L I T T L E M O U N T A I N R A N C HA H i g h l a n d R e t r e a t
2PREPARED FOR:PRIVATE CLIENTPREPARED BY:AND
INTRODUCTIONTHE VISIONTHE PROPERTYTHE REGIONTHE HISTORYSITE INVENTORY & ANALYSISLANDSCAPE TYPOLOGYTERRAINECOLOGYVEGETATION...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o mRIDGE TOPROUTE 220JACKSON RIVERNORTHINTRODUCTIONMcKee ...
...t or i v e r v a l l e yTHE VISIONThe vision for Little Mountain Ranchis to create a multi-functional retreatfor the ow...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m6THE PROPERTYLittle Mountain Ranch is located inHighla...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y7LittleMountainRte. 220Back Creek MountainJacksonRiverNORTHNORTH
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m8THE REGIONLocated in the Ridge and ValleyProvince of ...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y9WEST VIRGINIA VIRGINIARidge+ValleyShenandoahValleyBlueRidgePiedmontMontereyAppalachianPlateauA...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m10THE HISTORYThe Highland County area waspopulated by ...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y11MAP NOT TO SCALENORTH
12
SITE INVENTORY & ANALYSISA number of inventory andanalysis studies were conductedpertaining to the physicalelements of the...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m14NORTHThe property covers a wide range ofelevation ch...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y15TERRAINSlopes on site were calculated andgrouped into six categories accordingto development ...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m16Ecology is the scientific study of theinteractions of...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y17LAYERED FOREST AT LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCHMEADOW WETLAND DURING COOL SEASON (MARCH) SAME WETLAND...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m18The vegetative community on LittleMountain Ranch is ...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y19ALLUVIAL / RIVERINECANOPYSUBCANOPYUNDERSTORYEastern sycamore | Platanus occidentalisEastern h...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m20ASPECTAspect refers to the direction in which aslope...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y21WILDLIFEHighland County is home to a widearray of wildlife. Supporting over500 species, the a...
22
SITE DESIGN ELEMENTSThe richness of Little Mountain Ranchis representative of the distinct, multi-layered vernacular of Hi...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m24INTERVENTIONFISHING REST STATIONAssuming it would ta...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y25ROUTE220JACKSONRIVERTO HOME SITE ANDTRAILSNORTH
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m26ENTRANCE MEADOW ALTERNATIVEINTERVENTIONENTRANCE ALLE...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y27ROUTE220JACKSONRIVERTO HOME SITE ANDTRAILSNORTH
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m28INTERVENTIONMEADOWN PRECEDENTSThe individual compone...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y29fFENCE TYPESwWEIR WALLSmMEADOWSsc STREAM CROSSINGeENTRANCE GATES
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m30INTERVENTIONHOME SITELinking the meadow to the homes...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y31NORTHJACKSONRIVERTO MEADOW ENTRANCE
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m32INTERVENTIONHOME SITE PRECEDENTSAs with the meadow, ...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y33MEADOWSmSPRING IMPOUNDMENTEXISTING VIEWsiORCHARDorPRIVATE GARDENSevpg
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m34INTERVENTIONHOME SITE PRECEDENTSpopvgtptgpgp
...t or i v e r v a l l e y35PAVINGpvgp GARDEN PATHptPAVED TERRACEpoPOOLgtGRASS TERRACE
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m36CABIN OR CAMP SITES:The following sites have been se...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y37COUNCIL RING EXAMPLEFIREPLACE EXAMPLE FIRE PIT DETIAL EXAMPLESTONE EDGESTEEL PIPESTONE BASE1’...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m38DETAIL OF CHIMNEY CONSTRUCTIONFOUNDATION STONES ON A...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y39VIEW OF CHIMNEY RUIN AT OLD HOMESTEAD IN MEADOW CLEARING WITH FIRE PITCHIMNEY AND ORCHARD REM...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m40DISCOVERY & CONTEMPLATIONVIEW OVERLOOKS:There are nu...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y41SINKING CREEK CAVESinking Creek Cave is arguably one ofthe most unique and exciting elementsf...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m42STEWARDSHIPPOWERLINE CUT + CLEAR CUT EDGE:FOREST AND...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y43SPRING FED POND EASTERN VERNAL POOLRIVERS, PONDS, AND SPRINGS:RIPARIAN BUFFER STEWARDSHIPThe ...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m44There are a myriad of logging roadsthat criss-cross ...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y45Trail amenities help express thequalities and characteristics of the placewhere they occur. T...
LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m46SITE AMENITY PRECEDENTSWOODEN BENCHESATV STREAM CROS...
...t or i v e r v a l l e y47FIRE PITSOVERLOOKSSHELTERS / PAVILIONSTRAIL MARKERSSTONE SEATING
48
SUMMARYThe purpose of this study is to providea master plan for the family of theirHighland County property, establishinga...
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Little Mountain Ranch

  1. 1. L I T T L E M O U N T A I N R A N C HA H i g h l a n d R e t r e a t
  2. 2. 2PREPARED FOR:PRIVATE CLIENTPREPARED BY:AND
  3. 3. INTRODUCTIONTHE VISIONTHE PROPERTYTHE REGIONTHE HISTORYSITE INVENTORY & ANALYSISLANDSCAPE TYPOLOGYTERRAINECOLOGYVEGETATIONASPECTWILDLIFESITE DESIGN ELEMENTSENTRANCE MEADOWMEADOW PRECEDENTSHOME SITEHOME SITE PRECEDENTSINTERVENTIONSDISCOVERY & CONTEMPLATIONSTEWARDSHIPATV TRAILS & AMENITIESSITE AMENITY PRECEDENTSSUMMARYCONTENTS04050608101323483
  4. 4. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o mRIDGE TOPROUTE 220JACKSON RIVERNORTHINTRODUCTIONMcKee Carson and Field SportConcepts, Ltd. are proud to provide thefamily with the following inventory,analysis, planning, and designexplorations for Little Mountain Ranch.We have evaluated the property inorder to explore certain master planconfigurations regarding the programvision. This report is a record ofour initial observations, inventories,analyses, and recommendations. Whileit is not a design document, it is ourintent that the initial concepts containedherein, along with our research andrecommendations, serve to assist youand your family with a vision andfuture planning decisions for yourproperty.The master planning process beganwith a comprehensive analysis of thesite and its geographic, cultural, andhistorical relationship to its context.An understanding of these natural andcultural influences, site context, existingconditions, and programmatic goalsall contributed to the unique landscapelanguage that was developed for thismaster plan.Through the investigation of mapsand narratives of Highland County,we chronicled the site’s cultural andnatural history. After numerous on-siteinvestigations we conducted a detailedsite inventory and analysis, includingsite ecology, plant communities, terrain,and solar aspect. Evaluation of the site’sopportunities and constraints associatedwith the programmatic goals led usto further explore and reveal the site’sunique character through a series ofdesign interventions.This document is a record of thatprocess and the resulting designrecommendations we have developedas a result. It is our sincere hope thatwe not only meet your expectations butexceed them, and that this book servesto highlight the unlimited potential,outstanding integrity and overall beautyfound at Little Mountain Ranch fromridge top to river valley.44From ridge top...
