The Raleigh Naturalist

June 29, 2008

Lots to Lose – Lots to Save

Filed under: East Raleigh, Nature Lore, Pecans & Mistletoe — Tags: , , — raleighnaturalist @ 8:53 pm

This post was originally published Feb. 24, 2008.

This meadow off Sunnybrook is surely doomed, but it is sure fun to browse for now.  I have seen deer and gray foxes, lots of butterflies and a wonderful diversity of plant communities that range themselves around the various landscapes contained on this old farm.  It is the remnants of the very large farm bisected by the eastern stretch of the Beltline and displayed in all its historicity at Oak View County Park right across the highway.  This privately owned portion contains two ponds, one large enough to be called Jones Lake, an abandoned farmhouse, and a small grove of pecan trees.  The main pond is dammed at an unusually deep cut into sandstone that makes for an imposing ravine just below the dam, which then delivers the water to Crabtree, close by.  You can walk from the Sunnybrook meadow down a hill to the pipeline cut that parallels the beltline, and follow that water all the way to the pumping station , to see where those teenagers flung their Dad’s sports car over the guard rail, and you can see the memorials left at the site, which is still slightly blackened and scarred from the conflagration. This floodplain zone is wet and full of animal tracks.  The soil is sandy and obviously derived from the sandstone bowl which helps form Jones Lake. Or you can walk across the top of the dam, jump past the ravine, and walk around to the upper pond near Poole Road.  Here you see the pecans and the upland plants that are taking over from them.  Whatever subdivision gets created here will surely make some benefit out of the water holes and the many mature trees.  You would hope, at least.  I also used to park on Poole Road just past the fire station and walk in from that direction, but that end, between the upper pond and Poole, is now already under construction.  The clear cut for that part is not promising.  See below.


The meadow ends at the slope down to the creek that drains Jones Lake.

              The upper pond and pecan grove.

And the clearcut.


December 30, 2007

Dix Hill and the making of a world class city

Filed under: green initiatives, Greenways & Parks, Pecans & Mistletoe, South Raleigh — Tags: , , , — raleighnaturalist @ 4:11 pm


The oak grove above will probably survive whatever is to come, but the old “Dix Hill” where I went sledding has already been truncated by Centennial and the Farmer’s Market, and is now being fought over like a scrap thrown between dogs.  I realize there is going to be more development of some kind,and that the state will hold on to some space – as a matter of fact, the Dix hospital employees I talk to say they don’t expect to leave.  It makes sense for some portion – the juvenile part, say – of the mental health facilities to remain. I am not an activist but I’m glad the Dix group is working so hard to save what they can.  The truth is, the magnificent lower meadow, surrounded by majestic oaks, with Rocky Branch edging it, is the prettiest place inside the beltline.  A park here would go a long way toward establishing Raleigh as the true and enlightened city of oaks.


Rocky Branch above, Dix Hill pecan trees below


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