UPDATES: Save Black Meadow Ridge

Durham Board of Adjustment Meeting: Tuesday, May 24 at 8:30am

Hear the appeals related to the Westpoint development at Black Meadow Ridge. The meeting will be held at Durham City Hall, 101 City Hall Plaza, in Council Chambers on the first floor. The public will be encouraged to stay in the lobby, but the chamber will be open to the public, subject to social distancing requirements. The meeting is expected to last for several hours. 

This is a quasi-judicial hearing and the topics at hand pertain to zoning and land-use issues and do not directly relate to traffic, environmental, or stormwater issues. All that said, a show of support is important so long as attendees show appropriate decorum.

If you are unable to attend in person, you can watch the meeting live on the City of Durham’s YouTube channel.

Act to Save Black Meadow Ridge: A letter from the Nygard Family

Margaret Nygard began her lifelong work over 50 years ago, protecting the Eno River and the land around it. Her family will always care about the Eno. The Nygards have written the urgent message below which will be printed in the Indy Weekly for the Triangle community to rally behind.


Reasons to Save Black Meadow Ridge at West Point on the Eno City Park

I. ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS ~

1. Protection of the water quality in a critical watershed area which affects the Eno River, the source of drinking water for Falls Lake reservoir in Raleigh and the future Teer Quarry in Durham.

2. Preservation of the nationally significant Eno River Aquatic Habitat which contains endangered and threatened species, among them, the Neuse River waterdog, the yellow lamp mussel, the Roanoke bass aka the red-eye, the panhandle pebblesnail (Virginia pebblesnail), and the Atlantic pigtoe.

3. Preservation of the extensive wildlife corridor provided by the contiguous parklands of West Point on the Eno City Park and the Eno River State Park within our increasingly urbanized region. A conservation model for the state, this wildlife corridor gives animals passage into four counties and runs some 20 miles on the Eno, reaching beyond to the Falls of the Neuse Gamelands.

4. Protection from increased flooding at West Point, which will bring silt and pollution to natural habitat and will potentially damage the historic site, in particular the milldam and gristmill.

5. Preservation of a sizable unspoiled old forest, which mitigates climate change on a local level and provides the benefits of cleaning the water and air.

6. Renewed commitment by the City to the 50 year old conservation achievement of saving West Point on the Eno which has been of immeasurable benefit to Durham, the Triangle, and the State. By preserving Black Meadow Ridge as an intrinsic, historic part of West Point, the City will continue to protect the nationally significant cultural and natural heritage of West Point on the Eno City Park.

RECREATION BENEFITS ~

7. Providing equitable access to natural areas and nature trails by expanding the healthful quiet forest of West Point on the Eno City Park. As the city grows this park on the bus line provides access to an unspoiled, secluded natural place – an enhanced opportunity for all of Durham’s citizens to explore and enjoy.

8. Continuation of the water-related activities of swimming, fishing, wading and canoeing in the clean Eno River, which is dependent on keeping environmental protections in place. If the wildlife habitat is preserved, human use is enhanced, because the water is clean and safe for such recreation. Should the river’s water quality be degraded, these activities cannot continue to be safely enjoyed.

CULTURAL BENEFITS ~

9. Preservation of the historical identity of West Point on the Eno, keeping the rural character of 404 acres free of the intrusion of modern construction on the view-shed and preventing damage and alteration of the original topography, the historic mill, and its historic waterworks and the milldams. This living history museum is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of Durham’s two Cultural Heritage Parks.

10. The preservation of an unspoiled place with Native American and African American history which predates the City and County of Durham. In 1878 Dilsey Holman, who had once been enslaved, bought 88 acres of this ridge, a notably large property for an African American woman in the time of Reconstruction.

11. Protection of the Holman Cemetery and preservation of the historic wagon trail which runs between the cemetery and the Buffalo Trail at West Point. Researchers are arriving at the conclusion that it was originally a slave cemetery, the final resting place for many from the enslaved families who once lived there in association with West Point Mill and the McCown homeplace.

12. Protection of the historic character of the home, darkroom and surroundings of the now internationally recognized photographer Hugh Mangum. His egalitarian photographs from the late Victorian period feature Black and White, young and old, rich and poor, side-by-side, for he welcomed all into his studio. He left us many scenic photographs of West Point, which include West Point Mill in the 1908 flood and the Sennett Hole, itself a millsite predating 1752.