  5. 5. ...t or i v e r v a l l e yTHE VISIONThe vision for Little Mountain Ranchis to create a multi-functional retreatfor the owner; a place of respite andrecreation designed to meet the needsof a growing family today, and into thefuture. The property is impressive, withplaces and features that give it a uniqueidentity. With very few exceptions, theland, as a resource, lends itself well tothe envisioned programmatic elementsthat will ultimately preserve the valueand ensure the family’s enjoymentof the property. Its owners areinterested in preserving the property’sintegrity through the establishmentof conservation easements andenhancement of ecologically sensitiveareas. The introduction of new ruralrecreational pursuits, which can beenjoyed by family, friends and visitors,combined with ecologically sensitiveranch operation will create a retreatwith few equals.Those programs envisioned for theproperty include:CABINS AND CAMPSITESTo accommodate family and friendsTRAILS AND TRAIL DESTINATIONSFor passive and active recreation alongwith the general enjoyment of theproperties unique elements.PONDSTo enhance aesthetic, wildlife, andagricultural uses.WILDLIFE HABITAT AND HUSBANDRYTo be established in certain areas of theproperty and enhanced in others.AGRICULTURE AND TIMBERTo develop sustainable and ecologicallysensitive management of naturalresources.SUBDIVISION OF THE PROPERTYSolely for estate planning purposes andfor the ultimate creation of home sitesfor family members.As illustrated in this program, aconservation easement will preserve thesite’s ecology and protect it for futurerecreational enjoyment.55...to river valley
  6. 6. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m6THE PROPERTYLittle Mountain Ranch is located inHighland County, Virginia, along U.S.Route 220. A part of the once largerTomahawk Ranch, Little MountainRanch is grand in both appearanceand size, with over 1800 acres in itsboundaries. The ranch sits on thenorthwestern slope of Little Mountain,literally spanning from ridge top to rivervalley. Roughly 2500 linear feet of theproperty borders Route 220, while theJackson River flows approximately 4500feet through the property at the base ofLittle Mountain.Little Mountain is composed primarilyof sedimentary rock, as is most of theRidge and Valley province. The ridgeline of Little Mountain is composedof particularly hard sandstone, piecesof which have tumbled down andcollected in various locations acrossthe mountain. A second outcroppingof sandstone can be seen along theJackson River near the river fordcurrently used by the family. Thisoutcropping is part of a distinct layerof sandstone which runs the length ofthe property at a relatively consistentelevation. In between these two harderbelts of sandstone, shale, limestoneand softer sandstones exist, which arethe hallmarks of karst geography. Anon-site cave and associated sinkhole areevidence of this karst geography.Because the property encompasses theslopes of Little Mountain from ridgetop to river valley, there are a varietyof terrains on which the predominantoak-hickory-maple forest is found.Although the property is dominated bysteep rocky slopes, smaller areas of verygentle grade occur on the mountain sideas well.In the river valley, fertile grasslandscompose the floodplain of theJackson River. These grasslands arepredominantly used for agriculturalpurposes such as cattle farms. Onlyabout 100 acres of the ranch are opengrassland. The Jackson River, a typicalfreestone stream, flows in a series ofrills and pools that meander along thecourse of least resistance. Due to itsmeandering nature, the river sometimescuts a new path through the valley flooreither forming an island or an oxbowof water that is cut off from the mainchannel. These will change over timeand are the creation of the dynamichydraulic force of the river.The property is home to a largecommunity of wildlife speciesincluding mammals, fowl, and manytypes of aquatic life. Some are foundacross the state and are commonplaceat the Ranch, such as deer, turkey,and squirrel; while others have morelimited ranges, like the SnowshoeHare (Lepus americanus) and GoldenEagle (Aquila chrysaetos), which areexclusive to the mountains of westernVirginia.The site not only offers its naturalbeauty, but also a host of recreationalopportunities. A network of existinglogging roadbeds offer an excellentframework for developing trails forhiking, mountain biking, horsebackriding, and All Terrain Vehicles(ATV’s) all the while providing accessto unique places throughout the ranch.The Jackson River hosts some of thestate’s best fishing opportunities aswell as a place to swim, float, or relaxbeside the water. The potential forsporting clays and/or skeet shootingexists in the open meadows on site.Other active recreational opportunitiesinclude hunting and camping, whilepassive recreational opportunities,such as picnicking or simply enjoyingthe scenery are almost limitless.RANCH PROPERTYNW slope of Little Mountain,1801.67 acresSANDSTONE RIDGEKARST CAVE ENTRANCEJACKSON RIVER MEANDER
  7. 7. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y7LittleMountainRte. 220Back Creek MountainJacksonRiverNORTHNORTH
  8. 8. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m8THE REGIONLocated in the Ridge and ValleyProvince of the Appalachian Range,Highland County encompasses 416square miles of arguably, the mostbeautiful and unique environmentseast of the Mississippi River. Persquare mile, the county is one of theleast populated on the east coast. As aresult, the lack of development in thecounty helps support a rich diversityof plant and animal life unique to theAppalachian Mountains.The local economy is built aroundthe wealth of its natural resourcesand agricultural businesses aboundhere. Approximately 70% of thecounty’s 260,000 acres is forestedwith the dominant species being oak,hickory, and maple. This has fueledthe timber industry in the area whichsupports several local sawmills andhas contributed significantly to theHighland County economy. Roughly70,000 acres falls under the protectionof federal and state agencies, includingthe United States Forest Service andthe Virginia Department of Game andInland Fisheries.Highland County is quite high forVirginia, averaging 2,800 feet inelevation. As a result, it is almostexclusively occupied by headwaterstreams and rivers. Northwest ofMonterey (the county seat), the countyfalls within the Potomac watershed;all of the waterways here flow into theSouth Branch of the Potomac River.The southern and eastern portionsof the county, including the Jackson,Bullpasture, and Cowpasture Rivers, fallwithin the James River watershed. Itis said that there is a red roofed barn inMonterey whose roof runoff falls to thePotomac on one side and to the Jameson the other.The climate of Highland County offerscomfortably cool summers and chillywinters. The coolest month has beenJanuary with an average temperature of26.6 degrees Fahrenheit and an averagesnowfall of 11 inches. Conversely, thewarmest month is July averaging 68.1degrees; it also represents the monthwith the heaviest rainfall average at 3.95inches. This is somewhat misleadinghowever, as no month averages fewerthan 3.20 inches resulting in a totalannual precipitation of 42 inches for thecounty.HIGHLAND COUNTY, VIRGINIABordered to North and West by West VirginiaLITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCHSE portion of Highland County,Ridge + Valley Physiographic Region
  9. 9. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y9WEST VIRGINIA VIRGINIARidge+ValleyShenandoahValleyBlueRidgePiedmontMontereyAppalachianPlateauAppalachianMountainsJAMES RIVERJACKSON RIVERNORTH
