TLC Protects More of Wake County’s “Last Chance to See Landscape”

April 14, 2023

The Marks Creek Headwaters property in Wake County has been officially protected by TLC! This 46-acre property protects a key connecting tract in the Marks Creek Watershed, a critical priority area for Wake County and TLC for more than 20 years and a “Last Chance to See Landscape” designated by Scenic America. 

Located only 2 miles from TLC’s Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve, this project sits at the headwaters of Marks Creek in Eastern Wake County. The property’s 2,825 feet of stream eventually flows into the Neuse River, a drinking water source for Johnston County and other downstream residents of the Neuse Basin. Other natural features of the land include prime agricultural lands, wetlands, ponds, and mature hardwood forest.  

Home to pastures, old barns, historic homes, and rural churches, the Marks Creek watershed area offers a deep contrast to nearby bustling Raleigh. The historic rural landscape was first identified as a priority area for conservation in the late 1990’s by TLC and Wake County. Under the Marks Creek Rural Lands Initiative, TLC and partners have worked to catalyze land protection in this area, aiming to conserve significant cultural and natural resources, such as Marks Creek and Lake Myra, and connecting the community through corridors and trails, and preserve scenic landscape views. 

Since then, development in this region has continued to expand at a rapid pace, with the local towns of Wendell and Zebulon being two of the fastest growing towns in the State. While this growth brings important economic and social benefits to the Triangle, it also increases pressure on natural resources and highlights the need for a delicate balance.

TLC’s Kierra Hyman and Umar Muhammad visiting the property. Photo: TLC Staff

The landowners approached TLC several years ago with the goal of conserving their property in the face of this expansion. Directly adjacent to the project is Wendell Falls, a 4,000-home planned community, making this area an even more desirable destination for developers. Thanks to a bargain sale from the landowner, funding from Wake County Open Space bond, and funding from the NC Land and Water Conservation Fund, TLC was able to safeguard this land for generations to come.  

With the protection of the Marks Creek Headwaters, TLC is excited by the possibilities this open space poses for land protection work in this area. Not far from the tract are several other conserved properties and the future Lake Myra County Park, offering ideal space for expanding the Marks Creek Open Space Corridor and creating critical greenway and habitat connections. TLC plans to continue farming on this land, while also working to enhance the riparian buffers and habitat value. In the future, the property could be made available for programs including TLC’s NextGen farming collaboration.

For now, the Marks Creek Headwaters property is an important step forward at a time when protecting green spaces in the Triangle is more crucial than ever.  

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