My last 4 visits to the Springs were spent prepping the Indian Campground for mowing and burning. I made good progress on 8/21 on the Northeast section.
Cutting stumps and charred logs in the sand is tough on the chain, bar and sprocket. The grit gets in between the swiftly rotating parts and wears them down fast. I had to constantly stop and tighten the chain because of the wear on the links. I wore out 4 chains, a bar and 2 sprockets.
To preserve my sanity, I needed to work on something a little easier and more fun so yesterday I focused on continuing the effort to open up the views to the West from the Indian Campground Scenic Overlook.
I am a landscape artist in my dreams and when I resumed working at the Springs in April 2011 my first goal was to open up the views West from the Scenic Overlook. To that end, I began clearing Buckthorn on both sides of the Indian Springs and yesterday was the day to “take the curtain down” and see what we could see. Here is a before picture and video panorama.
The trees in the foreground of the picture above on the left included Cherry, Red Oak and Hickory. Normally I focus on Buckthorn but in this case, recognizing the land was previously an open wetland/meadow, the DNR recommended these trees be cut. I purposely preserved the longest, straightest pieces of wood that I could. I know a couple people who turn wood on lathes and they may be able to make something from these pieces. If you would like to harvest some 10-14″ diameter 20-30′ foot long pieces, of Cherry, Red Oak or Hickory, please help yourself. In the interest of making a dramatic change, I focused on cutting and saved the piling for another day. I must admit, as I contemplated the days work and the huge difference I was about to effect, my heart was racing. As we used to say, it was a rush.
Here is an after picture and video panorama.
The row of Buckthorn on the left in the picture above is the target for the next workday. Later that evening I was joined by my wife Pati, who road her bike out from our home in Milwaukee, and I took a few more pictures.
I hope you like it!
Later that afternoon Ron Kurowski, retired DNR naturalist and the force behind the Scuppernong River Habitat Area project, stopped by and we took a walk around. I can best describe his mood as ebullient. He showed me pictures and described the many flowers, some rare, that he had seen already on his walk. I asked him to document his findings and send me the descriptions and pictures so I can post them as a guest blog here. Thanks Ron!
Ron filled in more of the history of the most recent beaver activity in the area and explained the relationship between the dam they made at the Marl Pit bridge and the defunct short cut trail that used to bisect the loop trail. The dam caused so much water to back up that it flooded the area to the North where the cutoff trail went. Check out the map above, this is a huge area! Although beavers have always been an important contributor to the natural landscape, the powers that be dictated that they had to go. Ron hired a trapper to remove the beaver and he said one of them was over 100 lbs, the biggest beaver he had ever caught. Ron said the beaver at the Marl Pit dam used to be quite an attraction. My efforts to redirect the river back onto its main channel, from where it had gotten diverted by the beavers, is holding up around 90% effective. This will have to be redone.
As we toured the Springs, especially the area around the Emerald Springs, Ron suggested that we contact Ben Heussner, DNR Fish Biologist, and get some of the left over “geo logs” that were originally used to help constrain the river into a narrower channel. We need to install more of these logs and do some dredging to continue the efforts to put the river back into its natural bed. There is still too much water spreading out into the surrounding land around the Emerald Springs and it is feeding the Phragmites and Cattail. We’re not done “fixing the water” yet.