Donate ButtonNewsletter buttonMovie buttonNC Land Trusts buttonNCCNP logo

image for facebook image for twitter

Jessup’s Mill Pond

Wild and wonderful Carolina bay

The unique network of Carolina Bays located in southeastern Cumberland County is one of the treasures of the region and a focus area of the Sandhills Area Land Trust. In recent years SALT has facilitated the protection of several strategic lands in this area, adding to the more than 10,000 acres presently owned by the State of North Carolina in this region.

The protection of Jessup’s Mill Pond is one of those recent success stories. This 1186-acre tract, located off Hwy. 53 in southern Cumberland County, has long been a priority of both the Sandhills Area Land Trust and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Ranked as a significant natural heritage area by the NC Natural Heritage Program, it serves as a critical link to surrounding lands owned by the State of North Carolina. It connects southward to Horseshoe Lake (Suggs Millpond) and Marshy Bay natural area, eastward to Bushy Lake State Natural Area, and northward to Simmons Mill Pond natural area, forming a vast network of biologically significant wildlife habitats. It is also home to two rare animals – anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) and chicken turtle (Deirochelys reticularia), and two rare plants – southern bogbutton (Lachnocaulon beyrichianum) and sandhills wild petunia (Ruella ciliosa).

In the spring of 2005 SALT learned that the Jessup land was for sale and there was an immediate need to move quickly to secure it for long-term protection. As a state agency, the NCWRC had to apply for grant funding from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Natural Heritage Trust Fund, a lengthy process, and could not move quickly enough to secure the monies for the purchase. They sought the help of SALT in trying to protect the site. After exhausting all of the traditional avenues of funding, SALT’s associate director, Candace Williams, contacted a private real estate investor to ask if he would be willing to put up the financial collateral to secure the entire tract, giving the Commission time to secure grants to purchase the land. The individual generously agreed to secure the land for SALT and the NCWRC because of “his passion for conservation as well as his love for the great State of North Carolina.”

SALT’s work around Cumberland County’s Carolina bays continues, and we are investigating new opportunities all the time. Are you a landowner interested in protecting your land? Check out our landowner’s page for more information about conservation options offered by SALT. Click here for a map of SALT’s land protection priority areas.