Although geology is important to biodiversity at Ruffner, people also play an important role and several human-made ecosystems enrich the preserve. One, Maggie’s Field, lies on the south end and provides grassy habitats for seed-eating birds, Eastern Cottontail Rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) and others. Nearby, wetlands that were recently constructed provide a home for aquatic plants and insects and a breeding spot for frogs, toads and salamanders.
Even the mines, quarries, pits and empty buildings hidden on the slopes of the mountain provide shelter for a range of reptiles, mammals and invertebrates. Slowly and surely, nature is taking back the mountain.
The contributions work both ways. Today, the neighborhood that lies at Ruffner’s feet is safer, cleaner and more beautiful because of its closeness to the mountain. In every storm, the forests absorb rainwater and reduce flash-flooding down below. The natural soils filter and clean the water before it joins the streams and rivers, which in turn provide drinking water. And finally, residents of a busy city find contentment when glancing up from their busy lives to see the mountain – their mountain – always there, always welcoming.
– R. Scot Duncan