/ Trails and Recreation,

Making the Best Better – Bracken Preserve Getting a Boost

Bracken Preserve TrailThe City Seal of Brevard touts Industry, Flowers, Recreation, Opportunity, Arts, and Education- and every single one of those values can be found in the Bracken Preserve. Just north of town and on the way to Pisgah as the crow and the mountain biker flies is our 395 acre (currently) Nature park, ready for adventure and discovery.

Access to lands like Bracken have attracted not just rental and service Outdoor Recreation businesses, but light skilled manufacturing as well. The Preserve is a place of peace, with quietude away from road noise of town. Guided hikes, self-learning opportunities and space for creativity to come on can be found in the rich coves of the forest. Then, if you are a fan of flowers like I am, Bracken also provides those too.

The ecology of Bracken is rated as “High” by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, meaning the boundaries contain good examples of natural communities. A significant natural community is a living assemblage of diverse plants and animals, geologies, climate, and hydrology, which can be increasingly rare, even unique. Considering Bracken’s proximity to the main threats to natural heritage (unmitigated development, liberal resource extractions, a changing climate and landscape) the forests and waters there remain relatively intact. Some really cool and rare plants thrive there, like the Yellow Lady Slipper orchid (Cypripedium parviflorum) and the very pleasant-smelling Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrina). Sweet Fern, not a fern at all, is the only extant species of the genus Comptonia, meaning its only other relatives are extinct, found in the fossil record. Just one thing like it in the whole world, right there in Bracken!

If you haven’t heard of Bracken, this may be why: the trails are notorious for being steep and difficult. If you’re lucky to get a parking spot, starting your ride with an immediate red-lining of your heart rate doesn’t appeal to everyone. In fact, that kind of Type 2 Fun experience can really put people off using trails all together. I’ve got two decades experience working with the general public/Nature interface, I’ve seen people literally abandon their brand new gear right at a trailhead after a difficult, frustrating experience! But that doesn’t have to be what Bracken Preserve is all about. Conserving Carolina is working with the City to add a 34 acre parcel to public ownership. While this new land holds lots of the special natural heritage similar to upstream, there is one significant benefit to people- better equitable access to trails. This land lays more so along the contours of the slopes at Bracken, with fewer steep pitches. Preliminary trail design work shows that more intermediate, dare I say easy trails are capable of being built there. People of all abilities should be able to get access to Nature. It’s the one true place where we can restore our spirits, not the Metaverse or the bar or the Mall of America!

So consider supporting this project to make our best local preserve better. Learn the 100 year old history of the Bracken Preserve at https://cityofbrevard.com/161/Bracken-Preserve. Learn about the ancient, deep-Time evolved ecosystem of the County’s natural wonders at the Library’s Reference section with Ed Schwartzmann’s text “An Inventory of the Natural Areas of Transylvania County.” Learn how you can pitch in at www.conservingcarolina.org/donate/ and no matter if you select online, phone, or mail, you can steer your donation to this Bracken addition project. I hope to see you on the trail!