I took an early morning walk down by Hauser Creek this week. Newly restored this past summer, the creek looks vastly different than it used to. When I inherited the land, beef cattle had lived continuously on the pastureland for two decades. By nature, cows typically wallow in rivers and streams. Hauser Creek was severely eroded and needed attention. The first change we made was to remove the cattle from the land, which created a certain buzz considering I grew up surrounded by dairy cows. The livestock grower who leased the land simply relocated the cattle to a different property.
We also began a lengthy process of application for restoration through the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program (NCEEP). Hauser Creek was eventually approved, and five (!) years later the work commenced in May. As a result of the restoration, on either side of the creek are ephemeral pools or ponds. Also known as vernal pools, these areas were intentionally created in the old creek bed. The word "ephemeral" means transient, so the pools are not permanent. They dry up periodically and usually reach their peak depth in the spring. Even though ephemeral pools are dry for part of the year, they can be swarming with life when filled with water. Frogs, toads, and salamanders are the most notable occupants, and I have also seen a blue heron and white egret.
NCEEP, the new caretaker of Hauser Creek, will install a variety of plant life, all native species, into the rich bottom land and creek banks this winter. The resulting shade from the trees and shrubs will not only help keep the water flowing clean but also provide valuable cover and protection for wildlife.
This week, winding my way back up to the barn, I spotted 3 white-tailed deer. Wildlife have embraced the new creek, and so have we.