Cape Gazette

Getting lost in the solitude of Ponders Tract

By Ron MacArthur | Mar 26, 2012
Photo by: Ron MacArthur Miles and miles of loblolly pine trees line trails within Ponders Tract.

It's easy to get lost in the solitude of Ponders Tract in the Pemberton Forest Preserve near Milton. The 10 miles of trails offer the rare chance to commune with nature in the wilds of a thick forest where the only sounds you hear are birds and the wind rustling through the abundant loblolly pine trees.

The sounds of nature are in stark contrast to the sounds of trucks, chain saws and equipment that once filled the air in the woods. For decades, the area was a loblolly pine tree farm owned by the Glatfelter Lumber Company.

Since 2004, the 908 acres of Ponders Tract have been owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy.

The environmental group is taking on the admirable task of restoring Ponders Tract to what it was during colonial times. The Conservancy is implementing state-of-the art timber thinning practices to transform the loblolly pine forest into a native coastal forest of oak, hickory, tulip poplar, red maple, sassafras, Virginia pine, shortleaf pine and numerous woodland shrubs.

It's a project that won't happen overnight, but efforts are already becoming evident. The Conservancy has transformed 240 acres of loblolly pine tracts into native coastal woods.

Ponders Tract, located off Route 16 near the Route 30 intersection outside of Milton, is one of Sussex County's hidden jewels. It's a great place to go take a hike and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

Decisions, decisions. There are 10 miles of trails within the more than 900 acres of Ponders Tract. The trails are open to walkers and hikers only. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Bleached bones provide evidence of one of the inhabitants of Ponders Tract. Deer are so plentiful in the area that it's closed to the public Aug. 15 to Feb. 15 and hunting is permitted. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Comments (1)
Posted by: Barry Wayne Price | Mar 28, 2012 08:41

Beautiful Sussex as it was, and will get even better with thanks to the Nature Conservancy. Gratitude Ron MacArthur for sharing this breath of fresh air.

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