Hollow Rock Access
Hollow Rock Access – White Tract –Stewardship and Management Summary
Location: Erwin Road, Orange County, NC Acreage: 2.58 acres
Public Access: Future Site of the Hollow Rock Access – New Hope Creek Park. Not currently open to the public. The property contains unimproved historic rustic trail along New Hope Creek but no improved trails and parking.
Ownership History/Status: TLC acquired the property in 2002 to preserve trail access for the future New Hope Creek Greenway and for water quality protection. TLC sold a conservation easement to Clean Water Management Trust Fund in 2003 to preserve the water quality buffer.
Property Description/History: In keeping with the multi-jurisdictional New Hope Creek Corridor Open Space Master Plan, TLC acquired the Hollow Rock Access – White Tract in 2002 to gain access to New Hope Creek for the future New Hope Creek Greenway. The property contains a small house and barn. TLC currently leases the house as a private residence and utilizes the barn for stewardship operations storage. TLC stewards the property’s woodland in its natural state as a water quality buffer and riparian corridor for the abounding wildlife located along the corridor.
The Hollow Rock area is known to be an historical Native American encampment site. When Orange County acquired neighboring property, they conducted preliminary archeological studies of the area, and initial research yielded findings of pottery and other archeological artifacts. Therefore, TLC has minimized ground disturbances on the property to retain future archeological study integrity.
Photo: Ida Lynch
Since acquisition in 2002, TLC has planned for the property to be acquired by Orange County to enable the future New Hope Creek Greenway trail and access. TLC has played a pivotal role in expanding the area of protected property: new conservation funding made it possible for TLC to acquire two neighboring tracts to the east completing the New Hope Connection between Erwin Road and US 15-501. An additional 43 acre property was acquired together with Orange County, Durham, Chapel Hill and local neighbors in 2008 that created the 100+-acre contiguous footprint for the future regional New Hope Creek Park.
While TLC originally planned to divest itself of the house on the property, TLC made the decision to retain the house on the property to allow the additional conservation partners to determine if the house may play a role in the future New Hope Creek Park.
The planning process for the New Hope Creek Park began in 2009. This public park will be owned and managed by Orange County, Chapel Hill and Durham. During the process TLC suggested that the White Tract be considered in the park design and interest was expressed from the park committee and Orange County to acquire the TLC property. TLC requested that the committee consider acquisition of the White Tract for only TLC’s cost in the property. TLC and Orange County continue negotiations related to the future ownership of the White Tract as part of the Hollow Rock Access – New Hope Creek Park.
Summary of Improvements: Approximately 1000 square foot 1920’s camp, one small storage shed and one ~600 square foot former horse barn (utilized as a storage shed for TLC stewardship operations).
Summary of Restrictions: Clean Water Management Trust Fund conservation easement covers the entire property with an envelope cut out for the home. Easement is focused on the protection of the water quality buffer on New Hope Creek.
Conservation Values: As well described in the New Hope Corridor Open Space Master Plan:
The Value of the Corridor's Topography and Natural Habitat
The New Hope Corridor, especially the portions adjacent to or near the streams, is an unusual combination of wet areas, drier floodplains, steep slopes, gradual slopes, typical common vegetation, regionally rare plant communities, and fine remnant stands of bottomland hardwoods, all of which provide habitat for a diversity of wildlife. Each natural component of the corridor enhances the value of the corridor as a whole.
All slopes adjacent to the floodplains contribute to both the environmental quality and the beauty of the corridor. Even the steepest of the slopes should remain open and undeveloped. This is not because it is not possible to build upon them; with care, delicacy, very good design, and appropriate uses, it is possible to build there. Rather, they should be left in their natural state because they are dramatic, botanically significant, they offer inspiring scenic views, and provide a very different natural environment for people to have as part of their heritage. While it is important to protect floodplains for water quality, wildlife, and to prevent property damage, it is these slopes which provide habitat diversity, unique scenic qualities, and wildflower displays.
All portions of the corridor are different and intriguing to the naturalist or any curious mind. The portion of the corridor directly north of the Chapel Hill-Durham Boulevard exemplifies the unusual qualities, the diversity, and the value of the entire corridor.
The botanical communities present in this portion of the corridor are diverse, with spectacular displays of spring wildflowers. The area nearest New Hope Creek, known as the Patterson Wildflower Slopes, is essentially a hardwood forest, with sizable northern red oaks, smaller sugar maples, and tulip poplars. More than 50 species of flowering trees, shrubs, and herbs also can be found.
The corridor also provides habitat for wildlife, ranging from deer to four-toed salamanders. True, it is seldom that a person, casually walking or riding through the corridor, sees a deer or a salamander, but these and other species are part of the natural diversity that is essential to the well-being of our environment.
Finally, the corridor contributes to the protection of the water quality enjoyed by the community. Although the corridor is not the only source of protection for Jordan Lake water quality, the floodplains and steep slopes in the corridor are very valuable in maintaining the water quality of the creeks that feed into Jordan Reservoir and, consequently, are valuable components of the overall water quality protection available to the region.
Public Benefit Values:
Safeguarding Clean Water - Water Quality Protection of Streams and Waterways – This buffer supports a large unfragmented buffer along New Hope Creek. New Hope Creek is a main tributary to Jordan Lake, the drinking water supply to several Triangle communities including Cary, Apex, Chatham County, Durham and Chapel Hill. Water Quality monitoring occurs along various portions of the creek bank, as it has for several decades.
Protecting Wildlife Habitat – Diversity of Forest Communities The property contains a variety of forest communities including:
- Bottomland hardwood forest
- Mixed pine/hardwood
- Upland hardwood
- Riparian forests
- Unfragmented forest habitat
Wildlife Habitat Improvement and Protection including:
- Unfragmented forest habitat
- Mammals including bobcat, whitetail deer, beaver, red and gray fox, raccoon, gray squirrel and many others.
Wild Turkeys (Bottomland hardwood forests are extremely good turkey habitat; turkeys usually nest within a quarter-mile of water).
Connecting People with Nature – The property contains passive, unimproved and historically-used natural surface trails. The trails will be incorporated into the future envisioned New Hope Creek trail connecting Duke Forest and Jordan Lake. The trails will be a highlight of the future multi-jurisdictional Hollow Rock Access – New Hope Creek Park. Students from Forest View Elementary utilize the creek side access as part of their school curriculum.
TLC’s Acquisition Objectives: Protecting New Hope Creek- (12/2001) and other properties near the Hollow Rock Access
- Increase the vegetative buffer along New Hope Creek in order to improve water quality and wildlife habitat.
- To acquire land for a critical link in the planned hiking trail on New Hope Creek from Mt Sinai road to Jordan Lake.
To ensure that the Trail and access to it are safe.
TLC Management Objectives: Hollow Rock Access – White Protect New Hope Creek access for future New Hope Creek Greenway
- Water quality buffers and protection.
- Wildlife species protection and habitat .
- Maintain land available for low impact recreational and environmental educational opportunities on the property.
- Forest community health of riparian buffer
- Maintain property conditions for future park options, including archeological and environmental conditions
"All I want is to sit on my porch and see tomorrow what I see today...and I want my grandchildren to see it too."