Carpenters Nature Trail is approximately ¾ miles long and winds through a 16 acre woodlot on the schools property. In addition to offering teachers and students a chance to walk from the classroom onto the trail for a little exercise, it provides a rather unique opportunity for learning about nature and caring for our environment upon which we depend to sustain the quality of our lives. To have such a diverse number of naturally occurring plant and animal communities and ecotypes right here on your school-grounds is remarkable.
The Purpose of the Nature Trail
The quality of our lives depends on a healthy environment - - clean air, clean water and clean food. Major components of our environment include the abiotic parts (non-living) like soil, water, and air and living parts like plants and animals; humans cannot survive without these. Pleasant natural surroundings like our mountains, streams, forests and wildlife add to the enjoyment of our lives.
Major Features along Carpenters Trail
• a ½ acre prairie – native grasses and wildflowers
• a natural spring – flow varies from 5-20 gallons/minute
• a natural cattail marsh teaming with frogs and other wetland wildlife
• a spring-fed creek 4-6' wide which host a variety of native fish
• a constructed wetland "frog" pond – about ½ acre
• a volunteer 40- 50 year old Virginia pine forest on an old farm-field
• a volunteer patch of 5 year old Virginia pines
• mixed pine hardwood forest
• hardwood forest – mostly native oaks
• a bottomland hardwood forest – along the creek – mostly ash, sweetgum and others
• a briar/woody thicket volunteering from an old farm-field
• pasture field
• 106 species of plants - - and counting
• 81 species of wildlife (birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians) - - and counting
• Invertebrates – 14 species and counting - -
• lessons on litter
• tip-up mounds from blown-down trees
• dead and down trees for wildlife cover
• rotting log ecology
• snags and den trees for wildlife
• limestone outcropping – geology study
Centenary Creek is a physical feature (stream) in Blount County. Centenary Creek is located within the District 7 at latitute 35.6323 and longitude -84.0549. The primary coordinates for Centenary Creek places it within the ZIP Code 37803 delivery area.
A PRAIRIE is a treeless land dominated by warm season grasses and wild flowers. It is home to many species not usually found in forests.
Prairies were once common across this country, including the Southeast, because Native Americans and settlers burned the land. Fire eliminated trees and encouraged native warm-season grasses. This altered landscape attracted more game animals (like bison) to hunt for food. Later, prairies were converted to farmland and gradually disappeared.
This prairie was planted in 2010 by tilling the soil and hand-sowing native grass and wildflower seed. It is managed with an annual spring burn to prevent trees and shrubs from dominating the site. Without fire, this prairie would succeed to(become)a forest.
A WETLAND is land saturated or covered with water for part or all of the growing season. It has a very unique plant and animal community.
More than half of the natural wetlands in the United States have been drained for human use including farming and development. Constructed wetlands are built to help replace valuable habitat that has been lost due to wetland drainage.
This constructed wetland was created by building a levee (dam). The water level is raised and lowered seasonally to provide a consistent water supply and to make available a variety of foods (seeds and invertebrates) for wildlife year-round
A CATTAIL MARSH is a very unique type of wetland dominated by cattails, but also includes many other species of native plants.
Marshes and other wetlands are rare in the mountainous landscape of East Tennessee. Many have been drained or filled in for farming and development. As a result, many plant & animal communities uniquely adapted to marshes and wetlands have decreased.
This cattail marsh is dominated by cattails and Shrubby St. John's Wort. It's a good example of this rare and unique type of wetland. We are fortunate to have this marsh here at Carpenters Elementary to help us learn about wetland plants and animals.
A RIPARIAN ZONE is a corridor or strip of land running along the edge of a stream, creek, river, lake, or other body of water.
The word riparian comes from a Latin term for "bank" or "shore." The quality of vegetation growing on a stream bank directly affects the health of the stream. A riparian zone densely wooded with trees and shrubs provides the best protection for water quality.
Many fish and aquatic insects cannot survive in a stream unless it is cool and clean. Centenary Creek supports more than 12 species of fi sh and many aquatic invertebrates. Woodland riparian zones like this one are doing a great job of improving water quality.