  10. 10. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m10THE HISTORYThe Highland County area waspopulated by Native Americans wellbefore European settlers arrived. Asevidence, the discovery of a 3,000-year old settlement near McDowell islocated to the east of the ranch in theBullpasture Valley. When Europeansfirst arrived in the area they foundthat the land was not claimed by anyparticular tribe, but served as a commonhunting ground for the Shawnee,Cherokee and Delaware tribes.At the time Highland County wasteaming with buffalo, bear, deer andgame birds, many of which are foundand seen here today. It is also believedthat the Native Americans practicedburning to maintain grass-land in thevalleys in order to attract game to thearea.Although settlement had already begunin the Bullpasture valley, the Williamand Stephen Wilson families werethe first to settle in the Jackson Rivervalley in 1753. Originally from Dublin,Ireland, the Wilson Brothers had movedsouth to Virginia after living for a timeon Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania.Interestingly, their final stop was closeto Little Mountain Ranch where theysettled just south at the confluence ofBolar Run and Jackson River.Most early settlers were, like theWilsons, of Scotch-Irish or Germanheritage. Unlike coastal settlers, theyoften chose to abandon the NativeAmerican place names in favor ofmore European names. The NativeAmerican name for the Bullpasture andCowpasture Rivers was Wallawhatoola,or “river that bends.” The native namefor the Jackson River is unknown, butit is currently named for early pioneerWilliam Jackson, not the Civil War iconStonewall Jackson as one might suspect.Bolar Run, in Big Valley to the east ofLittle Mountain Ranch, was originallyknown as Wilson’s Mill Run for theWilson family. The current name comesfrom Colonel John Bolar of Bath whosewife inherited the land from her fatherWilliam Wilson.CIVIL WAR ERA MAP OF HIGHLAND COUNTY WITH CURRENTLOCATION OF LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH HIGHLIGHTEDSHEEP DRIVE, HIGHLAND COUNTYCATTLE DRIVE, HIGHLAND COUNTYHighland County, as it is knowntoday, was formed in 1847. Thecounty seat of Monterey was foundedthe following year. Originally it wassimply called “Highland,” but thename was changed in honor of theMexican town where General ZacharyTaylor defeated the Mexican Armyduring the Spanish-American War.Historically, agriculture has been thestaple industry for economic gain inHighland County. Sheep farming andwool sales along with cattle ranchingwere, and still are, the main livestockindustry. The harvesting, processing,and sale of wood products were andcontinue to be a major contributor tothe economy of the county.NORTH
  11. 11. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y11MAP NOT TO SCALENORTH
  12. 12. 12
  13. 13. SITE INVENTORY & ANALYSISA number of inventory andanalysis studies were conductedpertaining to the physicalelements of the ranch property.These studies, and the resultingfindings, assisted the team inmaking solid, justified, andappropriate planning and designdecisions for the project.LANDSCAPE TYPOLOGYTERRAINECOLOGYVEGETATIONASPECTWILDLIFE141516181920Field visits and on-site reconnaissancewas necessary to investigate designopportunities and constraints andfamiliarize the team with the property.Assessment of wildlife habitat andcorridors, terrain, solar aspect,vegetation, scenic and historic values,flood plain and surface drainage,and land uses were all part of the siteinvestigation. The following analysisdescribes the implications andcharacteristic of each physical element.13
  14. 14. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m14NORTHThe property covers a wide range ofelevation change, with approximately1,390 feet of topographic change fromthe highest point atop Little Mountainat 3,493 feet, to the lowest point in theJackson River valley at 2,103 feet. Thereare three distinct landscape typologies:the flat riverine floodplain, the moderateto steep transitional slopes, and therocky, steep ridge top.RIVERINE FLOODPLAINRoughly 100 of the ranch’s 1,800acres are located in the flood plain ofthe Jackson River. This zone is levelwith slopes ranging from 0-3% and ischaracterized by silt and sandy loamsoils. The top of the seasonal high watertable is at 22 inches. Because of itslow banks, typically less than 5 feet inheight, this zone is prone to occasionalflooding. Given its rich organic contentthe floodplain is ideal for farming andwildlife husbandry practices.TRANSITION SLOPEThe majority of the ranch’s acreage liesin the moderate to steep transitionalslopes that span the mountain sidebetween the riverine floodplain andridge top typologies. This is wheremost of the topographical variance ofthe property is found, as some 1,100’of elevation is gained. The geologyof Little Mountain is dominated bytwo sandstone ridges, one atop themountain and one that forms theuphill edge of the floodplain. Thesetwo outcrops define the edges of thetransitional zone. The lower sandstoneformation provides a bench along themountain side where the topographybecomes more moderate (between2,300’ to 2,500’ in elevation) allowing forseveral potential building sites and traillocations. The soil in this zone tends tobe shallow and well drained with a highcobble and stone content.RIDGE TOPThe ridge top is characterized byits rocky, undulating topographyranging from 200- 300’ from its highestpoint (3,493’) along the ridge top tothe lowest elevation of 3,185’. Thistypology is comprised of shallow, welldrained soil that occasionally presentssandstone rock outcroppings. Whilenot hospitable to building, the ridgetop offers excellent views to both theBullpasture and Jackson River valleys.LANDSCAPE TYPOLOGY2200’ and lower2201’ - 2300’2301’ - 2400’2401’ - 2500’2501’ - 2600’2601’ - 2700’2701’ - 2800’2801’ - 2900’2901’ - 3000’3001’ - 3100’3101’ - 3200’3201’ - 3300’3301’ - 3400’3401’ - 3500’RIDGETOP ROCK OUTCROPTRANSITION SLOPE
  15. 15. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y15TERRAINSlopes on site were calculated andgrouped into six categories accordingto development guidelines for trails,roadways, and building sites. As shownon the adjacent map, a majority of theproperty contains slopes of 25% orgreater which directly correlates withthe transition zone between the riverinefloodplain and the ridge top. There is asubstantial amount of acreage that fallsin the 15-25% slope range and is suitablefor building and trail development.In terms of analyzing the property forprogrammatic elements, slope rangesunder 25% are the most conducive forhome sites and ATV trails. However,some of the most interesting placeson site are the steep, rocky ridges andravines, and thus are given specialconsideration in the design phases.0-5% - Relatively flat, mostly foundin the flood plain meadows.10-15% - More difficult ATVterrain, Dept. of Transportationallows 14% max for roads.15-20% - Too steep for ATVs toascend straight uphill, trails shouldtraverse slope.20-25% - Maximum sloperecommended for buildings.25+% - Very steep. Access betweenroadways and building padsdifficult.5-10% - Slightly steeper, buteasily walkable. Similar to slope ofhandicap ramps.RIVERINE FLOOD PLAINNORTH
