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The Fork Document Transcript

  • 1. T H E F O R KA Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 2.  1999 Field Sport Concepts, Ltd. All rights reserved.No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express written consent of both Field Sport Concepts, Ltd. and the Client.
  • 3. CONTENTS3 CONTENTS 19 PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS Activities and their relationship to the land4 THE INTRODUCTION 5 THE VISION Reestablishing a “gentleman’s farm” 43 LAND USE CONCEPTS Exploring opportunities suitable for creating successful program interrelationships 6 THE PROPERTY The lay of the land 49 SUMMARY A distillation of findings and recommendations 51 TABLES 7THE REGIONNatural resources create attractivedestinations for sportmen anda variety of other recreationalactivities8 THE HISTORYRediscovering lost treasures ofthe past 11 SITE ANALYSIS Natural features determine land use suitability The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 3
  • 4. INTRODUCTION F ield Sport Concepts, Ltd. is proud to provide you the following analysis of, and feasibility study for, The Fork. It is a unique and wonderful property with an interesting history upon which one could build a premier equestrian and hunting plantation. With very few exceptions, the land, as a resource, lends itself well to a functional and pleasing incorporation of all the program elements you envision. As a team we have collectively and independently evaluated the subject property in light of the program vision. This report is intended as a record of our initial observations, inventories, analyses and recommendations. While it is not a design document, it is our intent that the initial land use concepts contained herein, along with our research and recommendations, serve to assist you in your decision regarding purchase of the property. Should you decide to purchase The Fork, and we are fortunate enough to be involved in subsequent efforts, we would recommend securing more detailed base information on the property and refining and expanding on the overall project program at that time. Armed with improved and more comprehensive data, we would propose to undertake a more aggressive analysis and design effort. In these subsequent phases the design process would be highly integrated, involving partnering sessions across platforms to achieve a consolidated and well orchestrated plan for the property. We hope you find that this report meets your needs and expectations. Looking to the future, we expect that any effort to develop your vision at The Fork will evolve into a very rewarding and exciting endeavor for everyone involved. For Field Sport Concepts, Ltd., we thank you for allowing us the opportunity to be a part of the team.4 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 5. THE VISION T he idea is to re-establish the historical context of a “gentleman’s farm” upon which agricultural and a variety of rural recreational pursuits can be realized. In the end, the property should serve as an example of how land can be used in an environmentally sensitive and culturally sympathetic way. Although portions of the site will be maintained as a commercial farming operation, the entire property will be managed in a manner founded on stewardship for the land as well as its cultural and natural resources. True to the character of a plantation, the property will be developed and operated as a working farm. The goal is to create a largely sustainable, environmentally sensitive farm by combining the best of current technology with good old-fashioned common sense. Maintaining the agricultural heritage of the property is paramount to the success of the vision as well as the individual programs elemental to it. Some land will have to be removed from crop production to make room for the diversity of activities envisioned. Also, certain agricultural practices will be modified to be more sensitive and beneficial to the land and wildlife. The objective is to take conscientious steps away from the singular focus of clean, mono-culture farming by absentee managers back toward a highly diverse agricultural state where, historically, the landowner resides on the property and oversees the myriad day to day activities of the farm. From an environmental perspective, by taking an historic rather than conventional approach to agriculture, it is hoped that well orchestrated use-diversity will create critical habitat-diversity, thereby making the land capable of sustaining a wide variety of healthy wildlife populations. The central charge of this study was to determine if the subject site lends itself to the well orchestrated establishment of the envisioned programs, and to identify any site conditions which positively or negatively affect each individual program and their relationship to one another. Beyond agricultural production, those elements and activities which are envisioned for the property include: a main residence and guest quarters, a lodge or replica of a historic tavern to serve as a retreat, stables, barns, paddocks and trails associated with horse breeding and equestrian sports such as cross-country racing, show jumping and dressage, wildlife husbandry efforts for deer, dove, duck, quail and turkey, pheasant and mallard release programs, and sporting clays venues. Most, if not all, of the property will be placed in a conservation easement. This move is consistent with the vision for the property and the stewardship philosophy of the prospective owner. Encumbering the property in this manner, while dramatically affecting its value, will ensure that the integrity of the land will remain intact long into the future. “In the end, the property should serve as an example of how land can be used in an environmentally sensitive and culturally sympathetic way.” The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 5
  • 6. THE PROPERTYT he Fork property is located just south of the town of Norwood, in Stanly County, North Carolina. Its roughly 1,100 acres resemble a diamond shape; the bottom two sides delineated by the confluence of the Rocky and Pee Dee Rivers, hence the name of the property, as well as the general area of the county surrounding the property. Both rivers are robust, scenic and support a variety of wildlife. Access to the property is via pavedState Route 1766 otherwise known as Fork Road which enters the tract from the northern point in a southerly direction. State maintenance of the roadends just inside the property limits, and not far beyond that the pavement ends and the road changes to a farm lane. A gate, just inside the property, limitsaccess. In a woodlot adjacent to the gate, a modest brick ranch home oversees the comings and goings on-site. The house and its immediate grounds areleased on an oral month-to-month arrangement. Beyond the gate, the alignment of the privately-owned main road in its continues through the property ina southeasterly direction, terminating at the flood plain of the Rocky River three-fourth’s (¾) of a mile upstream of the confluence. Once inside the site,numerous other farm lanes spur off of the main road providing access to crop fields and long-abandoned home and barn sites. Given clement weatherconditions, all precincts of the property can be reasonably accessed by vehicle.Physically, the property displays a wide variety of topographic conditions and elevation change. The high ground consists of a central north-south ridgeoccupied by the main road. On either side, broad open ridges used as agricultural fields extend east, south and west. Each field is punctuated by woodedravines that eventually lead to and through vast open floodplain which lies alongside both rivers.Over half of the property is wooded. A variety of stands exist, from predominantly young cut-over volunteers to small samplings of mature oak/hickorylots. Evergreen and deciduous species are typically intermixed, and no economically significant pine stands are present. Hedgerows, most of which followproperty lines and natural physical features, serve to create, in some instances, smaller, sheltered agricultural plots and visually reinforce topographic, roadand riparian edges. Roughly 400 acres of the tract is actively farmed in seasonal crops. Of the 400 acres, nearly200 acres are classified as floodplain. A local family of farmers has been leasing the agricultural fields for sometime. The fields are currently planted in corn, with a winter cover crop of predominantly wheat using a no-tillprogram.Upstream from the site, the Pee Dee river has been dammed creating Lake Tillery. The dam has afforded acertain level of flood control for the area as well as a variety of recreational opportunities and real estate valueenhancement. Flows vary, and for the most part releases from the impoundment areregular except during periods of drought. At times of high water, the rivers have beenknown to inundate the floodplain for short periods of time. Rather than breaching theirbanks and scouring the fields, most of the flooding occurs as water backs onto the sitethrough low points in the site’s topography near the convergence of the two rivers. Duringthese times fishing boats have been seen patrolling the flooded fields.Given its size, location, history and physical attributes, the propertyis locally recognized as a valuable natural resource. It is currentlyowned by Uwharrie Heritage, LLC, a group interested in preservingits integrity. The owners are working with a third party who sharesthis philosophy to develop a scenario in which a conservation-baseduse of the property could financially support a private ownershiparrangement. 6 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 7. THE REGIONS tanly County is located in south central North Carolina where the winters are mild, the summers typically hot and dry, and the time between very pleasant. The town of Albemarle serves as the county seat. Most of the major civicbuildings and government functions are located there. It is the commercial hub inthe region and is supported by New London and Richfield to the north, Norwood TO NORWOOD LAKE TILLERYto the south, and Locust to the southwest. US Route 52 is the main north-southcorridor through the county. State Routes 24, 27 and 73 are key roads that traversethe county in an east-west direction. All primary roadways pass through Albemarle.Charlotte is the nearest metropolitan area and is located roughly 40 miles due west.To the east about the same distance are the renowned golf communities of Pinehurstand Southern Pines.The subject site is located in the southeastern-most extreme of Stanley County. Inthis area the Rocky River separates Stanley County from Anson County, while bothMontgomery and Richmond Counties lie across the Pee Dee River. Old CountyLine Road, the remnants of which leads from the property’s high ground down toand across the mid-section of the floodplain along the Pee Dee River, serves as thedividing line between Montgomery and Richmond Counties in its historic courseeast of the river. 4.5 miles upstream from the confluence, the Pee Dee River istraversed by Norwood Dam creating Lake Tillery. The result is a pleasant freshwater SITEimpoundment that provides water-based recreation and hydroelectric power. The ERcounty also enjoys similar RIVbenefits provided by EE RO DBadin Lake which CK PEE Ystraddles RIthe VE Rboundarybetween Stanly and MontgomeryCounty northeast of Albemarle. Badin Lakeand Lake Tillery are both impoundments of the sameriver, however, from a point just below Badin Dam,near Morrow Mountain State Park, and to the north, it is known as the Yadkin River.From that point south the river is known as the Pee Dee. Just below Lake Tillery athird impoundment, Blewett Falls Lake, marks the last time the Pee Dee is delayed asit winds its way through South Carolina to the Atlantic Ocean near Georgetown.The region is rich in natural resources which makes it an attractive destination forsportsmen and those seeking a variety of recreational pursuits. It is also an area ofhistoric significance. This area of North Carolina has been the site of noteworthyCivil War, Revolutionary War and prehistoric events. Uwharrie National Forest isan immense natural reservation covering the majority of Montgomery County andparts of Randolph and Davidson Counties. Just south of the national forest is TownCreek Indian Mound. Just downstream from the subject property, on the south bankof the Pee Dee River, lies the Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge. The Fork propertyitself was the site of a noteworthy Revolutionary War skirmish. Details of this event,and other site-specific cultural matters are discussed later.Agriculture is the main industry in the area. Both seasonal crops such as corn andsoybeans, as well as timber, have long been mainstays of the local economy. Inrecent years cotton has made a resurgence and now constitutes a significant portionof the seasonal agribusiness in the area. Other industry such as textiles have, forgenerations, employed those not working the land. In general, the populationrepresents a highly entrepreneurial citizenship, typical of rural areas. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 7
