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Raleigh Given $15M Of Land For New Nature Preserve

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The city of Raleigh announced Wednesday the donation of 155 acres of land in North Raleigh for a nature park.
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    The land, to be called the Annie Louise Wilkerson M.D. Nature Preserve Park, was donated to the city by the late Dr. Annie Louise Wilkerson, a Raleigh physician, who throughout her long career delivered more than 8,000 babies.

    Wilkerson, who died last September at the age of 91, left her farm estate located off Raven Ridge Road near Falls Lake, to the city in her will.

    In it, she specified exactly how she wanted the land to be used: no trees are to be cut down, unless they are diseased, and there is to be no development -- just a few trails to allow the public to enjoy the land, water and rolling hills.

    "She was a person who valued education very highly," said Raleigh city attorney Tom McCormick. "That's what she wants this for, to educate people about nature. She fully understood there aren't a lot of people who can see and walk on land like this."

    Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said a gift of this size is unprecedented. The closest gift in size may have been Pullen Park, near the North Carolina State University campus, which is just one-third the size of the new nature preserve park.

    "It's the kind of park that, quite frankly, the city of Raleigh could not acquire today, given the size and value of the property," Meeker said. "Valued roughly at $100,000 an acre -- you can do the math on that, but it's about a $15 million gift."

    In 2004, Wilkerson received the state's highest civilian honor from Gov. Mike Easley, the North Carolina Sate Award. Just a week before her death on Sept. 15, 2005, Wilkerson was inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame for her devotion to her profession and a lifetime of community service.

    The Annie Louise Wilkerson M.D. Nature Preserve Park is expected to be open to the public within a few years.