On a brisk fall day, Milton Crowther guides me on a tour around his property. After making our way through a dense bottomland forest with 100 year old oaks and sycamores reaching the clouds, we head to a farm fields.”These here are some of the finest tomatoes you’ll find in the county,” he says.”Since we’re so close to the water here, we have never been affected by the drought- a bumper crop year after year.” We move on to a sea of green and yellow.”Here, take some of these zucchini and squash with you. Oh there’s nothing like fresh picked vegetables.” Loaded up with more Vegetables than my wife Meredith (a vegetarian) and I will ever be able to eat, we head back to the house to chat.
In 1955, the New England native relocated to Salisbury to work as a chemical Engineer for proctor Chemical Company. With a keen interest in birds and wildlife, and a yearning to be surrounded by nature, the chemist and his wife Louise were drawn to a lush forest of 215 acres just ten minutes from down- town Salisbury. Another unique characteristic of the property that drew the Crothers to the site was the 1.5 miles of frontage along the South Yadkin River.
This feature is also what first caught the attention of The Land Trust. With our ongoing effort to promote water quality in this region, the densely forested river shoreline is extremely significant, especially in light of the fact that the Salisbury pump station, that supplies drinking water to much of Rowan County, lies adjacent. But the site is also ecologically significant for the functioning wetlands it is home to, as well as the locally significant “Pickler’s Bluff” (as identified by Dr. Michael Baranski in his natural area inventory of Rowan County.)
Another key factor that attracted the interest of The Land Trust to the property was its proximity to another permanently protected site on the river. The Crowther tract is situated just two small tracts to the south of the 300 acre South Yadkin Refuge purchased by The Land Trust in 1999. These two protected tracts will guarantee a 3.5 mile nearly continuous buffer along the South Yadkin River. And not only does this property represent the end of residential encroachment on the South Yadkin River at the water pump station, but the impressive hardwood forest hosts a unique variety of wildlife, game, and migratory and native waterfowl. In fact Milton, an avid birder, also participated in the inaugural turkey production program in the 1980s and 1990s which ultimately saw the release of countless turkeys into the wild. Today, Milton’s birds are known to inhibit many tracts in Rowan, Davie, and Davidson counties. And if you visit the Crowther Farm today, you’ll still see an eclectic collection of jungle fowl, Toulouse geese, multiple species of pheasant (Japanese Green, Silver, and Elliot), wood duck, peacocks, and numerous dove species.
Back at the house Milton says,” I’ve seen what’s gone on around us in some places and I just don’t want that to happen here. It’s too beautiful.” Speaking of the clear cut forests and unsightly development that has sprung up nearby, Milton and Louise want assurances that their land…their home, will be preserved for future generations.
These considerations lead the Crowthers to graciously sell the property to The Land Trust, so as to effectively extend the boundaries of the South Yadkin Refuge to 515 acres.
The Crowther’s steadfast commitment to conservation and preservation is matched only by the immense ecological value their land provides to the region. We are very fortunate to have them as part of The Land Trust family and cannot over-state our eternal gratitude for their cooperation and willingness to collaborate on this critical land protection effort.
This project is being made possible through a generous grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the late Elizabeth Stanback. Details of the large “Two Rivers” project grant from the Clean Water management Trust fund will be discussed more fully in the next newsletter when other exciting projects are publicly revealed.