842 Acres Acquired to Protect Water and Military

February 9, 2018

STEM – After seven years of negotiations, planning and fundraising, Tar River Land Conservancy (TRLC) purchased 842 acres in December from the family of the late William and Louise Gantt. The property is located near the towns of Stem and Butner in Granville County. The property is the largest protected by TRLC during its seventeen year history.

“There aren’t many privately-owned properties left in southern Granville County of this size,” said Derek Halberg, TRLC Executive Director. “Acquiring the Gantt property has long been a big priority for us. We are very grateful to the Gantt family and to our partners for their commitment throughout this project.”

The Gantt property includes extensive woodland and more than six miles of streams. TRLC purchased the property to ensure it remains undeveloped forever. The Gantt property is located upstream of two drinking water reservoirs, Lake Holt and Falls Lake. Lake Holt supplies drinking water to Butner, Creedmoor, and Stem. Falls Lake supplies drinking water to Raleigh and other Wake County communities.

Mr. and Mrs. Gantt, who were residents of Durham, purchased much of the land in 1951.  The Gantt family raised cattle and horses on the property until the 1980s. The land has been managed as a tree farm in recent decades. Ownership transferred to their sons Bill and Charlie following the passing of Mr. and Mrs. Gantt in the mid-1990s. The family began discussions with TRLC in 2010 about permanently protecting the land from residential development.

The Gantt property was owned by the federal government during World War II as part of Camp Butner, an Army installation created in 1942 to train soldiers for the European theater.  Most of the 40,000-acre military installation was sold by the federal government in the early 1950s. The North Carolina National Guard continues to manage 4,900 acres of Camp Butner for military training. The Gantt property shares one mile of boundary with Camp Butner.

“To raise the funds we needed, we married the conservation community’s objectives with military’s objectives,” noted Halberg. “Keeping the land undeveloped means that a neighborhood that could interrupt military training and create pollution problems in streams won’t end up on Camp Butner’s eastern boundary.”

TRLC raised $2.48 million for the Gantt conservation project from four funding partners, including $825,695 from the National Guard’s Army Compatible Use Buffer program, $810,445 from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, $750,000 from the City of Raleigh’s Watershed Protection Program, and $100,000 from the Duke Energy Foundation’s Water Resources Fund. In addition to the purchase price for the land, funds raised for the project covered transactional costs, endowments for managing and monitoring the property, and cleanup of old farm debris. The project represents the largest land conservation project supported by the Raleigh’s Watershed Protection Program since the program’s inception in 2005.

“This project epitomizes what our watershed protection program strives to achieve,” highlighted Edward Buchan, Raleigh’s watershed program manager. “Not only is the Gantt project the largest land conservation project we have contributed to, but it also demonstrates a successful partnership with the US military and the State of NC to protect and enhance our critical natural resources. The City of Raleigh is proud and excited to help make this project a reality, and to preserve this land for future generations.”

“State funding for the Gantt project protects drinking water and natural heritage communities and matches federal funding to prevent incompatible land use next to a Camp Butner,” said Walter Clark, Executive Director of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. “Partnerships that bring additional financial resources are important to CWMTF. The Gantt project is a wonderful example of multiple funding resources coming together to protect a critical property.”

“Duke Energy is dedicated to protecting and restoring the rivers and waterways that power our regional economies,” said David Fountain, president of Duke Energy in North Carolina. “We are proud of our partnership with Tar River Land Conservancy and the impact this project will have in the region.”

TRLC will develop a land stewardship plan for the Gantt property to guide its management activities. Stewardship objectives will include improving habitat for non-game wildlife species and promoting diversity of native plant communities.

Like dozens of privately-owned properties that were once part of Camp Butner, the US Army Corps of Engineers believes that undetonated military shells and rounds may still be present underground on the Gantt property. As a safety precaution, the public will only be allowed to visit the Gantt property during scheduled hikes led by TRLC staff members. TRLC will offer guided hikes on the property starting in April 2018. To receive announcements about these hikes, please send an email with your contact information to events@tarriver.org.


Tar River Land Conservancy is a nationally-accredited land trust that works to preserve the natural resources across an eight-county region of North Carolina – Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Nash, Person, Vance, and Warren Counties. Since 2000, Tar River Land Conservancy has protected 19,922 acres of land and 166 miles of streams.

The Army National Guard’s Army Compatible Use Buffer program works with partners to ensure its military mission is protected on post from incompatible development off post. Funds for the Gantt project were awarded by the National Guard Bureau and the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program.  For more information about this program, please visit www.repi.mil and www.aec.army.mil.

The City of Raleigh’s Watershed Protection Program provides grants to land trusts and local governments to protect and enhance the City’s drinking water resources though land acquisitions, planning, and innovative water quality improvement activities. The program is funded through a usage based fee assessed to all of Raleigh’s water customers. To learn more about the Raleigh’s Watershed Protection Program, please contact Edward Buchan at edward.buchan@raleighnc.gov or 919-996-3471.

The N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund awards grants to protect land for natural, historical and cultural benefit, to limit encroachment on military installations, to restore degraded streams, and to develop and improve stormwater treatment technology. Since its inception in 1996, CWMTF has conserved over 500,000 acres in North Carolina and protected over 2,500 miles of streams. For more information, please visit www.cwmtf.nc.gov.

The Duke Energy Foundation’s Water Resources Fund is a $10 million, multi-year commitment made by Duke Energy to improve water quality, quantity, and conservation in the Carolinas and neighboring regions. Water Resources Fund grants are awarded by Duke Energy twice annually through a competitive application process, which is administered by the North Carolina Community Foundation. To learn more about the Water Resources Fund, please visit www.duke-energy.com/H2O.