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Land purchase expands buffer area around Camp Butner

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STEM — Tar River Land Conservancy has acquired more land to buffer the North Carolina National Guard’s Camp Butner from future development.

TRLC purchased 66 acres known as the “Hunter Tract” from Steven Bouldin of High Point. The property was previously owned by Bouldin’s uncle and aunt, the late Jimmy and Dot Hunter. Hunter began discussions with TRLC in 2015 about preserving the land. The Hunter Tract is located between Camp Butner’s eastern boundary and Roberts Chapel Road in Granville County.

“My uncle was an avid outdoorsman,” said Bouldin. “He grew up on a farm in a very rural community in Sampson County, and lived most of his life in the rural part of southern Granville County. He would be very pleased that the farm will be protected in its natural state.”

In addition to providing an undeveloped buffer around the military installation, the acquisition will help protect drinking water for communities in southern Granville County and in Wake County. Streams on the Hunter Tract flow into Lake Holt after exiting the property. The South Granville Water and Sewer Authority manages Lake Holt to supply drinking water to residents of Butner, Creedmoor and Stem. Downstream of Lake Holt, Falls Lake supplies drinking water to Raleigh and other communities.

“We are grateful to our partners for their generous support of this project,” said Derek Halberg, TRLC executive director. “Because of their investments, we can ensure that the Hunter Tract remains undeveloped forever.”

TRLC raised funds for the Hunter Tract project from three funding partners: $138,000 from the National Guard’s Army Compatible Use Buffer program, $138,000 from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, and $123,000 from the City of Raleigh’s Watershed Protection Program. The project costs include the price of the land, transactional costs, endowments for managing and monitoring the property, and cleanup of old farm materials.

TRLC will develop a management plan to guide the management of the Hunter Tract. Stewardship objectives will include improving water quality in streams, enhancing habitat for wildlife species and promoting native plant diversity.

The Hunter Tract was owned by the federal government during World War II as part of Camp Butner, an Army installation created in 1942. Most of Camp Butner was sold by the federal government in the early 1950s. The North Carolina Army National Guard continues to manage 4,900 acres of Camp Butner for military training. The Hunter Tract shares 0.8 miles of boundary with the present-day Camp Butner. The Hunter Tract also adjoins the 842-acre property that TRLC purchased from the family of William and Louise Gantt in 2017.

Like other properties that were once part of Camp Butner, the Army believes that undetonated military shells and rounds could still be present underground on the Hunter Tract. As a safety precaution, the public will only be allowed to visit the Hunter Tract during scheduled hikes led by TRLC staff members.

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