In December of 2020, the Nation Ford Land Trust held a ceremony to dedicate 158 acres on Vernsdale Road. The site is now known as the Murray White Preserve. With deep Fort Mill ties, White is founder of the nonprofit land trust and a former York County Council member, including multiple stints as chairman.
The dedication brought together several area civic leaders who’ve put decades of work toward land preservation, like Anne Springs Close, who may be best known in Fort Mill now for her namesake greenway.
“Murray was the catalyst that brought the original board members together to form the Nation Ford Land Trust,” said Bernie Ackerman, land trust chairman.
The new Rock Hill site now named for White could make future land trust preservation easier. Plans are to generate revenue through timber harvesting, a hunt club lease and a 10- to 20-acre compost facility for the City of Rock Hill yard waste program. The land trust will lease the land for composting to Greenway Waste Solutions.
“This way future Nation Ford Land Trust boards will have a consistent income stream and occasionally a large bonus of funds from the timber harvesting operation,” said Steve Hamilton,
land trust executive director. The land trust received the property in late 2018 from Greenway Waste Solutions. The plan was for a conservation easement. The compost site could be operating within 18 months. The Murray White Preserve sits at the almost southwestern tip of city limits in Rock Hill. It spans both sides of Vernsdale, just north of its intersection with Rambo Road.
The Murray White Preserve, which borders Fishing Creek, is one of several recent efforts to preserve land in York County. The land trust was involved in a conservation easement for 1,700 acres as part of the massive Riverbend Park owned by York County. That overall 1,900-acre county site has about six miles of Catawba River frontage.
The land trust preserved 2,700 acres in an easement in the York area with the Stuck family property. Combined with other donations from the family, the total stretches to more than 3,800 acres.
Other major natural area upgrades abound in York County, including waterfront park additions in Rock Hill and Lake Wylie from Duke Energy, Catawba Park in Tega Cay, Ebenezer Park improvements in Rock Hill and a host of new municipal park projects.