Camilla Herlevich, the executive director for the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust said with the growing historical significance of Site X, the N.C. Coastal Land Trust seized an opportunity to purchase 1,000 acres of property on and near the site, costing the conservation group roughly $5 million.
“We have never, ever raised money before of this magnitude,” she said.
Herlevich said while the conservation group typically raises funds and grants prior to purchases, there was little time to spare in acquiring the land, as investors were looking to sell the property quickly.
“We took a risk this time by borrowing money, but it was an informed risk," she said. "We made a business decision considering this would be a project with so many different kinds of values that would qualify for a variety of state and federal grant sources.”
Herlevich said fundraising efforts will likely last for another year. The group has already received multiple contributions — including a $1.2 million grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund last week.
She said once the loan is fully repaid, the N.C. Coastal Land Trust plans to transfer ownership of the land over to the North Carolina Division of Parks & Recreation, and the land will become public property.
Scott Sauer, Bertie County manager, said he already has preliminary plans to boost ecotourism in the area.
“There’s an awful lot to do along that 1,000 acre stretch, including opportunities to establish walking trails, mountain bike trails, horse trails," he said. "The area is absolutely gorgeous.”
He said the county is still working on recovery from Hurricane Matthew and has other projects to focus on immediately, but that in the long run he wants to use the location as a teaching area in partnership with the county's public schools.
Herlevich said the area gives an insight into not just the Roanoke colonists but also modern Americans.
“I think everybody loves a mystery," she said. "We’re always trying to learn more about ourselves, where we came from and why we do the things that we do.”
The N.C. Coastal Land Trust is accepting donations at https://coastallandtrust.org/.