1,700 Seedlings Planted in Granville County

February 9, 2022

BUTNER/STEM – Winter is tree planting time for Tar River Land Conservancy (TRLC)! With the help of seventy volunteers, TRLC planted 1,700 tree and shrub seedlings over five days in January. Seedlings were planted on 4½ acres of fields located near Dickens Creek and Lake Holt on TRLC-owned land in Granville County. Volunteers for these events included students, families, and individuals from Granville, Durham, Wake, and Alamance Counties.

The January events were the continuation of a multi-year project to create forested buffers along streams that flow into Lake Holt and Falls Lake. The reservoirs supply drinking water to Granville and Wake County residents and communities. Since 2019, TRLC staff and volunteers have planted over 4,000 seedlings to reforest eleven acres of conservation land near Butner and Stem. 

The staff at NC State’s Butner Beef Cattle Research Farm helped TRLC prepare the tree planting areas before volunteers arrived. Holes were dug for each seedling using a tractor-powered auger. This allowed volunteers to easily plant seedlings using hand tools. Additionally, the loose soil will give the seedling roots more space to grow over the first year.

“We planted two dozen species of tree and shrubs,” noted David Thomas, TRLC Land Stewardship Manager. “The goal is to restore a diverse stand of trees that will filter runoff from adjoining fields while also providing food for wildlife and nectar for pollinator insects.”

Seedlings should begin growing in March and April once spring temperatures arrive. Seedlings planted during the events included several types of oaks, hickories, and hollies, as well as tulip poplar, beech, dogwood, redbud, crabapple, persimmon, blackgum, blueberry, and witch hazel. Translucent tree shelters were installed to promote seedling growth and to protect each seedling from damage by whitetail deer. The tree shelters will be removed when the saplings are fully established in five to seven years.  

TRLC received funding for seedlings, tree shelters, and preparing the sites from the North Carolina Land and Water Fund, Raleigh’s Watershed Protection Program, and the alumni and families of the Tau Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha.

Since 2017, TRLC has acquired eleven properties totaling 1,442 acres in the Lake Holt watershed in Granville County. This land will remain permanently undeveloped to protect water quality in Lake Holt and to limit develop around Camp Butner, a military installation managed by the North Carolina Army National Guard. TRLC’s land holdings in this area includes the Roberts Chapel Conservation Area – located at 792 Roberts Chapel Road – where TRLC opened 1½ miles of public hiking trails last year.

To see photos of the January 2022 tree planting events taken by photographer Sam Upchurch and others, please visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/tarriverlandconservancy/albums/72177720296550571.  To learn more about volunteer opportunities with Tar River Land Conservancy, please email volunteer@tarriver.org or call 919-496-5902.