Farm family partners with ERA, Orange County on Conservation Easement

ORANGE COUNTY, JUNE 21, 2017 -- Geoff and Jane Gledhill, of Cedar Grove Windy Hill Farm north of Hillsborough, are fully invested in sustainability. They place a premium on improving the health of the land, and respect both the animals they raise as well as the consumers of their beef, eggs, honey, and produce.

gledhill_300Their commitment to protecting natural resources is also what inspired them to work with the Eno River Association and Orange County to place a permanent conservation easement on a 30-acre portion of their property. Secured in June, the easement protects 3,000 feet along Lick Creek and three feeder streams. The creek and streams feed directly into Lake Orange, an important water supply for the Town of Hillsborough.

Conservation easements are written agreements that permanently protect land for its natural or cultural resource values while leaving it in private ownership. Besides safeguarding drinking water for people and businesses in Hillsborough, the Lick Creek project protects water supplies for Durham and Raleigh downstream. It also protects a scenic view shed along Carr Store Road in northern Orange County.

"We are honored to partner with the Eno River Association and Orange County in the perpetual conservation of our Lick Creek property. And, we thank the City of Raleigh for participating financially,” said Geoff and Jane Gledhill. “The property is located in the headwaters of Eno River and is remarkable for its pristine condition and beautiful stand of mature Tulip Poplar trees."

Funding to secure the easement was provided by the Orange County Lands Legacy Program, the City of Raleigh’s Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative, the Eno River Association and the landowners.

Committed landowners and both private and public funding and are essential to this type of conservation, according to Barbara Driscoll, President of the member-supported Eno River Association. “Conserving private lands is absolutely necessary to protect water quality, wildlife habitat and our rural landscape,” said Driscoll. “Our members are thrilled.”

Mark Dorosin, Chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, said, “This conservation easement exemplifies the County's dedication to preserving our natural resources and family farms. The County has been able to protect even more of these special places by partnering with landowners and others such as the City of Raleigh and the Eno River Association, as was the case for this project. This is a win-win for all citizens, and we thank the Gledhill family for their vision and commitment to conserving these resources.”

The Eno River Association was instrumental in creating Eno River State Park in the early 1970s. The nonprofit land trust continues to acquire land and permanent conservation easements across northern Durham and Orange counties for water quality, public recreation and important plants and wildlife habitat. The group’s efforts have resulted in the permanent protection of more than 7,169 acres.

Orange County’s Lands Legacy Program was established in 2000, and has since conserved over 3,376 acres of land containing natural areas, riparian buffers, prime farm and forestland, cultural sites, and for future park sites. Orange County has collaborated on a number of projects with the Eno River Association in the Upper Eno River basin and currently co-hold four conservation easements there.