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.