Sandy Pines Historic & Natural Significance

Photo showing a pond on preserve

Special natural features include:

  • Open Meadows, Woodlands, Creeks, and Pond
  • A variety of high quality habitats: small wetland communities, floodplain forest, mixed pine-hardwood forest, fallow agriculture fields and meadows, and Long Leaf Pine Restoration
  • Many wildlife species, including priority species of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Wildlife Action Plan.

Some species you may find include: beavers, white-tailed deer, wood ducks, red-shouldered hawks, indigo buntings, wild turkeys and a variety of frogs, salamanders and reptiles.

Cultural History

Beginning in 1785, the Marriott family of Surry County, Virginia, established the land as a homestead and farm producing a variety of cash crops and livestock. Prior to 1865, enslaved persons provided labor, and after emancipation, sharecropping, tenant farming and later timber management sustained the farm until the early 2000s. The farm has been owned by the Procter family of Raleigh since an inheritance in 1880. For more than seven generations, the Marriott-Procter families cultivated and protected this unique property, which eventually became the largest tract of family owned, undeveloped farmland and forest remaining in Wake County

History of Pines

The name ‘Sandy Pines’ recognizes the years of managed Loblolly Pine forests and the history of Longleaf Pines on the property. Historically, Longleaf Pines dominated much of the property. During a NCSU forestry students field trip in 1961, NCSU professors estimated a longleaf pine stump to be 231 years old and the rest of the Longleaf Pine stumps to be 80-90 years old. Copies of this letter from NCSU, forestry plans, and other documents have been provided from the previous owners, the Marriott-Procter family, dating back to 1952. Many areas were planted with Loblolly Pine, which was on a renewable harvest schedule from the 1940’s until the 1990’s, with one area thinned in 2006. You can see evidence of this forestry history while on the trails.

In the fall of 2019, 140 Longleaf Pines were planted in the field where the Longleaf Pine trail runs. This planting was a partnership effort between the Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC), Wake County, NCSU, and NC Forest Service. The trees were donated from TLC through a partnership with the Longleaf Alliance and Appalachian Mountain Brewery. Students from NCSU provided the labor with preserve staff. NC Forest Service provided tools and expertise on planting. Preserve staff hope to increase and restore the acreage of Longleaf Pine in the preserve over the years.

Discover Nature at Wake County Parks and Preserves

NRID – Natural Resources Inventory Database

Want to explore the wildlife and plants seen at our Wake County Parks and Preserves from home? Check out the Wake County Natural Resources Inventory Database! Anyone can use it – whether you're a birdwatcher, teacher, student, citizen scientist or just curious about nature. Explore data and photos, print checklists, or discover fun nature facts here.