NEW LAND PRESERVATION FUND IN ORANGE COUNTY

Eno River Association is pleased to announce a transformational new instrument in the conservation and protection of lands within the Eno River basin.

The Roberta and Herman Brown Land Preservation Fund provides resources to maintain and purchase land and easements in Orange County. This fund was established through a nearly $2 million bequest from the estate of Joyce Brown, daughter of Roberta & Herman.

“Orange County lands along the Eno River have and continue to be a high priority for our watershed protection plan. As these past years have seen incredible population growth in the County, it is essential that we continue to proactively preserve open spaces, protect wildlife corridors, and provide outdoor areas that all citizens can enjoy,” said Jessica Sheffield, Executive Director in a statement to its members.

Joyce Brown, 2012

A long-time advocate for the environment, Joyce Brown was elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1989. During her 12-year tenure, Ms. Brown focused on environmental and energy conservation, as well as neighborhood preservation. Ms. Brown was also active with several environmental groups throughout her lifetime, including Eno River Association, the North Carolina Conservation Council, Sierra Club, Citizens Against Shearon Harris, among others. Ms. Brown had deep Orange County roots, and was a direct descendant of Matthew McCauley, one of the original land donors who helped create the University of North Carolina.

In 2012, Ms. Brown was honored as a community treasure by the Chapel Hill Historical Society, and she reflected on her hopes that “the community will be cognizant of environmental resources as they plan for potential growth.” Her bequest will help carry on this dream: preserving natural lands in Orange County, and ensuring those lands support the needs of a growing community.

The timing of this gift coincides with the opportunity to help the Eno River State Park complete its master plan, which envisions an over 6,700-acre park. Currently the Park encompasses 4,500 acres leaving over 2,000 to be acquired, much of it in Orange County where pressure from developers can mean inflated property values. The Brown gift will help the Association leverage funding from other sources for these purchases, as well as close a large gap in protection between Duke Forest and the Association’s Confluence Natural Area near the headwaters of the Eno River, also in Orange County.

“Joyce Brown’s generosity will have an impact on the river and the plants and animals that live there for generations to come. But lands in the Eno River basin are extremely desirable, and we will make great strides in completing the State Park Master Plan when many others combine their generosity with Ms. Brown’s. The Eno River runs through the lives of millions of people, and we know they will be inspired to join in the work to protect the river,” said Don Moffitt, board chair for the Eno River Association.

The Roberta & Herman Brown Land Preservation Fund will join the Margaret C. Nygard Acquisition Fund and the Allen Lloyd Fund for the Upper Eno as dedicated funding to help purchase and steward properties along the Eno River. Individuals who want to learn more about planned giving or opportunities to get involved should contact Director of Development, Emily Hill at 919-620-9099 or learn more here.

Open trails along the Eno River

As of May 9, Eno River State Park and Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area have reopened to the public. Park staff expect higher-than-normal attendance, so please continue to avoid peak times such as weekends. There are several other options for your essential hiking & biking. The below trails and lands have been protected thanks to the work of the Eno River Association and our partners. Learn more about the Association’s role in land protection and stewardship.

Before you go, please REVIEW OUR GUIDELINES for enjoying the parks safely, and consider making your trip during the less-populated, weekday times to continuing to keep these areas open and accessible for all.

Our Eno Trails Check List can help you keep track of these trails. Challenge your family to hike them all!

Confluence Natural Area, Hillsborough

Trail Map. Please note: we are recommending hikers use trails in the clockwise direction to reduce contact. More information is available at the trail head kiosk.Located 10 minutes from downtown Hillsborough, the Confluence offers several miles of remote trails and open spaces – making it easier for visitors to distance themselves. Open from dawn until dusk, seven days a week. Trash service and restrooms are not available.

Little River Regional Park, Rougemont

Trail map. A Durham-Orange County Partnership park located 20 minutes from downtown Durham, the park remains OPEN from 8am-7pm daily, while playground, picnic shelters, and restrooms are CLOSED. The park features seven miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as an
ADA accessible 1/4 mile paved walking trail .

Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve, Durham

Trail map. A natural area owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and managed by the N.C. Botanical Garden, this 84-acre preserve is a peninsula, bounded on 3 sides by the Eno River as it flows eastward towards Falls Lake. Trash service and restrooms are not available. Access to the Mountains to Sea Trail and a great fishing spot, make it a popular choice. Avoid the weekends!

West Point on the Eno, Durham

Trail map. This 404-acre Durham City Park is located along a two-mile stretch of the scenic Eno River, six miles north of downtown Durham. All buildings & facilities are closed, and park services like trash & pet waste bag stations are limited. Over 3 miles of trails remain open. Open daily from 8 a.m. – dark.

