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A Collaborative Partnership Supports Wildlife, Trails, and Research at Fisher Farm / Abersham

by | Dec 9, 2023

Year-end seems like a dandy time for an update on the current restoration activities at Fisher Farm. While Abersham Park is also under study for conservation and restoration, the current focus is on Fisher Farm.

Fisher Farm consists of 200 acres of topographically diverse landscape enhanced by the West Branch Rocky River and graced with both open fields and mixed hardwood forests. At Davidson Lands Conservancy (DLC), we describe Fisher Farm as our community’s “crown jewel” – beauty, nature, wildlife and the quietest spot in Mecklenburg County.

While the Park affords expansiveness and beauty, it falls way short of its biodiversity and habitat potential. The fields are largely non-native grasses, including fescue, and the forests have been neglected and are chock full of invasive plants, including autumn olive, privet, honeysuckle and kudzu.

Collaboration is Key

A group of citizens, Davidson College professors and students, Town and County officials, and representatives from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and DLC formed the Wildlife Enhancement Collaborative (WEC). We are implementing a long-term plan to increase habitat biodiversity at Fisher Farm and Abersham Parks, and to model ecological stewardship for the general public. Read more about the WEC Management Plan.

Native Prairie and Forest Restoration – Patience is Essential!

Among current WEC projects is the conversion of a 5-acre field down slope of the Fisher Farm parking area to native prairie habitat.  This restoration is a long-term, arduous process which begins with killing the fescue and other non-native grasses. This process will start around mid-December and will require several herbicide treatments.  Park users are asked to follow the cautionary signage and stay off the treated fields.

Once the invasive grasses are destroyed, there is a chance desired native plants will emerge from the now-dormant seed bank lying deep in the soil. If that does not happen on its own, we will need to seed the field with native mix to promote growth of the desired pollinator-supporting plants.  The field will also be burned in the spring consistent with land management practices of indigenous populations for the last 10,000 years.  A burn area in the forest is also being planned to help promote diversity and health of the trees.

Prepare yourself!!  The field restoration will go through stages of ugliness, recovery, set back and eventual beauty.  The end game is a thick field of native pollinator supporting plants and habitat, but patience is essential!

Invasive plant management in the forested areas is also underway and will be never-ending.  Student groups, scouts, and a productive team from Williams, DLC’s Wildlife Habitat Sponsor, have made great progress controlling invasive plants.

Trails & Research

The WEC’s mission includes enhancing the hiking trails in order to limit erosion, increase the longevity of the trails, and improve hikers’ experiences.  Davidson Lands Conservancy has launched a volunteer Trail Master program to support this initiative.

We ask hikers to respect areas undergoing trail maintenance and repair, including those trails that have been closed with brush or other barriers.  Many trails are not located properly and will be re-routed to limit erosion and trail sustainability.

The WEC is also supporting active research at Fisher Farm and Abersham led by Davidson College professors Brad Johnson (Geology), Chris Paradise (Entomology and Ecology), and Kevin Smith (Forest Ecology).  DLC’s Citizen Science program will pilot a long-term study, in partnership with the College, of the West Branch and the impacts and effectiveness of Mecklenburg County Storm Water’s stream restoration project currently underway.  A long-term study of the forests’ biodiversity is also underway.

DLC is grateful to the WEC partners for these efforts, for the Town of Davidson’s partnership, and for the community’s support of these long-term initiatives.

Learn more.


As an accredited land trust, Davidson Lands Conservancy’s mission is to conserve local lands and natural resources and connect lives to nature. DLC advances its mission through education and through the four conservation pillars. Visit for details on the Now & Forever Campaign, as well as programs, news, events, and volunteer opportunities.

Growth pressures on the Davidson area are high. While economic development benefits our community, balancing growth with well-stewarded and conserved natural lands is critical to our quality of life and to keeping Davidson attractive and healthy.

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