TLC conserves 108-acre Chicken Bridge Forest in the Haw River corridor of Chatham County

By Olivia Garcia

Pittsboro, NC – TLC is excited to announce the purchase of Chicken Bridge Forest, a 108-acre parcel of land in Chatham County now owned by TLC. The land has 2,250 feet of perennial stream with a wide and rocky streambed leading directly to the Haw River. There are over 1,000 additional feet of intermittent stream area which feeds into an unnamed tributary during heavy rains and hosts a well-established floodplain forest. The property has been used for forestry for at least the past decade, which has caused some habitat degradation making it an excellent candidate for restoration. 

Streams at Chicken Bridge Forest. (Photo by TLC Staff)

The Haw River is a part of the Upper Cape Fear River basin that feeds into Jordan Lake, an important drinking water reservoir for over 700,000 Triangle residents in Durham, Chatham, and Wake Counties. Safeguarding clean drinking water is a core pillar of TLC’s conservation work in a rapidly growing and developing Triangle region. In addition to collaborating with local partners and organizations around water protection, such as the Jordan Lake One Water initiative, and practicing and encouraging land management that supports streams, TLC also looks for opportunities to protect land along key streams and watersheds.

The name “Chicken Bridge” comes from a unique incident over the nearby road’s crossing of the Haw River. According to research from the Chatham County Historical Association, in the early 1950s the bridge collapsed, sending a local poultry farmer’s truckload of chickens on their way to the processing plant into the waters of the Haw. Poultry, at that time, was a huge part of Chatham County farming culture, and from that point on the name stuck over the several iterations of the bridge and in the local history. 

Chicken Bridge Forest and surrounding areas have been of interest to TLC since before 2007 due to the significant acreage and Natural Heritage element occurrences in the Haw River Corridor. Most recently, this parcel came to TLC’s attention through participation in the Haw River Trail Conservation Committee meetings to identify important parcels for a Haw River Trail Master Plan. It was put up for sale late last year and with the help of the nearby Protzman Family, TLC was able to put in a competitive bid and close in record time. Chatham County residents Alys and Alex Protzman, and their three children, believe that a strong connection to nature promotes balance, compassion and joy. “During this era of rapid growth in Chatham County, we are proud to support the Triangle Land Conservancy’s mission to preserve this sensitive ecosystem along the Haw River for future generations.” 

Chatham County is the 2nd fastest growing county in North Carolina and home to 52 significant natural areas identified by the Natural Heritage Program. Through protecting Chicken Bridge Forest, TLC is participating in vital work to ensure environmental, economic, and social benefits for all in this region. TLC looks forward to continuing to collaborate with partners and communities in protecting green spaces and waterways across this crucial landscape.