Epic Games Founder Donates $15 Million for Wildlife Conservation Effort

Tim Sweeney's donation for a 7,000-acre parcel of North Carolina land is thought to be largest individual donation in state history.

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Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney has donated $15 million to permanently protect a 7,000-acre forest in the developer's home state of North Carolina. Specifically, the money provides for an easement that protects the Box Creek Wilderness, which is in western North Carolina, near the Blue Ridge Mountains.

As Gamasutra explains, a "conservation easement" like the one Sweeney paid for mandates that landowners cannot develop, subdivide, or interfere with the tract of land in question.

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"It's still in private ownership but the easement ensures it can never be developed," Sweeney told the Citizen-Times. "It's not open to anyone in the public at any time, but people can email and get a permission card and go and enjoy it."

"I'm grateful for the efforts of Senator Burr to help protect Box Creek Wilderness," Sweeney added in a statement. "And I'm grateful for the whole Fish and Wildlife Service team's tireless efforts to preserve vital North Carolina natural areas in partnership with conservation-minded landowners like me."

The $15 million donation is thought to be one of the largest conservation easements by an individual in the history of North Carolina. The easement is being donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Jeff Fisher, the CEO of the land management firm that organized the deal, said the Box Creek Wilderness has "such rare plant and wildlife species." A wildlife biologist cited in the story said ecologists found more than 130 rare and "watch-list" plants and wildlife species there.

This isn't Sweeney's first time buying land in North Carolina for conservation. He's been doing so since 2008 and now has collected 40,000 acres of land across the state, some of which has been donated for conversation efforts.

Epic Games' other founder, Mark Rein, is a part-owner of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes. In 2012, Chinese internet company Tencent paid $330 million for a stake in Epic Games.

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