Past the American Beech grove is access to Martin's Branch, a tributary of Ivy Creek.
Water - the Gift of Life
Animal life in a stream is abundant and diverse and each creature has its own adaptations for survival in a flowing wet world. If you look closely, you may see crayfish, water striders, tadpoles, frogs and even a harmless water snake. An abundance of "macroinvertebrates" such as the larvae of mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies are testament to the health of this stream. Look for tracks of forest residents such as raccoon, opossum, fox, and deer that come for a drink and perhaps a quick meal.
Forest trees play a critical role in the conservation of our aquatic resources. Shade from trees along the bank help to keep the stream water cool. A cooler stream can hold more dissolved oxygen which is essential for aquatic life. In a forested environment, rainwater is intercepted by leaves and bark, thereby slowing it down and allowing it to soak into the soil, where it can recharge groundwater and surface water alike. This allows for pollutants to be filtered out and broken down by soil microorganisms.
The water in this stream originates from springs that swell up from underground aquifers in the headwaters of Martin’s Branch, which in turn flows into Ivy Creek then into the Rivanna River. From here the water flows into the James River which will take the water to the Chesapeake Bay. The protection the trees provide this little creek will ultimately benefit the Chesapeake Bay.