The Beaver Marsh Nature Preserve is located between Club Boulevard and Interstate 85, just behind Compare Foods off Roxboro Road, provides a beautiful oasis of green in an otherwise highly urbanized environment. Despite it ultra-urban location, the site also has a diverse array of native plants, a list of over 120 species of migratory and resident birds, as well as 10 species each of dragon and damsel flies, five species of frogs, otters, mink, and, of course, resident beavers. Recently, passing bald eagles were spotted visiting the preserve.
Of the 32.5 acres that comprise the site, 25.5 are classified as floodplain and wetland, including a ten-acre freshwater pond. The remaining seven upland acres are covered in mixed pine and hardwood forest. The small drainage area of the site indicates that very little of the storm water from adjacent impervious areas drains to the pond, limiting the amount of pollutants (oil, heavy metals from tires, etc.) present in the pond. This pond drains directly to Ellerbe Creek and provides one of the few sources of high quality fresh water entering the creek. The preserve has been placed in a permanent conservation easement with the State of North Carolina that will protect it from development and protect its ecological and water quality values in perpetuity.
The property was protected through a "bargain sale" by former Duke University and the Green Bay Packers quarterback Anthony Dilweg and a grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative provided staff support toward the acquisition of the property.
The Beaver Marsh Preserve has long been a treasured location for local residents and a popular destination of birders from throughout the Triangle region. ECWA members, community groups and local residents have held dozens of clean-ups at the site with volunteers including Colonial Village neighborhood, Navigators, REI, Duke University, several neighborhood associations and the Boy and Girl Scouts. Recently, we have added a kiosk and wooden fencing around the viewing area, and an Eagle Scout project contributed a short trail head and 2 benches. Eradication of invading exotic plants has begun. Soon, we'll be adding some additional educational signage. ECWA is currently developing a site management plan. Ultimately, we hope to add a wildlife-viewing platform to improve the nature experience while protecting wildlife habitat.
ECWA's long-term goal is to establish a string of preserves from the creek's headwaters near Bennett Place to its terminus at Falls Lake. Our vision is of a Durham where residents can simply walk or bike to a natural area from their home or place of business and can walk or bike across the watershed stopping at preserves, neighborhoods and points of interest along the way.