The Town of Star is now the owner of a beautiful new passive park and important paddling and fishing access to the Little River thanks to important state trust fund monies and a partnership between the Town of Star and The LandTrust for Central NC.
This 30-acre property acquired in February by the Town of Star is a critical access to the Little River for paddlers and anglers alike. Furthermore, it has beautiful mature hardwood forests, with large rock outcrops and mountain laurel and galax. The natural communities throughout this property provide a mountainous feel uncommonly found in the Piedmont.
It is a noteworthy natural area located at the confluence of the West Fork and the East Fork of the Little River on Okeewemee-Star Road. These streams are classified as Nationally Significant Aquatic Habitat by the NC Natural Heritage program, and eight species of rare or endangered mussels have been found in the river on this property. Rare plants including Amorpha schwerinii (Piedmont Indigo Bush) are found here, as well.
“This property is a real jewel in this region, both ecologically and aesthetically,” states Associate Director Crystal Cockman. “This is a truly gorgeous spot – perfect for a family picnic, where children can play on the rocks and in the river, and enjoy the beauty that this area has to offer. The Land Trust is so excited to partner with the town to protect this special place for all to enjoy.”
The Land Trust worked with the Town to apply two years in a row for NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund monies for half the purchase price of the property, and these were awarded in December of 2013. The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund required dedicated matching funds before being eligible for their funding, and securing this CWMTF funding made that application possible. CWMTF dedicated $60,000 to the project for acquisition and transactional expenses, and PARTF awarded the remaining $47,500 for purchase of the site.
The Town of Star and The Land Trust worked together to administer the grants and acquire the property, and will continue working to develop trails for hiking, fishing, picnicking, and more. The Land Trust, the Town and other partners hope to work together to develop parking and a more formal canoe access in the future as a second phase of the project. This builds off other public access areas downstream, including the new Town of Troy access on Troy-Candor Road, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission owned access at Pekin Road, and a community public pay access on Green Oak Gap Rd.
Further south still on the Little River is the NC Department of Cultural Resources owned and managed Town Creek Indian Mound, and the archeological resources of this site are still in early exploration. Special thanks to the Norcross Wildlife Foundation for providing short-term loan funds for this project.