COASTAL LAND TRUST TAKES A RISK TO SAVE “SITE X” AND ITS CLUES TO THE LOST COLONY

Near the confluence of Salmon Creek and Albemarle Sound in Bertie County, archaeologists continue to uncover artifacts that may reveal clues to the 400-year mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. Today, thanks to the purchase of nearly 1,000 acres by the Coastal Land Trust, this magnificent land and its natural, historic, archaeological, and cultural significance will be protected.

The property, which is the subject of archaeological research by The First Colony Foundation and is referred to as “Site X,” hosts a variety of significant archaeological resources. Algonkian Indian artifacts have been found on the site. English artifacts attributable to the period and indicative of settlement by the Roanoke colonists have also been found, which some researchers say could be evidence that a group of survivors from The Lost Colony relocated to this area after leaving Roanoke Island in the late 1580s.

The 1,000 acres acquired by the Coastal Land Trust also features 3 ½ miles of frontage along Salmon Creek, floodplain forests of cypress-gum swamp and bottomland hardwood forest along with tidal freshwater marsh recognized as ecologically significant by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program.

“This is the most ambitious and exciting project in the Coastal Land Trust’s history,” said Camilla Herlevich, executive director of the Coastal Land Trust. “The property was previously permitted for a 2,800-unit development and a 212-slip marina. We greatly appreciate the financing for today’s purchase, made possible with a loan from The Conservation Fund that will be repaid with public and private funding. Additional funding was provided by a grant from the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund. Now, we must raise more than $5 million in the months to come to ensure that these irreplaceable lands and resources can be turned over to North Carolina State Parks to allow generations to come to enjoy them.”

“This project is well worth the efforts by the Coastal Land Trust. It enhances and supports the County Commissioners’ commitment to protect the Albemarle Sound waterfront and to encourage ecotourism,” said Bertie County Manager Scott Sauer.

Once all funds needed to repay the loan have been raised, the Coastal Land Trust will transfer the property to the state of North Carolina’s Division of Parks and Recreation for management as the Salmon Creek State Natural Area. Legislation authorizing creation of the new state natural area was enacted this summer by the N.C. General Assembly. Until that time, the land is subject to a farm and hunt leases and is closed to the public.

“The Salmon Creek area stands out due to its unique archaeological resources, its rich cultural history, and its truly pristine ecosystems,” said Mike Murphy, director of N.C. State Parks. “We are so grateful that the Coastal Land Trust is protecting this land so that it can become a state natural area in Bertie County, a beautiful part of our state that is currently underserved by the North Carolina State Parks system.”

Read here for more of the “Site X” story, or contact the Coastal Land Trust at 910-790-4524 ext 206 or Camilla@CoastalLandTrust.org

To support the Site X project, donate online: www.CoastalLandTrust.org/SiteXdonate