NEW BERN — North Carolina Coastal Land Trust added another 678 acres of protected land near military bases last week through a partnership with the state of North Carolina, the Marine Corps and the Navy.
Luken’s Island peninsula in Carteret County, strategically located across Turnagain Bay from Cherry Point air station’s Piney Island Bombing Range, was placed in trust to protect the Marine Corps’ ability to keep flight paths clear around the main base in Havelock, along with the Auxiliary Outlying Landing Field at Bogue.
Conservation projects also aid in the ability to keep Piney Island Bombing Range free of residential development.
Janice Allen, Coastal Land Trust deputy director, said, “We are proud to have completed another acquisition of development rights at Luken’s Island. We have completed 15 such dual military/conservation projects since 2006, protecting more than 7,500 acres of valuable wildlife habitat and preserving water quality while helping our local military bases.”
The protected tract features pine and hardwood forests, sloping down to estuarine marsh along the banks of Browns Creek, a relatively pristine tidal creek. Luken’s Island protected land is adjacent to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s 1,300 acre State Game Lands property,which is open to the public, and west of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge.
As a result, this project contributes to a growing network of protected riparian areas along the Neuse River and multiple tributaries within the lower Neuse River Estuary.
Because N.C. Coastal Land Trust purchased the development rights of the property, the owners may continue to hunt the land but can never develop it as a subdivision or use it for industrial purposes.
Money to protect the property came from grants totaling about $2.58 million from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund and grants from the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative.
North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, which works with landowners to save special lands, has helped save more than 49,000 acres of land in coastal North Carolina since 1992. The trust has offices in New Bern, Elizabeth City and Wilmington and a website, coastallandtrust.org.