For these and many more reasons, contact Durham city officials and tell them to do everything in their power to protect Black Meadow Ridge.  

Here are the email addresses you can use:

Mayor Elaine M. O’Neal: Elaine.O’Neal@durhamnc.gov

General address for City Council: council@durhamnc.gov

Individual Council Members:


Resolution Regarding Black Meadow Ridge

Read the full resolution as a pdf.

“…Now, therefore be it resolved that the Association for the Preservation of the Eno River Valley wholeheartedly hereby goes on record to support the preservation of Black Meadow Ridge and its addition to West Point on the Eno Durham City Park and further hereby strongly advocates against the building of the current proposed “Eno Village” development on Black Meadow Ridge and welcomes the opportunity to purchase the property at a fair and reasonable price.”


Honor her legacy with a donation to the Margaret C. Nygard Land Acquisition Fund

Named in honor of the Eno River Association founder, this memorial fund is our primary land acquisition tool — supporting the purchase of property and conservation easements along the Eno River. Donations made to this fund remain restricted for use in land acquisition and stewardship anywhere within our watershed. Make your gift today.

Please note: At this time, the developer is not entertaining the Association’s offer to purchase the property for appraised value. Therefore, donations made to the Margaret C. Nygard Fund will be pooled to support land acquisition throughout the watershed. The fund will be mobilized to support Blackmeadow Ridge if this situation changes.

Bringing Eno River State Park to Downtown Hillsborough

The Eno River Association is facilitating the sale of over 200 acres near downtown Hillsborough from Classical American Homes Preservation Trust to the Archaeological Conservancy and the State to be added to Eno River State Park. Once complete, this transaction will increase Eno River State Park to over 4,700 acres in Durham and Orange counties.

The property includes Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail, the James M. Johnston Nature Preserve, parts of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and Hillsborough Riverwalk, and the remains of four known early settlements dating back to A.D. 1000, including an Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation village.

READ MORE about these natural, historical, and cultural treasures.

Eno River Association has expanded our Confluence Natural Area!

The Eno River Association is thrilled to announce two recent land protection efforts that will increase the total area and property buffers at its 200-acre Confluence Natural Area. The Association has purchased nearly 70 acres to the west of the West Fork Eno River and has protected an additional 25 acres with a conservation easement on the adjacent property. This acquisition furthers the protection of the Eno River, helps safeguard local drinking water for over half a million residents and businesses downstream, provides additional connectivity for wildlife, and expands future hiking opportunities.

The Confluence Natural Area is located northwest of Hillsborough, where the East and West Forks of the river meet to form the main stem of the Eno River. The Confluence provides visitors the opportunity for low-impact recreation, such as hiking, picnicking, and photography, 7-days a week from dawn until dusk. Currently, there are over two miles of hiking trails that lead you on a journey through early sessional fields of pollinator habitat, expansive agricultural fields, and forested riversides with glimpses of relics from past agricultural uses. The addition of protected land at the Confluence will allow the Association to connect more people with the river and this special place.

The Association will open this section to visitors after careful review of the site and updated management plan. It is anticipated that a bridge will be needed to connect it to the current trails and parking area. If you are interested in these trail building opportunities, sign up to become a stewardship volunteer!

This expansion further strengthens the Association’s role in supporting public preserves, a mission-expansion made during the initial purchase of the Confluence Natural Area in 2007. Prior to that, the Association’s goal was to transition the lands it protected to government agencies and parks departments who would open them to the public, such as with the creation of Eno River State Park. The opening of the Confluence Natural Area has allowed the Association to expand on its mission to engage the public in learning about, exploring, and protecting the Eno River, at the start of its 41-mile journey to Falls Lake. The property is visited by thousands each year, and the Association hosts nature programs, Eno River Field Station teen summer camp, and other events at the property.  Since the initial acquisition in 2007, the Association has expanded the preserve three times – 2008, 2017, and now in 2022 – bringing the grand total to over 270 acres.

Funding for this purchase was made possible by generous donors such as the late Joyce Brown of Chapel Hill. Ms. Brown’s gift to the Association upon her death ensured that land preservation in Orange County could be a priority for our future work. The Roberta and Herman Brown Land Preservation Fund is one of the several land acquisition funds to which you can donate, when you make a gift to the Association.

Board & Committee Nominations

We are an Association built of, by, and for our community — and we need you to join us in ensuring our leadership reflects this!
 