In addition to the areas listed above, we will be sharing new Hidden Gems of the Eno regularly. These lesser-known trails are no less spectacular, and worthy of a visit.

Remember to practice safety guidelines so we can keep these areas open for as long as possible. Read more here.

2020 Festival for the Eno Canceled

Photo by Caroline Cockrell, Festival for the Eno 2019

It is with deep sadness that we announce the cancellation of the 41st Festival for the Eno, scheduled for July 3 and 4, 2020. We do this following much thoughtful deliberation and in consultation with our many partners including the City of Durham, Orange and Durham Counties, NC State Parks, and many local participants, sponsors, artists, and friends. We waited as long as possible to make this decision, in hopes that we could present some scaled-down version of this beloved annual tradition this summer.  Unfortunately, we can no longer see any feasible way to produce an event of this magnitude and complexity while ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved. 

Due to the continued uncertainly about the future spread of the COVID 19 virus, we do not plan to reschedule the 2020 Festival for the Eno.

We are heartbroken that we will not get to see everyone “on the Eno” this July, but hope to see you in smaller gatherings – on the trails and along the river banks in some of the over 7,400 acres of protected lands preserved through our efforts.  We hope resume planning live events later this fall, and will incorporate as many elements of the EnoFest into these events as is practical. We look forward to seeing you at West Point City Park on Independence Day weekend 2021.  In the meantime, we will continue to promote the nature, culture and history of the Eno River through virtual experiences, and self-guided activities – accessible online via Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and the Festival website.

The Festival for the Eno is our largest public event and our greatest opportunity to raise awareness & funds that protect the land & water quality of the Eno River. We need to raise $50,000 to offset the loss of the 2020 Festival and continue our advocacy, education, and awareness efforts for the Eno River basin. You can help by making a donation to our Festival Fund or purchasing an Eno River T-Shirt or Poster. More Festival merchandise coming soon!

Thank you to our Festival sponsors:

See the complete list of sponsors at EnoFest.org

Celebrate Earth Day 2020

Photo by Dalvin Nichols, www.8bitphotog.com

There are so many ways to celebrate our beloved river and our earth today, and we hope you’ll take part in at least one of them:⁠

…download our Treasure Maps for the Confluence Natural Area⁠

…color a page from our coloring book

…represent the Eno River (and support our work) with a purchase from our online store⁠

…become a member by making a gift to our 40-mile Challenge in honor of Earth Day⁠

…sing along with our I Love the Eno music video…

…hug a tree, take a hike, meditate in the woods…⁠ ⁠

Whatever you do, we hope it brings you joy! ⁠Happy Earth Day!

DUKE ENERGY SUPPORTS HANDS-ON, FEET WET PROGRAMS ON THE ENO

A $15,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation will help bring environmental education and outdoor experiences to more than 2,500 youth and adults in the next year. The grant was awarded to the Eno River Association, which will use the funds to connect people with the Eno through its education and outreach programs.

Seeking to excite participants in protecting the Eno River, the Association provides hundreds of conservation, science, and history programs through field trips, outreach to schools & community groups, education at community events, program support to Parks within the watershed, Sunday afternoon guided hikes, and other programs open to the public at little or no charge.

A key focus of the award is supporting the Association’s youth education programs which support 1,100 youth annually. iWalk the Eno Science & Nature Day Camp and Eno River Field Station, the Association’s unique summer STEM programs serve youth age 8-15 with in-depth science and nature experiences. These programs focus on hands-on, feet-wet, experiential learning with the Eno River serving as the classroom, laboratory, and research station.

Funding from Duke Energy will provide scholarships for students to attend the camps at low or no cost. Durham and Orange counties have higher-than-average rates of low income and minority populations, and the Association has responded by removing barriers to participation for these populations.

“We have a lot of smart, enthusiastic kids who want to attend summer camp or explore careers in STEM, but not all families can afford that experience. Thanks to funders who care like Duke Energy, we can bring these kids to the River, and excite them about our wild places. We are building future conservationists.”

Dave Cook, education & outreach coordinator

With the help of its partners, the Association provides scholarships for all students, additional funding for free- and reduced-lunch participants, and resources in Spanish and English. All other youth education programs and field trips are provided to schools and community groups at no charge, and the Association prioritizes the 18 Title One public schools in its service area. Additional funding is provided by the Burroughs Wellcome Student Science Enrichment Program and donations from Association members.

“Science education and environmental stewardship are two critical focus areas for Duke Energy. The Eno River Association’s programs are proven to support achievement and enthusiasm for science, and we’re happy to make this opportunity available to kids from diverse backgrounds across the Eno watershed.”

