A second county-owned open space is on schedule to open for limited public access by fall.
Wake County is finalizing access and trails for the 256-acre Turnipseed Nature Preserve, located along Marks Creeks south of Knightdale and Wendell. The preserve will feature boardwalks, hiking and nature trails, and areas for fishing, picnicking and play.
The county is also completing requirements for a $250,000 matching grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a division of the National Park Service.
“Because this tract was bought with open space money, we’re billing it as a nature preserve,” said Chris Snow, Wake’s director of parks, recreation and open space. “There won’t be ball fields and things like that. It’s going to be very low impact.”
The county hired a consultant who assessed the second phase of the project and reported back on environmentally sensitive areas throughout the tract. As a grant requirement, Wake is now asking residents to suggest what environmental effects they think the assessment might have missed.
A one-month public comment period on the assessment ends May 31. The assessment is online at nando.com/4ro and in print at East Regional Library in Knightdale and at the community libraries in Wendell and Zebulon.
The Turnipseed preserve is among the first three Wake County open space properties set aside for public use. All three tracts are located in eastern Wake and are part of about 6,000 acres the county has purchased for open space since 2000.
“Opening these kinds of nature preserves was new to the county,” Snow said. “We identified these three first, and there are others identified, but we’re just not to the point to go public with them yet.”
The 85-acre Robertson Millpond Preserve north of Wendell was the first property to open for public use, in 2015. It is believed to be the only blackwater cypress swamp in the Piedmont and is home to the county’s only known population of bald cypress trees.
In October, Wake commissioners approved the purchase of 70 acres next to Robertson Millpond Preserve, on the opposite side of Buffalo Creek. The purchase provides a greater layer of protection for the rare nature refuge and gives the county the option of expanding the preserve in the future.
The third property is also located north of Wendell. The county had hoped to open the Proctor Farm Preserve this year but has pushed that date back to some time in 2018. The county has faced zoning obstacles around the Little River, which has long been a candidate for a future reservoir.
At 563 acres, the Proctor Farm Preserve is the largest tract owned by Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space.
Share your thoughts on the environmental assessment for the second phase of the Turnipseed Nature Preserve in one of the following ways:
Mail: Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space, P.O. Box 550, Suite 1000, Raleigh, N.C. 27602.