Lewis Creek Nature Preserve

The Southern Appalachian Bog at the Lewis Creek Nature Preserve

Lewis Creek Nature Preserve is an 8.3 acre conservation property located in the Edneyville community in Henderson County. The Preserve contains more than 1,500 feet of Lewis Creek which was restored in 2011 by the NC Environmental Enhancement Program (EEP).  The creek had been channelized for agricultural purposes years ago, and its banks were significantly eroding, degrading water quality and jeopardizing wildlife. The restoration restored stream bends, called meanders, that mimic natural stream patterns in floodplains.  These meanders improve water quality by slowing the flow of the water and reducing erosion. The Preserve is also home to a rare type of wetland, a Southern Appalachian Bog. The bog is adjacent to the creek and covers six and a half acres of the Preserve. 

Southern Appalachian Bogs

Southern Appalachian Bogs are one of the rarest habitats in western North Carolina. There are less than 750 acres of these bogs remaining in North Carolina today, an 83 percent loss from the 5,000 acres estimated to have once existed in our region. The word "bog" is of Gaelic origin - denoting soft or spongy ground.  Southern Appalachian Bogs are generally found on poorly-drained flat terrain, where water collects in thick, wet soils that are high in decaying organic matter.

A CMLC volunteer and staff member planting a tree at the Lewis Creek Nature Preserve

This unique environment is home to a large number of specialist plant and animal species that cannot survive in other habitats. Bogs are highly sensitive areas--susceptible to natural and human disturbance and invasive exotic species. Some of the reasons we have so few bogs today is that they were often used for grazing or were drained for agriculture in the past. Furthermore, the processes which contribute to the creation of bogs are not well understood which makes them a valuable natural community to protect in a rapidly developing world.

The bog at Lewis Creek has not escaped the problems facing many other bogs in the Southern Appalachians. The site was grazed for many years, and possibly timbered.  Some areas of the bog are degraded and invasive species are moving in. CMLC and our dedicated volunteers have been working hard to remove invasive species and restore the delicate hydrology of this unique natural system. 

Other Management Activies

In addition to stream restoration and invasive removal, CMLC has undertaken many different management activities to restore and improve the Preserve including establishing and maintaining a pollinator patch for wildlife, planting trees, building and installing bird boxes, and constructing a walking path (complete with boardwalks for wet areas) that allows local residents to more fully experience the Preserve, and improves access for CMLC staff  to conduct management in hard-to-reach areas of the site. 

Sandhill Cranes flying over the Lewis Creek Nature Preserve

A large and wonderful group of dedicated volunteers have been instrumental in making this work possible.  Our thanks goes out to them for their hard work! If you'd like to help at the Lewis Creek Nature Preserve, please contact us by calling Mark at (828) 697-5777 or visiting CMLC's Volunteer website!

Birds

The Lewis Creek Nature Preserve is also notable for the variety of birds that stop at the site during their spring and autumn migrations. The bog habitat, as well as dense thickets, tree cover, and running water provide excellent habitat for many species. Henderson County Bird Club president Rich Leppingwell has called Lewis Creek one of the finest sites in the county for birdwatching. CMLC is conducting bird inventories to document and better understand the birds that visit the site. In February, a pair of Sandhill Cranes were spotted overhead. These beautiful birds are very rare to our area. They stand 4-feet tall and have a 6-foot wingspan, and are white with red on the crown of their heads. When coming in for a landing, they drop their legs like landing gear on an aircraft! It is CMLC's hope that our continued management work will attract more species of birds like these beautiful Cranes.


 Fun Sightings at Lewis Creek

 

A Flying Squirrel (left) spotted at the Lewis Creek Nature Preserve in 2012. The squirrel was living in a birdbox that a CMLC volunteer was checking for nests.  We're hopeful there is a brood of baby flying squirrels in the box!

A Mantis (right) spotted at Lewis Creek during a volunteer workday in early Autumn of 2011. The mantis was out for a stroll in the afternoon sun when an AmeriCorps member snapped this picture.

 

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