The WATR Discovery Trails at Monteith Farmstead Park are open and ready for visitors. We hope you make the time to go to Dillsboro and walk these “mini” nature trails.
The goal of these trails is to encourage the stewardship of stream-side land. The South Trail describes why natural vegetation along stream banks (called the riparian zone) is essential to the biological health of mountain creeks. Next, the West Trail is directed toward the landowner with a stream on his/her property. The signs along the trail describe the benefits (can we say “joys”?) of maintaining naturally vegetated stream banks on your land.
Viewed from a negative perspective, a buffer zone along a creek seems like “lost” land that you, as the property owner, can’t enjoy. It has dense trees and a riparian thicket to obscure the view of the creek. Viewed positively, the you will find that the riparian thicket safeguards your property against loss of land (by storm erosion), that you have a special ecosystem to learn about and to enjoy, and opportunities to access the stream in erosion-resistant points — where you and your family can wade, fish, and enjoy the rushing water. A buffer should not separate you from enjoyment of your stream — instead it should enhance it, while giving you the pleasure of knowing that you are protecting and feeding the wildlife in the stream itself.
Let’s consider the riddle of the South Trail:
OK! If you cannot visit our nature trail — then take a look at the signs that we have posted along the way. The first and final (ninth) sign are posted together — MFP_SouthTrail_Signs
OK! We hope to have pictures to take all you non-western North Carolina folks on a real virtual tour in the near future. Anyway, the challenge is….
What is the “mysterious substance” at the bottom of the food pyramid for mountain streams? What do the aquatic bugs eat to give them nutrients and energy (calories)?
— Make a guess
— Yes, you know it
— Gosh! You forgot?
—You never knew?
The answer is: Leaf Packs — yes, the lowly wads of fallen leaves that accumulate against rocks and under logs — feed the base of our aquatic ecosystem. — Not sunlight and plants (well, not directly). Not diatoms and algae. It is LEAF PACKS… Deciduous trees are soooo important! So don’t cut down those trees next to the stream! Make sure some small saplings are there to take the place of the grand, old trees when their time comes!
So now you know! Don’t forget the importance of trees for shade! And a riparian thicket for dense roots and erosion control. And a path to the creek just to get your toes wet!
(Easter egg: Thanks, Mikki and Kathleen at Resourceful Communities! Come visit us — and walk the trail! It is yours, too, you know! )