Duke Energy’s Indira Everett, district manager for government & community relations in Durham and Orange counties

iWalk the Eno runs June 16-19 and 22-26 for youth 8-12 and Eno River Field Station runs July 27-31 for teens 12-15 with a strong interest in science or natural resource conservation. The Eno River Association continues to monitor health guidelines and school schedules, and refunds will be available should the camps be cancelled. More information and updates will be shared via the Association website.

Duke Energy has reaffirmed their commitment to their nonprofit partners and has promised flexibility in response to COVID-19 impacts.

Eno River Association and Orange County Protect Historic Farm Property

Photo credit: Rich Shaw

On March 19, 2020, the Eno River Association in partnership with Orange County’s Lands Legacy Program, the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, and the City of Raleigh’s Watershed Protection Program, has secured the purchase of a “working lands” conservation easement on a 57-acre historic property in Hillsborough.  The easement serves the dual purpose of protecting prime farmland and protecting the quality of water that flows downstream of the farm.

The Holden-Roberts Farm is owned and operated by Nels and Nancy Anderson and is located on St. Mary’s Road. The farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and contains a well preserved, rare Reconstruction-period I-house (circa 1873) and a large intact grouping of agricultural outbuildings constructed at various times from 1900 through 1950.  This project will ensure a historically significant farm property will remain as a tangible and meaningful link to the small farm culture dating from the 1800s.  Protecting this property will also help preserve the scenic viewshed and rural character of the historic St. Mary’s Road corridor. 

For more information click here.

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response, Update

The Eno River Association is tuned in to the updates about COVID-19 in our community. We are taking precautions to keep our staff and program guests safe, and we hope that our members near and far will remain in good health.

We’re following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as DurhamOrange, and Wake Counties, on responding to the outbreak. Our office is closed and our team is working remotely. Please still be in touch with us.

As of May 9, Eno River State Park and Occoneechee Mountain Natural Area are open to the public but there will be limits on visitors and parking. NC State Parks Reopening Plans in full.

Little River Regional Park is open, but playground and restrooms are closed.

West Point on the Eno City Park and its trails remain open, but all buildings are closed to the public.

Penny’s Bend Natural Area remains open.

Here are the latest updates on our response:

We are EXTENDING OPEN HOURS for our Confluence Natural Area to provide the public more outdoor opportunities that maximize social distance. The Confluence will now be open 7 days per week from dawn to dusk.

Traffic at parks and trails has increased many-fold. We strongly encourage you to review the our Guidelines for Safe Trail Use and avoid peak recreation times, typically weekends and late-afternoons.

We have CANCELLED this summer’s Festival for the Eno and iWalk the Eno Science & Nature Camps. We are closely monitoring this evolving situation to make a decision about Eno River Field Station in July.

We have CANCELLED our Spring Wildflower Hikes and our Volunteer Workdays indefinitely.

We are providing additional resources on our website for you to engage with the Eno and environmental education on your own. Our Hidden Gem series will take you to some lesser-known, but no less inspiring, Eno places. Our coloring book pages showcase the diversity of life along the Eno. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter or check back on our website weekly for more ways to engage – near and afar!


Your support is more important than ever before. Please consider making a gift to becoming a member of the Association. Together, we can do more to protect our natural resources and keep them open for everyone.

If you have additional questions, please contact us via email association@enoriver.org.

Eno River Association Grows State Park’s Acreage and Protects Land in the Upper Eno River Basin

Tributary to Eno River on the Matheson Property. Photo credit Todd Nance.

On December 17, 2019, the Eno River Association donated 14 acres of land to be included into Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area and a 1.86-acre trail easement, adjacent to the Eno River and Pleasant Green Road, to be included into Eno River State Park.  The North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) is proposed to cross through both properties. 

The Eno River Association, in partnership with Orange County’s Lands Legacy Program and the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, has also secured the purchase of a “working lands” conservation easement on a 38-acre property in Cedar Grove.  The easement serves the dual purpose of protecting prime farmland and protecting the quality of water that flows downstream of the farm.

For more information click here.

Occoneechee Mountain – Reflections

A documentary by Protected Places Media, presented in honor of our expansion of Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

Occoneechee Mountain: Reflections from Ernie Sears on Vimeo.

2020 Eno River Calendar

Our 2020 calendar is a soul-inspiring, story telling and photographic  encounter with the Eno River.  Eyes on the Eno is both looks at the river we love, and those who are watching in nature and in our community. We hope it also inspires you to join our extraordinary journey to save more of the places you love along the Eno and its tributaries.

Read more…