New game land at Juniper Creek
Tue, Mar 24 2009 at 2:33 PM
By The Nature Conservancy
When deer season begins this Saturday, hunters in southeastern North Carolina will have a brand new game land, thanks to a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
The 18,341-acre Juniper Creek Game Land in Brunswick and Columbus counties was transferred by the Conservancy to the Wildlife Resources Commission earlier this year.
“Game lands are a marvelous resource for all North Carolinians,” said Dan Ryan, the Conservancy’s local project director. “They preserve nature for everyone to enjoy. Our partnership with the Wildlife Resources Commission is invaluable to our mission to preserve plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.”
“With hunting lands being lost to development everyday, the recent acquisition of the Juniper Creek Tract will give North Carolina sportsmen a new game land in the southeastern portion of our State to try their luck,” said Tommy Hughes, a biologist with the Wildlife Resources Commission. “This property supports unique and rare habitats that are critical for both game and nongame species. Deer hunters will have a chance to either dog or still hunt this large game land, which supports a well established deer herd.”
The Juniper Creek Game Land is part of 76,563 acres that the North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy purchased from International Paper (IP) in 2006. That acreage was part of 220,000 acres purchased from IP in 10 southeastern states - the single largest private land conservation sale in the history of the South and one of the largest in the nation. Most of the North Carolina IP acreage was transferred from the Conservancy to the Wildlife Resources Commission, ensuring that the property would be protected and that the public would have access.
Juniper Creek drains the Green Swamp as it flows into the Waccamaw River. Primarily surrounded by cypress-gum swamp and bottomland hardwood forest, Juniper Creek supports several smaller longleaf savanna natural areas that provide habitat for a variety of rare plants. This region also provides excellent habitat for animals, including the fox squirrel and the potential for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The game land provides an important natural corridor between the Conservancy’s Green
Swamp Preserve and the Waccamaw River.
The area includes blackwater forest species types such cypress-gum swamps, peatland Atlantic White Cedar forest and bottomland hardwoods. It also includes an older growth loblolly pine/hardwood forest with pines up to 4 feet in diameter.
Four longleaf wet savanna natural areas exist entirely within the Juniper Creek game lands. Those savannas contain populations of the Federally Endangered Cooley’s meadowrue, four additional plants listed as Federal Species of Concern (including savanna indigo-bush, found only to Brunswick and Columbus counties) and 12 species recognized as rare by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program.
Rare species, including healthy populations of several rare fish and mussels, are found in Juniper Creek. The tract contains the healthiest population of Carolina pygmy sunfish, a threatened species in North Carolina, which is only found in the Lake Waccamaw drainage area. Juniper Creek is part of more than 2 million acres of game lands the commission manages for hunting, trapping and other outdoor activities. For more information on hunting, including season dates, exultations and licenses, visit www.ncwildlife.org.
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