The Natural Resource Division has been working slowly over the past few years to restore natural areas on City property that have been degraded, consumed with invasive plant species, and are notoriously prone to pollution. While working at nature’s pace means working in one area over multiple seasons, the effort is well worth the result: a healthy, diverse natural system resilient to climate change, pollution, and other human and natural disturbances.
Old Fort Park Spring Branch & Pollinator Plot
Spring Branch, a small creek and spring that runs through the middle of Old Fort Park has historically been an impaired stream until about ten years ago when Murfreesboro’s Water Resources Department worked with Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation (MPRD) to change the management strategy of the riparian zone surrounding the creek. The simple practice of leaving an un-mowed 20-foot vegetative buffer along either side of the creek improved the water quality dramatically. The Natural Resource team has developed plans to improve upon this original work by developing an approximately 7-acre restored Oak Savanna system around the riparian zone, remove the invasive species that have inundated the riparian zone and install native riparian species conducive to our region.
In 2018, an active member of the local Quail Forever chapter and board member of the Water Resources Department approached MPRD about installing a native pollinator plot in one of the unused open areas on City property. The Natural Resource team took up the task. Two growing seasons of site preparation will conclude in the winter of 2020-2021. Native grass and herbaceous wildflower seeds were sown in December, 2020. This project was made possible by the City of Murfreesboro’s Parks & Recreation Department, Quail Forever, Rutherford County CROP, and the TWRA. Native seed is purchased from Roundstone Native Seed Co, providing regionally appropriate seed.
Murfree Springs Wetlands
Murfree Springs Wetlands is home to many animals and plants and is utilized by photographers and visitors to the Discovery Center. Because of its highly urbanized surroundings and history of repeat disturbance dating back to the 1800’s, this area has become increasingly stressed with invasive species and pollution. The Natural Resource team, together with Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department Maintenance and the Murfreesboro Street Department, has put together a plan to slowly restore the water garden and wetland banks to a native natural system. While this will take many years of consistent invasive removal, follow up, repeated installation of native species, and repeated removal of litter and other debris that flows in from the surrounding paved areas, we have already begun the process and with our partners, we hope to create an aesthetically pleasing and resilient native natural system.
Sinking Creek Wetlands at Oaklands Park
Sinking Creek Wetlands is another one of our natural areas that has seen the impact of urbanization. The creek itself is an impaired stream that is inundated with heavy siltation deposits and pollution inflow from the surrounding developed area. Together with students from Middle Tennessee State University and our partners at Stones River Battlefield and the Water Resources Stormwater staff, the slow and consistent removal of invasive privet, wintercreeper, and other invasive plants has opened up the understory of the wooded areas, and we are seeing the return of common native wildflowers and native saplings.
This is another project that will take many years and many hands, but the results are forthcoming.