Crescent Resources began
making good Wednesday on a year-old pledge to protect streams in the
Catawba River basin, donating conservation easements totaling 320
acres in both Carolinas.
Crescent, the land and development arm of Duke Energy, owns about
200,000 acres in the Carolinas. Last May, the company said it would
protect nearly 200 miles of streams, which wash silt and other
pollutants into the Catawba and its lakes, with buffers.
The first of those, the company said, will cover 150
acres on Catawba Creek in Gaston County and 170 acres next to
Landsford Canal State Park on the Catawba in Chester County, S.C.
Easements prohibiting development will be signed with the Catawba
Lands Conservancy for the N.C. tract and the Katawba Valley Land
Trust in South Carolina.
The Catawba Creek property is a mix of forest and wetlands, good
habitat for ducks and other migratory birds, near Daniel Stowe
Botanical Garden in Belmont. It is the first tract the Catawba Lands
Conservancy has protected on Catawba Creek, which drains to upper
Landsford Canal, about 30 miles south of central Charlotte, has
deep historic and biological roots. The namesake canal dates to the
early 1800s. Now blooming in the river is North America's largest
colony of a rare wildflower, the white Rocky Shoals spider lily.
Both tracts are much wider than the 50-foot minimum buffer
Crescent promised. Environmental affairs director Carla DuPuy said
Crescent probably will protect more large properties if state
governments mandate stream buffers in the basin, duplicating
Earlier this month, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission
imposed 50-foot buffers on the Catawba's main stem and the
shorelines of seven lakes from James to Wylie.
In South Carolina, York and Chester counties already require
buffers on the Catawba. An advisory committee has recommended that
buffers be protected on waterways statewide.
The Landsford easement, which has a dense mix of hardwood trees,
is large enough to shelter a variety of migrating birds, said
Katawba Valley President Lindsay Pettus.
"This is the type of easement that will go a long way toward
protecting water quality for thousands of people in the basin,"
Pettus said. The trust is trying to raise $2.3 million by the end of
the year to expand the park by buying 1,049 more acres from
DuPuy said Crescent will rely increasingly on land trust
organizations, which are most familiar with local properties, to
identify other places to protect. She said Crescent expects to spend
about five years fulfilling its commitment.
"I'm just hoping the land trusts and individuals understand that
they can come to us," to nominate tracts, she said.
Crescent has committed $500,000 to pay for land surveys and other
costs of landowners who agreed to protect streamside property in the
basin. The money would be enough to buffer an additional 100 miles
of river and streams, the company said.
Crescent's buffer pledge helped Duke Energy win a national
conservation award last month from the National Wildlife Federation.