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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Inside The 'Dyas Triangle'

Fairhope, Alabama fairhopetimes@att.net

LONG LEAF PINE FOREST


Former land owner Art Dyas and his hound dog Cotton led a tour of the portion of the new city park northwest of Veteran's Drive, along with council members Burrell and Brewer. (The property south of Veteran's Dr. was not inspected.)

Dyas, who still resides on a small part carved out just south of the Fly Creek bridge, emphasized the importance of maintaining the 80+ year old long leaf pine habitat there -- by periodic burns or other methods.

At one time there were 93 million acres of long leaf forest in the south, but only 3 1/2 million are left today.

Dyas said the smaller "mid-story" plants needed to be removed to encourage long leaf growth: "Nature never intended hardwoods to be in these pine sites ... nature burned them ... Native Americans burned them ... turpentiners burned them ... cattlemen burned them ... ."

"Hardwood brush is not conducive to maintaining a long leaf eco system ... ."

Dyas: What you've got here ... is 72 solid acres of long leaf forest ... I told Tim Kant this ... that with some management ... it could be absolutely astounding."

Some other species of trees and shrubs he identified there are: laurel oak, border oak, sweet bay, yellow poplar, slash. loblolly and short leaf pine, sparkle berry and yaupon holly (ilex vomatoria, used by Indians as a purgative). (Dyas also pointed out what he called the rare "foot hold" tree.)

Dyas said an alternative to burning would be a fuel-wood operation where the unwanted hardwoods are mechanically removed, reduced to chips and used for fuel in co-generation energy plants, such as Kimberly Clark's in Mobile.

The root systems and sprouts would then have to be treated for a while afterwards (herbicides) to prevent growth from returning and to "leave the ground clean."

Dyas, a forester by profession, said the main problem with controlled burning is the possibility of smoke causing traffic accidents on nearby roads (HWY 98). Neighbors sometimes complain about the smoke as well.

Dyas added he had never burned the property himself because it was to be developed someday, not maintained as a forest. He said he thought the portion of the property south of Veteran's Dr. is a different case and should be left alone for now, since all of the trees had been harvested recently: about 15 years ago (except for a 100 ft tree buffer adjacent to the roads).

FLY CREEK EROSION

Dyas said that since HWY 98 was constructed in the 1970s, the increased rainwater runoff water  has caused significant bank erosion in the creek; the increased water-velocity is cutting through a bow (bend) in the creek.

He said that the creek was filled with red clay during construction of the nearby Fly Creek Village PUD, but by natural processes the red color (iron) had leached out, leaving only neutral colored clay silt there.

Dyas said there is a seam of potters clay in the creek's bank and he and his son Hunter used to make figurines there.

 Local historian Donnie Barrett told the Times later that pottery making was a booming industry in that area, all the way back into the French Colonial era.

ABUNDANT WILDLIFE

Dyas said the property supports numerous deer, coyotes, foxes, beaver, raccoons as well as smaller animals.

He said he saw a pygmy rattlesnake there once as well.

He pointed out a burrow created by about a 10 inch gopher tortoise.

Once, his dog Cotton had actually chased a fox up the sidewalk on Section street -- and was brought back to him by a police officer who had witnessed the incident.

CRIME DISCOVERED

Near the end of the tour the group discovered a UPS box addressed the the Dyas family that had been stolen from their front porch, emptied and dumped in the woods near Scenic 98.

PUBLIC ACCESS PRESENTLY LIMITED 

Due to the lack of trails, access for the general public is currently limited; but neighborhood children have been constructing tree houses and other structures there.

There is currently only an old logging road cut into the property from Scenic 98.

The city plans to seek grants for trail construction in the near future; other uses for the property are still being discussed. The mayor and council have previously indicated it should be kept "natural" as a public park.

Signs may be erected explaining to the public how the property may be used in its current condition, according to councilman Burrell.



13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. The councilwoman was the speaker at our homeowners' association meeting tonight. She spoke highly of her tour today. I'm so glad the article and the video were posted. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Good article - thanks for sharing. Nothing negative here.

Anonymous said...

From the recent Al.com article: "As part of the purchase agreement, any naming of the park or facilities will have to be approved by the Dyas family."

So here are my name predictions for this future Fairhope park.

1. Dyas Park
2. Dyas Nature Preserve
3. Dyas-Fairhope Park
4. Dyas-Fairhope Preserve
5. Dyas Recreation Area
6. Dyas-Fairhope Recreation Area
7. Dyas Trangle Park
8. Dyas ________

Publisher said...

Art Dyas said that the agreement was that the Dyas family would be consulted about the naming. His father,Charles was mentioned ...

Anonymous said...

One of the important facts that needs to be publicized more is that $4 million of the actual appraised value (roughly 30%) was donated by the family in the transaction. I hope citizens will be amenable to naming this beautiful, historic property after the Dyas family for that reason. Thank you Dyas family!

Anonymous said...

Great video! Anyone who knows Art Dyas personally knows he is a treasure! His passion and vocation are forestry and our city leaders would be smart to follow his advice as plans unfold for the property. This type of property is all new to Fairhope citizens and there is much to learn -- what he's saying about the burn is absolutely correct. The only downside - the smoke -- is considerable, but will be temporary.

Anonymous said...

"Approved" and "consulted" are entirely different----another stellar job by the press.

My personal rule is that if you donate half or more to the cost of building or project, then they can name it after you (Are you listening Sen. Shelby?) but in this case OK.

Marc D. Anderson said...

Anonymous, this is from the "press" writer: For the record, the development agreement with the city says, "No portion of the Property or facilities thereon shall be named by Purchaser, or by any successor or assign of Purchaser, without the prior written consent of the Majority Sellers, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld." If you ever have questions about my writing, you can reach me at manderson@al.com or 251-219-5478. I'm not in the business of spreading false information and I do appreciate it when I'm called on it. All the best, Marc D. Anderson.

Anonymous said...

:)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anderson,
Looks like your original statement of "... will have to be approved by the Dyas family" was correct. The passage from the agreement you quote looks like just another way of saying the Majority Sellers (=Dyas family) get to approve the naming of the park. I have no idea how you measure "unreasonably withheld." My apologies.

Anonymous said...

Kant cost us another 10 mil dollars...o well the flower clock looks awesome...............

Anonymous said...

They need to make it a public park down by the creek at least.

Anonymous said...

We need more flower clocks. they are cool!