1,200 acres added to planned state park near Spring Lake

Posted January 4, 2011 12:40 p.m. EST

— The Nature Conservancy recently transferred 1,261 acres in Cumberland County to the state Division of Parks and Recreation for the planned Carvers Creek State Park.

The group has protected 4,181 acres in Cumberland and Harnett counties, which have become part of Carvers Creek State Park, which is expected to open in 2012.

“This is gorgeous property,” Ryan Elting, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Sandhills Program, said in a statement. “In the past year, we restored over 620 acres of longleaf stands to the point where they can be maintained with prescribed fire.”

Longleaf pine is fire-dependent, needing regular fire to thrive, and fire suppression and development have substantially reduced the stands of longleaf pine, Elting said.

State lawmakers created Carvers Creek State Park in 2005. The largest piece of the park is off of U.S. Highway 401 north of Fayetteville, adjacent to Fort Bragg's eastern border.

"This property was vital for conservation’s sake. It contains extensive mature longleaf pine forest and valuable habitat for wildlife, including red-cockaded woodpeckers,” Elting said. “It’s also important for the military, protecting Fort Bragg from incompatible development, which ensures that the military can maintain its training mission.”

Two of the state’s conservation trust funds, the Natural Heritage Trust Fund and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, and the Department of Defense split the $11.3 million cost to acquire the land and develop the state park.