  • 8. THE HISTORY T he juncture of two navigable rivers has always been an attractive location for human activity. Whether for settlement, commerce or military purposes, these strategic positions, on what historically were the worlds’ primary thoroughfares, have always been considered prime real estate. Not surprisingly, these same areas typically play a large role in history. As many Native American nations made the transition from nomadic ways to an agrarian culture they looked for places to settle where game-rich lands and tillable soils adjoined rivers which provided both fish and a means of transportation. The confluence of two navigable rivers was a natural place for various tribes to gather for trade, ceremony and battle preparation. Pre-historic artifacts, such as arrowheads, that witness habitation of the area by Native Americans have been found on The Fork property. Archeologists note that North Carolina was first settled by three main Indian nations, the Algonquian, the Siouan and the Cherokee. The Siouan-speaking tribes resided in the Piedmont region while the Cherokee where centered in the mountains to the west, and the Algonquians occupied the coastal zone. Within the Siouan Nation it is thought that members of the Cheraw tribe were the first humans to occupy the area around The Fork. Although inhabited for several thousand years, the major Indian occupation in the area of The Fork was during the 15th and 16th centuries A.D. It was during that time that Town Creek Indian Mound complex was developed. Located just east of The Fork on Little River in Montgomery County, this facility is now a National Historic Site. The location served as a major ceremonial center of the Pee Dee culture. It is thought that these peoples were Muskogean-speakers who moved north into the Pee Dee River valley from South Carolina, replacing the previous Siouan culture. The ceremonial center occupation was relatively short-lived, however, lasting only about 100 years.The features at Town Creek included an earthen mound and temple, a priest’s house and a mortuary house. Several smaller sites have been recorded in thegeneral vicinity of Town Creek and may have been associated farmsteads and communities. It is believed that the inhabitants of these outlying settlementscame to Town Creek for important religious, political and social occasions. More detailed information is available by contacting Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton at, as European settlers pushed west they also recognized the value of these riverine locations as well. Pittsburgh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga are but afew of the places easily recognized as thriving cities which played an important role in American history. Such is the case of The Fork property, albeit on amuch smaller scale.It wasn’t until 1748 that the section now referred to as The Fork was settled by Europeans. According to records in Raleigh, the Colson family becamethe first landowners in the area around The Fork. The Colson’s lived in what is now Anson and Stanly Counties; both of which were, at the time, part ofBladen County. John Colson came to own considerable land in the area of The Fork and was quick to take advantage of its prime location. Two roadsintersected on the ridge between the confluence of the two rivers; the Old Stage Road connecting Cheraw with Salisbury which crossed the Rocky River,and County Line road which traversed the Pee Dee. Old court records in Salisbury state, “There is a certain King’s Highway, leading from the town of Salisbury, inthe Parish of St. Luke within the County of Rowan, from the County of Anson, used for all the Liege Subjects of our said lord, the king, with their horses, carts and carriages, etc.”– Stanly County Library Archives. This presumably refers to the Old Stage Road, currently known as Fork Road.In 1771 the court of Anson County issued a permit to John Colson to operate an “ordinary.” In addition, the court set the rates he could charge for theensuing year; “Lodging in a good feather bed and clean sheets – 6 pence. Every dinner not less than 2 dishes, good meat – 1 shilling and 4 pence. Madeira or port wine per qt. – 6shillings and 8 pence. Toddy with West India Rum and loaf sugar per qt. – 6 shillings and 8 pence. Other drinks with prices that varied were grogg, beer crab cyder, seedling cyder,brandy and whiskey. Pasturing for every horse, stabling with hay and fodder for 24 hours, Indian corn, rough barley, barley and rye, per quart were all priced by the court.” – StanlyCounty Library Archives. The ordinary was primarily for the convenience of the stage coach passengers. As a stage came within bugle range of the ordinary,it would sound one blast for every passenger present. This allowed the proprietor an opportunity to prepare, in advance, the dining room for the propernumber of guests.In 1791, while preparing for a journey through the southland, George Washington wrote in his diary that he would not “incommode private families by takingup quarters with them during the journey.” Later he wrote, “Free hospitality is a universal custom in the Carolinas and Virginia.” – Stanly County Library Archives. Healso recorded lodging and dining at plantation homes between Charlotte, Salisbury and Salem on the regular stage coach roads. One might speculate thatWashington availed himself of the ordinaries of this area during his travels; whether for sustenance or accommodation, and there exists a possibility thatWashington himself paid a visit to Colson’s Ordinary. 8 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 9. The Colson Ordinary has been described as a two-story log structure in two parts, between which an aisle existed through which a driveway could have passed. It could be surmised that the stage coach would pull between the kitchen and dining “rooms” to be under roof, providing cover for disembarking passengers. It is said that Colson maintained a fresh team of horses at the ordinary for use by the stage line. The stabling for the horses may have been under the ordinary. History has it that the ordinary hosted other activities as well. Those that have been mentioned in records include horse racing, chicken fighting, wrestling matches and militia drills. At some point in time the ordinary also served as a community meeting place. Although the location of the ordinary has yet to be exactly determined, it may have been situated at or near the intersection of the two roadways on The Fork property. From this vantage point, not only would the business benefit from traffic on both roads, but one couldalso look down the largely straight sections of the two roads toward the two ferries that were eventually constructed to see if there were travelersawaiting passage.Land records show that William Colson, son of John, owned half interest in a 200 acre property on the south side of the Rocky River upon which amill was operated. It is possible that this was what has been referred to as Colson’s Mill. James Parker of Richmond County has offered the followingregarding Colson’s Mill. “-feel sure that the mill referred to was first built just above the mill owned by my father, John Parker, and was washed away by a great freshet. Thenext mill was known as the Swaringen Mill, bought by my father, and known today as Parker’s Mill.” – Stanly County Library Archives. It is said that as late as 1980 theoriginal mill rocks could be seen in the bed of the river where they sank after the mill house floated down stream. James Parker’s son says he has seenthem numerous times while swimming in the river. Given the above, it appears the mill and the ordinary were two distinct properties on separate sidesof the Rocky River, although no documented reports currently in hand discuss them as such. Further research and archeological investigation couldshed important light on this matter.Mills were important installations to the growing agricultural communities of colonial times. Their importance grew further during times of war, whenexceedingly large numbers of troops would garrison in a rather small rural community, requiring quantities of milled grain well beyond the normalproduction standard. Colson’s Mill may have provided such a service as many a detachment of both the British and American Armies traveled through,and even bivouacked on, The Fork property.Directly across the Pee Dee River is the site of Fort Hill, a once pallisaded supply and ordnance depot maintained by the Americans. Many such cacheswere established up and down the Pee Dee and Yadkin Rivers by the revolutionaries to support their numerous military sorties. It was on one suchforay that The Fork property made history.In July of 1780, Colonel Bryan and Major McArthur, both British officers, were leading largeparties of men, mostly Tories who were loyalists, on foraging and recruiting expeditions in thevicinity. Bryan’s men had set up camp adjacent to Colson’s Mill on their way to join with McArthur,then at nearby Cheraw Hill in northern South Carolina. The Americans got wind of thesedetachments and General Rutherford divided his army, then located in Salisbury, into two groups.Both divisions marched south along the Yadkin/Pee Dee River; Rutherford on the east bank andColonel Davidson on the west. After two days marching Davidson came across a group of Torieson the Colson farm on one of their foraging missions. In the process of dividing and forming upto attack, Davidson’s men were discovered and the Tories commenced firing upon them. Althoughthey were outnumbered by more than two to one, Davidson’s squad carried the day, killing andinjuring a handful of the enemy before they retreated post-haste across the rivers to the adjacentcountryside. John Colson, having been a loyalist, fled with them. In the melee Davidson was struck by a bullet in the abdomen. He required twomonths to recover, at which time he returned to service under the rank of Brigadier General, a promotion awarded for his valor. A marker has beenplaced along Highway 52 near the bridge over the Rocky River to commemorate this significant historic event in Stanly County history.Another item of historic significance is still evident on the property; that being the Wall-Almond family cemetery. Although documented well in localrecords, the cemetery is not designated on any available mapping for the area. In the course of on-site activities the cemetery was discovered. Part ofthat investigation uncovered an on-site archive recently prepared by Pierre Watkins. This led to more thorough research of local documentation.The site of the cemetery is located southeast of the brick ranch home adjacent to the farm gate. Traveling south, behind the house, along the treelineon an earthen levee, an abandoned farm lane leads east, through the woods, toward an old clearing. Just prior to the clearing on the north side ofthe lane is a nearly overgrown grave yard which appears to have been established around 1830 at the death of Jane Wall. She was the wife of SenatorWilliam Wall who, as the elder statesman of the clan, was born April 22, 1776 and died October 15, 1854. He rests beside his beloved wife.The cemetery is filled with nearly 40 identifiable graves from numerous families. Among them are the final resting places of Thomas Kirby Colsonand Ann Eliza Robinson Colson, as well as James Swaringen, likely related to the family who built and operated a mill after Colson’s Mill was taken outby a flood. Aside from the formal graves, there are as many as thirty unidentifiable graves marked only with fieldstone. It is uncertain who occupiesthese locations, or whether they may pre-date 1830. However, because they are concentrated in a sector of the cemetery, it is possible that these are thegraves of earlier inhabitants, poorer families or slaves. Regardless, the cemeterys’ presence only adds to the flavor and history of the property and itshould be viewed as a significant historic landmark. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 9
  • 10. 10 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 11. SITE ANALYSIS Slope Elevation Soils Vegetation Hydrology Environment The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 11
  • 12. SLOPE F or analysis purposes, site slopes fall into one of four distinct gradient ranges; 0 – 5% slope, 5 – 15% slope, 15 – 25% slope and greater than 25% slope. The vast majority of the open land is in 0 – 5% and 5 – 15% slopes. There are a few wooded areas where these modest slopes are found, but they consist of small pockets of a couple acres here and there on upland knobs and low boggy areas in the center of one or more ravines. While some areas within the wooded ravines have rather gentle slopes, typically they display grades in the 15 – 25% range. For a property of this size a very low percentage of the terrain is in critical slopes of 25% or greater. These steep slopes occur mainly at the toe of hillsides adjacent to floodplain and creek bottoms. Roughly 45% of the site’s 1,100 acres is in slopes of 0 – 5%. Another 27%, plus or minus, supports slopes of 5 – 15%. 21% of the property has slopes in the 15 – 25% range and only 7% is in 25% or greater slopes. A small portion of the critical slopes are man-made; created as a by-product of roadway construction performed centuries ago. With the exception of the farm lanes the site remains in its natural topographic state. Slope plays a considerable role in determining land use. In terms of the envisioned programming for the plantation, agricultural fields, equestrian areas and reconstructed wetlands require gently sloped areas while housing, shooting venues and wildlife set asides may best be situated on steeper zones. 0-5% 5-15% 15-25% 25% <12 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 13. ELEVATION T he property divides itself into three distinct landforms; riverine floodplain, steep transitional slopes and gently rolling upland. Of the 1,100 acres comprising The Fork, roughly 200 acres lie within the floodplain of the two rivers. This land is not exceedingly flat, but rather low-lying open land with gentle modulations in grade within a 20’ elevation range. The two rivers have mean surface elevations of around 200’ AMSL. From there, the riverbanks extend vertically from 10’ near the confluence, to more than 20’ in other areas upstream in both directions. In those areas of higher riverbank conditions the adjacent fields give the appearance of lying lower than the top of the bank. In these cases, the main riverbank constitutes a levee of sorts. The floodplain extends inland to the base of the steeply sloped transitional areas which begin around elevation 230’. At this point the smooth, undulating relief of the floodplain gives way to a configuration of steeply rising headlands penetrated by deeply incised ravines. A few areas of somewhat level ground are scattered about within this zone, but largely this steep condition prevails up to elevation 300’. From here the land levels out once again with contours typical of an upland meadow. This is the area where the vast majority of man-made improvements have been introduced. The high point of the property, with an elevation of just over 350’, is located within a large field near the center of the property, from which views of nearly 360 degrees can be appreciated. 300 < 300-350 250-300 200-250 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 13