  16. 16. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m16Ecology is the scientific study of theinteractions of organisms with theirenvironment and with each other.An ecosystem is a combination ofrelationships among living resources,habitats and residents of a region; it canbe a large geographic region, like theAppalachian mountains, or somethingas small as a puddle. An ecologicalcommunity is an assemblage of thesespecies interacting in a specific habitat.We have categorized Little MountainRanch into three main ecologicalcommunities: forest, riparian edge,and meadow. While they can be seenas separate, the function of each isinherently connected to the others andto the larger ecosystems in which theyare situated.FORESTForests are areas with a high densityof trees. They take in large amountsof carbon dioxide and are the bestlandscape for ensuring good waterquality, preventing soil erosion andproviding important habitat for a widerange of animals. It is claimed thatone teaspoon of healthy forest soil maycontain more than 10,000 organisms,which many of the plants, such asmountain laurel, rely on to survive.Forests can be categorized into fourmain layers: canopy, subcanopy,understory, and groundplane (herblayer). Each layer is specificallyadapted for the level of shade andmoisture that it receives, and thepresence of all layers is important to thehealth of the forest and its inhabitants.The forest community of LittleMountain Ranch is termed an oak-hickory or oak-hickory-maplecomplex, as they are the dominant treespecies. At one time it was an oak-chestnut forest, but a blight broughtin with the Chinese chestnut in the1940s and 50s killed off the Americanchestnut, radically altering the forestlandscape. Prior to their decimation, itis estimated that one in every four treesin the Appalachian mountains was anAmerican chestnut. What was once a100-foot tall canopy tree is now a smallsapling that generally succumbs to theblight within a few years, and thereare numerous examples all over theproperty.RIPARIAN EDGEA riparian edge is the area directlyadjacent to a river or stream. Becausethis area is prone to flooding, theplants found here are well adapted tochanging conditions. Healthy riparianedges are some of the most diverseecosystems in nature supporting morespecies of plants and animals thaneither forest or meadow. These edgesalso provide critical habitat for fish,insects, reptiles, amphibians, smallmammals and birds; thereby alsoECOLOGYsupporting the animals that prey onthem. Acting as wildlife “highways”for migratory species, riparian corridorsand edges help connect isolated foreststands.Healthy riparian edges assist inpreventing stream bank erosion anddeterioration of water quality. Shadedriver channels help to improve aquatichabitat and contribute plant matterto the base of the aquatic food web.Riparian edges also reduce flooddamage to surrounding land and filterpollutants from runoff before it reachesthe stream.The state of Virginia offers tax creditsand assistance programs for theestablishment and maintenance of thisvaluable territory.MEADOWMeadows are characterized by plantssuch as grasses, forbs (herbaceous plantsand wildflowers) and small shrubs.They provide habitat for deer, turkey,rabbit, quail, mice, butterflies and ahost of insects as well as forage areasfor livestock. Predators such as hawks,owls, and fox depend on small meadowanimals for most of their food. Meadowdiversity is greatly affected by the typesof plants that grow in them and thefrequency of mowing or burning, sincecover and food is limited in freshlymown or burned areas.There are two main types of grassestypically found in a meadow: coolseason grasses and warm seasongrasses. As the names imply, coolseason grasses do most of their growingwhen the weather is cooler in the springand fall, while warm season grassesare adapted to thrive in the heat of thesummer.Native warm season grasses are tallerand grow in clumps. This is beneficialfor small animals that can move freelyand safely at ground level whileremaining sheltered from above. Warmseason grasses typically keep their formin the winter, providing year-roundvisual interest and cover for animals.Because they do not crowd out otherplants, warm season meadows aregenerally more diverse providing morefood and habitat for a wider variety ofanimals.Cool season grasses can be bunchgrasses, but most are non-native, sod-forming grasses. Tall fescue is themost commonly found meadow grassbecause it is easy to maintain and goodpasturage for livestock. However,fescues are undesirable in a meadowbecause they start growing longbefore other grasses and form a densemat which keeps other plants fromgerminating, resulting in a monoculturethat limits food and habitat for wildlife.THE JACKSON RIVER HAS LOST RIPARIAN EDGE TOPASTURE LANDERODED RIPARIAN EDGE
  17. 17. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y17LAYERED FOREST AT LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCHMEADOW WETLAND DURING COOL SEASON (MARCH) SAME WETLAND DURING WARM SEASON (JUNE) SHOWINGDIVERSITY OF WARM SEASON PLANTS
  18. 18. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m18The vegetative community on LittleMountain Ranch is considered partof the Central Appalachian NorthernHardwood Forests. These mixedhardwood forests are prevalent at highelevations and can be further brokendown into three primary communities:terrestrial, alluvial, and riverine. Theterrestrial community occupies theentire mountain and is comprised ofthe oak-hickory-maple complex, whilethe alluvial and riverine communitiesinclude species located in the flood plainand Jackson River itself.TERRESTRIAL COMMUNITYThe terrestrial community includesall upland (non-wetland) habitats andoccurs primarily on the mountainsideof Little Mountain Ranch. The canopyin this community includes speciessuch as: sugar maple (Acer saccharum),red maple (Acer rubrum), sweet birch(Betula lenta), and northern red oak(Quercus rubra), while American beech(Fagus gradifolia), and eastern hemlock(Tsuga Canadensis) are less frequentco-dominants. The sub-canopy iscomprised of species such as blackcherry (Prunus serotina), striped maple(Acer pensylvanicum), white pine (Pinusstrobes) and a host of other companions.The understory and ground planeinclude a matrix of species ranging fromshrubs such as mountain laurel (Kalmialatifolia), and rhododendron to herblayers of haysented fern (Dennstaeditapunctilobula), and whorled aster (Asteracuminatus).The importance of red maple, sweetbirch, northern red oak, and blackcherry in contemporary Virginiaexemplifies this community andreflects secondary successionfollowing catastrophic logging andfire disturbance in the early part of thetwentieth century.ALLUVIAL COMMUNITYSpecies in this community occupytemporarily flooded habitats includingthe Jackson River floodplain.Characteristic trees include sycamore(Platanus occidentalis), boxelder (Acernegundo), river birch (Betula nigra), blackwalnut (Juglans nigra), and black willow(Salix nigra). Shrubs include spicebush(Lindera benzoin), alder (Alnus serrulata),and witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana).VEGETATIONCANOPYSUB - CANOPYUNDERSTORYGROUNDPLANEFOREST LAYERSHerbaceous composition variesgreatly but include species suchas joe-pye weed (Eupatoriumfistulosum), jack-in-the-pulpit(Arisaema triphylum), and sensitivefern (Onoclea sensibilis). Morefrequently flooded areas alongthe stream channels supportsome wetland species such astwisted sedge (Carex torta), hookedbuttercup (Ranunculus recurvatus),and marsh blue violet (Violacucullata).RIVERINE COMMUNITYThe floating and submergentherbaceous vegetation of thiscommunity inhabits the JacksonRiver itself. Characteristicspecies include waterweeds(Elodea candensis), and horn-leaf riverweed (Podostemumceratophyllum) that is often rootedon shallow submerged bouldersand rock outcrops.
