Mitchell River Game Lands – Surry County

Almost 2,000 acres in the Mitchell River headwaters protected by PLC are now part of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s Mitchell River Game Lands, open to the public for hunting and fishing.

Little Mountain, the largest tract at 1,700 acres, is one of the highest peaks in the Mitchell River watershed and contains more than tens of thousands linear feet of streams.

In 2002, G&G Lumber Company timbered more than 1,500 of these steeply sloping acres on Little Mountain and an adjacent tract. When using appropriate best management practices, forests can be harvested with minimal impact to water quality. Although greater precautions could have been taken to protect the water quality during the timbering operation, minimal buffers were retained along the streams to provide some water quality protection. At the conclusion of the timbering, the owners replanted the slopes with loblolly pines. As these trees mature, they will once again act as anchors holding the slopes in place and will repair the visual devastation left by the timbering operations.

PLC learned G&G Lumber Company was planning to subdivide these tracts into as many as 40 parcels and sell them at public auction. Due to their size and the threat that development of these lands posed to the water quality of the Mitchell River Watershed, PLC became interested in protecting them.

In January 2004, PLC acquired both Little Mountain and the adjacent Lens Knob, and subsequently, PLC transferred the Little Mountain Tract to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, now managed as the Mitchell River Game Lands, Surry County’s first.

The other portion of the Mitchell River Game Lands includes almost 250 acres on Saddle Mountain, a scenic vista from the Blue Ridge Parkway. In 2001, the Wolfe family donated a conservation easement to PLC allowing a conservation-based development on the top 250 acres. The development never occurred however, and, in 2005, the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) acquired the underlying property title and safeguarded the conservation values of this site even further than the initial easement. PLC transferred the easement to CTNC so that they could then transfer their entire interest in the land to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to manage as a state natural area within their public game lands program.

Project funding for both properties provided by the landowner, the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, and the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund.

For more information, visit, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

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