Lake Norman & Mooresville

Davidson Lands Conservancy celebrates 15 years

Autumn Rierson Michael, left, executive director of the Davidson Lands Conservancy, watches as naturalist Reed Patterson, right, explains the rock formation known as “Whale Rock” to the group in the Runneymede Conservation Easement on Nov. 8.
Autumn Rierson Michael, left, executive director of the Davidson Lands Conservancy, watches as naturalist Reed Patterson, right, explains the rock formation known as “Whale Rock” to the group in the Runneymede Conservation Easement on Nov. 8. Marty Price

Runneymede homeowner Clay Furches was hard at work helping Dave Cable of TreesDavidson prepare the ground for the two trees that the Davidson Lands Conservancy (DLC) would be planting next to Runnymede Equestrian Center stables on Nov. 8. TreesDavidson is a volunteer group that plants trees to enhance the local canopy.

That same day, the DLC celebrated 15 years of protecting natural lands through conservation efforts during their annual meeting at the Runneymede Equestrian Center in Davidson. The homeowners association in the Runneymede subdivision turned 51 acres of their 60-acre common area into the Runneymede Conservation Easement to protect the native plants and animals in May 2012.

We realize what a gift we have here and the need to protect it.

Janet Andersen, president of the Runneymede Homeowners Association

The easement allows the property owners to retain ownership and use of the property while agreeing that there will be no more development of the land. Furches and the late DLC executive director Roy Alexander worked together in securing the easement in the Runneymede neighborhood.

“It was only a matter of getting the residents to understand the value of the easement, to protect the property in perpetuity and the scenic views within,” said Furches.

The land is mostly pristine woodland that extends along both the Cabarrus and Mecklenburg County sides of the Rocky River.

Autumn Rierson Michael took over as DLC executive director this year, after Alexander died in January. Michael said she will continue his legacy “to protect the land, to educate the public on the benefits of conservation and to advocate on behalf of our ecosystems.“

Michael said that the DLC, which consists of about 350-400 members and 14 board members, has protected a total of 440 acres, spread across 10 properties, in the Davidson area.

“In addition to our ecosystem and protection work, we have a highly successful children’s environmental education project called WOW (World of Wonder) who conduct monthly hikes and educational experiences, as well as weekly activities at the Davidson Farmers Market,” she said.

After Davidson town commissioner Jim Fuller, a past president of the DLC, led the crowd in a champagne toast, the group planted the trees by the stables.

After, Reed Patterson took them on a tour of the easement. They followed Patterson as he pointed out the plants and trees that lived in the woods while making their way to the old quarry and mill site on the property. Patterson pointed out what was left of the man-made dam and the rocks cut from the nearby rock outcroppings that still bore the marks of chisels used by the original builders. Being that it was a private dam on private property, the dates of operation are unknown.

The easement has many unusual rock formations, including one called “Whale Rock,” which some believe to be the largest granite outcrop in Cabarrus County. The easement is private property, for use only by residents, their guests and an occasional tour by the DLC.

Janet Andersen, president of the Runneymede Homeowners Association, said, “We realize what a gift we have here and the need to protect it. We all use it, different times of the day, for walking, horseback riding or just sitting and reading.

“In light of all of the development locally, the pressure we see to develop in this area is intense. This is an exceptionally calm environment and the tour is a perfect opportunity to learn more about our woods.”

Marty Price is a freelance writer: martyprice53@gmail.com.

Learn more:

For information on the Davidson Lands Conservancy, programs and how to set up your own conservation easement, go to: www.davidsonlands.org.

  Comments