Many of us drive past a 38-acre pasture that edges Homestead Road every evening. We see now the rolled bales of hay and the large herd of deer who come to graze there at night. The Bolin Creek Carolina North Forest surrounds the pasture. Our own little pocket-handkerchief of a forest, not vast by any means, but important to Carrboro, because like a small but well-kept house, it serves its inhabitants well. The pasture is perfect for Woodcock, one of nature’s oddest birds, a favorite bird of diehard birders and hunters alike. The pasture itself provides the tall grasses that the Woodcock uses for mating displays in January…and provides cover for nesting Woodcock. The woods are deep and leafy, with plenty of messy scrub to protect such a vulnerable ground bird. The land slopes gently downhill to Bolin Creek and a muddy wetland where the Woodcock can forage in the soft soil for earthworms and other invertebrates.
The Great Horned Owl has its nest by the edge of the pasture in the tall pines of the forest. At night, in February, the male Owl hunts the pasture for rabbits to feed its nestlings. Coyotes and foxes join him, also hunting the pasture for food. What happens when the pasture is gone and replaced by pavement? The Owl has no pasture to hunt. The Woodcock has no field for protection, nesting and displays. What happens to the water in the creek when pollutants from cars and surface flooding rush down to the water unimpeded by any grasses or trees for filtration? A creek needs vegetation to lock up pollutants. Car oils and pesticides run straight downhill to the creek unless something can filter the run-off. The act of flooding itself can erode the creek banks, which is why our creek buffers are so important. This 38-acre pasture is not simply a plot of land. It is an integral piece of an ecosystem. It provides for wildlife, and helps to clean the water that flows directly to Bolin Creek. To maintain a viable forest for wildlife, you need trees, wetland, a water source, and open grassland. The proposed development on Homestead will completely remove the grassland, will remove trees from the forest, and will damage the water of our creek. When will we learn that heavy development near natural water sources is detrimental to the environment?