Spend a few minutes at the Low Water Bridge in Montgomery County and you’ll likely feel as though you just stepped back in time. The clear flowing Uwharrie River waters run inches beneath the bridge; towering oaks and sycamores line the banks, while nearby otters dive in search of their favorite foods. Excluding the bridge, the scene probably looks much as it has for hundreds of years. Yet, the most impressive aspect is the complete peacefulness experienced while taking in the forested scenery and listening to the waters rush by below. Add in the local history and appreciation of the site and you have just the type of spot that The LandTrust prides itself on protecting – the places you love!
The LandTrust is very pleased to announce the acquisition of the Bingham Lands, a 1,160 acre tract of forestland surrounding the Low Water Bridge. This marks the largest single acquisition in our eleven year history. It also greatly advances our work in the Uwharrie Mountain region and along the Uwharrie River itself. “This project is a great achievement for our organization,” says Kevin Redding, Associate Director. “It protects a tremendous forest, maintains a recreational resource for the public and will hopefully springboard additional conservation in the Uwharries.”
In the summer of 2005, a Uwharrie River Corridor Plan was completed by then Duke University Stanback Intern and now full-time Uwharrie Conservation Specialist Crystal Cockman. The plan looked at river frontage, buffer quality, rare plants and animals and other factors to identify those properties with the highest conservation values. In the end the Bingham Lands were, by far, the highest conservation priority along the Uwharrie River. The site contains nearly five miles of river frontage, another 32,000 feet of crystal clear tributaries, mature hardwood buffers and a significant occurrence of white pines, all while linking together four isolated parcels of the Uwharrie National Forest. Crystal returned to The LandTrust staff just in time to see the culmination of efforts to protect this spectacular property. “Although we believed the property as special to begin with, to see it rank as the single most important piece of land in this corridor and then to return to see it protected is truly an amazing and unique experience,” she states.
The Bingham Lands provide the backdrop for some of Piedmont North Carolina’s best paddling stretches. A popular local launching site, Low Water Bridge has provided access for several generations of canoers, kayakers and fishermen. The stretch of Uwharrie River downstream winds through a combination of Uwharrie National Forest and private lands, yet not one house can be seen from the water. Cross under Highway 109 and continue downstream and you’ll join the Yadkin River just across from Morrow Mountain State Park, where the two converge to form the Pee Dee River.
Funding for this project was made possible though the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP) and contributions from Bill and Nancy Stanback, and Fred and Alice Stanback. The LandTrust would also like to thank the prior owners of their property: Max and Ruth Bingham, Thad and Mary Bingham, and Jack and Peggy Bingham Sparks. As Executive Director Jason Walser affirms, “this tremendous conservation achievement could not have happened without the patience, commitment and generosity of all these individuals.”