Horton Grove Nature Preserve
Horton Grove Nature Preserve (HGNP)– Stewardship and Management Summary
Name: Horton Grove Nature Preserve
Location: Jock Road, Durham, NC
Acreage: 708 acres
Property Description: Once part of the original 30,000 acre Stagville Plantation, this 708 acre acquisition spans both sides of Jock Road and is part of the mosaic landscape in northern Durham County linking Lake Michie, Little River Reservoir, Falls Lake, the Flat River and the Little River watersheds. The property is adjacent to the 35,000 acre US Army Corps of Engineers Falls Lake Reservoir. The site has a rich agricultural and forestry history, as demonstrated by the neighboring Division of Cultural History’s Historic Stagville.
A glimpse of the future prairie at Horton Grove: Prairie at TLC’s Temple Flat Rock in Wake County 13 months after a controlled burn on March 18, 2010.
Conservation Values: The Preserve has high conservation value as a connector to two river corridors and because of its adjacency to two large open bodies of water. The unfragmented forest connection is an important overland connection for terrestrial mammals as well as habitat for countless aviary species. The prairie restoration will provide an increased diversity of plant and animal habitat as well as attract additional migratory and resident aviary species. It will also demonstrate ecological conditions as they were prior to the arrival of European settlers.
In the 1800-1900’s, prior to TLC’s ownership, the forests on the property were cut over to make way for agriculture evidence by the stone piles and furrows visible in the woodlands. The forest that grew back is predominantly hardwood ranging from 30 -80 years old. Large contiguous hardwood stands are quickly disappearing throughout the Piedmont. There are also roughly 25-50 acres of pine plantations on the property and some naturally seeded old field pine. The forest condition is varied as the result of past land uses and forestry practices.
Horton Grove Stewardship Objectives:
1. Forest community health and resilience, including protection against invasive species
2. Water quality buffers and protection
3. Wildlife species protection, increased biodiversity, and habitat improvement
4. Prairie restoration and stewardship through prescribed burning and native plantings
5. Public access, trails and education opportunities as public nature preserve.
Public Benefit Values:
- Safeguarding Clean Water - Water Quality Protection of Streams and Waterways – more than 25,000 feet of tributaries flow through Horton Grove Nature Preserve. A majority of the streams flow into the Flat River and directly into Falls Lake Reservoir. The remaining streams flow into the Little River then into Falls Lake. The protection of this property and its streams leads to the water quality and water quantity protection of the Falls Lake Reservoir, drinking water supply to more than 500,000 people.
Protecting Wildlife Habitat – Diversity of Forest Communities The property contains a variety of forest communities including: Bottomland Hardwood Forest, Beech Slopes, Dry Mesic Hardwood Forest, planted Loblolly and reversion old field pine. The 400 acres not included in the EEP Conservation Easement are forested.
Wildlife Habitat Improvement and Protection including:
- Neotropical Migratory Birds
- Unfragmented forest habitat
- Landscape scale habitat connected to falls Lake Corps land, Lake Michie Reservoir and adjacency to other local protected lands
- Prairie Restoration – A former 25 acre pasture and possible cultivated cropland is being reclaimed from succession forest to native piedmont prairie.
- Connecting People with Nature – TLC intends to develop TLC’s first publicly accessible Durham Nature Preserve at Horton Grove. The property will contain passive natural surface trails, interpretive signage, parking and a connection between Historic Stagville and Horton Grove Nature Preserve. The Historic Stagville Plantation landscape is the working landscape backdrop for the trail network that will circumnavigate the HGNP. The trails will highlight historic interpretation, forest communities and their health, wildlife habitat, and water quality as well as the larger landscape context of land conservation in northern Durham County.
Summary of Improvements – There is a remnant old stone well house on the property, no other structures are located on this property. Jock Road, a dirt state maintained road bisects the property. The future trail system will have 8-10 miles of natural surface pedestrian trails and a publicly accessible gravel parking area. The property will contain informational kiosks, directional signage, benches and bridges for the trail system.
Ownership History: TLC acquired the property in four transactions from Arlen Park, LLC with considerable donations from 2005-2008.
Summary of Restrictions – An Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP) conservation easement is placed on approximately 308 acres of the 300-foot Horton Grove Preserve riparian buffers (600 feet including both sides of the streams) for the property’s 25,000 feet of perennial streams.
The easement allows for passive recreational uses and public access. It prohibits:
- Industrial and commercial uses
- Agricultural, timber harvesting, grazing and horticultural use
- Disturbances of natural features, plants and animals
- Construction of buildings and permanent fixtures except for signs, benches and bridges
- No pollution or alteration of water bodies and no activities detrimental to water quality
- No dumping, mineral use, excavation or dredging
- Cannot be subdivided
Potential Threats to Conservation Values or Areas of Concern
- Invasive Species
- Trash and dumping along Jock Road
- Additional threats will be identified as Nature Preserve is implemented
Relevant Inventories and Plans:
- List any inventories we have on file, ex BDR date, bird/ vegetation inventories, FMP, etc
Horton Grove Baseline Documentation Report (2007) Richard Broadwell, Triangle Land Conservancy And Edward C. Harrison, biologist and independent contractor
Horton Grove Forest Stewardship Plan (2010), David Halley
Plant List- Ed Harrison, Milo Pyne, and Bo Howes April 21st 2009
"I just really love the outdoors. For me, it’s the belief in something bigger than myself and also having the ability to leave a legacy, because this is all we’ve got."