A biological Eden will soon be in public hands after Mecklenburg County commissioners agreed to buy a 23-acre wetland and surrounding land in Davidson.
The $4.2 million, 90-acre purchase, which commissioners agreed to Wednesday night, saves increasingly scarce habitat for frogs, turtles and salamanders from development.
Commissioners designated the site on the West Branch of the Rocky River a county nature preserve, which means it will be used only for passive recreation. A nature center, with hiking trails, picnic areas and possibly a boardwalk for visitors, may be built in a few years.
The agreement ends months of negotiation with the developer of the Summers Walk community, which had planned to build new homes to the edge of the wetland. That would have destroyed the qualities that made the place rich in reptiles and amphibians, biologists say.
“Essentially every wetland species in the Charlotte area occurs in this wetland,” said Michael Dorcas, a Davidson College biologist whose students have studied the tract since 1999.
The species they've identified include 11 frogs and toads, eight snakes, four lizards and six each of salamanders and turtles.
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