  19. 19. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y19ALLUVIAL / RIVERINECANOPYSUBCANOPYUNDERSTORYEastern sycamore | Platanus occidentalisEastern hemlock | Tsuga canadensisGreen ash | Fraxinus pennsylvanicaAmerican elm – Ulmus AmericanaRed maple | Acer rubrumTulip poplar | Liriodendron tulipiferaBlack willow | Salix nigraBox-elder | Acer negudoRiver birch | Betula nigraSilky dogwood | Cornus amonumAmerican hornbeam | Carpinus carolinianaAlder | Alnus serrulataWitch hazel | Hamamelis virginianaMultiflora rose | Rosa multiflora (invasive)TERRESTRIALCANOPYWhite oak | Quercus albaNorthern red oak | Quercus rubraRed maple | Acer rubrumSugar maple | Acer saccarumSweet birch | Betula lentaMockernut hickory | Carya tomentosaShagbark hickory | Carya ovataEastern hemlock | Tsuga canadensisAmerican beech | Fagus grandifoliaSUBCANOPYWhite pine | Pinus strobusVirginia pine | Pinus virginianaSassafras | Sassafras albidumAmerican chesnut | Castanea dentataBlack cherry | Prunus serotinaGROUNDPLANELady fern | Athyrium felix-feminaStriped wintergreen | Chimaphilia maculateEvergreen wood-fern | Dryopteris intermediaSweet white-viola | Viola blandaWhorled aster | Aster acuminatusTree clubmoss | Lycopodium dendroideumStiff clubmoss | Lycopodium annotinumEastern twisted stalk | Streptopus lanceolatusCommon witch-hazel | Hamamelis virginianaCatawaba rhododendron |Rhododendron catawbienseMountain laurel | Kalmia latifoliaFlowering dogwood | Cornus floridaEastern red bud | Cercis canadensisServiceberry | Amelanchier canadensisBlackberry | Prunus sp.Lowbush blueberry | Vaccinium angustifoliumUNDERSTORYGROUNDPLANEJoe-pye weed | Eupatorium fistulosumBugleweed | Lycopus sp.Sensitive fern | Onoclea sensibilisJack-in-the-pulpit |Arisaema triphylumGolden ragwort | Packera aureaSedges | Carex sp.Soft rush | Juncus effususSkunk cabbage | Symplocarpus foetidusNORTHERN RED OAKAMERICAN CHESTNUTMOUNTAIN LAURELLADY FERNEASTERN HEMLOCKBLACK WILLOWMULTIFLORA ROSESOFT RUSH
  20. 20. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m20ASPECTAspect refers to the direction in which aslope is oriented in relation to the solarposition. This determines vegetativeplant growth, the plant species, andmicroclimatic conditions throughoutthe day and year. This positioning alsohelps us understand the most usefuland valuable places to locate buildings.The main ridge of Little Mountainruns in a northeast to southwestdirection with smaller ridges projectingperpendicularly from the main ridge.These smaller ridges have primarilynorthern and southern aspects.Solar analyses, according to the slopeaspect, were developed for the propertyon three different days (correspondingto winter and summer solstice, andspring/fall equinox), and at threedifferent times of day. It is clear thatthe northern slopes of the smaller ridgesreceive much less sunlight throughoutthe year in comparison to the southernslopes.JUNE 21 (summer solstice)9 a.m. | 1 p.m. | 6 p.m.MARCH/SEPT. 21 (spring/fall equinox)9 a.m. | 1 p.m. | 6 p.m.DECEMBER 21 (winter solstice)9 a.m. | 1 p.m. | 6 p.mMORNINGEVENINGNESW6p1p9aJune 21March 21 /December 21Sept. 21
  21. 21. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y21WILDLIFEHighland County is home to a widearray of wildlife. Supporting over500 species, the area includes anincredible variety of both game andnon-game species. The VirginiaDepartment of Game and InlandFisheries and the Federal Governmenthave listed 49 of these species worthyof special conservation efforts. Asmall percentage of those are listed oneither the state or federal governmentendangered species list. A fewexamples of these rare species includethe Virginia big eared bat (Corynorhinustownsendii virginianus); the Virginianorthern flying squirrel (Glaucomyssabrinus fuscus) and the SnowshoeHare (Lepus americanus). Interestingly,sightings of the squirrel and hare haveactually been limited statewide to thefar northwestern corner of HighlandCounty. That said, these speciesrepresent only a small percentage of thetotal species found in Highland, mostof which are abundant in number.Some of the species include:BIG GAME SPECIESWhitetail Deer | Odocoileus virginianusWild Turkey | Meleagris gallopavoBlack Bear | Ursus americanusSMALL GAME SPECIESRuffed Grouse | Bonasa umbellusWaterfowl | Anatidae familyDove | Columbidae familyQuail | Galliformes orderEastern Cottontail Rabbit |Sylvilagus floridanusGray, Fox, and Ground Squirrel |Sciuridae familyAQUATIC SPECIESRainbow Trout | Oncorhynchus mykissBrown Trout | Salmo truttaSmallmouth Bass | Micropterus dolomieuRock Bass | Ambloplites rupestrisRARE SPECIESSnowshoe Hare | Lepus americanusGolden Eagle | Aquila chrysaetosVirginia Northern Flying Squirrel |Glaucomys sabrinusBald Eagle | Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  22. 22. 22
  23. 23. SITE DESIGN ELEMENTSThe richness of Little Mountain Ranchis representative of the distinct, multi-layered vernacular of Highland County.The following design recommendationsare intended to recognize andcelebrate this unique diversity. Wefeel that designing in an ecologicallyconscientious manner that recognizesthe landscape as a cohesive whole isessential to the success of the ranchas a multi-faceted family retreat. Thefollowing recommended site elementsare chosen to reflect the family’senvisioned program while weaving inthe preservation and enhancement ofthe site’s ecology.In generating the content for thissection, we recognize that the treatmentsbeing proposed for each element fallinto one of three categories:INTERVENTIONS: locations where wepropose designed elements to improvethe use, function, and aesthetics of aplace while highlighting its ecologicaluniqueness and value.DISCOVERIES: places that are in need ofminor improvement that also providean opportunity for exploration.STEWARDSHIP: places where changesin the long-term management of thesite help enhance, restore, and sustainthe natural heritage, biodiversity, andbeauty of natural communities.The common thread among thesecategories is the effort to design eachelement with an eye towards theexisting character of the site. Thesandstone ridge top, the oak- hickory-maple forest complex, the naturalviews, and the essential importance andpristine quality of water throughoutthe site all offer the essential elementsfor design. The character of a placeis conveyed through existence andabundance of these elements on siteand became the catalyst for furtherdesign exploration and inspiration. Thisallowed us to connect the intervention,discovery, and stewardship elements toeach other and to the property througha material palette driven in large part bythe site itself.Overall, the goal of this section is to helpthe family visualize potential outcomesfor creating a modern, ecologicallysound, place specific, and graciouslyappointed family retreat to be treasuredand enjoyed for generations.INTERVENTIONENTRANCE MEADOWMEADOW PRECEDENTSHOME SITEHOME SITE PRECEDENTSCABIN & CAMP SITESOLD HOMESTEADSDISCOVERY & CONTEMPLATIONOVERLOOKSSPRING CREEK CAVESTEWARDSHIPWILDLIFE PONDS & SPRINGSCLEAR CUT EDGE & POWERLINE EASEMENTATV TRAILS & AMENITIESSITE AMENITY PRECEDENTS24283032363840414243444623
  24. 24. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m24INTERVENTIONFISHING REST STATIONAssuming it would take about half a day to fish up-stream from the house siteto the north edge of the entrance meadow, a place to get out of the river andhave lunch makes the experience much more enjoyable.RIPARIAN BUFFERS - THE STREAMSThe degraded buffers could be improved and widened with flowering plants forthe summer and more structured species to improve the winter aspect.THE BARNAdditional trees create a screen so that the barn is more incorporated into themeadow and less visible upon entrance to the property.NATIVE GRASSESThe existing fescue pasture grass could be replaced, in whole or in part, withnative warm season grasses to provde more color and texture to the meadow aswell as improve the habitat.STRUCTURED PLANTINGShrubs and trees create a hide-and-reveal effect that focus views and create arythm to the entrance experience.RIPARIAN BUFFERS - THE RIVERNative tree and shrub plantings along the river improve the trout habitat,repair the bank erosion, and frame the meadow.ENTRANCE MEADOWThe journey through Little MountainRanch begins dramatically. Apicturesque floodplain meadowrepresents one of the most uniqueand biologically diverse areas on theentire property. This space is treatedwith a certain degree of reverence;interweaving human use andoccupation with the dynamic nature ofthe site’s ecology.Approaching the meadow from Rt.220 you pass through the thresholdof the existing stone entrance wallssignaling the arrival to Little MountainRanch. Beyond this threshold youenter the meadow where nativewarm season grasses and wildflowersfluctuate in concert with the changinglight, weather, and seasonal cycles,which transform the floodplain intoa didactic, biologically rich gatewayto the property. A realigned entrancedrive gracefully weaves through themeadow while taking advantage ofthe high points of the floodplain andcapturing views both into the site andto the valley beyond. Enhancement ofthe existing stream in the floodplainhelps emphasize the ecological richnessof the ranch while providing additionallayers of seasonal interest. The creationof small pools along the stream recallsthe natural history of beaver occupationin the valley while serving as a place forrecreation and stormwater collection.Weir walls, built with local stone, act assmall dams for the creation of the poolsand further extend into the landscapebecoming sculptural elements thatcelebrate the ranch’s natural materials.The selective placement of nativetrees and shrubs helps to frame views,stabilize the degraded stream andriver banks, and enhances the site’secological diversity and beauty.SPRING CHANNEL IMPOUNDMENTThe current channel could be impounded with a series of small weirs to createdrop pools.ROAD ALIGNMENTMore graceful curves follow the high points in the meadow, and orient theentrance towards the beautiful views of the site and down the valley.PICNIC SHELTERThe existing Sycamore grove can be augmented with wildflowers or more treesto make an idyllic and private picnic setting that is screened from the road.BRIDGE ACROSS THE RIVERA bridge across the river ensures access year round and protects the riverbottom from erosion.ENTRANCEExisting stone walls to remain and enhanced by a new gate and plantingsSTREAM CROSSINGCulverts and small bridges will be needed to cross streams and impoundments.They should reflect the entrance columns in the use of stone as the primarymaterial.
