Tales from the Field: Progress at Brumley Forest Nature Preserve

December 30, 2015

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about TLC’s Brumley Forest Nature Preserve in Orange County, NC. Guided hikes, a neighbor meet and greet, the BioBlitz, and other events have brought folks out to Brumley for a sneak peek at the property. Many people over the past few years who have explored the property with us, and we’re excited about getting it open to the general public next fall (2016).

Conservation Corps Breaks Ground at Brumley Forest

Conservation Corps volunteers at the first Brumley Forest trail workday.

The work to prepare Brumley Forest ramped up in a huge fashion a few weeks ago. Our trail contractor, Stewart Bryan of Native Trails, began construction of the trail system outlined in our preserve master plan. On Thursday, Nov. 22, our loyal Conservation Corps volunteers had their first trail workday, helping move the trail building more efficiently and quickly. Our eight great volunteers that morning spent three hours clearing debris, roots, rocks, and trees from the trail corridor and followed after with the trail-building machine to create a smooth, beautiful finished trail surface that will last for years to come.

If you read our blog regularly, you may recall my “John Henry” blog a few months ago. In that post, I compared hand-built vs. machine-built trail work at TLC’s White Pines Nature Preserve in Chatham County. I listed all the different factors that go into deciding how we utilize our limited resources to efficiently create beautiful and sustainable trails. For the trails at Brumley, we decided a hybrid of man and machine-built trails would be most efficient with respect to both time and money.

Besides the trail building, many other activities are ongoing at Brumley Forest to get it ready to open as TLC’s 7th public nature preserve. When rains slow trail building, or extra volunteers come out to lend a helping hand, we send them over to the old Craig Manor to clear out a massive overgrowth of invasive plants like Kudzu. Removing the vegetation will help stabilize remains of the old mansion’s foundation. It will also help open up the area around an old standing chimney, possible future roosting habitat for the Chimney Swift, a near-threatened bird whose population has declined an average of 2.2 percent a year since 1966. (Read about another Brumley Forest habitat – a new Chimney Swift tower!)

Conservation Corps at Brumley Forest – November 5, 2015

Thanks to the helpful research and support provided by volunteer Jack Blackmer, we hope to soon replace an old dock on the pond. Then, we will work to update and stabilize a wooden hunting blind that has been remarkably converted into a bird watching platform near one of the property’s many wetland areas.

It will be an ongoing transformation at Brumley Forest Nature Preserve for the next year and really, there’s a lot of excitement in the air. If you’re not already subscribed to our e-newsletters, I encourage you to do so. You will get updates about our many activities along with ways you can get involved such as volunteer workdays and events.

Whether you volunteer, help promote, or donate during this process, we hope you too anticipate a time next fall when you can share Brumley with family and friends and proudly say, “I helped create this.”

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