Spirit of Rowan 2022: Eagle Point Nature Preserve is ‘a nice place to go’ – Salisbury Post
Eagle Point Nature Preserve has been fulfilling its mission for over 20 years.
The park, approximately 180 acres, is a passive preserve that keeps the natural environment front and center. Its only amenities are trails, picnic tables, canoe access and a portable toilet.
Rowan County says the preserve is home to a number of wildlife, including barred owls, varieties of egrets, kingfishers, great blue herons, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, raccoons and the titular bald eagles fishing at Goldeneye Cove.
The park opened in 2001. The county acquired the first 100 acres in 1998 via the Neal Sansovich Purchase and was placed under a conservation easement with what would become Three Rivers Land Trust.
Rowan County Animal Services Director Bob Pendergrass said the additional 80 acres were originally on a long-term lease with Alcoa, but last year that property was given to the county.
Pendergrass helped create the park. He was the county nature center supervisor at the time. He said the terrain that houses the preserve is rocky, so the idea of integrating it into the county’s park system has been raised.
“It was born out of opportunity,” Pendergrass said, adding that places like the preserve make a difference for wildlife.
Pendergrass said Jimmy Foltz, the county’s director of parks and recreation at the time, was good at rallying people to support the projects. The department created a presentation for people who would support the project. Pendergrass noted that Fred and Bill Stanback were supporters.
“Funds were raised fairly quickly to acquire the land,” Pendergrass said.
A Catawba College professor conducted an ecological study on the property and the county decided to limit development to only provide access to the park and walking trails to showcase the natural aspects of the area.
There are plant identification signs on the “plant loop” trail. Pendergrass said a year-long eagle scout project led to the creation of a guide to plants and nature walks on the property. He said that over the years these have continued.
The reserve was named Eagle Point because of sightings of bald eagles, but Pendergrass said it was not created specifically because of the presence of eagles. Eagles are a success story of species recovery efforts. The species was reclassified from endangered to threatened in 1995 and delisted entirely in 2007.
“It’s a great place to go,” Pendergrass said, adding that it’s one of his favorite projects he’s been involved in.