 
We are prioritizing increasing the representation of racial and ethnic diversity in our leadership, and strongly encourage candidates from BIPOC communities to apply.
 
Additionally, we are also seeking individuals with the following skills for our next board class:
  • Accounting or financial management experience
  • Environmental Justice experience
  • Climate Change and Conservation experience
  • Real estate experience and networks
 
If you have other skills and experience you are ready to put to work for the Eno, please consider applying to serve on one of over a dozen program committees, including: Education, Festival, Land & Stewardship, Fundraising, Nominating, Calendar, Land Use & Advocacy, and more. See the full list of committees.

Eno River Association Earns Renewed National Recognition

Durham, NC, February 17, 2022 – One thing that unites us as a nation is land: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1966, the Eno River Association, has been doing just that for the people of Durham and Orange counties. Now the Eno River Association announced it has renewed its land trust accreditation – proving once again that, as part of a network of over 450 accredited land trusts across the nation, it is committed to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in its conservation work.

“Renewing our accreditation demonstrates Eno River Association’s ongoing commitment to permanent land conservation in the Eno River watershed,” said Jessica Sheffield, Executive Director. “We are a stronger organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation renewal process. Our dedication to this work means that special places – such as our Confluence Natural Area – will forever be protected, and Durham and Orange counties will be an even greater place for us and for future generations.” 

The Eno River Association provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded renewed accreditation, signifying its confidence that the Eno River Association’s lands will be protected forever. Accredited land trusts now steward almost 20 million acres – the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

The Association has protected 7,500 acres of natural and working lands and has helped create six local, state, and regional nature parks, including Eno River State Park, Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, West Point on the Eno City Park, Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve, Little River Regional Park, and the Confluence Natural Area. The Association continues to acquire land and secure easements, as well as provide stewardship, education programs, and events like the annual Festival for the Eno to inspire others to prioritize our local, natural resources.

“It is exciting to recognize the Eno River Association’s continued commitment to national standards by renewing this national mark of distinction,” said Melissa Kalvestrand, executive director of the Commission. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 450 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

The Eno River Association is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance’s most recent National Land Trust Census. A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission:

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

Affiliated Hike: Black Meadow Ridge Hike

Note: this is not an Eno River Association program, but it is being done in partnership with us.

Join hike leaders Joe Liles and Kerstin Nygard on Saturday February 19th at 2:00 p.m. for a better understanding of the impact that a large development on Black Meadow Ridge would have on the City of Durham’s beloved West Point on the Eno Park and on our Eno River that we have worked diligently for over 50 years to protect for all to enjoy. 

Express your love and concern for the Eno River and the quality of water which flows within its banks. Meet at West Point on the Eno on Saturday February 19, 2022 at 2 PM  at the picnic tables in the side yard of the McCown-Mangum House for a short hike (1.6 miles) along the Buffalo Trail to Warren Creek and Sennett Hole.

Along the trail the view to the south will reveal Black Meadow Ridge, the natural area which will be permanently altered should the ridge be developed. You will view from Buffalo Trail the enormous majestic rock formations and the mature forest with stands of mountain laurel. Should the development become reality the rocks will be blasted away and the forest which is outside the City park will be leveled and graded.

The proposed manmade hardscape will offer little to no filtering buffer to the watershed and the resulting contaminated runoff will flow directly into Black Meadow Branch and Warren Creek on into the Eno River. Come walk with us where buffaloes once roamed. Later Native Americans and finally early settlers trod this same trail. For those brave at heart, we will help you navigate the stepping stones over Warren Creek and make our way a short distance to the spectacular and vast Sennett Hole, known to be the preferred swimming hole on the Eno. We will loop back on the South River Trail which rises high above the Eno to Black Meadow Branch and the historic sites at West Point on the Eno Park.

Once your heart is filled with the beauty of Black Meadow Ridge along West Point Park and the Eno River, and your head with a greater understanding of the problem, we ask that you submit a wholehearted and informed written comment to PublicComments@ncdenr.gov BEFORE 5 PM on FEBRUARY 21 & include “Westpoint” in the subject line.  Request that NC Division of Water Resources deny the water permit to the developer given the impact that the high density development would have on water quality in the Eno. Click here for more information about submitting a written comment or here to review our talking points to help inform your comments. You can also visit the Save Black Meadow Ridge website here