Forestry groups announce ribbon cutting for Cantrell Creek Trail

Press release from The Pisgah Conservancy:

The Pisgah Conservancy (TPC), Trout Unlimited (TU), the U.S. Forest Service and a group of supporting organizations are pleased to announce a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the conclusion of the Cantrell Creek Project. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Wednesday Oct. 16 at the Turkey Pen Parking Lot.

Cantrell Creek is a tributary to the South Mills River, and rare species such as the Eastern Hellbender and Southern Appalachian brook trout inhabit this watershed.

The Pisgah Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Forest Service initiated the Cantrell Creek project several years ago after recognizing that the condition of the trail was putting substantial sediment into the creek. In many places Cantrell Creek Trail had merged with the stream channel, eroding soil into the stream, and in some locations the creek had been forced into a narrow channel, resulting in small landslides into the creek. The absence of riparian vegetation along the stream bank also contributed to the sedimentation issue.

The stream restoration work required heavy equipment to shore up the stream bank using boulders and “log vanes” to prevent small landslides into the creek and to create attractive pool habitat for various aquatic creatures. “The beauty of the stream restoration work that was done,” said John Cottingham of The Pisgah Conservancy, “is that the day after each section was finished you could hardly tell that there had been heavy equipment on the site.”  The contractor, under the guidance of the U.S. Forest Service hydrologist, was able to stabilize the stream bank, add woody debris to the stream (which adds habitat), add log structures to support the stabilization effort, and build additional pool and underwater structures attractive to fish and other species.  They also left sizable rocks in key locations to provide habitat for Hellbenders. “When finished it all looked like it had been there for years.”

The new trail work has been equally successful. The project took a trail that was literally in the creek and relocated it up onto the overlooking slope. It now provides a connecting trail from the Squirrel Gap Trail down to the South Mills River.

The Ribbon cutting location is the Turkey Pen Parking Lot, which is at the end of Turkey Pen Road off of NC Highway 280, approximately 5 miles northeast of the intersection of NC 280 and US 276/64.

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