On Monday, May 17, the Eno River Association acquired 56 acres and over a mile of riparian corridors along the Upper Eno and two tributary streams in Orange County. The move will safeguard local drinking water and further the protection of undeveloped forestland in the Eno River watershed in the Neuse River basin.
“This beautiful tract has an astonishing amount of river frontage,” says Executive Director Robin Jacobs. “We are very grateful to the landowners, who worked with their realtor to contact us before putting the land on the open market.”
The acquired property has nearly seven tenths of a mile of frontage on the Eno and an additional 2,200 linear feet along two tributaries, including an unnamed stream and Panthers Branch. The land lies north of US Hwy 70 West and is upstream of Corporation Lake and Lake Ben Johnston, which provide drinking water for Orange and Alamance counties as well as the Town of Hillsborough.
The project also benefits over a half million residents and businesses downstream. From its headwaters in northwestern Orange County, the Eno River flows 33 miles through Hillsborough, then Durham, and into Falls Lake, the primary water supply for the City of Raleigh and other Wake County communities. The newly protected stretch of river is also home to numerous rare aquatic species. A NC Significant Natural Heritage Area, it provides habitat for freshwater mussels and fish, including the Atlantic pigtoe, creeper, notched rainbow, and Carolina darter.
Support for the project has been provided by the City of Raleigh, the Eno River Association’s Allen Lloyd Fund for the Protection of the Upper Eno, the Margaret C. Nygard Land Acquisition Fund, and most importantly, the landowners. Grants and contributions are still being sought to defray $285,000 in the organization’s remaining out-of-pocket costs.
“The Eno River Association and its members are proud to be able to bring about this land acquisition,” says Barbara Driscoll, President of the Association. “These public-private-nonprofit partnerships are increasingly important in our land protection efforts. Conserving private lands is absolutely necessary to protect water quality and rural landscapes.”
The Eno River Association is a nationally accredited land trust that has protected more than 7,130 acres for public parks and natural resources conservation on private land in Durham and Orange counties. It is well known for its Festival for the Eno, held annually since 1980 over Independence Day weekend. The event raises funds for land and water protection and public awareness about local conservation issues.