests. Administered by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, the Fund awards grants annually to nonprofit organizations and government agencies for conservation projects. Learn more at http://envivaforestfund.org/
About the North Carolina Coast Land Trust:
The Coastal Land Trust is a high-performing, accredited, regional land trust with a reputation for excellence. Established in 1992, it serves the 31 counties in the coastal plain of North Carolina and saves special places in the coastal plain like barrier islands, creates nature parks and preserves, protects family farms, and conserves and restores longleaf pine forests. The mission of the Coastal Land Trust is to enrich the coastal communities of North Carolina through conservation of natural areas and working landscapes, education, and the promotion of good land stewardship. Learn more: https://coastallandtrust.org/
About the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities:
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities. To learn more about the Endowment, please visit our website at www.usendowment.org.
Communications and Administrative Coordinator, U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities