This spring Jim Tucker visited is family property in Montgomery County with camera in hand. “It may be silly, but this could be the last time we ever see this house, so I wanted to video tape it and have something to remember it by,” Tucker said to LandTrust staff who met him at the property that day.
The 185-acre property, with its landscape of rolling hills, contains the headwaters of McClean’s Creek and several other tributaries, with some patches of native hardwoods and white pines. It also connects two substantial tracts of United States Forest Service property stretching from Badin Lake all the way to the protected Bingham Lands on the Uwharrie River, purchased by The LandTrust last fall.
But Tucker’s affection for the property was a personal one. The property contains a family home built in the early 1800s that has been the site of Tucker family reunions for decades. Through a series of events, the ownership of the property passed out of the family. The current owner, having no connection to the land, was planning to sell within a couple months.
“Although we did not have money in hand to purchase this property, we knew we would regret it if we let this opportunity pass us by. For both wildlife and recreation, this property is a critical link to other parcels we have already invested in nearby,” notes Executive Director Jason Walser. “Thanks to the patience of Craig Bouie (an attorney representing the estate of the landowner) and some creative financing, we were able to at least temporarily preserve this opportunity for a hopeful National Forest expansion.”
“Although we can’t save every family farm or historical home site, the location and landscape of this site made it a project we just couldn’t pass up. And providing Jim and his family with the ability to continue visiting this homeplace creates a truly unique conservation success story,” says Uwharrie Conservation Specialist Crystal Cockman. “Jim Tucker and his family can now rest easy knowing their family home is protected. The rest of us can also rest easy knowing that this crucial link for the Uwharrie National Forest trail system will still be around to provide recreational enjoyment.”
The LandTrust’s mission has always been to protect our “special natural areas, family farms and rural landscapes” in our ten-county region. And we hope that, along with the tangible benefits of land conservation, we can provide something less readily quantifiable but possibly even more personal and fulfilling. Sometimes this is manifested as a spiritual connection with the natural world, or a simple place of mental respite away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, or even a nostalgic connection to the past. For Jim Tucker, the LandTrust was a symbol of hope.