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Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney buys 268 acres near Siler City for conservation

·3 min read

Tim Sweeney, the founder and CEO of Epic Games, has continued his land conservation buying spree in North Carolina.

Earlier this month, Sweeney, whose personal wealth has soared in recent years thanks to the success of the game Fortnite, bought nearly 270 acres of land southeast of Siler City in Chatham County.

The land was purchased by Sweeney’s 130 of Chatham LLC for $1.6 million, according to Chatham County land records.

In an email, Sweeney said the land purchase was not related to Epic Games and is part of an ongoing conservation project he has been involved with in Chatham County.

For more than a decade, Sweeney has been interested in developing what he calls conservation corridors throughout the state. He has become one of the largest land owners in North Carolina and has bought tens of thousands of acres of land — mainly in the Appalachian Mountains — to build long tracts that haven’t been built on or crossed by roads.

The undisturbed stretches of land, he has said, allow vulnerable species and plants to move freely in their natural habitats.

A large chunk of his land purchases were done in the years following the Great Recession when real estate prices had fallen and many developers went bankrupt. That allowed him to target land in places like Chatham County and Alamance County, which are seeing more attention from developers as the Triangle’s population grows outward.

His most recent purchase sits not too far from Chatham Hospital and, to the north, is bordered by the Rocky River. The Triangle Business Journal first reported the land sale.

“All of my land purchases in Chatham County ... are part of a nature conservation project focused on the Rocky River and Bennett Flatwoods of Chatham County,” Sweeney said in an email. “The most active part of this project is the expansion of state park land at the confluence of the Rocky River and Deep River in partnership with The Conservation Fund and State Parks.”

Sweeney has been prolific in his conservation efforts in 2021 — a year that has been dominated by his company’s antitrust lawsuits against Apple and Google.

In April, Sweeney donated 7,500 acres of mountainous land in Mitchell County to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, The News & Observer reported.

The donation was the largest in that conservancy’s 47-year history and one of the biggest ever made to a land trust in the North Carolina.

Also in April, Sweeney joined forces with Audubon North Carolina to conserve Hutaff Island, a two-mile stretch of land off the coast of North Carolina that is a prime destination for migrating birds and offers protection against coastal storms.

Mark Rein, who co-founded Epic Games with Sweeney, has also been involved in land conservation. In May, Rein donated land in southern Granville County to the Tar River Land Conservancy, an organization that protects land bordering the Tar River and its many tributaries, The N&O reported.

This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. Learn more; go to bit.ly/newsinnovate.

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