  25. 25. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y25ROUTE220JACKSONRIVERTO HOME SITE ANDTRAILSNORTH
  26. 26. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m26ENTRANCE MEADOW ALTERNATIVEINTERVENTIONENTRANCE ALLEEFollowing the graceful curves of the new road alignment, an allee of treesgives the entrance drive and sequence through the meadow a more formal andenclosed feel.RIPARIAN BUFFERS - THE STREAMSVegetative buffers along the streams and Jackson River are densely plantedwith native plants that give the buffers texture, color, and seasonal interestwhile also improving wildlife habitats.MEADOW STRUCTURINGThe edges and composition of the meadow native plant palette can bestructured so as to reveal views, buffer water bodies, and add seasonal color,interest, and texture.
  27. 27. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y27ROUTE220JACKSONRIVERTO HOME SITE ANDTRAILSNORTH
  28. 28. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m28INTERVENTIONMEADOWN PRECEDENTSThe individual components of themeadow design offer a great deal ofopportunity for customizing the entryexperience. It is in these details thatan overall feel for the space is created.The details are a mixture of plantingsand materials that seek to augmentand improve the existing palette foundin the meadow. This page illustratesexamples of design elements andmaterials.scwemscscff
  29. 29. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y29fFENCE TYPESwWEIR WALLSmMEADOWSsc STREAM CROSSINGeENTRANCE GATES
  30. 30. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m30INTERVENTIONHOME SITELinking the meadow to the homesite is a bridge that spans the JacksonRiver. Departing the bridge, the entrydrive penetrates the forest evoking arealm of privacy and seclusion. Asyou approache the home, the driveenters an orchard that recalls thehistoric settlement patterns of earlyhomesteaders. Leaving the orchard, thedrive terminates at an entrance courtdefined by a series of formal plantingsof native species. These plantings beginto define the outdoor spaces aroundthe home and signal the transitionfrom nature to human inhabitance.This progression of spaces to thefront door is a conscious reductionof scale allowing the home to act asthe mediator between the floodplainmeadow and the oak-hickory-mapleforest of Little Mountain.The home is oriented along a ridgetaking advantage of the flattesttopography, opening the hometo the most expansive views, andmaximizing its passive solar aspect.This orientation is further emphasizedby extending garden spaces alongthe ridge which provides an elevatedpromenade along this topographiccondition. Terrace retaining wallsform the edge between outdoor livingspace and meadow. The views hereare expansive from the floodplainmeadow to the Jackson River, and thesurrounding Allegheny Mountains.The design of the home site providesthe type of outdoor rooms that expandthe living space of the home into thelandscape and provide, in concert withthe home, a retreat unlike any other.ROAD ALIGNMENTUtilizing the existing road bed, the entry drive navigates the oak-hickory-maple forest andorchard, which together connect the entrance meadow with the home site.HOME ORIENTATIONThe home is sited along a ridge that squares it and the auxillary structures to the predomi-nant views of the valley and surrounding mountain rainges. Gardens, terraces, decks, andpavilions can all contribute to outdoor spaces that capture the grandeur of the valley views.ORCHARDAs part of the entry sequence, the orchard signals the arrival to the home site while recallinghistorical settlement patterns.SPRING IMPOUNDMENTSpring-fed impoundment captures stream water in the drainage during high water periodswhile also providing a place for rest and reflection.NATIVE GRASSESNative warm season grasses provide color and texture to the meadow and improve wildlifehabitat.STRUCTURED PLANTINGPlantings of native trees and shrubs frame views of the valley, form outdoor rooms, andprotect the home from chilling winter winds.RIPARIAN BUFFER - RIVERNative tree and shrub plantings along the river improve the trout habitat, repair the bankerosion, and frame the meadow.
