ASHEBORO, NC - The North Carolina Zoo has acquired 92.6 acres of forestland adjacent to the zoo's Ridges Mountain Nature Preserve. The zoo acquired the property with funding from the North Carolina Natural Heritage Trust Fund. Piedmont Land Conservancy (PLC) acquired the land from three parties before transferring it to the zoo.

Ridges Mountain Nature Preserve houses one of the Piedmont's most unique landscapes. Monadnock and dry oak hickory forests, upland pools and large rock outcroppings create a rare habitat for several species. Ridges Mountain is listed as a state significant site, according to the Randolph County Natural Heritage Inventory. The property will be managed by the N.C. Zoo through a partnership with Piedmont Land Conservancy and the N.C. Natural Heritage Program.

In addition, Ridges Mountain marks a historically significant site for Randolph County. Located between the Uwharrie River, now Lake Reese and Caraway Creek, Ridges Mountain is believed to be an important site for Native American populations in the Piedmont. Ridges Mountain is also believed to have hosted a major trading post for early settlers in North Carolina.

"The zoo is fortunate to be able to add to the Ridges Mountain Nature Preserve," said Mary Joan Pugh, the zoo's deputy director. "Ridges Mountain is a tremendous natural heritage, educational and historical site for Randolph County," Pugh added.

PLC's Executive Director Kevin Redding said he is pleased to see another beautiful site in the Piedmont protected. "Ridges Mountain is an excellent example of the importance of land conservation," Redding said. "This land could have been used for many different purposes, but thanks to the zoo's commitment, it will now always be a place where students can study, where Scouts can hike and where future generations can learn about the natural world and the Piedmont's past."

PLC is a grassroots land trust dedicated to permanently protecting important lands to conserve our region's rivers and streams, natural and scenic areas, wildlife habitats, and farm land that make the Piedmont a healthy and vibrant place to live, work and visit for present and future generations. To date, PLC has protected more than 17,700 acres in 159 projects across its nine-county region of Alamance, Caswell, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties.

To learn more about the Conservancy and how you can support its efforts to protect farms, rivers, forests, wildlife habitat and urban greenways and parks, visit or call (336) 691-0088.
Contacts: Kevin Redding - Executive Director, Piedmont Land Conservancy, 336-691-0088 or; Mary Joan Pugh - Deputy Director, N.C. Zoo, 336-879-7110 or

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly E. Perdue, Governor.