NC State Parks owns about 1,100 acres along both sides of the Haw River in Chatham County, known as the Lower Haw River State Natural Area. It stretches from above US 15-501 near Bynum to below US 64 at the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. Jordan SRA manages the area and park rangers patrol periodically.
This section of river is designated as Nationally Significant by the NC Natural Heritage Program for rare aquatic species and their habitats, and the riverbank lands are designated as Statewide Significant for natural areas. It includes habitat for endangered species and beautiful rugged scenery.
State Parks established State Natural Areas (SNA) as a different type of unit within the state park system. State Natural Areas focus on conservation and preservation of special places. Unlike state parks, facilities are limited in State Natural Areas, making them ideal places for low impact activities such as birding, nature photography, fishing, hiking and paddling.
The Lower Haw has four parking areas, two on each side of river at Bynum Dam and 64 bridge. They provide access with limited parking for hiking (no trails only footpaths), canoe/kayak launch, birding, fishing.
A Friends of Lower Haw organization, a non-profit based in Bynum, was formed last fall to support the area. They established a Facebook page, website, newsletter and agreed to provide trash cans as their first project. Memberships and donations are needed to fund their work, organizers said. Check website (lowerhaw.org) for information.
The Friends chapter, a division of Friends of N.C. State Parks, supplied the trash cans for some access points on State Parks land in December, aided by Ranger Brock Martin. Volunteers periodically empty them.
Last month Friends participated in the annual Haw River Assembly river cleanup and had an exhibit at Chatham Agriculture & Conference Center grand opening. They’re organizing April 2 Spicebush Walk. Check website for signup details.