The Eno River Association announced a 7.5 acres expansion of Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area today via a recent land acquisition. This property is a priority in the Eno River State Park Master Plan given its exceptional Natural Heritage Program Natural Area rating and will help provide habitat and water protection for the Eno River.
The property protects 350 linear feet of a tributary to the Eno River classified by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as Critical Habitat for the Federally Threatened Neuse River Waterdog and helps safeguard local drinking water for over half a million residents and businesses downstream. The addition of this property will add to the existing trail network at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area and provide recreational and educational opportunities for the Natural Area’s 200,000+ annual visitors.
“Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area is a management unit of Eno River State Park. While hiking is allowed on the trails throughout the Natural Area, its primary purpose is to protect the significant natural resources on the mountain,” says Kim Radewicz, Superintendent of Eno River State Park. “We are thrilled that the Association assisted in the purchase of additional acres, and more specifically an additional peak, of this important North Carolina natural resource.”
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area is located in Hillsborough between I-85 and the Eno River. Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area provides visitors the opportunity for low-impact recreation, such as hiking, picnicking, and photography, 7-days a week from 8 a.m. until dusk. Currently, there are just over three miles of hiking trails that lead you on a journey along the Eno River, through the dedicated old growth oak forest, and to the highest peak in Orange County. This expansion further strengthens the Association’s role in supporting public preserves and providing resource and recreational protection to our community.
Funding for this purchase was made possible by the NC Land and Water Fund, NC Environmental Enhancement Grant, NC State Parks, and generous donors such as yourself. The Margaret C. Nygard Land Acquisition Fund is one of the several land acquisition funds to which you can donate, when you make a gift to the Association and help us continue to protect the resources we count on and cherish.
About the Eno River Association
Eno River Association is an accredited land trust and watershed nonprofit founded in 1966 with a mission to protect the natural, historical, and cultural resources of the Eno River basin in northern Durham and Orange counties. It has protected 7,500 acres of natural and working lands and has helped create seven 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, Panther Branch Natural Area, and Confluence Natural Area. ERA 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.