  • 14. SOIL T he Fork is composed of six soil classifications. They include the Badin, Chewacla, Congaree, Georgeville, Goldston and Tatum series. The following is a brief description of each soil type. Badin Series (BaF) The Badin Series consists of moderately deep, well drained, moderately permeable, clay-based soils on undulating to steep Piedmont uplands. These soils formed in residuum weathered from fine-grained rocks, such as argillite and graywacke sandstone, that are classified as Carolina slates. Slope is 2 to 45 percent. Chewacla Series (Ch) The Chewacla Series consists of very deep, somewhat poorly drained, moderately permeable, fine loamy-based soils that formed in recent alluvium. These soils are on nearly level flood plains. Slope is 0 to 2 percent. Congaree Series (Co) The Congaree Series consists of well drained, moderately permeable, fine loamy-based, bottomland soils in floodplain. These soils formed in loamy alluvium along the Pee Dee and Rocky Rivers. This alluvium was derived primarily from the crystalline rock formations outside of Stanly County in the Yadkin and Rocky River basins. Slope is 0 to 4 percent. Georgeville Series (GfB2) The Georgeville Series consists of very deep, well drained, moderately permeable, clay-based soils on broad, gently sloping Piedmont uplands. These soils formed in residuum weathered from fine textured rocks, such as tuff, argillite, and graywacke sandstone, that are classed as Carolina slates. Slope is 2 to 8 percent. Goldston Series (GoF) The Goldston Series consists of shallow, well drained to excessively drained, moderately permeable, loamy-based soils on undulating to steep Piedmont upland side slopes and knolls. These soils formed in residuum weathered from fine textured rocks, such as argillite and graywacke sandstone, that are classed as Carolina slates. Slope is 4 to 45 percent. Tatum Series (TcD2) The Tatum Series consists of deep, well drained, moderately permeable, clay-based soils on gently sloping to steep Piedmont uplands. These soils formed in residuum weathered from fine textured rocks, such as argillite and graywacke sandstone, that are classified as Carolina slates. Slope is 2 to 35 percent. The soils map identifies the general location where each soil series occurs on the property. In summary, Congaree soils are found along the banks of both rivers and in the low areas within the bottom land crop fields. Chewacla series consti- tute the higher ground within the fields located within the floodplain. Several pockets of Goldston soils are located in the lower sections of the slopes near the floodplain interface. The slopes between the bottom land and the upper terrace areas are in Badin series, with the exception of an area on the eastern boundary which is classified as Tatum soils. The gently sloping areas on the high ground are home to the Georgeville class. Insofar as the proposed use of the property is largely agricultural, a table has been included which lists each soil type and the varying agricultural yields which could be expected of each. In addition, another series of tables lists the degree to which each soil displays limitations for devel- opment of a variety of man-made improvements germane to this undertaking. (See Tables 1-5)14 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 15. VEGETATION T he Fork property was likely once a heavily wooded tract consisting of birch, maple, sycamore, poplar and tupelo in the lowlands, and oak, hickory, beech, maple and pine in the uplands. At one time the vast majority of land in this part of the United States was clear-cut for timber. Many of the trees which were spared the commercial axe were felled for military purposes. So pervasive was the timbering of this region that, during the Civil War, armies had to resort to burning fencing for fuel in the absence of trees. Consequently, there exist very few pockets of old-growth forest in the eastern United States. As time passed timber became less important than seasonal crop farming and farmers began to focus their attention on the more tillable topography. This allowed certain areas to revert back to forest. The wooded mountains and piedmont areas of the Mid-Atlantic States are testament to the regenerative powers of nature. Unfortunately, The Fork property has experienced significant timbering activity on a regular basis. While there are examples of mature hardwood trees on the property, there is no significant stand of oak/hickory climax forest to be found. Mature specimen trees occur largely at the edge of crop fields and as sentinels at long abandoned building sites. Oddly, there are also no managed pine stands on the property. Apparently, the periodic harvesting of timber as a cash crop has been an after-thought, rather than a profitably managed endeavor. In any case, the result is just over 400 acres of agricultural fields in the upland and lowland zones separated by 600 plus acres of mixed hardwood and softwood forest of a very young age on the transitional slopes between. The bank of both rivers is nicely reinforced by mature riverine species which makes for a rather pleasing setting. On the high ground there are several small isolated islands of emergent tree species suggestive of a place where tilling of the soil was very recently forsaken. This same type of new growth occurs in several areas where abandoned homes and barns are still evident. All told, this type of vegetative cover represents less than one percent of the total acreage. The fields have been leased for some time to the Sikes family who have farmed the land in a variety of crops. A no-till program has been in place on the farm for several years. Corn is the only cash crop currently planted on the property. Evidence in the field confirms that the crop Tree Cover is being harvested for grain rather than silage. A cover crop of winter wheat is drilled in; usually in the month of November. Soybeans have been planted in recent years on the upland fields where flooding was not an issue, but the deer population culled the crop so aggressively that beans were replaced by corn this past year. Cotton has re-established itself as a viable cash crop in the region and the Sikes family has expressed an interest in planting some of the upland fields as such. The “clean farming” practice employed to date has resulted in a distinct lack of any transitional vegetative edge between field and forest in almost all instances. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 15
  • 16. HYDROLOGY O ne of the most outstanding qualities of The Fork property is that it is located at the confluence of two primary river systems in central North Carolina. As mentioned previously, both rivers are quite robust and each remains navigable in the area adjacent to the subject site during periods of low flow. The Pee Dee River is impounded upstream of the confluence of the two rivers to create Baden Lake and Lake Tillery. The dams at both reservoirs serve to generate electricity and control flow regimes downstream. Consequently, the Pee Dee River adjacent to The Fork experiences vast fluctuations in both water surface elevation and volume of flow. During the three days of the on-site field investigation, the Pee Dee was observed to change dramatically, even though weather conditions were consistently dry. At times the water was a completely seamless flow, uninterrupted by obstructions. Later the same day the river had dropped at least three feet, displaying numerous rock shoals, and the water giving the appearance of flowing upstream. Upon traversing the Pee Dee via the Route 731 bridge just below Lake Tillery, the river, at that time, seemed a nearly dry gulch. It was after such an event that the river on site displayed this odd appearance. Investigation is underway to determine if the elevation of Blewett Falls Lake immediately downstream, along with consistent contributions by the Rocky River, actually causes water to back up into the Pee Dee River channel during low flow events. The need for additional information on this matter is amplified insofar as a proposal to raise the dam at Blewett Falls Lake 12’ to create additional storage is currently being reviewed. Between the two rivers, nearly 200 acres of land at The Fork experience periodic flooding resulting from rain events or prescribed drawdown of Lake Tillery in the Spring. Within the floodplain zone a small number of wetlands occur; generally attendant to man-made drainages installed to facilitate agriculture. More likely than not, natural wetlands existed in these low-lying areas prior to man’s intervention. The ravines which drain the upland areas of the property all lead to and through the floodplain before emptying into the rivers. In a few instances, springs contribute water to these draws, some of which sustain little more than damp soil, while others support legitimate creeks. One run drains the southwest quadrant of the tract, running in a southerly direction toward the Creeks/ Rocky River, passing under the Old Stage Road near the bottom land. A Ponds second branch, actually two separate branches in the same straight alignment, runs parallel to the Pee Dee River along the toe of slope at the floodplain’s Floodplain upper limits. Judging from field observations, this system drains in both a southwestern and northeastern direction. The southern course empties River directly into the Rocky River, while the northern course combines with a sizable, highly eroded ravine which subsequently contributes to the Pee Dee Drainage River along the eastern property line. Area Limits Only two small ponds currently exist on The Fork property and each is less than an acre in size. The first is located immediately adjacent to and east of Fork Road in the far northern section of the tract. It has a thin perimeter of trees, but is by and large in a crop field setting. The second pond is located in a wooded setting in a very minor ravine near the southernmost promontory. In contrast to the first pond, this location is quite private and, in fact idyllic in many ways. The surrounding woods are by no means mature hardwood forest, but the setting is special nonetheless and deserving of honorable mention.16 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 17. ENVIRONMENT Prevailing winter winds from north and northwest F or the purposes of this study, issues have been segregated into one of three environmental categories. The first classification includes physical and weather conditions that serve as design parameters including wind direction, solar orientation, storm events, views, noise and glare. Second are the features that make up the man-made environment such as structures, Less frequent but possibly severe winter roads, fencing, utilities, wells, cemeteries and adjacent development. Finally 1 2 winds from northeast there are the human practices that can generate environmental concerns like dumping of waste, fuel storage and pesticide use. 3 The Fork property is comprised of a series of prominent, open, upland ridges 4 separated by pronounced wooded ravines. Two rivers and their associated 5 floodplain surround the property on the southeast and southwest. The site 6 displays a largely southern slope and exposure. Although winter winds out of the northwest and southerly summer breezes prevail on the high, open 9 precincts, within the ravines and along the river, topography, vegetation and Secondary 7 8 river alignments combine to create unique microclimates. While the upland Airflow 10 fields provide opportunities for expansive views, they are also areas that are very exposed to the elements during storm events. Driving wind, rain and lightening 11 Major are significant considerations in land planning. Because of its remote location, Views noise and glare are not concerns. Minor Views 12 The tract has been occupied, and presumably farmed, since the mid-1700’s. Homes, barns, workshops, mills and other structures were, at one time or 13 Potential another, active on the property. Observable on the site today are an abandoned Views bungalow, a small, old, unused barn, a silo, and the remains of a Victorian farm Wind patterns house that appears to have been constructed over a protracted time frame. 14 Only one structure remains in use on the property and that is a modest brick influenced by 16 river channel ranch residence near the entrance to the site. Judging by the exterior of the structure and grounds, it has little value. 15 Some of the roads accessing the site and the various uses within it are still in place, while others have been long abandoned. Several of these old sites show evidence of old wells still in place. Above-ground utilities had been brought to the property in support of the housing of more recent vintage and fencing can still be found as witness to historical property boundaries. A cemetery was 17 discovered on the property which contains as many as seventy graves and dates back to 1830. Adjacent development has very little impact on the subject site. The vast majority of the surrounding countryside is in agricultural use. One Less frequent summer adjacent property (the Martin tract), which is home to a hunting club, uses The Prevailing summer winds from winds possibly severe from Fork property roadways for access. south and southwest southeast in late summer and fall when associated with hurricanes Because the site has been occupied for more than two centuries, one could expect that a certain amount of insensitive activity may have taken place. Humans generate waste and don’t always dispose of the waste in an1. Abandoned residence environmentally sensitive manner. A small amount of dumping, old tires2. Abandoned barn/sheds for the most part, was witnessed adjacent to the silo. Wholesale dumping of3. Occupied brick ranch residence domestic waste, appliances and such is not immediately evident to the casual4. Wall-Almond cemetery observer. Outhouses were prevalent during the previous period of occupation5. Abandoned barn and evidence of residence on site. Any areas where housing has been known to exist should eventually6. USGS map location of non-existent structure (possibly the former site of William Wall’s machine shop) undergo investigation and identification of waste pits. The drainfield associated7. Abandoned residence with the currently occupied residence should also be located.8. Abandoned barn9. USGS map location of non-existent structure No underground storage tanks (UST’s) show up on government databases. (origin unknown) Above-ground units were more typical of installations pre-dating 1960 and10. Old Cheraw/ Salisbury Road (Allenton Road)11. USGS map location of non-existent structure nothing was observed to suggest that either equipment or heating fuel storage (origin unknown) existed, but one could assume it had.12. USGS map location of non-existent structure (possibly the former site of Colson’s Ordinary) Pesticides have long been employed to foster commercial crops. Generally,13 Abandoned silo and location of non-existent barn that use continues today on an accelerated pace. Myriad chemicals have been14. Old County Line Road15. Former site of Colson’s Ferry developed to assist the farmer in battling the elements that seek to damage his16. Former site of ferry crops. The benefits of this technology comes with a price. Wildlife is poisoned17. Possible site of Colson’s Mill and their habitat destroyed. Certain chemical substances remain in the soil for protracted periods of time. Subsequent efforts on the property should include an analysis of the historic use of agricultural chemicals on the land to determine what, if any remedial action needs to be taken. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 17
  • 18. 18 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 19. PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS Agricultural Equestrian Shooting Sports Wildlife/Hunting Residential The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 19
