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Brunswick County land gifts create education, conservation opportunities for N.C. State

July 13, 2007

Media Contact: Keith Oakley, President of the N.C. Agricultural Foundation, 919-515-9262 or

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University has new opportunities for coastal environmental research and Extension work, thanks to two recent gifts of land in Brunswick County: Bacon Island and a tract in Palmetto Creek of the Carolinas.

Bacon Island, a 36.31-acre island valued at $14.3 million, was donated to the college by Holden Beach Enterprises, a Brunswick County development company.

Located in Holden Beach, N.C., the land is part of the Southeastern Regional Environmental Education Consortium, formed by an endowment to support coastal ecology Extension agents who will be charged with planning, designing, implementing and evaluating ongoing research-based educational programs in coastal communities.

"We've been so blessed by this property that we want to give back what we've been so freely given," said Virgil Roberts, a co-owner of Holden Beach Enterprises. Before the Intracoastal Waterway was dug, Roberts' grandfather used to drive hogs at low tide from the mainland to graze on the island, giving Bacon Island its distinctive name. "This land has been in my family for years, and we are pleased to be able to offer it to the university as an outdoor learning lab."

This is the fourth gift of land made to the college by Holden Beach Enterprises, owned by Jim and Jo Anne Griffin, Joe and Ginger Taylor, and Virgil and Carolyn Roberts.

Also in Brunswick County, a 16.5-acre site located in the Palmetto Creek of the Carolinas development in Supply, N.C., was donated to the college by Bert and Kimberly Exum of Wilmington, N.C.

Valued at $1.5 million, the land will be used for the study of such topics as beachfront erosion, natural resources management, wetlands ecology and dune renourishment. The site is also part of the Regional Environmental Education Consortium.

"Our hope is that this land will serve as an outdoor laboratory for long-term studies, as well as an opportunity for the residents of Palmetto Creek to learn more about their natural surroundings," said Bert Exum.

In addition to constructing an 1,800 square foot wooden boardwalk and nature trails to improve access to the property, Exum's team built an open-air nature center in the neighborhood for students and faculty to post reports for the community to read.

"We are extremely grateful for the generosity and tremendous vision of our donors," said Dean Johnny Wynne, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "These exceptional gifts will create new learning opportunities for our students and faculty, will allow our Extension and research programs to grow, and will protect valued land for North Carolinians to enjoy for generations to come."

Bacon Island and Palmetto Creek are two of several recent land gifts to the college, valued collectively at more than $20 million. All properties will be used for educational and conservation purposes. They include The Legacy at Jordan Lake in Chatham County, donated by The Legacy at Jordan Lake, LLC; and Mayfaire III in New Hanover County, donated by Mayfaire, LLC.

Written by:
Suzanne Stanard, 919-513-3126 or

Posted by Suzanne at July 13, 2007 11:37 AM