  31. 31. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y31NORTHJACKSONRIVERTO MEADOW ENTRANCE
  32. 32. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m32INTERVENTIONHOME SITE PRECEDENTSAs with the meadow, individualcomponents and materials of thehome site design offer a great dealof opportunity for tailoring yourliving experience. There is a uniqueopportunity to tie these materials intothe larger landscape that helps identifythe home as your personal mountainretreat. This page illustrates examplesof these design elements and materials.orsievmpgpg
  33. 33. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y33MEADOWSmSPRING IMPOUNDMENTEXISTING VIEWsiORCHARDorPRIVATE GARDENSevpg
  34. 34. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m34INTERVENTIONHOME SITE PRECEDENTSpopvgtptgpgp
  35. 35. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y35PAVINGpvgp GARDEN PATHptPAVED TERRACEpoPOOLgtGRASS TERRACE
  36. 36. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m36CABIN OR CAMP SITES:The following sites have been selectedbased on a certain set of criteria: theyrequire minimal clearing to beginconstruction; they take advantage ofdistant views; they are located at theconvergence of several habitats; andthey are relatively accessible. Theseplaces may initially serve as camp sitesproviding the opportunity to experiencethem yearly and seasonally. Favoritesmay arise as each place becomes morefamiliar to the family. Once thesefavorite spots are identified, the familymay then move towards developingthe camp sites into cabins. This, too,could be a gradual process by buildingmore elaborate outdoor fireplaces orshelters before finally constructing theminto cabins. Through this process, ahierarchy of sites can be establishedproviding a range of experiences fromgracious private cabins to rustic outdoorexperiences. Whatever the case, theseelements, in keeping with the designlanguage generated thus far, shouldtake advantage of existing on-sitematerials and the ecological context.INTERVENTIONFORESTED CABIN OR CAMPSITEA FOREST CLEARING CABIN OR CAMPSITEMEADOW EDGE CABIN OR CAMPSITE
  37. 37. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y37COUNCIL RING EXAMPLEFIREPLACE EXAMPLE FIRE PIT DETIAL EXAMPLESTONE EDGESTEEL PIPESTONE BASE1’-6”SECTION VIEW3’-6”PLAN VIEWGRILL NOTCHCAMPFIRE OVERLOOK ON MOUNTAIN TOP FIRE RING EXAMPLELOG BENCH DETAIL EXAMPLESECTION VIEWPLAN VIEW
  38. 38. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m38DETAIL OF CHIMNEY CONSTRUCTIONFOUNDATION STONES ON APPLE TREE AXISOLD HOMESTEADS:The old homesteads are a particularlyintriguing piece of the property’shistory. The use of these elements aspicnic, camping, or cabin sites createsa unique location/destination on theranch. Unfortunately, one of the relicsfound itself in the way of the powerline and is therefore within the utilityeasement. However, with its proximityto Sinking Creek Cave it still providesan excellent place for a picnic/campingsite.Clearing away vines and weeds fromthe homesteads help to further identifythese spaces as a symbolic part of theproperty’s history. Proper care andmaintenance of the remnants is vitalto their longevity. It also may be ofinterest to seek out an archaeologistto analyze the homesteads and makerecommendations for their preservation.This will also provide a betterunderstanding of the property’s history.INTERVENTIONCHIMNEY RUIN IN POWERLINE CUTCHIMNEY RUIN AT MEADOW HOMESITE
  39. 39. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y39VIEW OF CHIMNEY RUIN AT OLD HOMESTEAD IN MEADOW CLEARING WITH FIRE PITCHIMNEY AND ORCHARD REMNANTSCAMPFIRE SEATING EXAMPLEFOREST AND MEADOW EDGE EXAMPLE EXAMPLE OF MEADOW GRASSES IN OPEN FOREST
  40. 40. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m40DISCOVERY & CONTEMPLATIONVIEW OVERLOOKS:There are numerous places on theproperty that fall under this category,and with some selective clearingthe views from these points can bemagnificent. These opportunities existthroughout the property, but certainlocations merit extra attention. Ofparticular interest is the switchbacklocated near the top of the northernmostblack trail. A seat wall and picnic areacould be included in this location sothat the family can enjoy this view at aleisurely pace.It is important to note that selectiveclearing is a process that must beapproached with care. It is not onlyimportant to remove trees which blockviews, but, just as important, is to leavetrees which frame views. This principleapplies throughout the property andshould be employed at the home siteand the entrance meadow, as framingand revealing views is essential in both.Any species selectively taken can beused as site furniture, site steps, or fortrail erosion control measures.VIEW FROM HIGHEST POINT ON PROPERTYSECTION SHOWING SELECTIVE CLEARING ZONE AND OVERLOOKZONE OF SELECTIVE CLEARINGOVERLOOK WALL AND PLATFORM(3,493’)
  41. 41. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y41SINKING CREEK CAVESinking Creek Cave is arguably one ofthe most unique and exciting elementsfound on the property. This cave isa form of karst topography which iscreated when limestone is dissolvedfrom constant interactions withunderground water. The water carveschannels and caves that are susceptibleto collapse from the surface. Whenenough limestone is eroded fromunderground, a sinkhole develops, suchas the entrance to this cave. This effectof water on limestone is clearly visiblenear the mouth of the cave.Descending the sinkhole the airbecomes inherently moist and cool.This microclimate has lead to thegrowth of a unique collection of plantspecies such as: Jack-in-the-Pulpit,Arisaema triphylum, a unique springwildflower; American hornbeam,Carpinus caroliniana, that is identifiableby its smooth, twisted trunk; and a hostof ferns, mosses, and lichens.Beyond this entrance we can onlyimagine the network of channels andcaverns that exist and are ripe forexploration. The cave itself should beexplored and mapped by a professional,but could potentially offer the familya recreational opportunity likespelunking. Overall this is a uniquelocation and will offer, even on thehottest day, a fine place to cool down.CAVE ENTRACEDISAPPEARING SPRING JACK IN THE PULPIT |ARISAEMA TRIPHYLUM
  42. 42. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m42STEWARDSHIPPOWERLINE CUT + CLEAR CUT EDGE:FOREST AND MEADOW STEWARDSHIPThese disturbed areas of the propertyshould not necessarily be viewed withdisdain, as they offer many uniquelessons and opportunities that are notfound elsewhere on the property. Thepower lines, towers, and associatedeasement are a permanent fixture onthe property but offer some of the finestviews to the Jackson River Valley. Italso provides a rare opportunity fornative warm season grasses to growrepresenting a meadow habitat. Theserapidly vanishing landscapes offerexcellent habitat for ground nestinggame birds such as the BobwhiteQuail, (Colinus virginanus), and RuffledGrouse, (Bonasa umbellus). QuailUnlimited, a conservation organizationdedicated to quail recovery, recognizesthe potential that utility easements offerfor meadow species. They have workedwith the power companies to generatea program through which landownerscan create warm season meadows ineasements on their properties. Thefamily may want to consider takingadvantage of this opportunity toincrease the diversity of habitat on theproperty. This could supplement anymeadow restoration work performed inthe floodplain of the property.The second area of disturbance is theclear cut which borders the northernboundary of the property. Although thefamily has no control over this section,the visual impact of the clear cut is hardto ignore. There is an opportunity herenot only to see the devastating effectsof clear cutting, but also to view andlearn, over time, the restorative effectsof nature and the cyclical process ofsuccession.FOREST STEWARDSHIPProper forest management can providemany long-term benefits to the ranchby producing yields of timber for profitand attracting an abundance of wildlife.Specifically, sustainable forestryintegrates the regeneration, growing,nurturing, and harvesting of trees foruseful products while conserving soil,air, and water quality, wildlife andfish habitat, and landscape aestheticquality. Consulting with the VirginiaDepartment of Forestry, a local forester,or a forest ecologist would be essentialand beneficial in implementing thisstewardship objective.The DOF offers financial assistanceto landowners willing to practicesustainable forestry management.Below is a link to their website:http://www.dof.virginia.gov/info/index-finance-assist.shtmlWARM SEASON GRASSES ANDVALLEY VIEW FROM POWERLINEEASEMENTCLEAR CUT BORDERING PROPERTYThe American