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State acquires 2,224 acres for Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge Coastal Reserve

Morehead City

The state has purchased 2,224 acres in Tyrrell County to be added to the Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge Coastal Reserve.

Known as the Woodley Tract, the land was purchased through a partnership between the U.S. Air Force, The Nature Conservancy and the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management.

Located about 15 miles south of Columbia, the Buckridge Reserve is part of the East Dismal Swamp, a wetlands complex spanning Dare, Tyrrell and Washington counties. The 29,335-acre reserve provides habitat and serves as a wildlife corridor for many rare, threatened, and endangered species including bald eagle, Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon, red-cockaded woodpecker, and American alligator.

The Woodley Tract is a significant addition to the Buckridge Reserve and protects over 10 miles of frontage on the Alligator River and its Northwest Fork, as well as, a largely undisturbed Low Pocosin community. Pocosins are shrub-dominated habitats that, in Tyrrell County, occur in slightly raised or domed peatlands. Low pocosin vegetation is typically less than 5 feet tall, partly due to the low fertility and wetness produced by the saturated peat. At one time, pocosins were prominent ecosystems in the southeastern United States, but they are now globally imperiled.

“The Buckridge Reserve protects the resilience of coastal North Carolina by ensuring the long-term protection of coastal wetlands and the benefits they provide” said Braxton Davis, director of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management. “The addition of the Woodley Tract will help maintain the outstanding water quality of the Alligator River and protect the water quality of the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary.”

The Nature Conservancy facilitated the purchase by using two funding sources. One was an award to the Division of Coastal Management by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetland Grant Program and the other was funding provided by the U.S. Air Force through the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, a funding mechanism used to secure operational buffers in support of military training.

“The Woodley Tract is a great example of a multi-faceted, partnership approach to acquisition,” said Fred Annand, Director of Conservation Resources at the N.C. Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. “In addition to habitat and water quality protection, this acquisition also helps secure the operational airspace of the U.S. Air Force’s Dare County Range.”

The N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve protects natural areas for education, research and compatible traditional uses. Since its creation in 1989, the program has preserved more than 44,000 acres of unique coastal environments at 10 sites along the coast.

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