My favorite discovery on moving here years ago, given I’m a transplanted Philadelphian, has been Bolin Creek.
Its upper reaches, between Homestead Road and Estes Drive, offers the most beautiful and contrasting landscape. Here, you will find beaver swamps, Beech-tree forests, steep river banks and volcanic hillsides that trace a more violent geologic past, a mere half a billion years. Particularly impressive is the ancient ravine behind Chapel Hill’s neighborhood of Ironwoods.
Yet, many citizens have yet to discover these wonders. All ages will have a chance this weekend, however, when Friends of Bolin Creek sponsors a two-hour hike at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, at Wilson Park. The hike is free and will feature several well-known experts talking about wildlife, forest ecology and the nature of creeks. Please meet us at the Wilson Park parking lot at 1:50 p.m.
Not long ago, I rediscovered a cache of condolence cards sent after my father’s death from his friends. What surprised me again were the covers – landscapes, mostly photos or watercolors of natural vistas with water in the background, framed by trees, woods and sky.
Looking at these cards, I felt peaceful and calm. It’s the same when I walk along Bolin Creek.
Why do most cultures find such landscapes so beautiful? What deep inside us makes these landscapes so appealing and nurturing?
As a young adult, I was drawn to this community’s college-town character, our renowned university, our rural countryside, but most of all to our amazing public parks and natural spaces so close to town. To a young woman from the Northeast’s busy metropolitan corridor, having a safe woodland path to walk along was a blessing.
As a group, Friends of Bolin Creek works to conserve Bolin Creek and surrounding forest in an effort to create a 425-acre preserve in the heart of our two towns. Let’s talk for a moment about what we have and what is possible in the future.
From its headwaters, Bolin Creek flows for nine miles through the northern portions of Carrboro and Chapel Hill before flowing past University Place, where it joins Booker Creek to form Little Creek. Town land was purchased in 2003 when Carrboro and Orange County acquired part of this forest in the heart of Carrboro, known as the Adams Preserve, with a combination of Clear Water Act funds, Orange County and Carrboro funds. The 27-acre jewel sits just past the entrance to Wilson Park, and is filled with walking and hiking trails.
Walking from Wilson Park through the Adams Preserve down to Bolin Creek, you run into a gorgeous 77-acre area tract known as the “Craig Preserve.” This private land on the east side is characterized by rolling hillsides, small creeks and mainly hardwoods, laced with large stands of Beech trees. It is owned by P.H. Craig, who has preserved it to date. Someday, Friends of Bolin Creek dreams this land will join the Adams Preserve for the public’s enjoyment.
North of the Craig tract and south of Chapel Hill High School sits the amazing 325-acre UNC Carolina Forest, home to such animals as owl, foxes and coyotes. Much of this land west of Seawell School Road is to be preserved in some cases for 50 years and in others forever. UNC trustees and town leaders saw the value of creating an agreement that concentrated the new Carolina North campus by the existing airport site, thus preserving this contiguous forest. Naturalist Mary Parker Sonis with her photos and words has documented the ecological wealth you can find here. She will be a featured speaker on Saturday.
Other speakers include “Piedmont Almanac” author Dave Cook, a chronicler of the many wonders along the creek, as well as science teacher Betsy Kempter, forester and stream expert Rob Crook and Town of Carrboro Alderman Randee Haven O’Donnell.
Please join us in our journey into this natural world as we seek to conserve a 425-acre natural treasure. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.