  • 20. Agricultural Program Areas The map shows those areas that are currently being used as commercial crop fields.20 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 21. AGRICULTURAL O ne of the key components of the vision for The Fork is the preservation of the agricultural heritage of the property. To date, none of the wooded areas have been conscientiously managed for timber. This shows, and is one of the few liabilities of the site. The paucity of large, hard-mast producing trees is a natural governor for wildlife species such as deer, turkey and duck that benefit from these winter food sources. A comprehensive timber management plan should be put in place to encourage the maturation of hardwood species on the property to the benefit of wildlife, particularly big game. Over 400 acres of the land has been historically used to grow seasonal crops. The property is planted exclusively in corn. Mono-culture farming of this type is typical of strictly commercial ventures. Clean farming practices remain the site standard, however a no-till program was instituted recently which is very beneficial to the environment. Still, there is room for improvement in the commercial farming methods. For instance, crops are being planted up to and under the limbs of the trees which define the field limits. Historically, cultivating this land was done to prevent the forest from reclaiming the hard-won fields over time. However, the crops along the wooded edges display signs of low yield from immaturity as well as heavy forage by wildlife. Immediately outside the treeline crops appear to have been very productive. In a few areas, springs have surfaced in crop fields making the soil damp and slippery even on the sides of well graded slopes. Agriculture is critical to the overall plantation program in many ways. First, it will provide pasture and processed food for the equestrian program. Second, by leaving standing crops in key areas and using the equipment to plant food plots and buffer strips, it benefits the wildlife program. Finally, the presence of an active agricultural program brings a broad base of focused knowledge to the table and provides a level of stewardship and security for the property. Whether through outside sources or on-site means, an active agricultural program will be required to ensure that the property is managed in a manner that is productive and in concert with the other envisioned land uses. Among those items that need to be reconsidered are types of crops to be planted and where, the use of herbicides and pesticides, the timing and frequency of machinery in the fields, harvesting schedules and methods, and use of fields for dual-programming. If agriculture is pursued through outside sources, education and indoctrination of the farmer will be critical. Also, an arrangement should be crafted that provides adequate incentive for the farmer to remain active on the property and willing to execute the special measures necessary to the overall vision. In the recent past, soybeans and corn have been cultivated on the property. Cotton has made a resurgence as a cash crop in this area of North Carolina and the family currently farming the property has expressed an interest in planting cotton on the high ground. Cotton provides little or no value to a wildlife-based venture and requires placing machinery in the field at critical times during ground-nesting bird lifecycles. Warm-season crops of corn and soybeans remain commercially viable and are far more beneficial to the plantation program. Financial hardships to the farmer stemming from crop losses due to foraging, reduced pesticide applications and other programming considerations can be offset through the landowner/farmer lease agreement. Other compensation should be afforded the farmer for assistance provided in support of ancillary agricultural efforts. These include planting areas of commercial crops that will not be harvested, establishment of wildlife-specific crop stands of buckwheat, sorghum, millet, sunflowers, chufa, rice and other grain crops, use of a foam-brush to remove hardwood volunteers from field edges, hay production, manure spreading, and overall land management practices. The ultimate goal is to develop a plantation plan that includes, in its program, commercial agriculture that, from a scale and contextual perspective, is attractive and profitable for the farmer. Numerous government programs can exist that assist landowners who wish to promote wildlife habitat on their property. The Conservation Reserve Program, the Stewardship Incentive Program and the Wetland Reserve Program are but a few vehicles through which landowners can receive technical and financial support to achieve wildlife goals. Financial incentives include both cost-sharing for installation of measures and annual rent payments for acreage enrolled in the program. Benefits from participation can further assist in offsetting losses in commercial agriculture on site. These programs, and the people behind them, should be considered a necessary toolbox for anyone considering wildlife stewardship programming on their property. “Whether through outside sources or on-site means, an active agricultural program will be required to ensure that the property is managed in a manner that is productive and in concert with the other envisioned land uses.” The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 21
  • 22. Equestrian Program Areas The map indicates those areas that are deemed suitable for various equestrian program components. Trails would be acceptable in nearly all areas of the site except on steep slopes and areas containing highly erodible soils.22 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 23. EQUESTRIAN T wo components make up the equestrian program. The first is a husbandry project designed to purify the blood line of Irish draught horses. The second is development of a USCTA certifiable eventing facility. Both activities are to take place on land that has not supported livestock in any way in the recent past. This program will have to be built from the ground up. From a maintenance and security perspective, the equestrian facilities require constant monitoring and attention to detail in their upkeep. For the sake of efficiency the key components should be developed as a central equestrian complex. A full-service, state-of-the- art stable, storage and equipment barns, arenas, show rings, exercise pens and paddocks will need to be included in the primary horse compound and configured in a way that facilitates safe and fluid interaction between activity areas. To guarantee proper security and oversight it is recommended that residential quarters be included in the complex. Fenced pastures with run-in sheds, cross-country courses and a trail system can be located outboard of the equestrian nexus yet connected either physically or visibly to afford appropriate integration. Insofar as the caliber of horses to be maintained on the property is high and their security paramount, all primary equestrian facilities should be located toward the center of the property in a highly observable area. Since numerous structures and relatively level activity areas are necessary, it makes sense to place the equestrian complex away from the threat of flood and in an areas of gentle slope. Positive drainage and good air circulation are critical, however, locating a structure on an open promontory will invite the threat of a lightening strike. The best location for the equestrian complex is in an open, well-drained area on the side of a gentle slope that does not orient north, and one that offers a visual connection to other facilities on the property. Pastures, cross-country courses and the trail system should be partially visible and readily accessible from the main complex. Certain areas will need to be removed from cash crop production and placed in warm-season grasses and legumes to provide required pasturage and hay production opportunities. Cross-country courses can be designed to lay largely upon the natural grade along the perimeter of hay fields. The course surface itself should be maintained in cool-season grasses. This will serve as a visual counterpoint to the warm- season grasses in the hay fields and also act as an emergency firebreak. Hay fields can also provide desirable cover, forage and brooding conditions for ground-nesting fowl. The course should be developed around an area of high ground so as to provide adequate observation of distance events. The trail system could be laid out to offer access to remote and special places throughout the property. It is expected that, from time to time, horses may be the desired mode of transportation to and from non-equestrian venues. Proper accommodation for their staging should be provided in key locations. Respites, or guest cottages, are envisioned for the property. Visitors will be provided accommodations for both themselves and any horses they may be traveling with. Consequently, the program should include small paddocks with run-in sheds adjacent to some, if not all, of the respite cabins. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 23
  • 24. Shooting Sports Program Areas The map illustrates those areas best suited to the establishment of sporting clays venues.24 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 25. SHOOTING SPORTS O f all of the programs constituting the overall vision for the property, shooting sports is the most independent. The provision of trap, skeet and sporting clays opportunities requires very little land and can be accommodated in a wide variety of configurations to suit almost any property. The main external consideration is the impact the shooting activity will have on other programs. Safety and awareness are the primary concerns. Shooting venues need to be located in areas and in such a manner as to all but preclude the possibility of harm to property, livestock and people. Locating these activities away from all other uses is one way to accomplish this. When shooting facilities have to be located in areas where other activities occur, shooting can be scheduled and monitored in a fashion that ensures conflicts are avoided. Whenever possible, shooting facilities should be placed in an area that can be monitored to prevent theft and vandalism. Currently, only sporting clays are being considered. The event could occur in an abbreviated format within an expanded trap/skeet range, or placed within the landscape. In the latter configuration, five to ten stations are developed along a course. Each station affords the shooter a series of different target presentations. The sport is most challenging when each station is situated in a natural setting, and the trap trajectories designed to mimic real-life field and flight conditions of a particular game species. This level of refinement requires a variety of topographic, vegetative and hydrologic conditions to be present or created artificially. Manual or automated trap machines can be employed, however, manual courses are labor intensive and tend to be used less frequently. The table entitled, Sporting Clays Course Design Considerations (Table 6) describes certain parameters that could be used to design a field-based sporting clays course. Ideally, the shooting venue would be located as far inside the property as possible for security reasons and a good distance from any equestrian complex. With the exception of the extreme northern section of the property, those areas regularly flooded, and a few steep, remote wooded areas, a very fine course could be installed at any number of locations. A five-stand venue could be accommodated on a standard trap and skeet range and would need to be on rather level terrain and preferably have a north-south orientation. A more sophisticated sporting clays course is less “The sport is most dependent on orientation and takes advantage of varied terrain, challenging when each clearings, ponds, wooded areas, ravines, bluffs and bottomland. station is situated in a natural setting, and the The shooting sports program can, and should, benefit, wherever trap trajectories designed possible, from the presence of other program elements. The to mimic real-life field creation of wildlife habitat throughout the property will and flight conditions of a provide excellent conditions for real-life hunting simulations. particular game species.” Unfortunately, regardless of location, the noise associated with shooting in any form is going to influence the habits of turkey and deer. The facilities should be placed a reasonable distance from any rearing pond associated with the mallard release program. Given creative placement, areas in the lowlands set aside for live duck hunting could also be employed as simulation areas for goose, duck and teal. During the waterfowl season clay shooting will need to be kept to a minimum, but this will likely prove to a minor inconvenience given the live shooting opportunities available at that time. Any tower constructed for a pheasant release program could also support a trap machine for simulated shooting of the same type. Trails and stations associated with sporting clays courses could be constructed and situated such that they could be used for horse trails and areas of repose. Proper planning would capitalize on opportunities to have the trail system connect various use areas to one another. If shooting is conscientiously scheduled, respite cabins could be placed in close proximity to shooting platforms where they also may serve as observation decks. A lodge could be placed in close proximity to the range or course to serve as headquarters for shooting activities. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 25
