Land Conservation

The following lands were purchased with grant funds or graciously donated to the County. Each property has been or will be placed into conservation easement to ensure that the property will not be developed. The properties serve as riparian buffers and help to protect water quality. At most, these properties can be developed into passive recreation areas or serve as storm water improvement projects.

For more information about this program, please contact the New Hanover County Planning & Inspection Department.


These two riparian properties, totaling 41 acres, were acquired in 2007. The properties will be put into conservation easement and continue to form a vegetative buffer along Smith Creek. A passive trail will be constructed through the properties and donated to Ms. Rosa Mae Harrell. The Harrell properties are located just upstream from the Smith property (see below).

This 14-acre tract of land was donated to the County in 2007. Located along Smith Creek, the property will be put into conservation easement and will continue to function as a vegetative buffer. This property is located just downstream from the Harrell properties and will be linked to those properties in the future with a passive trail.

In 2005, New Hanover County purchased a 10.01-acre tract of land located on the south side of Duck Haven Golf Course off of Eastwood Rd. The land was purchased with funds provided by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Located at the headwaters of Bradley Creek, the property provides an excellent opportunity for water quality enhancement projects. Plans for this parcel include water quality best management practices and a passive park. County officials are working with developers of the Autumn Hall project to link the park with Autumn Hall recreational amenities

In January 2003, a 13.43-acre tract was purchased by New Hanover County using grant funding provided by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The tract is located on Foys Creek within the Futch Creek watershed and will managed by the New Hanover County Parks Department. The Futch Creek watershed contains less residential development and impervious surface than a majority of others in the county. As a result, water quality has remained high and large areas remain open to shellfish harvesting.

The land will be used for passive recreational activities such as hiking, canoeing/kayaking, and public education. Unpaved nature trails with informative signs will be constructed, in addition to several lookout platforms throughout the area. Two launch areas for non-motorized boating activities will also be constructed. In an effort to minimize environmental impact, all platforms and facilities will use composite materials in lieu of treated lumber products.

In October 2002, a 17.35-acre tract was purchased by New Hanover County using grant funding provided by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The site is located on Pages Creek and contains over 2,700’ of shoreline. Currently, the Pages Creek watershed contains a low percentage of residential development and impervious surface. However, planned residential and commercial projects may threaten the exceptional water quality exhibited throughout the area. The area will be available to the public for use in recreational activities. Pervious walking paths, non-motorized boat access points, and public parking will be constructed within the tract. All impacts to the land will maintain the natural wooded landscape and not exceed 10% impervious surface. The maintenance of this area will also provide for stormwater retention and pollution removal within the watershed.

In August 2002, a 16.5-acre parcel was purchased by New Hanover County using grant funding provided by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The site, located in the headwaters of Hewlett’s Creek, represents one of the last undeveloped areas within the watershed. Runoff from an estimated 500 acres of residential development drains through the site. As a result of this and other water quality concerns the North Carolina Division of Water Quality has closed a majority of the area to shellfish harvesting and placed the watershed on the 303(d) list of impaired waters.

When the County purchased the property, stormwater was being diverted around the property by a series of drainage ditches and deposited directly into Hewlett’s Creek. However, the City of Wilmington Stormwater Services recently completed construction on a 12-acre stormwater wetland. The wetland is designed to treat stormwater runoff and reduce flooding in the area.

A passive park is also planned for the property. The park will include a pervious pavement walking path, pet waste stations, picnic shelters and educational signage.

In December 2001, a .75-acre tract was purchased by New Hanover County using grant funding provided by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The site is located on Howe Creek and represents one of the few undeveloped waterfront lots remaining along the northern shoreline. Both tidal and non-tidal wetlands are found within the parcel. Together, they provide drainage for the surrounding developments minimizing property damage during rain events. Enhancement of these wetlands and creation of additional tidal wetlands are planned for this site.

Plans for the site include the removal of an existing drainage pipe, which conveys untreated stormwater into Howe Creek. In addition, land excavation activities will allow for the restoration of natural hydrologic flow patterns. Plantings of characteristic vegetation will also take place, to restore the transitional areas of salt marsh and bottomland hardwood habitat. When completed the site will function as an area of pollutant and sediment removal within the Howe Creek watershed.

In 1999, New Hanover County purchased Airlie Gardens from the Corbett Family to serve as an important buffer along Bradley Creek, as well as an outdoor laboratory and educational site. The total site is 67-acres and includes a combination of formal gardens, walking trails, scenic views and beautiful landscape.

NHC also received a grant from the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management to construct a waterfront overlook trail so that visitors to Airlie Gardens can get an up close view of Bradley Creek and the tidal marsh. Click here to learn more about Airlie Gardens.

230 Government Center Drive, Suite 110 • Wilmington, NC 28403
Planning & Land Use: Phone 910-798-7165 • Fax 910-798-7053
Building Safety: Phone 910-798-7308 • Fax 910-798-7060
Engineering: Phone 910-798-7139 • Fax 910-798-7051