A year after the tornadoes, life returns at They’s Farm

April 16, 2012

Today marks the year anniversary of the devastating tornadoes that hit North Carolina in 2011.  One of TLC’s easements, the They’s Farm was hit hard by the tornado last year.  Leigh Ann Hammerbacher and intern Alyssa Krag-Arnold visited the They’s farm for TLC’s annual monitoring on Friday.  They were both amazed at how much work had been put into restoration of the farm in the last year and the resiliency of Mother Nature.  Check out Alyssa’s thoughts on the visit below.

Spring has definitely sprung at the They’s easement. Leigh Ann and I visited the easement for annual monitoring, and we couldn’t have picked a better day for it. From the pastures to the woods, everything was covered in green.
As we walked the perimeter of the nearly 100 acre property (about one third consists of pastures and open field, and the rest is forested), we encountered several of the many horses the property owners care for. While speaking with two riders, we found out that all of these horses were lucky enough to escape without a scratch from last spring’s tornado that caused extensive damage to the property. With a great deal of effort, the owners were able to restore the pastures and buildings to pre-hurricane conditions, but the woods still bear evidence of the tornado’s destructive power. Leigh Ann and I saw number of huge trees completely uprooted, and we bush-whacked through a great deal of blowdown from branches and smaller trees.

Seeing the destruction that still remains a year later was definitely a reminder of mother nature’s power. As is often the case, where there is destruction, there comes life. Unfortunately, this life takes the form of Microstegium (Japanese Stiltgrass), an invasive grass. Many open areas and disturbed clearings that we walked through were densely carpeted in Microstegium. On the other hand we also saw the resiliency of the forest.  Despite the downed branches, Leigh Ann pointed out several unique plants popping up such Pink Lady Slipper, Cinnamon Fern, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Wild Azalea, and Atamasco Lilly. We also saw a Flame Azalea popping up next to a large downed oak.
Overall, it was great to get out into the woods for a little while. As an intern, I’ve spent most of my time at TLC on the computer at the office, so I enjoyed the change of pace!

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