TLC Protects More of Important Aquatic Habitat in Johnston County

June 12, 2023
Middle Creek in Johnston County. Photo: TLC Staff

TLC is excited to announce the protection of 17 acres along Middle Creek in Johnston County! 

This purchase marks the first time since the Bailey & Sarah Williamson Preserve that Johnston County has directly funded a TLC project. Last year, Johnston County committed $625,000 to local land-protection efforts, which has allowed TLC and partners to secure greater funding and achieve wide success in protecting open spaces. With the County’s generous support – as well as that of the landowner- TLC was able to purchase the Middle Creek property, meaning that, now and forever, this land is completely owned, protected, and stewarded by TLC. 

The 17-acre property is entirely undeveloped and forested, an increasing rarity in one of North Carolina’s fastest growing counties. In addition to being largely comprised of young, mixed-hardwood forest, the majority of the land sits within the Middle Creek floodplain, allowing for a diversity of aquatic habitats suitable for many types of amphibians. The Neuse River Waterdog, a salamander found only in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River Basins of our state, prefers the large and continuously flowing waters of bordering Middle Creek. Other frogs and amphibians like the spotted salamander find the small short-lived springtime pools and streams within the floodplain as ideal homes.

Along with amphibians, Middle Creek’s habitats are vital for several other threatened and endangered aquatic species, including that of imperiled freshwater mussels like the federally endangered dwarf wedgemussel and Atlantic pigtoe. These habitats contribute to the larger Middle Creek area’s designation as a significant Natural Area by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. This state program identifies land or water areas that are important for the conservation of the natural biodiversity of North Carolina due to the presence of rare species, unique natural communities, or other ecological features on site. The new property along Middle Creek adds to TLC’s existing focus of land protection in this area, with another owned property nearby.

In addition to protecting wildlife habitats, the property preserves the health of streams that eventually flow into the Neuse River. The protection of this land will preserve the floodplains along the Middle Creek by storing water and reducing flooding. Maintaining healthy water quality here will contribute to ensuring clean drinking water for residents of Johnston County and other downstream communities of the Neuse River Basin. 

This exciting land protection project demonstrates the power of community and collaboration for nature. “We are thrilled to be able to permanently conserve this important property on Middle Creek and are extremely grateful to the landowner for creating this enduring conservation legacy, and to Johnston County for making this project possible with their funding. This property will add to TLC’s existing network of conservation lands on Middle Creek and provide a vital permanent refuge for some of the state’s most threatened aquatic species,” said TLC’s Land Protection Manager (East), Brenna Thompson.

The 17-acre property will continue to exist in its natural undeveloped state, as TLC will work to maintain the health of the habitats and waters present. Due to the sensitivity of the species found there, the property will not be open to the public at this time.

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