(NOTE: EEP is a program under the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, not under the N.C. Department of Transportation as stated in the following story.)





Winston-Salem Journal, Nov. 14, 2004


Grant will help create Surry's first state game land


N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission buys land tract on Little Mountain with $3.2 million from DOT


By Jim Sparks


The Piedmont Land Conservancy is turning over a large tract of land on Little Mountain in northwestern Surry County to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for use as the county's first state game land.

The land trust bought the 1,716-acre property last winter from G and G Lumber Company in Harmony, using $3.2 million from the N.C. Department of Transportation.

The DOT grant came from the agency's ecosystem enhancement program, which provides money for land preservation to offset the loss of land used by the agency in road-building projects.

The purchase protected an important wildlife habitat, scenic views and more than nine miles of streams feeding Mill Creek, an important tributary of the Mitchell River.

The Clean Water Management Trust fund also granted $25,000 to cover surveying and other acquisition costs for what will be known as the Mitchell River Game Land.

The land was under threat of being sold at public auction before the Piedmont Land Conservancy bought it.

Charles Brummitt, the executive director of the Piedmont Land Conservancy, said that the land trust turned the property over because it was bought with public money and because a state agency would have more of the resources needed to manage such a large tract.

The conservancy is a trust that works to protect natural and scenic lands, farms and green space in the state's north central piedmont.

The land trust serves a nine-county region: Alamance, Caswell, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin.

With the permanent protection of the Mitchell River Game Land, the conservancy has helped protect 6,199 acres within the Mitchell River watershed, or about 10 percent of the watershed.

Though this is a relatively small game land compared with others in the state, its location is important, said Wib Owen, who oversees game-land acquisition for the Wildlife Resources Commission.

Although the property swap was still being wrapped up this week, the tract was opened in September for hunting three days a week. The Mitchell River Game Land is one of about five in the northwestern area of the state, Owen said.

"It's important wildlife habitat," Owen said. "And from a game-land perspective, it provides a public hunting opportunity in an area where we don't have that much."

Jim Sparks can be reached at 727-7301 or at jsparks@wsjournal.com