This nature preserve encompasses nearly 145 acres along Clarke Creek, and is therefore important for watershed protection. There is a diversity of habitats found within the preserve, from open grassy areas to forest.
Location and Directions
Oehler Nature Preserve is located in northern Mecklenburg County, approximately 2 miles east of Huntersville.
From I -77, take exit 23/Gilead Rd. Proceed on Gilead Rd. east toward Huntersville for 0.8 miles. Pass through the intersection of Rte. 115 in Huntersville, at which point the road becomes Huntersville-Concord Rd. Continue 0.15 miles and bear left, continuing on Huntersville-Concord Rd. for another 2 miles. Oehler Preserve is on the left side of the road. There is no parking and no public access.
History and Description
This land was owned in the early 1800's by Caleb Erwin, a wealthy planter and well -known public figure in Mecklenburg County who owned almost 800 acres in the Ramah community near Clarke Creek.
In 1852, George Oehler purchased around 250 acres from Caleb Erwin, including the land that is now Oehler Nature Preserve. The original two-story brick farmhouse owned by the Oehlers still sits on a private inholding within the nature preserve. There is debate as to whether the house was built by the Erwin family in the early 1800s and sold to George Oehler in 1852, or built by George Oehler after he bought the property.
George Oehler farmed this land, and it is recorded that he cultivated over ninety of the two hundred and fifty acres he owned. Corn, wheat, oats and some cotton were grown for sale, in addition to a variety of vegetables produced in the family's kitchen garden. The Oehler family also raised pigs, cows for milk, cheese and butter, and sheep for wool and meat. The land remained with the Oehler family through the 1900's.
Mecklenburg County acquired this land in 2001. On May 30, 2008 it was officially designated as a Nature Preserve, protecting 149.7 acres of diverse habitat along Clarke Creek. Its proximity to the creek makes it valuable for watershed protection.
Education and Programs
Current access only with guided walks led by Park and Recreation staff.
There are no public amenities.
Flora and Fauna
Although once farmland, Oehler Nature Preserve is now primarily forested. Approximately 141 of the preserve's 149.7 acres have returned to forest. Most of this forest in young growth with a mix of early successional species such as sweetgum, Eastern redcedar, winged elm, sugarberry, white ash and others. A large population of American bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia), a small tree, is found here. Bladdernut is usually uncommon.
A complete assessment of the biodiversity of Oehler Nature Preserve is being undertaken.