ELLERBE — Terry Sharpe is making sure that his land is preserved for future generations.
Sharpe made the decision to place 113 acres of his property off of North Carolina Route 73 in a conservation easement with The LandTrust for Central North Carolina. Only three acres are excluded where Sharpe’s home is located. The land is known as “Burnt Pines.”
“I talked it over with my family and we really had no desire to develop the land,” Sharpe said.
Sharpe, of Ellerbe, is a retired North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission biologist and knows the importance of preserving the natural habitats for wildlife. The easement he has granted to LandTrust so that the land within the easement will never be developed or used as a subdivision.
Sharpe will still be able to manage timber on the land, hunt on the land and grow wildflower seeds. His land is not open to the public, but he hopes to preserve it for others to potentially take advantage of in the future.
The easement will be transferable to subsequent owners of the property. That property owner would be obligated to adhere to the conditions of the conservation easement.
LandTrust has been around since 1995 and the goal of the organization is to conserve land and natural areas.
“We’re coming up on our 20th anniversary,” said Joe Morris, development director of LandTrust. “Since then we have conserved 2,400 acres of land. Those lands include land along rivers and streams, pine forest and farmland. Our organization is based out of Salisbury and covers a 10 county region.”
Those counties include Anson, Cabarrus, Davidson, Davie, Iredell, Montgomery, Randolph, Richmond, Rowan and Stanly.
The organization has been in Richmond County since 2008, when it obtained a conservation easement from Bill Webb for 115 acres of The Webb Farm in Ellerbe.
Crystal Cockman, associate director for LandTrust, has been working very closely with Sharpe in working out the details of the easement as well as exploring the property and all it has to offer.
“Terry has managed this property so well,” Cockman said. “The wildflower diversity here is incredible.”
Sharpe has been able to continue the growth of a variety of plant life by utilizing a process known as prescribed burning. It is a technique used in forest management to help get rid of hazardous wildfire fuel that scatters along the forest floor through the underbrush. The latest burning that Sharpe conducted on his land was eight days ago and already some green was coming up through the ash.
“I divide it up into different areas when I burn,” Sharpe said. “In about a week after a burn you’ll start to see plants popping up. After a month or so the entire floor will be covered in hundreds of different plants. These plants are native to the area and dependent on fire to keep the environment open.”
The land and its diversity in plants and wildlife wasn’t the only interest LandTrust had in Sharpe’s land. The Big Mountain Creek that is a boundary to the property is also an important aspect to preserve.
“The creek itself provides very high quality water and a diverse aquatic life,” Cockman said.
Sharpe said that when the creek floods it provides new fertile soil to the forest floor that helps plants grow.
“It’s great that this land is being preserved,” Cockman said. “It really provides huge public and wildlife benefits.”