Special Habitat Areas
The “old” pond at the Preserve, which lies on the far side of Pidcock Creek from the visitor center, was built in 1950 with funds from a Garden Clubs of America Founders Award. The pond’s design also incorporated a nearby artificial sphagnum bog that was installed 12 years earlier.
Until recently, the pond had served as an invaluable educational resource to teach visitors about aquatic plants and the many life forms associated with pond environments, including turtles, frogs and dragonflies. Unfortunately, over six decades, the pond and the system that maintained water flow to it slowly declined. In the summer of 2010, the dam on an unnamed feeder stream to Pidcock Creek deteriorated so badly that it was no longer able to effectively deliver water to the pond. In addition, leaf litter and sediment runoff from the delivery channel contributed to eutrophication and siltation of the pond ecosystem. All of these factors made the pond unviable.
The following year, the Preserve embarked upon an ambitious project to renovate the pond. Our members and donors came together to raise over $215,000 to rejuvenate the pond. Paul W. Steinbeiser Landscape Design and Construction Inc. drew up a plan to repair the dam on the feeder stream and to dredge and replant the pond.
Days before the project was scheduled to begin in late August, Hurricane Irene hit, followed a week later by Tropical Storm Lee. Damage to the Preserve from the intense flooding was extensive. Our deer fence and creek gates were completely destroyed and the pond, which lies in the Pidcock Creek floodplain, was covered by four feet of raging storm water. Nearby benches and footbridges over the feeder stream were swept away. Trails were washed out and tons of sediment were deposited in the pond bottom.
Out of this destruction, however, a silver lining emerged. Without having spent any funds on construction, the impact of the storms gave us an opportunity to meet with our engineers and designers to re-think our strategy. The consensus: if we wanted a stable, functional pond, it could not be in the present location. The development upstream in the Pidcock Creek watershed all but guaranteed future flooding events would continue to ravage any new pond we attempted to build there. A new site was required.
Although our ultimate plans are to re-establish the old pond sometime in the future, since the 2011 floods the original pond has become a fascinating study in vegetational succession. It is now a moist depression, an interesting wetland ecosystem rather than an actual pond. As a result, plants that once bordered the pond—lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), blue flag iris (Iris versicolor), Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)—have continued to colonize the former pond.