  • 26. The map illustrates those areas best suited to the various types of wildlife and hunting activities envisioned on the property .26 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 27. WILDLIFE/HUNTING T he “build it and they will come” approach carries a lot of weight when promoting wildlife. One of the main reasons certain areas hold little value as hunting venues is that the conditions required by many game species are absent. The loss of habitat to development and clean farming practices has historically lead to a great reduction in many game species populations. Bag limits and hunting seasons have gone a long way to curtailing the decline, but to fully reverse that trend and jump-start the recovery of these species, man must proactively engage in alteration of the land through re-introduction of plant communities and re-establishment of environments that favor wildlife. Research and scientifically tested field trials, followed up by years of professional observation have proven that human intervention on behalf of the environment can significantly benefit wildlife. The numerous government programs mentioned earlier are designed to promote these methodologies. In a successful field sport venture, the agricultural program works hand in hand with the wildlife/hunting program by fostering the necessary habitat to support native, as well as introduced, wildlife species. Crop and timber management practices, modified to be more sensitive and beneficial to wildlife, result in healthy, productive populations of game and non- game animals. The challenge is to strike a balance in the cost/yield equation. In the case of The Fork property it is also paramount that a symbiosis be developed between the wildlife/ hunting program and the other envisioned activities. Game species for which the plantation will be tailored include deer, turkey, dove, duck and quail. Pheasant and chukar may be released as well and will undoubtedly benefit from the amendments made for the other species. Currently the property supports “In a successful field sport a sizeable population of deer and some turkey and quail. Waterfowl have been venture, the agricultural observed utilizing the rivers as flyways. The presence of corn in the agricultural program works hand in fields has been a boon to the above species as well as dove. One goal of the hand with the wildlife/ wildlife/hunting program is to increase the biomass of desired game species to hunting program by fostering near the maximum carrying capacity of the land while maintaining the health of the stock. In some species this goal may expand to include gender-balancing and the necessary habitat to trophy management. support native, as well as introduced, wildlife Overall, the plan should involve the alteration of the site’s topography, hydrology species. Crop and timber and vegetation to create suitable environments for each species. In some cases this management practices, may merely require monitoring of current conditions as they evolve. In others, a modified to be more sensitive complete retooling of existing site features may be in order. In between the two extremes are processes and applications such as setting aside field edges for native and beneficial to wildlife, plant communities, introduction of warm-season grass species and soft mass result in healthy, productive plants, developing impoundments, and instituting integrated pest management and populations of game and a controlled burn program. In fact all of these, and many other prescriptions, will non-game animals. The likely comprise a successful wildlife husbandry effort. challenge is to strike a balance in the cost/yield All of this comes at a cost. For the wildlife/hunting program to be successful many standard agricultural practices will have to be altered. Planting and harvesting equation.” times will need to be scheduled to preclude nest disturbance. Harvesting heights for hay and other crops will need to be sensitive to the needs of the animals utilizing the fields for cover. Pesticide applications will have to be abandoned or adjusted, and carefully monitored, to avoid poisoning of wildlife. And activities that generate significant noise will have to be regulated and directed to areas where the least impact on wildlife is experienced. To bring The Fork property up to the high standards desired, a portion of the cash crop fields will need to be removed from production. Typically the impact is minimal in that those areas best set aside for wildlife habitat tend to be those areas least productive from an agricultural perspective. Each effort to increase the wildlife population will bring with it a commensurate increase in predator populations. Those species having the greatest impact on game species include hawks, skunks, opossum, raccoons, foxes, and snakes. Management of predator species is permitted within strict guidelines. However, studies have yet to prove that reducing predator populations has a significant impact on the success of many gamebird species. The operative word in the wildlife program is “encouragement.” The following is a brief description of each species, their habitat requirements and the envisioned program particular to them. “The loss of habitat to development and clean farming practices has historically lead to a great reduction in many game species population.” The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 27
  • 28. Deer Program Areas The map indicates those areas where food plots and evergreen stands could be installed. In addition, it is recommended that all old fencing be dismantled and removed unless absolutely necessary. Deer will roam the entire property and benefit tremendously from activities attendant to all of the other programs. Arrangements should be made with the farmer to leave a small percentage of the cash crops standing in the field and to discourage disturbance of newly established transitional edges. As the hardwood ravines mature many more trees will reach mast-bearing age thereby increasing the deer carrying capacity of the property.28 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 29. DEER W hite-tailed Deer are considered the most popular big game species in North America. They are hardy, prolific creatures that range over a wide area. In the warm months they seek out cool shady glens in which to rest. When cold weather approaches they look for evergreen thickets for shelter from the elements. At certain times of the year, and when the intrusions are infrequent, they will bed down in fields of tall grass. When they are not resting, like most ruminants, they forage almost continuously on tender grasses, forbs, berries, vines, lichens, mushrooms, leaves, twigs, buds and bark of trees, and acorns. In the spring and summer lactating females require water daily, otherwise deer can go for several days without water, gaining needed moisture from foodstuffs. In this same period deer can experience stress due to the lack of natural high-quality forage. In the fall and early winter seeds, berries and nuts mature providing deer with ample food. This cornucopia is necessary as deer expend a great deal of energy during the fall mating season, or rut. Once the rut is over deer begin the arduous task of surviving the winter. It is during this period that deer have the most difficulty finding food. Hard-mast trees, and to a lesser degree soft-mast trees and shrubs, are the mainstay of deer populations through the winter. Deer are opportunistic and will supplement, or even supplant, their native diets with agricultural crops when palatable options are present. Food plots have proven successful in encouraging healthy deer populations. Given the hardiness of the species, the best course of action is to recognize the shortcomings of a property with regard to deer habitat and take steps to manage native vegetation in a way which allows it to gradually improve over time. If native conditions require significant improvement, food plots will prove invaluable to sustaining herd health. As the deer population increases, management will become more sophisticated. Gender-balancing through calculated harvesting of does and bucks, and establishing antler-slot restrictions on buck harvests are just two of the tools through which wildlife managers cultivate healthy, trophy herds of white-tailed deer. The deer program is not expected to have a significant impact on other on-site activities. Given the overall vision for the plantation, one should expect to see deer roaming freely over the entire tract. While they will tend to cull a certain percentage of cash crops, the provision of designated food plots will serve to minimize damage. As previously stated, The Fork property already supports a substantial deer herd. In fact, Stanley, Anson and Montgomery Counties already have relatively high populations of deer, generally exceeding 40 deer per square mile. Until last year, the state record buck, a non-typical scoring 208 Boone & Crockett points, was taken in Anson County. In an effort to increase the local herd, maximize health and antler production, and encourage deer to remain on the property the following steps will likely prove beneficial: Encourage crop plantings of corn and soybeans as warm-season crops in commercial fields Leave small portions of warm-season cropland edges unharvested. Continue installation of cool-season cover crops of clover, wheat and other small grains in commercial fields Set aside remote areas throughout the property for food plots of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, clover and small grains Manage existing woodlands for mast-producing hardwood trees Plant small evergreen stands in key areas of the site Establish transitional edges between fields and woodlots Abstain from removing all noxious vines such as honeysuckle and poison ivy Convert some fields to warm-season grasses and legumes Avoid disturbance within wooded ravines and hedgerows Regulate on-site hunting activity Selective harvest deer for herd gender balance and age Consistently collect harvest data The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 29
  • 30. Turkey Program Areas The map indicates those areas that could be set aside for wild turkey range. Opportunities for locating food plots and evergreen stands are also noted. It is recommended that all old fencing be dismantled and removed unless absolutely necessary. Turkey will likely range throughout the less active areas of property and will benefit tremendously from activities attendant to many of the other programs. Arrangements should be made with the farmer to leave a small percentage of the cash crops standing in the field and to discourage disturbance of newly established transitional edges. As the hardwood ravines mature and newly planted pine become established many more turkey will make The Fork their home range.30 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 31. TURKEY T he eastern wild turkey has an average home range of between 1,500 and 3,000 acres, with hens having a smaller home range than mature gobblers. Consequently, one should expect that wild turkey will disregard boundary lines just as deer and migratory animals do. It is difficult to manage wild turkey populations on small tracts of land, not only due to their range, but also because of their aversion to human activity. Small landowners can, however encourage turkeys to frequent their property by managing habitats successfully. Providing gates and other methods of controlling unauthorized access is critical to management of wild turkey populations. Free ranging domestic dogs and cats will all but ensure that wild turkey and other game species will avoid one’s property. Ideal habitat for wild turkey includes a mixture of intensively managed (thinned and burned) pine stands, natural pine forest, mixed pine-hardwood forest, mature hardwood forest (upland, bottomland or creek bottom) for travel and mast production. Openings are also an important component of wild turkey habitat. Farm and logging roads and openings in wooded areas are used for mating, brood-rearing, bugging and dusting. A variety of small and large permanent openings are needed. 25 to 50 percent of the total area to be managed for wild turkeys should be in permanent, grassy openings. Turkeys can easily be managed even on timber farms. Streamside management zones (SMZ) should be set aside when timber harvest operations take place. SMZ’s can include hardwoods and/or pines, as well as shrubs and forbs, that are left along creeks and swales to protect water quality and to provide travel corridors and mast production for wildlife. Controlled burn areas are beneficial to turkeys. They use these spaces heavily as nesting, brood-rearing and feeding areas. Burning can be conducted in pine stands as young as 10 years old. Commercial thinning operations can be conducted early (13 to 17 years) in the rotation. Salvaged pine beetle (bug) spot areas, log loading decks, skid trails, and roadsides provide openings that can be maintained in food plantings. The eastern wild turkey is a strong scratcher and a omnivore. During their first 2 weeks of life, turkey poults feed almost exclusively on insects. After 4 weeks of age, their diets gradually change to those of adults, which, over the course of the year, will feed on a wide variety of plant and animal products. Turkey are not hard to please come feeding time. Seeds, acorns, nuts, leaves, fruits, tubers, forbs, grasses, and insects all comprise a turkey’s menu. Season and availability are all that truly determine what a wild turkey may eat at any given time. Turkey populations require management as flocks increase in size and quantity. Gender-balancing through calculated harvesting of hens and toms, is desirable, but because foraging wild turkey do minimal damage to their environment, a sophisticated harvesting approach is less important than with other species such as deer. Efforts to encourage wild turkey are not expected to have a significant impact on other on-site activities. In fact, many of the conservation measures instituted for wild turkey will benefit other desirable game species. Further, wild turkey will take advantage of other program improvements. Food plots for deer and edge plantings for quail, for instance, will be used by wild turkey. Care will have to be taken to keep noise generation to a minimum in those areas set aside for intense wild turkey management. As previously stated, wild turkey already occupy The Fork property. As the timber matures and conservation measures are put in place the wild turkey population should increase dramatically. A spring gobbler season will open in 2000 for the first time in many years in Stanly County. In an effort to encourage wild turkey to reside on the property and ensure their good health the following steps will likely prove beneficial: Encourage continuation of commercial crop farming operations with modified methodologies Leave small portions of warm-season cropland edges unharvested. Continue installation of cool-season cover crops of clover, wheat and other small grains in commercial fields Set aside remote areas throughout the property for food plots of chufa, ladino clover and small grains Manage existing woodlands for mast-producing hardwood trees Plant evergreens within hardwood forests Plant pure evergreen stands in key areas of the site Establish transitional edges between fields and woodlots Institute a controlled burn program Set aside remote wooded areas a quiet zones Regulate on-site shooting activity Establish harvest limits appropriate to the turkey population Consistently collect harvest data The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 31
