The Mayo River, a significant tributary of the Dan River in Rockingham County, is a regional treasure with cliffs, waterfalls, sandy beaches, Native American fish weirs or traps, unique plants and animals and Class III rapids. Thanks in large part to the leadership of the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA), the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the creation of the Mayo River State Park in 2003. With a similar conceptual design as the Eno River State Park, this state park will consist of “pods” of protected land connected by the Mayo River and will provide canoeing, camping, and hiking opportunities.
PLC has worked with DRBA and NC Division of Parks and Recreation to acquire land from interested landowners to add to this new Park. The Mayo River State Park’s interim facility, Mayo Mountain Access, opened to the public on April 1, 2010 with a park office/visitor contact station, picnic shelter with grills, hiking trails, rest rooms, and pond fishing.
In 2016, Piedmont Land Conservancy acquired 354 acres of forestland along the Mayo River in northwest Rockingham County to improve river access for outdoor enthusiasts. The acquisition represents one of the largest we have completed in our 26-year history. The funding comes from Duke Energy and will expand public access to the river near the Mayo River State Park, a 2,187-acre site near Mayodan.
Duke Energy provided $1.1 million to help the Piedmont Land Conservancy acquire the land as part of early
restoration activities conducted under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration process to address recreational and ecosystem impacts in the Dan River watershed following the coal ash spill two years ago near Eden.
“Duke Energy is committed to the long-term protection of the Dan River and the ecosystems it supports,” said Davis Montgomery, Duke Energy district manager for the Dan River basin. “Protecting these natural treasures is important to ensuring these resources can be enjoyed today and for years to come.”
Beyond the conservation benefits, the land acquired holds an interesting history to the region.
Pieced together in the 1950s and 1960s, the parcels acquired originally comprised 22 different parcels along the Mayo River. Two local businessmen acquired the properties because they wanted to dam the river and sell water to Greensboro, a fast-growing city 30 miles south.
That never happened. Greensboro built the Randleman Reservoir and eased the need for an additional water supply.
“In 2015, PLC celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary, and this property is one that we’ve hoped to acquire from the very beginning,” says Kevin Redding, the Conservancy’s executive director. “Given the property’s fascinating history, and the miles of river frontage along the Mayo, this acquisition will provide a major boost to the growing recreational opportunities available at the Mayo River State Park.”
For the past several decades, the property has been tied up in a complicated series of estates, trusts and other legal proceedings. But the PLC waited patiently and worked with the landowners because the non-profit saw what this land acquisition meant to the region – preserving Rockingham County’s natural beauty for future generations to enjoy.
This major land protection success will now allow more access for canoes, kayaks, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts.
Visit NC Parks for more information.
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Project funding provided by NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program, NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, PLC and NC Division of Parks and Recreation.