Nature Centers and Preserves

Mecklenburg County manages over 7,600 acres of nature preserves throughout the county. We offer four nature centers along with a nature space at Eastway Regional Recreation Center. Each of these locations offers environmental education programming and general visitor information.

Nature Preserves

In order to protect our community’s best natural areas, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation has strategically set aside almost 8,000 acres of parkland to conserve our highest quality forests, grasslands, wetlands, rare species habitats, and water quality. Nature preserves focus recreational opportunities in a mostly passive way through the establishment of a high quality system of nature trails, nature center programming, outdoor shelter rentals, and access to streams, ponds and reservoirs. The Division of Nature Preserves and Natural Resources is a regional environmental leader and willingly partners with other public agencies and non-profit organizations on preservation, conservation and educational endeavors.

nature preserve

West Branch Nature Preserve


Various nature preserve trail maps and biodiversity checklists are available for download. 

Natural Resources

Prescribed Burns

Natural Resources staff use controlled burns (also known as prescribed fire) to mimic the natural disturbance caused by the natural fires of years ago. These fires are carefully planned and conducted under specific weather conditions to achieve specific goals. In this way fire can safely be used as a management tool.

Deer Management

The deer population in Mecklenburg County has grown to over 45 animals per square mile (2015, NCWRC).  Such a high density causes problems, and not just when deer dart into traffic. Diseases and parasites are more prevalent for animals in dense populations. Because of these known issues, the department carefully manages permit-based hunts each year at select nature preserves.