Chestnut Foundationhelps to restore the American chestnutto its native woodlands.Below is a link to their website:http://acf.org/MEADOW STEWARDSHIPBurning and mowing your meadowon a regular basis is a necessity forsuccess. Burning and mowing areusually conducted in mid-spring.Burning removes the accumulatedplant litter from the previous year’sgrowth and exposes the soil surface tothe warming rays of the sun. Burningencourages earlier soil warming,and typically increases growth,flowering, and seed production of thenative flowers and grasses. A mid-spring fire also sets back undesirable“cool season” weeds. Timing of theburning is critical, and mid-spring isrecommended over early spring.In the event that burning yourmeadow is not an option, mowing canbe substituted. Mowing should alsobe done in mid-spring and raking offthe mowed material to expose the soilsurface is recommended. Do not mowor burn after new plant growth hasreached one foot or taller, as this coulddamage some of your desirable plants.Burning can usually be instituted atthe beginning of the third growingseason.Rotational burning of one-half orone-third of your meadow on anannual basis generally recommended.Once your prairie has become wellestablished, it will return yearafter year with just a minimum ofmaintenance.BOBWHITE QUAIL | COLINUS VIRGINIANUSPRESCRIBED BURN CONTROLLED MEADOW BURNNATIVE WILDFLOWER MEADOW FOLLOWING PRESCRIBED BURN
  43. 43. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y43SPRING FED POND EASTERN VERNAL POOLRIVERS, PONDS, AND SPRINGS:RIPARIAN BUFFER STEWARDSHIPThe Jackson River, as mentioned inprevious sections, is the main body ofwater on the ranch. We also identifiedthree small ponds on the property; oneof which is an Eastern vernal pool, adepression that is filled by rainwater,while the other two are spring-fed. Theponds are limited in size due to theirtopography and well drained soils,making enlarging them potentiallydifficult. However, slight enlargementcoupled with select planting can makethem a spectacular place to viewwildlife and look for tracks. The springsat these locations could also serve aswatering stations along the ATV trailsand for the campsites.RIPARIAN BUFFER STEWARDSHIPImproving the riparian buffers along theJackson River and its floodplain streamshelp prevent erosion improve waterquality. This will have a more specificimpact on the improvement of thetrout population in the Jackson River.Typically, planting a 100 foot wide stripof forest and/or native grasses canreduce sediment by 97 percent, nitrogenby 80 percent, and phosphorus by 77percent. The state offers cost-shareincentives to aide in the restoration andimplementation of these buffers.Below is a link to their website:http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/sw//crep.htmOther websites of interest:http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/karsthome1.htmhttp://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/steward.htmJACKSON RIVERRIPARIAN BUFFER ZONE
  44. 44. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m44There are a myriad of logging roadsthat criss-cross the property makingideal ATV trails. Several trails havea well compacted sub-base and areclearly identifiable, while others aremore obscure and rough in nature.This variation allows for a wide rangeof experiences and skill as they leadthrough old meadows, up rockyslopes down bucolic hollows, pastsmall springs, wildlife ponds, and oldhomesteads.We suggest:- Trails should stay out of easilydamaged natural areas such asmeadows, wetlands and streams.- When necessary, stream crossingsshould be designed to prevent bankerosion and any adverse impact todownstream water quality.- Given the complex range of trails onthe property, both a trail map and on-site navigation aids are recommended.- There could be loop trails for dayrides, and destination trails which leadto camp sites, overlooks, and picnicspots.The American Motorcycle Association(AMA) rates trails into three categories:Easiest, More Difficult and MostDifficult. The following is AMA’sdefinition of these categories:EASIESTNo areas that are steeper than 15%grade, and no long stretches ofmoderate steepness greater than 8%.The surface is relatively smooth andcompact with minor obstacles only.Level ground for two to three feet oneither side of the ATV.MORE DIFFICULTSteeper, with long stretches up to 12%grade and no areas steeper than 30%.Some areas of relatively rough terrain,loose or muddy soil, and/or obstacles.Trail is narrower, may drop off ondownhill side or have more frequenttight curves.MOST DIFFICULTMaximum sustained slopes of 15%,with some areas at or past the limitsof ATV use. Surface is relativelyrough with areas that are very rough,including loose soil and large obstacles.Narrowest width of trail, with levelground only one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half feet on either side of the ATV.These are more suited to motorbikesthan ATVs.Most of the trails on the property fallinto the Easiest or More Difficult rangebecause they were designed for loggingtrucks. Additional trails could bedesigned as More Difficult to work withthe existing trail network.ATV TRAILSTRAIL EROSION AT STREAM CROSSING EASY TRAIL ON PROPERTYMORE DIFFICULT TRAIL ON PROPERTYMOST DIFFICULT TRAIL ON PROPERTYEROSION AND DRAINAGE CONTROLEXAMPLESSTREAM ARMORING
  45. 45. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y45Trail amenities help express thequalities and characteristics of the placewhere they occur. The materials andfurnishings recommended for LittleMountain Ranch should evoke a rusticmountain retreat vernacular with thesimplicity of modern design. It isimportant that future design decisionsstay in keeping with the vision ofthe proposed master plan. We haveprovided examples of precedent imagesand custom ideas.Possible amenities include, but are notlimited to:- Trail wayfinding; these signs can besimple arrows or more elaborate rocketchings, as suggested in the graphic,but ideally they would clearly identifythe trails without disturbing the naturalfeel of them.- Drinking source; spring basinsprovide an accessible and clean sourceof water. Custom built hand pumps orsimple stone enclosures help to capturethe water for ease of drinking.- Shelters and pavilions; these mayoccur on distant sections of the trailand may be as simple as a lean-to rainshelter or more structured places tospend the night, and enjoy a fire. Thiscould be especially nice for winter rides!TRAIL AMENITIESEXAMPLE OF AN ETCHED ROCK TRIAL MARKER LOCATEDALONG A CURRENT ATV TRAIL.TRAIL SHELTERSPRING-FED BASIN
  46. 46. LITTLE MOUNTAIN RANCH, a Highland Retreatt o p . . .r i d g eF r o m46SITE AMENITY PRECEDENTSWOODEN BENCHESATV STREAM CROSSINGSCISTERN & PUMPFOOT BRIDGESFENCES
  47. 47. ...t or i v e r v a l l e y47FIRE PITSOVERLOOKSSHELTERS / PAVILIONSTRAIL MARKERSSTONE SEATING
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  49. 49. SUMMARYThe purpose of this study is to providea master plan for the family of theirHighland County property, establishingan overall design vision and planningrecommendations for future use.The proposed recommendationsare programmed to function for theenhancement, preservation, andintroduction of rural recreation pursuits.Interweaving the programmaticelements with the dynamic patterns ofthe site’s ecological processes recognizesLittle Mountain Ranch as a unique,meaningful, multi-functional familyretreat.There are numerous projects thatcan be executed on Little MountainRanch. The phasing and subsequentimplementation of these projects willdepend on the family’s priorities. Itis important that future participatingparties work together and utilizethe recommendations and designvocabulary outlined in this book. This,coupled with the continued stewardshipof the site’s ecology, will help achievethe goals of the family’s envisionedprogram.Speaking for the entire team, wehave seen few properties as uniqueand distinctly Virginian as LittleMountain Ranch. We are extremelypleased to provide you with thismaster plan and would be honored tohave the opportunity to continue ourinvolvement in realizing the vision foryour ranch.DISCLAIMER:The images in this document wereprinted without the permission of theirowners. This document is intendedfor the sole use of the client and theoffices of McKee Carson and FieldSport Concepts, Ltd. It is to be used forinternal design discussions only andtherefore should not be reproduced foranyone other than the client, McKeeCarson, or Field Sport Concepts, Ltd.McKeeCarsonandField Sport Concepts, Ltd301 East High StreetCharlottesville, VA 22902p: 434 . 977 . 7522f: 434 . 979 . 1194w: www.mckeecarson.com49

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