By Jack Blackmer
Thanks to a donation from a generous family who loved their family’s land, there is a shady oasis in the midst of one of the most rapidly developing areas in Wake County that is now owned and protected forever by TLC! Totaling 24 acres of rich bottomland hardwood forest and wetlands teeming with wildlife in Green Level, the land was a part of a farm owned by the Council family since the 1800s.
The tract has significant conservation value since it supports three of the four public benefits of conservation, the criteria TLC uses in evaluating properties. It “Safeguards Clean Water” by providing a riparian buffer along 1,150 feet of White Oak Creek, which flows to Jordan Lake, a source of drinking water for approximately a half-million people in the region. The recently completed Jordan Lake Conservation Strategy ranks the property as a high priority for water quality protection.
Second, it “Protects Natural Habitats” with a dense canopy of ash, maples, and water oak trees and a forest floor carpeted with wildflowers such as lizard tails and jewel weed that is home to a wide variety of wildlife. It’s common to hear the drum of woodpeckers and the screech of hawks – you might even spot a bald eagle. The land along the greenway provides an excellent wildlife corridor where animals such as turtles, rabbits and deer can move freely, safe from an ever-increasing number of motor vehicles.
The third benefit supported by the land is “Connecting People with Nature.” The popular White Oak Creek Greenway runs the full length of the property along a Town of Cary trail easement. The greenway will run 7.9 miles from Cary’s Bond Park all the way to the American Tobacco Trail once a small segment currently under construction is completed. The greenway was recently designated a part of the East Coast Greenway that will eventually run from Maine to Florida. Being such an important link will bring multitudes of visitors and opportunities for environmental education!
Rebecca Ann Council Prince, a granddaughter of the original owners, said she used to play in White Oak Creek and watched horses pull out logs that had been cut for timber. Ann (as she prefers to be called) also said her father, Albert Murray Council, farmed the land and owned a General Store at the corner of Green Level Road West and Green Level Church Rd. Back then, the roads were quiet and the corner was referred to by locals as “The Crossroads.”
Ann and her four sisters decided to donate the land to TLC to keep it natural and protected, “I have four grandchildren and I hope they can come back one day and experience this land as I have been able to.”
TLC greatly appreciates the generosity of the Council family and is honored to be entrusted with the long term care of such a special place.