July 26, 2021

In 2011, Three Rivers Land Trust (TRLT), then known as The LandTrust for Central North Carolina, was presented with the opportunity to conserve 42 acres of pristine beech and oak-hickory forest tucked in within the small town of Spencer. This hidden gem protected biodiversity and wildlife habitat, but more importantly it provided a much-needed green space in an urban environment. At the time, this natural scene was contrasted by the bulldozers on site, ready to take down the forest- but the land trust saw an opportunity to connect people to the land, no matter where they were located, and worked diligently to conserve the land from development.

Flashing forward to July 2021, TRLT is excited to announce the permanent conservation of an additional 32 acres of hardwood forest that is planned to be added to the Fred and Alice Stanback Educational Forest and Nature Preserve, formerly known as “Spencer Woods.” Already providing the Town of Spencer with 2.5 miles of trails, the added acreage will offer even more recreational opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy. This addition will connect the park to Grants Creek, and the hardwoods on this property will provide wildlife habitat within the urban setting- benefiting a variety of species.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to work with the Wallace family in order to conserve the land adjacent to Fred and Alice Stanback Educational Forest and Nature Preserve.  We are so grateful for their [Wallace’s] willingness to donate a substantial portion of the property’s value to make this project happen,” stated Director of Conservation Crystal Cockman. “Conserving land is important everywhere, but it is especially important in urban regions. This project will provide wildlife habitat in an area where natural areas are sparser, as well as providing people in the region with a space for recreational activities like hiking and birding. “We are so happy to be a part of this project,” exclaimed Leo Wallace of Wallace Realty. “This project will provide members of our community even more space to get outdoors and enjoy what we have right in our own backyard.”

To finalize the preserve’s expansion, TRLT will be donating 13 additional acres along Grant’s Creek. This will nearly double the size of the nature preserve. Travis Morehead, Executive Director of Three Rivers Land Trust, expressed that “Our organization has a long history of adding land into the public trust.  We’ve worked to expand recreational opportunities in the form of local parks, state parks, game lands, and national forests. It is a core tenant of who we are as a conservation organization and that legacy continues to grow with this project.”

Three Rivers Land Trust remains committed to conserving these landscapes in the Piedmont and Sandhills. This purchase was made possible by the donation from the Duke Nature Grant, the North Carolina Land and Water Fund, and a bargain sale made possible by the Wallace Family.

To learn more about how to protect your own property, please contact Crystal Cockman at 704-647-0302 or crystal@threeriverslandtrust.org.

To become a member and support TRLT in their conservation mission, please contact Michael Fulk, Associate Director, at 704-647-0302 or michael@threeriverslandtrust.org.