  • 32. Dove Program Areas The map indicates those areas that could be managed effectively for dove without interfering with other program activities.32 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 33. DOVE M ourning doves are small game birds that usually migrate through the Southeast from early fall through winter. Many doves spend the spring and summer in the Southeast. Doves are often seen on sand and graveled roadsides and in gravel pits where they acquire “grit” (small bits of gravel and larger grains of sand) to help grind food in the gizzard. Dove are largely prevalent where favored foods are located within a mile of a source of water such as a farm pond. Doves are herbivores and are characterized as seed eaters, feeding primarily on the seeds of forbs, grasses, and small grains. They prefer to light in bare areas adjacent to a food source and walk into it. Fields harvested by large machines attract doves because of the open ground and waste grain that is typically scattered about. Doves seek food by sight, prefer clean ground, and will not scratch or dig in the ground for food. Doves are easily attracted to grain fields of at least 10 acres, with larger fields attracting proportionately greater numbers of birds. Normal commercial agricultural practices associated with grain crops are more than satisfactory for attracting doves. In commercial fields, it is important that the crop be harvested for grain and not as silage. Mature waste grain lying in the fields during the Fall is critical to attracting doves to fields used for commercial purposes. To increase visitation by doves, fields or field edges can be dedicated to other crops such as proso and browntop millet, grain sorghum and sunflower. Letting these ancillary crops stand within or adjacent to commercially harvested fields holds doves longer by providing an expanded menu and a protracted feeding season on a property. Doves are federally regulated migratory birds, and one should exercise extreme care and pay close attention to federal and state regulations regarding dove field management. Consultation with wildlife biologists or enforcement officers might help avoid illegal field situations. Normal and acceptable agricultural practices typically have been considered legal dove shooting areas. Dove fields can easily be over-harvested and should be managed by using a harvest schedule. Schedules might include shooting only in afternoon hours, regulating all-day shoots (if legal) to one per week, or stopping shoots at least 1 hour before sunset to allow doves time to feed and water before roosting. Very few specific efforts are required to encourage mourning doves. The current no-till farming of corn has already established the property as dove-friendly. The presence of two small ponds on the property reinforces its desirability to the species. Certain fields could be set aside specifically for dove hunting, but this is unnecessary. If the large fields in the floodplain and/or one field in the upland region are planted largely in corn or other small grain, then doves will continue to frequent the property. On the edges of fields to be used for dove hunting it is recommended that the ancillary grain crops mentioned above be installed and left unharvested. These edge plantings will also benefit other game species as well. In dove hunting, the more guns, the better. This keeps flocks of incoming birds moving across the landscape. In fields to be hunted for dove, try to dedicate locations within or along the edge of the fields for shooters to occupy. They should be placed a safe distance from one another and in a configuration where a shot by one hunter drives the birds toward a second emplacement. In an effort to encourage dove to frequent the property and entice them to stay in the vicinity for an extended period the following steps will likely prove beneficial: Encourage continuation of commercial crop farming operations Plant ancillary grain crops at the edges of dove hunting fields and leave standing Provide cleared or harvested areas adjacent to food sources Maintain accessible sources of water within close proximity to dove feeding areas Dedicate shooting locations within and at the edge of dove fields Regulate on-site shooting activity to certain days and parts of a day Consistently collect harvest data The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 33
  • 34. Quail Program Areas The map indicates those areas that could be developed as quail habitat. Quail will likely populate any area supporting proper conditions. Supplemental plantings of small grains and legumes may be necessary to jump-start the development of proper quail habitat. Adjustments to the commercial farming harvest schedule and pesticide program are necessary.34 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 35. QUAIL U nlike all of the other game animals described in the plantation program, quail are the only species that does not migrate or range at large. Quail are social birds and form groups, or coveys, of 10 to 30 birds. Each covey may have a home range as large as 40 acres, but they will stray from their area if habitat requirements are not met. Quail are an easy game bird to manage on smaller tracts of land. However, population numbers have been declining over the last 50 years, with a marked decline having taken place over the last two decades. To a large extent, this decline can be attributed to changes in farm demographics. As the scene shifted from small family farms with patchwork fields to large commercial farms with expansive fields and fewer fences and hedgerows, quail habitat began to gradually disappear. Bobwhites are an “edge” and “early-successional” species, meaning that they live at the interface of open and wooded land and require a mosaic, or blend, of several types of habit in a relatively small area. Providing the right mix of habitat to meet their needs is the most critical factor in successful quail management. Conditions for quail can be improved by eliminating fescue and other dense grass species, mixing habitats and by creating transitional zones in the habitat. A transition is an intermediate habitat between two types of habitat. Natural grassy borders where fields meet a treeline, along fence and hedgerows, and adjacent to drainageways all are prime habitat for quail. Broad expanses of warm-season grasses, legumes and forbs maintained in open timber also attract quail. Quail use these types of coverts for all of their basic needs; feeding, nesting, brooding and cover. Quail also benefit from having small patches of bare ground adjacent to these covers. They use these areas for dusting and affording their young an opportunity for easy bugging. Disking and/or controlled burning a percentage of each covert on a three-year rotational basis has been shown to encourage the best mix of vegetation for quail. Bobwhite quail are omnivores, eating animal and plant matter. Quail chick diets consist primarily of insects the first several weeks of life. After about 8 weeks, diets approach that of adults with insects comprising roughly 20% of intake and the remainder consisting of seeds, fruits, acorns, forbs, and grasses/green matter. Numerous wild plants, trees, and shrubs provide food sources for bobwhites. A mix of vegetation that attract insects and produces forage and seeds can be beneficial through a large part of the year, especially during the late summer, when nesting and brood rearing are complete. Quail will not venture far out into a large, open field to feed due to lack of cover. They are not strong scratchers and therefore cannot take advantage of food that occurs in heavy cover. Dense vegetation also limits the ability of young quail to negotiate through their environs. In the Southeast, free water is not generally considered a critical factor for bobwhite quail habitat. Although quail will drink available water, they can retain enough water from fruits, dew on foliage, and insects to meet their needs. To ensure the most productive conditions for quail the following steps will prove beneficial: Encourage continuation of commercial crop farming operations but with a wider variety of crops Leave small areas of commercial crops unharvested Establish 30-foot buffer zones alongside ditch banks, roadsides, or fence rows Plant rows of shrub lespedeza, honeysuckle, or muscadine on both sides of fence and hedgerows Allow field edges to grow up in native transitional plants – Encourage irregular con- figurations Leave small pockets of open ground adjacent to field edges Remove hardwoods that encroach into field borders using the foam brush or other method Set aside smaller fields as food plots by planting a cover crop of wheat and ladino clover and refrain from harvesting Thin-out pure pine stands and plant warm-season grasses and legumes to use as groundcover Open up sapling/pole stands and windrow slash into brush piles - Allow a buffer to grow up around the brush pile Institute a 3-year, rotational controlled burn program on all quail habitat Establish harvest limits to 2-3 birds per covey Consistently record release statistics and collect harvest data The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 35
  • 36. Mallard Program Areas The map indicates those areas suitable for a mallard release operation. Release ponds are located in upland areas and duck marshes are placed in floodplain. Water to flood marshes can be extracted from the adjacent rivers.36 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 37. MALLARD W aterfowl are federally regulated, migratory species, and most nest from the northern tier of the United States into Canada. Ducks, geese, swans, and coots are a few of the categories recognized within the waterfowl spectrum. Of these, the mallard is the most popular species of waterfowl in the Southeast. Mallards are herbivores and have diverse diets of grasses, forbs, seeds, fruits, acorns, cultivated crops, and aquatic plants. Mallards are further characterized as “dabbling” or puddle ducks, and feed in shallow water. Cover, food, and shallow water are the three main habitat requirements critical to successful waterfowl management. The mallard release program envisioned for The Fork property is a program started by a group of conservationists interested in increasing waterfowl populations and enhancing the traditions of waterfowl hunting. Unlike traditional programs where pen-raised birds are released each day and rounded up and returned to the pens in the late afternoon, the envisioned approach calls for the rearing of birds in open ponds. The release site, which also serves as a rearing pond, is developed or adapted from existing impoundments. The preference is to locate the rearing pond in an area where no human contact is expected to avoid domestication. Ponds can be small and should have open, gently sloping shorelines to allow the ducks to easily enter and exit the water. If possible, the pond should be placed in an area away from any trees that may harbor raptors. Islands can be added to the pond to allow ducks to retreat from ground-dwelling predators. Locating the pond away from other activities is also beneficial. In late July or early August, four to six week old ducklings are released onto the rearing pond. The young, flightless and gregarious birds are fed at this location and, as a result, remain close at hand. At the age of nine weeks the birds have grown enough adult feathers to begin developing their flight skills. During September they will go from short flights across the pond to flying short sorties around the property. At this time, landowners begin to blend corn, sorghum and other grains into the feed to acquaint the young birds with the foods that will be prevalent in the soon to be flooded duck marshes. By the time October rolls around the ducks will be ready to make extended flights and flocks of wild ducks and geese will begin their migration through the area. This is the time to begin flooding the duck marshes. The duck marshes are man- made areas designed as duck habitat from which the hunting will take place. Ideally they will provide a combination of food, water and cover in configurations and quantities capable of holding ducks, both wild and released, over the winter. The final grading for the marsh will result in flooded fields with water depths of between two feet and six inches. The marshes should be designed to have irregular edges, subsurface modulations, and even islands. Crops will have been planted in specific locations throughout the area to be flooded according to their height and planned water depths. Corn, millet, sorghum and chufa are plants that, in combination, will provide a bountiful mix of food for ducks throughout the winter months. Water is either redirected or pumped into the marsh from available sources. To extend the productive season of these marshes, several ponds could be sluiced in series, allowing marshes to “come on line” over a period of weeks. Once the marshes are flooded and the season approaches, the ducks are no longer be fed at the release pond. Eventually, the hungry birds depart and presumably take up residence in the marshes. Because of the promising habitat within the marshes, wild ducks and geese may also choose to stop over in the marshes. Once the legal waterfowl season opens, hunting can begin. The hunting activity alerts the ducks to a new danger. Many of those not harvested choose to leave. Others remember the comfort and security of the release pond and choose to return there when not feeding. After the season is over and all is said and done, roughly 25% of the released mallards will eventually be harvested. Of those, 15% can be expected to be harvested on site the first season. Of the 9 to 10% which are harvested off site, roughly half will be harvested outside the state. At the close of winter the ponds are drained in preparation for a new planting season and the cycle begins again. The following conditions and measures are critical to success of a mallard release program: Set aside an remote area for the construction of a release pond Construct the pond according to specifications Avoid unnecessary contact with ducks – Incorporate grain into feed at proper time Design and develop a marsh complex with proper grades, water supply and drain structures Plant desirable grain crops within and around marsh limits according to mature plant height and planned water depths – Do not harvest Create real-life shooting venues in the form of blinds on the edge and within the marshes Knock down areas of mature crops to create open water zones prior to flooding fields Flood fields and discontinue feeding ducks at release site at proper times Limit hunting to certain days and times according to duck response to shooting activity Use dogs to retrieve killed and wounded birds Drain fields in time to allow for Spring replanting Consistently collect harvest data The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 37
