Far From the Maddening Crowd
The beach is a great place to get back to nature. These refuges and preserves offer plenty of it. By kayak, bicycle or on foot, there is plenty to explore.
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James Farm Ecological Preserve
Cedar Neck Road, Ocean View, 226-8105, inlandbays.org
James Farm encompasses only 150 acres, but the property has bragging rights to a variety of habitats, from its beach to its hardwood forest. The preserve has been managed by the Center for Inland Bays for the past 12 years.
Beachcombers can wade into the water from the sandy, shallow beach, which is a good place to find baitfish. The horseshoe crab spawning season peaks in May and June when the moon is full and there is a high tide. “It is something to see,” says Edward A. Lewandowski, executive director of the Center for Inland Bays. “The shoreline is littered with crabs, and water is foaming from all the activity. You can hear their shells clacking together.” It’s a primordial scene that transports viewers to prehistoric times.
At low tide, visitors can walk along the low marsh’s flats before moving to the high marsh, where plants are not subjected to as much routine flooding. The maritime forest gives way to a hardwood forest. Fields that were once plowed by the James family are in transition as the hardwood forest seeds them.
The Center for Inland Bays has created a 24-acre marsh enhancement program on the east side of the property. Known as Slough’s Gut Marsh, it was once a straight-line ditch created in the 1930s to drain stagnant water and control mosquitoes.
“We’ve returned some of the natural hydrology to that marsh and really brought in more species and diversity of species,” Lewandowski says.
Look for: In the marsh flats, you’ll find cord grass and glasswort, a native herb. Bayberry, marsh alder and salt marsh hay cover the high marsh. In the maritime forest, find loblolly pines and holly. In the hardwood forest, there’s southern red oak, hickory, sweet gum and sassafras. From the boardwalk beach crossing and three observation platforms, you might spy deer, ducks, foxes and amphibians.
Page 5: Assawoman Wildlife Area