Thomas Stutz told the Telegram he grits his teeth at what happened at Battle Park.
“Yeah, that’s awful,” Stutz said on Friday, giving his opinion as he showed the newspaper the results of clearing work in the park, which sits along the Tar River and right next to the United States. United 64.
The Town of Rocky Mount says that this work is part of a forest management phase initiated as part of the renovation of the park. The Municipal Parks and Recreation website said the park, after years of heavy use, was in need of renovation.
Stutz, 55, of Tarboro, is president of Friends of Battle Park. The organization is a non-profit group that seeks to preserve the ecological diversity of the vast, mostly forested area.
The Town of Rocky Mount, in a press release released Thursday updating the entire project, said the forest management portion of the renovation includes increasing sightlines, providing scenic views and creating public access to the Tar River and the rocks of the park.
Stutz told the Telegram on Friday that what happened was that the city had brought in teams of contractors with heavy equipment and cleaned up the understory of the park, which is all plant life. of the park except for the largest trees.
Stutz said the municipality, in the process, appears to have killed just about anything less than six inches in diameter.
He made it clear that he believed it was an extreme clearing which is devastating to the plant and animal life in the park.
He pointed out that the park has housed more than 600 species of plants and that the hardwoods need advanced regeneration, especially the young trees in the understory waiting to take the place of the older trees that are dying.
Stutz said it can be seen that many old standing oaks in the park will not live too long without advanced regeneration on the ground.
“And so, when they fall, they will not be replaced by another oak,” he said. “And so we’re changing the mix – the forest mix – and I don’t think anyone would like to have a park without mighty oaks.”
“I mean, I don’t think so, if people knew that was what was going on,” he said.
Battle Park was opened in 1976 as a gift from Rocky Mount Mills to the Town of Rocky Mount for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.
The Explore Nash County tourism website featured the Battle Park lands as the site of what was Rocky Mount’s first post office and the park grounds as the source of the town’s name.
The city’s press release on Thursday said the forest management plan was developed from the public and stakeholder meetings of the battle park master plan last year.
Stutz, as he showed the visual effect of the clearing on Friday, said the municipality wanted to do this about five years ago and in fact started and carried out such work on the southeast corner of Falls Road and Battlepark Lane.
Stutz said Friends of Battle Park responded with fuss, which delayed the municipality. The municipality subsequently drew up a very expensive master plan.
“And then they took the words of the people in the master plan, did it the way they needed to, to do exactly what they were going to do anyway at the expense of writing a master plan.” , did he declare.
The city’s press release says the project was supported by three grants totaling $ 650,000. The press release says the project will improve public safety, maintain the environmental integrity of the park and provide the community with better access to recreation.
Stutz told the Telegram of the press release: “I cannot for my life understand how this maintains the environmental integrity of the park.”
Laura Todd, 27, of Rocky Mount and a student at Vanderbilt University’s School of Theology, told the Telegram on Friday that she felt devastated by what had happened in Battle Park.
Todd is a member of Friends of Battle Park and said the park has always been important to her.
Todd said the nature walks she and others took while Friends of Battle Park increased her understanding and appreciation of “just this mosaic of beautiful and priceless native species that were found here in our town of Rocky Mount “.
“And we’ve lost that or we’ve lost a lot of that,” Todd said.
“Right now the park is, in a sense, a skeleton of what it used to be,” she said. “And along with that physical loss, we’ve also lost a lot of the things we love to do at the park as Friends of Battle Park, including our scenic nature walks, foraging, and classes.
“And I think the people of Rocky Mount deserve to know that this clearing has happened, why it has happened and that it is damaging, not just aesthetically or in the short term, but in the long term,” a- she declared. “It’s a big loss.”
Brandon Roberts, 30, of Tarboro, is another Friends of Battle Park member who said he was devastated and is a student at NC State University.
Roberts, who studies environmental science and plant biology, told the Telegram on Friday that some of North Carolina’s rarest and most special plants were pictured at Battle Park.
“And that’s no longer the case,” said Roberts.
Roberts, as part of his academic work in environmental science, studies habitat reconstruction.
“And what has been done is not rebuilding the habitat,” he said of the current scene at Battle Park. “It’s habitat destruction. It doesn’t look visually appealing to me, nor is it eco-friendly. “
He said of the park: “I know families who walk with the birds. They won’t be able to do it anymore.
He also said of the park: “I know families who have been there to see the different forms of wildlife – snakes, turtles, birds.”
He said he believed the wildlife would no longer be spending time in the park.
“There is no more food for them,” he said.