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Marks Creek Corridor Site Visit, February 28, 2008, 10: 00am-5: 00pm


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Marks Creek Corridor Site Visit, February 28, 2008, 10:00am-5:00pm

Wake County tracts: OSMC-3, OSMC-2, OSMC-4 and OSMC-12


Trip participants: Jacquelyn Wallace and Jeff Humphries (NCWRC), Jeff Beane (NC Museum of Natural Sciences), Ed Corey (NCDPR), Kim Shumate and Louise Alexander (Wake Co.), and Kristen Sinclair (NCNHP).
Weather conditions: Sunny to partly cloudy, NW wind 8-10mph, 32-42º F. Last precipitation was Feb 26th.
OSMC-3 (Waypoints 001, 005, 006) (TESC) and OSMC-2: (Waypoints 007, 008, 009, 011, 012, 014) (Pleasants)
Powerline appears to have been mowed very recently. Rhus michauxii occurs on west side of powerline in dry woods at margin mowed right-of-way. Numerous (20) stems observed. Yucca (Yucca filamentosa) also occurs in dry woods outside ROW. Sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis) is abundant in powerline, occurring with common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) and pussytoes (Antennaria sp.). Near Turnipseed Rd. occurs silky dogwood (Cornus amomum), before the seep in the dirt road that leads up to the powerline.
Waypoint 001 would be an easily accessible location to sample herps and birds by ear, being along the powerline at the first wetland, but a bit away from the road.
Waypoints 005, 006, 007, 008, 009, 011, and 012 skirt the western edge of series of impoundments along an unnamed tributary to Marks Creek. All of these impoundments would be appropriate wetlands to sample for herps (esp. spotted turtle), dragonflies, damselflies, and birds. Tag alder (Alnus serrulata) is present along pond margins, with common cattail (Typha latifolia) and Juncus sp. Two invasive aquatic weeds are present throughout wetlands on Marks Creek and tributaries: parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) and hydrilla (Hydrilla vericillata). Waypoint 012 is most easily accessible downslope of the northernmost field. Salix sp. is visible out in the swamp.
Woods along the western side of these wetlands are generally young mixed pine/hardwoods, and do not appear to harbor any significant portions for further survey. Green-and-gold (Chrysogonum virginianum), Botrychium sp., Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), ebony spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron), and cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor) were the only native herbs observed. Rubus sp. is scattered throughout this area. The invasive multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) is present in some locations near WP 011.
At WP 008 and 009 occur several granite outcrops, some covered with resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides). Scutellaria sp. is present. All rock outcrops along trail should be investigated more closely for significant bryophyte species. Several black walnut (Juglans nigra) are present near this outcrop.
Another glade-like rock outcrop is present at WP 014, downhill from an old orchard. Horse nettle (Solanum carolinense) and sumac (probably Rhus glabra) grow in and along an old field.

OSMC-4 (Waypoints 002, 003, 016, 017, 018, 020) (Edgerton)
Medium-aged hardwood forests cover the lower slopes and bottomlands, and are not especially high in quality. Canopy height is about 60-80ft. with average DBH 8-12”.
The bottomland canopy contains river birch (Betula nigra), ironwood (Carpinus caroliniana), red maple (Acer rubrum), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii). Vines include Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), wild grape (Vitus sp.), and poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). Dominant herbs are the invasive species stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) and common chickweed (Stellaria media). The invasive Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) is present but is not abundant. Sphagnum moss is not abundant.
WP 002, 003, and 020 would be good locations for coverboards. The creek channel is braided throughout the bottomland containing drains, free-flowing sections, and floodplain pools. Hummocks are present with abundant downed wood. In this area numerous salamander and frog larvae were observed (see table). Rock piles are present in some locations on slopes.
Upstream, at Waypoint 020 occurs a series of pools, eddies, and waterfalls along the other unnamed tributary, where granitic outcroppings are present. This scenic portion of the creek provides habitat for two-lined salamanders (Eurycea cirrigera). Pickerel frogs (Rana palustris) could also potentially be found here. Patches of Arundinaria sp. are present in the woods along this section of the creek.
Within the bottomland the tract boundaries and inholding are difficult to discern. The inholding appears to contain a steeper west-facing slope with some rock outcroppings and a large patch of Arundinaria sp. at the base. This area should be a high priority for future survey and acquisition.
The canopy on drier slopes to the south is composed mainly of white oak (Quercus alba), post oak (Q. stellata), northern red oak (Q. rubra), black oak (Q. velutina), hickories (Carya spp.), with an understory of sourwood (Oxydendron arboreum), dogwood (Cornus florida), American holly (Ilex opaca), eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginianus), winged elm (Ulmus alata), and strawberry bush (Euonymous americana). An overall sparse herbaceous layer contains cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor), ebony spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron), Elephantopus sp., Christmas fern, downy rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera pubescens), and spotted wintergreen (Chimaphla maculata), and appears recently grazed in many locations. Common chickweed is abundant. Greenbriar (Smilax rotundifolia) is common amongst old barb-wire fences, as is Japanese honeysuckle.
A series of granitic flatrocks and outcroppings occur close to Turnipseed Rd. along the highest terrain (Waypoints 017 and 018). These outcroppings are visible on aerial photographs (2006 NAIP). Covered with multiple species of lichens and mosses, these areas should be priority for additional plant surveys. Minuartia glabra and prickly-pear (Opuntia sp.) are present.
Waypoint 016 is a location for trash pickup (metal, plastic, old vehicles).

OSMC-12 (Waypoint 019) (Medlin)
Most of the uplands on this tract, surrounding several fields in cultivation, are regenerating pine plantations. These areas should be restored to native species, if possible, over the long-term. Native warm season grasses and forbs would be appropriate for the fields if they were to be kept open.
There is a large borrow pond located at Waypoint 019 which harbors spotted salamander egg masses. This should be a location for further herp surveys.


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