  • 38. Pheasant Program Areas The map indicates those areas that could effectively host a pheasant release operation. These areas could also be used for other hunting activities and sport clays venues. They should be somewhat segregated, yet conveniently accessed, from residential and equestrian areas.38 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 39. PHEASANT T he hunting program at The Fork calls for the inclusion of a driven-pheasant simulation shoot. Tower releases are the primary means of achieving this simulation. Shooters are typically placed some distance from a tower from which live birds are released. These birds then fly over a hedgerow or other physical features in the direction of a series of shooting locations. The incoming presentation of game provided by this process is supposed to imitate conditions typical of a European driven shoot. In true driven shoots game is “driven” toward a series of gun emplacements, or butts, where a shooter and his loader are stationed. Beaters waving flags, at times accompanied by hunting dogs, move purposefully through fields known to hold countless birds. As they march toward the butts birds take to the air, flying away from the oncoming beaters. The birds fly quickly, and in great waves, in the direction of the waiting hunters. The loaders quickly reload one gun while the shooter is using another to dispatch his quarry. The sport has a long history as a sport of noblemen in Europe. As one could expect, breach-loading double-guns are the only arms considered respectable enough to use in a driven shoot. European driven shoots are massive operations to coordinate, involving fifty or more people and massive numbers of birds are shot during each shoot. At The Fork it is expected that the tower pheasant shoots will be a much easier program to execute. Fewer guns will likely be deployed at any given time and there will be no need for beaters. Given the topography and vegetation of the site it may not be necessary to even construct a tower as such. Butts could be placed below and around one of the bluffs adjacent to the floodplain. At the top of the bluff a small pit or enclosure could be created within which the birds could be released. Minor clearing on the bluff could take place to open up flight paths toward the bottomland. As the birds make their way over or through the trees and down to the crop fields they will provide wonderful sport for those waiting below. These releases could be scheduled to occur during the first half of the day, and, given proper harvesting techniques in the lower crop fields, those birds surviving the morning shoot could be rough-shot after lunch by smaller parties with dogs. The following conditions and steps are necessary to create a respectable driven shoot simulation: Establish an elevated location for bird release and install safety measures to protect gamekeepers from shooting activity during release operation Provide adequate opportunity for the birds to fly in the desired direction through clearing and release site orientation Create real-life shooting venues in the form of hay bale, turf or stone butts near the base of a hill or beyond a hedgerow in reasonable proximity of the release site – Connect with paths Use dogs and/or manual labor to retrieve killed and wounded birds Consider rough-shooting pheasants in strip-harvested field sections during the afternoon of releases Consistently collect harvest data The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 39
  • 40. Residential Program Areas Farm Manager’s House Farm Manager’s House Main Residence Farm Manager’s House Stable Manager’s House Respite Main Residence Cabin Respite Cabin Main Residence Stable Manager’s Apartment Main Residence Stable Manager’s Respite Main Residence Apartment Cabin Stable Manager’s Apartment Respite Cabin Respite Lodge Cabin Main Residence Lodge Respite Cabin Lodge The map identifies those locations that would be considered reasonable sites for the main house, a lodge, guest cottages and farm manager/farm-hand housing. Accommodations for stable personnel are to be located in the stable complex.40 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 41. RESIDENTIAL A s a plantation the property will present numerous architectural faces to the visitor. It is important that an over-riding architectural approach be adopted that can be executed in a manner that is at once appropriate and attractive. Thematically the structures could be similar, or a broad historical vocabulary that exudes the ambiance of a farm developed over time may be employed. The property has a rich cultural heritage which appears to be worthy of architectural re-creation. Replicas of Colson’s Mill and the ordinary could be designed in a way that is historically befitting, yet original and functional. Resurrecting the past through architecture is viewed as a respectful means of raising cultural awareness of a place while adding intrinsic value beyond each structure’s main function. Within the architectural program, the residential aspect need not be the most obvious or ostentatious. In fact, residential uses may actually play a modest role in the overall program. What is critical is that those units which will house the owner, his family and guests be tasteful, comfortable, convenient and accommodating. To accomplish this, exemplary design must be coupled with employment of low-maintenance and ecologically-sound methods and materials, thoughtful placement within the landscape, respect for the functional relationships of each residence to the other land uses, and consideration for privacy, security and ease of access. It may be advisable to involve a number of architects with different areas of expertise; allowing each to focus on their specialization, while at the same time bringing to the project a varied perspective that would enrich the end product. Plans call for the provision of several options for accommodations outside the scope of the main residence. Guests quarters have been discussed as possibly taking several forms including a lodge and respite cabins. As mentioned previously, the lodge, while primarily a gathering place, could be designed to provide overnight accommodations of a congregate nature. Groups of people attending private shooting, hunting or equestrian events could take advantage of the social component of this form of lodging. Cabins, would appeal to those desirous of a more independent private setting. Consideration should be given to providing on-site housing “Resurrecting the past opportunities for some of the key people employed on through architecture is the plantation. Horses require attention and monitoring viewed as a respectful several times each day. Where horse husbandry operations means of raising cultural are included, at certain times it is important to have a awareness of a place while trained professional nearby 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Providing full-time residential accommodations for the adding intrinsic value stable manager is a high priority. Grooms and veterinarians beyond each structure’s pulling long shifts during labor could benefit from making main function.” available cots or bunks in a designated area adjacent to the stalls. Unless the owner is prepared to play an extremely active role on site, a farm manager, who oversees the day to day operation of the plantation, will likely be employed. Insofar as his charge will be supervisory, he (she) will not be required to lodge in close proximity to any particular farm function. In fact, one of the best locations for a farm manager’s residence is near the entrance to the farm. The farm manager’s job can be a 24-hour a day responsibility. Visitors and contractor’s arrive in need of direction and instruction at all hours and their being able to intuitively locate the source of needed guidance is a real plus. Placing the farm manager’s house near the main entrance also provides a level of security and monitoring not offered by other locations. As gatekeeper he is best able to know of the comings and goings on the property he is responsible for. Beyond the farm manager’s house, there may be value in offering workers on the property a housing option. These people are typically paid a modest wage and consequently have a relatively low standard of living. Employer-provided housing, in lieu of a reasonable percentage of pay, could serve to attract and retain valuable workers. It is important to note that strict covenants regarding the use, maintenance and appearance of the accommodations and plantation facilities need to be in place for this program to be successful. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 41
  • 42. 42 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 43. LAND USE CONCEPTS Concept A Concept B B ased on the reaction from the program specialists, it was obvious that The Fork property offered ample opportunity for the development of any number of the individual programs. The key step, however, was to determine if the property would accommodate the incorporation of all of the programs into a cohesive, functional, safe, securable, sensitive and aesthetically pleasing plantation plan. Having digested the various programmatic requirements, the effective locations for each element and the logistical considerations attendant to a multi-use facility, the team set about the task of establishing use areas on the property and arranging the various program elements on the site. Certain elements, such as duck marshes and equestrian cross-country courses, have considerable physical requirements that greatly restricted where they could be placed. Safety and security were important considerations when deciding on a location for activities such as sporting clays, and efficiency was likewise critical to the labor-intensive equestrian program. In the end, it was not exceedingly difficult to arrive at several concepts that incorporated all of the program elements in a logical format. And while we expect that the product of any subsequent, in-depth study may yield a different design altogether, what such a statement does say is that the property not only accommodates all of the programs on-site, but, beyond that, it offers a degree of flexibility in the arrangement of these elements. The development concepts which follow are representative of our teams initial thoughts regarding the combined use of the property. Their main purpose is to illustrate that The Fork property can be developed in accordance with the vision in a variety of ways. They represent the first step in the design process and should be regarded as preliminary. Further analysis, refinement of the programs, prioritizing, and partnering as a team are all essential to arriving at a final master plan for the property. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 43
  • 44. Pasture Run-in Run-in Shed Shed Farm Manager’s House Main Stable Complex Show Arena Ring Food Day Plot Paddocks Crop Fields 2 Mile Course Hay Fields Release Pond Observation Draught Horse Platform Stables Respite 1 Mile Course Main House Food Respite Plot Respite Shooting Sports Crop Fields Lodge Release Tower Duck Marshes44 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 45. CONCEPT AT his concept is regarded as having a slight equestrian bias insofar as most of the upland areas have been set-aside for horse-related activities. Upon entering the property from the north, the second field to the west has been set aside as a location for the main stable complex. The compound is envisioned to include stables, storage and equipment barns, an array of day paddocks and possibly an indoor arena. Directlyacross the main road is a show ring and pasture. A farm manager’s house is suggested at the current location of the occupied brick ranch home. Thenorthern two fields have been designated as pasture in support of this facility and include run-in sheds.The large dome-shaped field located on the property’s highest elevation in the center of the tract is recommended as the nexus of the cross-countrycomponent of the equestrian program. One of the team’s experts dubbed this prominent location “Equestrian Hill.” Two fields to the immediatewest are to combine with this site to host two separate cross-country courses. The first, a one-mile route, will support novice and intermediateevents while the longer of the two, at two miles, can serve as the advanced venue. Both fields could be adequately observed from the high ground onEquestrian Hill if they are converted from tall cropfields to hay production. To enhance course visibility, a spectator’s platform could be constructedat this location.It is recommended that a mix of warm-season grasses and legumes be considered for the hay crop inboard of the courses. The product would behighly nutritious and beneficial to wildlife, particularly ground-nesting birds. A stand of cool-season grass should constitute the courses themselves.Outboard of the courses, a variety of WSG’s, legumes, grain crops and shrubby forage could be established in the orphaned open ground to createsuperb wildlife habitat. Quality habitat could also be developed by allowing native vegetation to populate these areas. A mix of approaches should beconsidered. For the record, the edges of all of the fields are seen as set-asides for habitat creation.The two courses are shown overlapping on Equestrian Hill in an ellipse that lies halfway up the slope. The upper half of the field is envisioned toserve as the infield of the course. On the downhill perimeter of the course, sites for the main house, a draught horse stable, associated barns and daypaddocks have been identified.The westernmost reaches of the hayfields split off into fingers of open ridge which, given selective clearing, could provide outstanding views west,over the Rocky River, to the rolling hills beyond. Because these sites are somewhat secluded and adjacent to the cross-country courses, they appearto be suitable locations for respite cabins catering to those traveling with horses. Small turn-out facilities could be established in the cleared recessesadjacent to each cottage enabling visitors to afford their horses much needed relief from the confines of a trailer.Only one upland field is not dedicated specifically to equestrian use. It is the third field to the east, located just north of Equestrian Hill. On thisconcept it has been earmarked as a crop field; a place where row crops of corn or sorghum could be planted. These crops, when partially harvested,could offer a satisfactory setting for upland dove and released bird shooting, particularly when bottomland conditions are too wet. As a largelyprivate area, the plentiful crops will serve as a supplement to smaller food plots and offer the deer and turkey hunter good sport. The grain from theharvesting process could be used to supplement equestrian diets. The abandoned homeplace and barn could be demolished and the area used forlong-term storage of infrequently used farm implements and bulk storage of supplies.The wooded slopes that separate the upland fields from the bottomland are scheduled to support a variety of uses as well. Riding trails could weavein and through these zones connecting various use areas. Certain remote ridges that are currently forested could be timbered to allow the installationof wildlife food plots and pine stands. In the treed swales a series of opportunities exist to create fishing ponds and a duck rearing site. Ponds locatednear important structures such as stables and residences could be installed with dry hydrants that would assist in any fire-fighting effort.The shooting sports venue has been placed on the southernmost ridge and encompasses both open and wooded land as well as flat and slopingground. The location is somewhat remote and access to it is easily monitored from other areas of the property. It is an area away from all of theother farm activities and the varied terrain and vegetative conditions are conducive to the creation of a wide variety of shooting configurations andtarget presentations. A tower constructed on a bluff in this zone for the purpose of releasing pheasants could also double as a trap tower. From hereclays could be thrown across a skeet range as part of a five-stand set-up, over treetops onto a pond as a “greentree” simulation and down into the duckmarshes to imitate incoming waterfowl. If a lodge or congregate accommodation is envisioned, this would be an excellent location for it. It couldserve as a meeting place and headquarters for numerous field activities.The bottomland areas are currently planted in seasonal crops and could, for the most part, remain that way. Tall crops that can withstand periodicinundation by flood waters are best suited to these areas. It is recommended that, at the edges of these fields, grains such as sorghum, millet andsunflowers be planted to diversify the food spectrum available to wildlife. As a result, these areas would also provide excellent hunting opportunitiesfor deer, turkey and dove. By modifying the topography slightly and orchestrating crop plantings in certain areas, seasonal wetlands could be createdin this zone. Aside from the ducks themselves, these temporary marshes are the key component of the mallard release program. The same cropsdescribed above would be planted in the areas to be flooded as well. However, these areas would not be harvested. Rather, they would be selectivelychopped and subsequently flooded to create a wetland setting irresistible to waterfowl. The standing crops and ample water would encourage ducks,both released and wild, to over-winter at this location providing quality waterfowling. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 45
