DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Amid all the hustle and bustle of downtown Durham, great blue herons are flying in the sky just minutes away.
Now the City of Durham is taking steps to preserve their nesting grounds.
“It is a win for the birds,” Natural Heritage Program Deputy Director Misty Buchanan said. “It’s a win for nature in downtown Durham, and it is a win for the people.”
On Monday, the City Council voted in favor of making 215 acres within the Ellerbe Creek Watershed a state nature preserve. That’s home to a waterbird colony and a large bottomland forest.
“It’s probably one of the most ecologically significant sites within the Ellerbe Creek Watershed,” Buchanan said.
The move takes away the right to develop the land, which is also home to egrets, in the future.
“It is one of the last large parcels along the Ellerbe Creek before it empties into the Falls Lake area,” Buchanan said.
Two council members, including Mark-Anthony Middleton, voted against the proposal. He said he doesn’t trust the state controlling the area.
“I am much more trusting of the electorate of Durham putting people in these seats who are mindful of conservation,” Middleton said.
Now, Durham city staff is working with the state to develop an a nature preserve agreement.
“The fact that nature is coexisting with such dramatic species right there in downtown Durham is pretty special,” Buchanan said.
Before the North Carolina Council of State makes the final approval, Buchanan said that agreement will head back to the City Council within a few months.