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Coastal Land Trust purchases "ecologically significant” floodplain forest in Navassa

Coastal Land Trust Dollisons Swamp 3.jpg
Walker Golder
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The conserved land is the heart of Dollison’s Swamp, a site identified as “very ecologically significant” by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program.

The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust has purchased 1,048 acres along 3.5 miles of the Cape Fear River and 1.5 miles of Indian Creek in Brunswick County.

The property will be protected forever by the nonprofit conservation organization and will be managed as a natural area.

“The area is a vast floodplain forest rich with wildlife,” said Coastal Land Trust Executive Director Walker Golder. “Protecting this forest will help reduce the risk and severity of flooding to downstream communities, protect habitat for wildlife, and enhance water quality.”

The conserved land is the heart of Dollison’s Swamp, a site identified as “very ecologically significant” by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. This designation is due to its age and near-pristine bottomland hardwood and cypress-gum forest.

It was also identified as a high-priority site for protection by the Town of Navassa and the Coastal Land Trust.

The area’s floodplain forest, creeks, and freshwater marsh provide important nursery areas for fish such as striped bass, American and hickory shad, and possibly Atlantic sturgeon.

The area also provides a habitat for rare or threatened bat species, bottomland forest-dependent wading birds, waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds.

“The wild and wonderful Dollison’s Swamp of Brunswick County hosts countless buttressed cypress and swamp tupelo trees, many of them ancient. Fishermen, kayakers, and boaters regularly enjoy this scenic and secluded spot. Downstream, greater Wilmington area residents reap its myriad benefits because the swamp moderates floodwaters, filters water, and provides critical habitat for fish and wildlife.”
Janice Allen, NC Coastal Land Trust’s Director of Land Protection

Funding for the purchase was provided through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Damage Assessment, Remediation and Restoration Program, and an Enviva Forest Conservation Fund grant.

The acquisition is part of the Kerr-McGee Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program, with funding administered through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The project was selected for funding because of its proximity to the Kerr-McGee site and because of the tract’s conservation significance.

The forest connects to a 1,337-acre property held under conservation easement by the Coastal Land Trust and adds to more than 14,000 acres the land trust is already protecting along the Lower Cape Fear River.