Small but Mighty—the New Sargeant Family Preserve
In a rapidly developing part of Hendersonville, Michael Sargeant and his wife Fern Carter had a small forest full of wildlife and tall trees. This 9-acre woodland is abundant in deer, turkey, bear and coyotes. There’s a spring-fed creek where you can find crawdads, snakes, frogs, and lizards. While so much of the land around them is being developed, Michael and Fern treasure this place where trees have been growing for over a hundred years.
This land has been in Michael’s family since 1917, when it was part of a larger farm. He says, “Every summer, we would come up here and stay with my grandparents. It was always a big deal to come up here and eat out of the garden and make homemade ice cream and sit out on the porch and watch the fireflies in the evening. That’s pretty cool stuff when you’re a kid, six years old.” He remembers that he was excited to go to the spring and drink clean water straight from the creek.
Michael grew up in Florida and he enjoyed canoeing, scuba diving, and sailing in the Atlantic Ocean. But the family land drew him back. He came here to live in 1994 with his first wife and he built their house on the land in Hendersonville.
After his wife passed, he eventually met Fern, who was also widowed. They met at the pool where she works as an aerobics instructor, and Michael says he finally worked up the courage to ask her out for a coffee. They got married two years ago and now make their home here among the trees and the animals.
But they’re concerned about how farms and woods are being developed all around them. Fern says, “We’re worried that we’ll have the only place that the deer and the bear and the coyotes can live, the way they’re building on every single piece of property.”
They didn’t want that to happen to their forest, even after they’re gone, so they did something very generous. They donated 9.3 wooded acres to Conserving Carolina as a nature preserve, now known as Sargeant Family Preserve at Laurel Ridge. The land is now protected by a permanent conservation easement. Michael and Fern have also pledged a donation to our stewardship endowment to ensure that we will have the capacity to protect this land in perpetuity.
To facilitate this generous donation, many of the costs of the real estate transaction and conservation easement (such as a survey and baseline documentation) were covered by the NC Land & Water Fund and Conservation Trust for North Carolina.
This now-protected mixed-age forest includes a large number of mature trees, with some that have been growing for over a century and stand more than three feet in diameter at breast height. The tall trees in this woodland are capturing large amounts of carbon—an important part of climate solutions.
In addition, this nature preserve protects the spring and 540 feet of a stream that flows into Featherstone Creek, a tributary of Mud Creek.
We are grateful to Michael and Fern for protecting this small but mighty forest—a source of clean water, a carbon sink, and a haven for wildlife!