Old rock quarry, lizard lair now part of Eno River State Park in Durham, Orange counties

The old quarry is the site of a small but vibrant wetland community identified by the National Wetland Inventory, and is now home to the Six-Lined Racerunner Lizard
The old quarry is the site of a small but vibrant wetland community identified by the National Wetland Inventory, and is now home to the Six-Lined Racerunner Lizard Eno River Association

An old rock quarry that is home to a speedy lizard is the latest addition to Eno River State Park in Durham and Orange counties.

The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation bought the 87-acre Bacon Quarry property on Dec. 19, the Eno River Association announced Monday.

The purchase price was $490,000, said Robin Jacobs, the association’s executive director.

The quarry was used for road projects from the 1930s to the 1960s. The land was owned by descendants of the Bacon family for over a century. It touches the park on the south and shares its eastern boundary with a 41-acre conservation easement that the association obtained in 2013.

“The Eno River Association has been working with the family since the 1990s to make this purchase a reality,” the association said in a news release.

The old quarry is the site of a small wetland that is home to the Six-Lined Racerunner Lizard which prefers hot, open areas like dunes, according to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory at the University of Georgia. The lizards, which look like local skinks but do not have blue tails, probably first rode in on quarrying trucks, the association said.

Aside from the quarry, the land is covered by mature hardwoods that create a protected wildlife corridor between the park and privately owned forested lands. The property is located along Buckquarter Creek, a primary tributary of the Eno River. Downstream, the river flows into Falls Lake, which provides drinking water for much of Wake County.

“Protection of this land will help maintain adequate supplies of safe drinking water critical to public health and economic sustainability as Triangle populations increase,” the news release said.

The property also contains steep slopes leading down from a ridge line that could have seen extensive erosion had development been allowed there.

Protecting the property will also help buffer two natural heritage areas to the south: the Eno River/Cates Ford Slopes and Uplands Significant Natural Heritage Area and the Eno River Aquatic Habitat Significant Natural Heritage Area.

These areas support a number of rare freshwater mussels and fish, including the state endangered Atlantic pigtoe, yellow lampmussel and Eastern lampmussel, as well as the federally endangered dwarf wedgemussel.

The Eno River Association has been working on conservation along the Eno River for more than 50 years and has helped protect more than 7,000 acres in the watershed.

Funding for the Bacon Quarry project came from the state’s conservation trust funds, with both the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund participating, according to the release.

Also Dec. 19, the association transferred nearly 6.4 acres west of Sparger Road to the state for inclusion in the park. Surrounded by the park on two sides, the tract was acquired with donations to the association’s Margaret C. Nygard Land Acquisition Fund.

New Year’s Hike

The Eno River Association will hold its annual New Year’s Day Hike at Eno River State Park, attracting hundreds of hikers for a community walk in the woods. This year’s hike is at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Few’s Ford Access to the Park, 6101 Cole Mill Road.