  • 46. Crop Fields Farm Manager’s Run-in House Shed Run-in Food Shed Plot 2 Mile Course Respite Main House Run-in Shed Hay 1 Mile Fields Course Observation Draught Horse Platform Stables Show Main Stable Ring Food Respite Plot Release Complex Pond Day Crop Paddocks Fields Duck Marshes Shooting Lodge Sports Respite Release Crop Tower Fields Duck Marshes46 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 47. CONCEPT BI n Concept B, the bias toward equestrian pursuits is diminished and emphasis is placed on balancing the use of upland areas between agricultural, hunting and horse-related activities. The cross-country functions with their unique physical requirements still occupy Equestrian Hill and the adjacent fields, however, the main stables, arena, storage and equipment barns and day paddocks have all been centralized at this onelocation. The northernmost fields on both the right and left have been designated as crop fields. The farming practices here would, of course, bemodified so that the perimeter of the fields could be managed as edge habitat for wildlife. The next two fields on either side of the main road, andthe long field just north of Equestrian Hill are noted as pasturage with run-in sheds. At the juncture of the crop fields and pasture, a farm manager’shouse is still recommended at the current location of the brick ranch residence.A site for the main residence has been located back from the main road on the high point of the large field across from Equestrian Hill. From thislocation a strong visual connection can be realized between these two key areas and views to the west can be realized. The shooting sports facilitiesremain in the same vicinity. In addition to a lodge, a respite cottage has been suggested in this location. It could be located immediately adjacent tothe existing pond. Two other cottage locations could be established; one at the juncture of the two ford roads and the other at the site of the oldhomeplace. Placing them in these locations with appropriate architectural treatments would enable one to give each its own identity that could befurther tied into the historic fabric of the property.The transitional slopes, again, serve as locations for the establishment of horse trails, food plots and pond sites. They also provide needed bufferbetween the equestrian facilities and shooting venues. Similarly, the bottomlands continue to provide opportunities for commercial crop farmingas well as wildlife habitat. In this concept, the duck marshes are divided into two separate locations; the idea being that ducks shot upon at onelocation may very well choose to fly to the other marsh rather than leave the property altogether. Simultaneously placing shooters in blinds at bothimpoundments could dramatically increase harvest ratios.This concept appears to enjoy the benefits of having all of the equestrian components centrally located while maintaining substantial acreage foragricultural crops and providing expanded opportunities for hunting in the upland areas. In Concept B, the northern half of the property, wherethe subject site abuts adjacent development, has been totally set-aside in passive agricultural uses. The active use areas are all located well inside theproperty limits where they can be more efficiently monitored. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 47
  • 48. 48 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 49. SUMMARY I n review, the purpose of this study was to determine if the subject site lends itself to the creation of a conservation-based plantation. To be successful it must be capable of accommodating its owner and guests graciously, as well as supporting agriculture, equestrian pursuits, a wide variety of hunting opportunities, and other related activities in a configuration that is pleasing to the eye, sensitive to the environment and highly functional. To begin, experts in a variety of fields were brought to the property to review it in light of the overall vision as well as with an appreciation for the various programmatic requirements specific to their area of expertise. Each offered their observations, recommendations and guidance particular to their charge. While this was being done, the property was undergoing a cursory inventory and analysis of its physical attributes that would, in part, guide any future design efforts. Input from the specialists was received and reviewed in light of the results from the analysis, and used to arrive at several plantation development scenarios. The two plans represented, although conceptual in nature, serve to illustrate that numerous opportunities exist for the creation of a high-caliber facility. The reason for this is that the team felt that the property posed few, if any, restrictions or limitations on the programming. While certain programs required a dedicated set-aside of property, in most cases it was discovered that one or more programs were able to make use of the same areas and that improvements instituted for one would typically benefit another. Every discussion, research activity, or composition effort seemed to spawn a series of new ideas, each more unique and rewarding than the next. It became obvious that The Fork, with its combination of beautiful setting, diverse topography, wonderful history, and extreme privacy, is a canvas upon which one could create a premier farm facility. Any serious design effort should be preceded by the acquisition of accurate boundary and topographic information on the property. After creating an appropriate base map, more sophisticated studies of the site should be undertaken to build on the “horseback” analyses performed for this cursory study. Given the historical significance of the property and the latent value intrinsic to same, an archeological effort may want to be included as an integral part any subsequent work scope. Speaking for the entire team, given our current knowledge of the vision, and the attendant needs of the programs comprising it, we can do nothing other than highly recommend The Fork as a exemplary location for the Plantation. Should The Fork be deemed worthy of further study, we would be pleased and honored to have the opportunity to continue our involvement. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 49
  • 50. 50 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 51. TABLESTable 1General Soil ParametricsTable 2Soil Suitability for Wildlife HabitatTable 3Agricultural Yields per Acre of Crops/PastureTable 4Physical Limitations of SoilsTable 5Utilization of Agricultural CropsTable 6Sporting Clays Course Design Considerations The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 51
  • 52. TABLESTable 1: General Soil Parametrics Soil Flooding Bedrock Erosion Name Frequency Duration Months Depth Hardness Hazard Badin None --- --- 20" - 40" Soft Moderate (BaF) Chewacla Occasional Brief Nov - Apr >60" --- Slight (Ch) Congaree Frequent Brief Nov - Apr >60" --- Slight (Co) Georgeville None --- --- >60" --- Moderate (GfB2) Goldston None --- --- 10" - 20" Soft Moderate (GoF) Tatum None --- --- 40" - 60" Soft Slight (TcD2) Table 2: Soil Suitability for Wildlife Habitat Soil Potential for Habitat Elements Potential as Habitat for Name Grain Grasses Wild Hardwood Coniferous Wetland Shallow Openland Woodland Wetland and Seed and Herbaceous Trees Plants Plants Water Wildlife Wildlife Wildlife Crops Legumes Plants Areas Badin Very Poor Good Good Good Very Very Poor Good Very (BaF) Poor Poor Poor Poor Chewacla Poor Fair Fair Good Good Poor Very Fair Good Very (Ch) Poor Poor Congaree Good Good Good Good Good Fair Fair Good Good Fair (Co) Georgeville Good Good Good Good Good Very Very Good Good Very (GfB2) Poor Poor Poor Goldston Very Very Fair Poor Poor Very Very Poor Poor Very (GoF) Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Tatum Fair Good Good Good Good Very Very Good Good Very (TcD2) Poor Poor Poor52 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 53. Table 3: Agricultural Yields per Acre of Crops/Pasture Soil Soybeans Corn Wheat Barley Sorghum Legume Hay Pasture Name Bu Bu Bu Bu Tons Tons AUM* Badwin --- --- --- --- --- 3.9 6.5 (BaF) Chewacla 35 130 --- --- --- 6.6 11.0 (Ch) Congaree 40 140 --- --- --- --- --- (Co) Georgeville --- 90 --- --- --- 4.5 7.5 (GfB2) Goldston --- --- --- --- --- 1.8 3.0 (GoF) Tatum 30 85 45 --- --- 4.5 --- (TcD2)*Animal-unit-month (AUM): The amount of forage or feed required to feed one animal unit (one cow, one horse, one mule, five sheep, or five goats) for 30 days.Table 4: Physical Limitations of SoilSoil Dwellings Local Roads Septic tank Pond Embankments, PathsName with and Absorption Reservoir Dikes, and and Basements Streets Fields Areas Levees TrailsBadin Severe: Severe: Severe: Severe: Severe: Severe:(BaF) slope low strength, depth to rock, slope thin layer slope slope slopeChewacla Severe: Severe: Severe: Moderate: Severe: Severe:(Ch) flooding, low strength, flooding, seepage piping, wetness wetness wetness, wetness hard to pack, flooding wetnessCongaree Severe: Severe: Severe: Moderate: Severe: Moderate:(Co) flooding flooding flooding, seepage piping flooding wetnessGeorgeville Slight Severe: Moderate: Moderate: Severe: Severe:(GfB2) low strength percs slowly slope, hard to pack erodes easily seepageGoldston Severe: Severe: Severe: Severe: Severe: Severe:(GoF) depth to rock, slope depth to rock, depth to rock, piping slope slope slope slopeTatum Moderate: Severe: Moderate: Severe: Severe: Slight(TcD2) shrink-swell, low strength depth to rock, slope piping, slope percs slowly, hard to pack slope The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 53
  • 54. TABLES Table 5: Utilization of Agricultural Crops Crop Deer Dove Duck Pheasant Quail Turkey Horses Name Alfalfa F F/N F Barley F F F F F F F Chufa F F F Clover F F F F Corn F F F F/C F F F 1 Lespedeza F F/C/N F F Millet F F2 F F Oats F F F F/C F F F Rye F F/C F F Sorghum F F F F F F Soybeans F F/C F/C F/C F/C F/C Sunflowers F F F Wheat F F F F/C F F WSGs F/C/N F/C/N F/C F (F) Food (C) Cover (N) Nesting (1) Shrub form only (2) Browntop and Japaneses varieties only54 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 55. Table 6: Sporting Clays Course Design Considerations1) At stations where only one trap location is warrented such as quail or woodcock, use of wobble trap would add appropriate element of unpredictability.2) Consider adding (phasing in) a variety of shooting positions at each station for variety and to minimize predictability.3) Be creative employing trees as shooting stops, build real butts and using flat-bottom boats as shooting venues at duck station, etc.4) Build respecting the existing environment, maximizing it’s inherent assests and embellishing same whenever possible.5) Dove, quail, partridge, woodcock and wood duck could be designated as an “early-season” course and the remainder as “late-season” venues.6) Consider building five stations (50 targets) initially and expanding to ten stations (100 targets) ultimately.7) Consider auxiliary uses for sporting clays facilities such as flyfishing instruction on ponds and streams, exercise on trails connecting stations, etc.8) Include set-asides for eventing and management space in plan.9) Institute safety standards sanctioned by NSCA and NSSA. The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 55
  • 56. 56 The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study
  • 57. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS D uring the preparation of this study we have had the privilege of working with a consortium of respected professionals who have contributed in great measure to this undertaking. At this time, we would like to take this opportunity to recognize all of those who have made a contribution. We hope that we are able to continue our relationship with them as the project progresses. Field Sport Concepts, Ltd. Robert McKee Principal-in-Charge Mark Keller Project Mangement Landscape Architecture Steven Edwards Production Coordinator Land Planning Steven Driver Civil Engineering Raymond Woolfe Equestrian Sports Programming Robert Green Agriculture Programming North Carolina State University Dr. Peter Bromley Wildlife Habitat Programming NC Wildlife Resources Commission Ken Knight Wildlife Habitat Programming Mike Seamster Wildlife Habitat Programming SC Waterfowl Association Jay Logsdon Mallard Release Programming Geoscience Group Bill Sullivan Environmental and Geotechnical Tom Hassett Environmental and Geotechnical Clegg Mabry, Attorney at Law Clegg Mabry History and Logistical Support The Sikes Family Joe Sikes Agriculture Programming Cecil Sikes, Jr. Agriculture Programming Bobby Sikes Agriculture Programming The Fork, A Plantation Feasibility Study 57