Richmond Hill Woods City Park

This blog is dedicated to preserving Asheville, NC's largest wooded green space, Richmond Hill Park, from becoming an athletic field complex and National Guard armory. If you want to Save this wooded park WRITE, CALL or email all City Council and Parks and Recreation TODAY. TEll them you oppose the ball fields in this unique, hilly and amazing wooded park. There are better places for ball fields than in the exceptional city park.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Fate of Richmond Hill Woods (Richmond Hill Park)

Currently the 183 track of land that contains the disk golf course and miles of hiking and multi-use trails is slated to become a 12-15 acre armory, 4 baseball fields (2- 200ft, 2- 300ft) little league and High schools sizes, a soccer field, concession building, 140 car parking lot, and armory with 200 parking spaces and 37,500 sq feet of buildings w/ a perimeter fence around the armory.

The construction of the armory will level about 8 acres while the construction of the ball fields will level about 24 acres. Total impact zone is estimated at 30-35 acres.

My understanding of the situation is that the ball field site is being leveled in exchange for the city allowing the armory on the land. My concern about the ball fields is the extensive removal of trees and leveling of a site that is currently steeply hilly and covered in maturing canopy of trees, some hardwoods, some pines. Huge amounts of fill material must be used to level the site and the impact zone will extend hundreds of feet past the fields in fill slope.

On top of that, "edge effect" that is the zone of altered climate, decreased humidity, increased temperature variation, increased bird nest predation, that extends into the woods past the forest's edge will further impact this forest ecosystem. It will also increase invasive exotic plant intrusion into the park, further decreasing biodiversity, and habitat quality.

This site has vernal (seasonal) wetlands, creeks, springs and seepages. These wetland habitats are vital to the lives of frogs, salamanders and turtles. Only 5-10% of these vernal ponds remain in the Southern Appalachians.

I have come to love these woods as a place to hike and relax, walk my dogs and ride a bike. I watch the reds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves in autumn slowly fall form the tree tops and paint the forest floor, winter highlights the hemlocks, rhododendron, running cedar and evergreen hollies, spring brings wildflowers and blossoms of rhododendron and mountain laurel in vibrant white, pink, purple and red colors highlighting the forest in rich splashes of color. In summer these woods are an excellent place to escape the heat and slip into the cool moist shade of the forest. Smith creek produces a relaxing gurgle and a ready source of water for wildlife.

It is much of this forest that is soon to be level for athletic fields, gravel roads and an armory. I do not think that this unique and amazing park, just minutes from downtown is the best place for this athletic complex. The noise and lights will impact our neighborhood, and the increased traffic of 4 simultaneous ball games is of even more concern, as the road does not have sidewalks.

Our city is developing rapidly and the green space like this is vanishing quickly. Ironically the demand for such green spaces is increasing rapidly as well. Our goal is to support park development that doesn’t include leveling of the landscape, but works with it to enhance its uses both for people and wildlife.

Please help save this unique and beautiful park by contacting City Council, the Mayor, Parks and Recreation, and the City manager via letter, phone, or by email. Tell them how valuable these woods are as the cities largest wooded green space.

I have been contact with mountain bike organizations, Riverlink and several other non-profits and local business. The support that I have received is surprising and wonderful. We can save this park if we let Council and Parks and Recreation know how important is to save these woods for our city.

Please post any comments you have
Thank you
James Wood


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