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Thursday, March 01, 2007
Ramsey Creek Expanding
Thursday, March 01, 2007 :: 7745 Views :: Ramblings at Ramsey Creek

Ramsey Creek Preserve to Expand Upstream

While it will take at least 80 clients to assure that the acreage is permanently protected, Dr. Garland Johnson, Nellie Campbell, and Dr. Billy and Kimberley Campbell have secured the 38 acres and one half mile of Ramsey Creek frontage immediately adjacent to the north end of the RCP. The agreement with the land-owner also provides us with an option to secure 25 acres across the creek. The property will need to be debt free before it can become a part of the RCP (and thus permanently protected); Memorial Ecosystems is mounting a campaign to make sure that happens. During the winter months, the southern end of the property is easily visible from the North Ridge Trail-in some areas it is not much more than 100 feet from the ridge top. Development of the tract for housing or as a cattle farm would have spoiled the beauty and intimacy of one of the prettiest places in the RCP. The addition means that the RCP will bring the total riparian area protection to 3/4th mile.

Until 18 years ago, the property was a mature hardwood forest, replete with orchids and other rare woodland wildflowers. The forest was much more mature and diverse than the adjacent property that became the RCP. In addition to the outstanding hardwood forest, the bottoms were a mosaic of old beaver dams, large trees and small meadows of native grasses, wildflowers and shrubs such as sparkleberries.

The trustee of the property hired an industrial forester, who not only recommended clear-cutting the entire tract (that included over 200 additional acres across the stream), but also recommended that it be bulldozed to prevent the return of the oaks, which could interfere with the pine crop. Invasive plants like privet and honeysuckle flourished, and feral hogs moved in, decimating the bog plants.  Last year, the land re-sold, and the new owners wanted to unload some of the property that was (to them) less accessible and usable-including the 38 acres to the west of Ramsey Creek, and the 25 acres on the east side of the creek.

The extension will add at least 20 acres of high ground, and more than 10 acres of wetlands. It will also open up a great area of dry meadows overlooking a long set of shoals for burials. Currently, all creek front burial spaces at The Ramsey Creek Preserve are spoken for, or are within the flood plain and off limits for burial.

The tract, despite the travails of the past 18 years, is still beautiful, but it needs lots of work. Our goal is to return the site to hardwoods, reduce the hold of the non-natives, and make it a better place for wild ducks, foxes, bobcats, and human visitors.

The first step will be to establish trails and roads to allow visitors to visit the site, and for our restoration foresters to help us remove the thickly planted loblolly in stages-while saving the young white oaks, beeches, yellow pine and hickory trees that have managed to survive. In February 07, we constructed a rough trail to the north end, and found that the neighbor had not kept his fences in repair, and that his cows were spending a good bit of time in the creek.

The main trails we develop for the loblolly removal will also become the visitor trails into the heart of the extension (the main trails in the RCP are also old logging roads), and will be handicapped accessible. Other plans include “back country” trails, a board walk and wildlife observation tower overlooking the wetlands. The observation tower will provide a safe place to watch wildlife and will be designed to offer nesting spots for barn swallows and other wildlife. We are also planning to offer clients the opportunity to participate in restoring the American chestnut.

Pending a successful campaign to secure the 38 acre extension, we will offer clients the opportunity to protect land on the other side of the creek. We are actively researching alternatives for creating a bridge that would use antique railroad masonry abutments and a timber-framed structure at the upper end of Johnson Shoals.
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