Field trip to Spring Canyon, land owned and managed by Audubon members Tom and Helen Roth. Their property is in the Apalachicola River Basin and is being restored ecologically by the owners.
Meet at the entrance to the property at 9:00 a.m. (directions will be provided upon registration). Or carpool from the DEP/Commonwealth Coppertop Building parking lot, leaving at 8:15 a.m. Helen Roth will go early to the property to greet people at the gate. Donna Legare will meet the carpoolers. The field trip is free, but please call Donna at (850)386-1148 to sign up so we know how many to expect and how many plan to carpool.
About Spring Canyon:
Spring Canyon is a 100 acre tract of land located within the Appalachicola River basin along the headwaters of Crooked Creek in Southwest Gadsden County. It has steephead ravines and seepage streams that divide the sandhill uplands into four separate sections.
When Helen and Tom Roth acquired the property in 2008, they began a continual process of learning what they need to do to be good land stewards. The good news was that there were a lot of mature, flat-top, and cat-faced longleaf pines and existing wiregrass, but the bad news was that the ecosystem was suffering from a long period of fire exclusion resulting in so much hardwood encroachment that one could barely see the longleaf pines.
The goals of their restoration projects for the 50 acres of uplands involves repeated prescribed burning and brush management techniques to remove the encroaching hardwood trees in order to get more light on the ground so natural regeneration can occur and the ground cover can flourish. This is a work in progress that began in 2011 and is still ongoing. Restoration has been completed on around 25 acres, another 10 acre section is waiting on an upcoming dormant season burn to consume the stacks of cut hardwoods and return nutrients to the soil, and the final 15 acres are still in their original condition. This allows for multiple “before, during, and after” views of adjacent sections to illustrate the ongoing restoration process which is providing improved habitat for gopher tortoises, birds, and other wildlife.
About the Hike:
It is approximately a 2 mile hike to make a loop around the property… will probably take around 3 hours… involves walking up and down slopes so wear good hiking boots… bring insect repellant, sunscreen, and a sun hat… bring water and a snack for the hike… bring lunch for after the hike… bring trekking poles or help yourself to a gift of a sparkleberry hiking pole (reusing some of the cut trees)…Also there are no toilet facilities so be prepared to “use the woods”. There are picnic tables.