It's Amazing how fast nature returns

54 More Acres Protected in the Mitchell River Watershed


Out in the rolling hills of Surry County, more land has been protected along the south fork of the Mitchell River. When Suzie and Dick Everhart first bought these 54 acres in 1989, the land was mostly barren with poor soil and invasive plants. It’s hard to imagine that scene today.

“This whole area was tobacco. It’s amazing how fast nature returns. The soils are rebuilding. The diversity is increasing, and we just want that to continue.”

When you walk the land today, it’s come a long way. A long golden ribbon of native yellow ironweed (sometimes called wingstem) carpets their open spaces this August. Tall river birches, sycamores, and tulip trees line the creek. A wetland full of Cardinal flowers and swamp milkweed pulses with the sounds of insects and frogs. 

The transformation of plant life has created a transformation for wildlife. The Everharts have seen gray squirrels, fox squirrels, and even flying squirrels come back to the area. The land is now home to many kinds of salamanders, turtles, and beavers.

The South Fork of the Mitchell River borders the protected land

The land only needed a little help. They had their goats eat back the dense thickets of invasive multiflora rose and they did some work themselves to control the spread of other invasive plants that were overtaking but otherwise, they let nature do its thing. Thirty years on, the land is totally transformed.

In August of 2023, the Everharts donated a 54 acre conservation easement to Piedmont Land Conservancy, meaning that this land will never be developed or subdivided. Their connection to the land and their profound respect for all the progress they’ve witnessed motivated them to donate the easement.

In Dick’s words, “We’ve taken from this land for centuries. Here’s an opportunity to return some of what we’ve taken. We can return the soil, return the water, and bring back the habitat.” 

A sycamore bearing the signs of PLC protection
Cardinal Flowers populate the wetland found on the Everhart's land

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Piedmont Land Conservancy

to protect more special places like the Mitchell River Watershed.