RNA: Murder Creek
Forest: Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest
Established: 1977; Acres: 739
To view Establishment records for Murder Creek RNA in PDF format, Click Here
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Ecological/Physical Description: Principal reason for designation is that it is one of the few remaining relatively undisturbed bottomland hardwood forests in the Georgia piedmont. The area is comprised of steeply falling slopes to the alluvial bottom on both sides of Murder Creek. The bottomland hardwood forest is developed over a relatively well–drained, fine sandy to silt loam floodplain and contains those tree species characteristic of the piedmont in a forest association (cover type) and age class once far more common in Georgia. Most of the old oxbows have been filled with sandy loam so that all of the bottomland soils are mesic to wet-mesic. It is an area with unusual floristic values has been described in a number of early initials studies.
Physical and Climatic Conditions
Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA: Monticello, Georgia, 10 miles west of the area. Statistics on the area are based on data collected from 1931–1960.
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution): The mean annual rainfall in Putman County is 44.90 inches. Normally, winter and spring rains are slow and generally summer rains are usually in the form of thundershowers. Fall months have slightly less precipitation than the remainder of the year. Snow is infrequent and remains only a day or two. Glaze storms are occasionally severe enough to cause some damage to trees.
Maximum and minimum temperatures: The mean annual temperature in Putnam County is 63.8 degrees F. The January mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 57 F and 35 F, respectively. The July mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 90 F and 69 F, respectively. The average date of the last killing frost is March 30 and the average earliest killing frost is November 10, giving a growing season of 225 days.
Elevation: Ridge top elevations in the vicinity of Murder Creek are 500 feet (152 meters) above sea level. Differences in elevation from ridge tops to Murder Creek do not exceed 120 feet (37 m). Elevation of the RNA ranges from 420 feet (128 m) to 380 feet (116 m) above sea level.
Geology and Soils: The geologic description of rock formations is parphyroblastic biotite gneiss. These are high grade metamorphic rocks that weather slowly. Occasionally, rock is exposed at the subsurface but most underlie the forest floor. The RNA lies in an area of Piedmont soils with finely textured loams and clays in the subsurface horizons and red clay subsoils. The major upland soils in order of decreasing area are Davidson clay loam, Cecil sandy loam, Cecil clay loam, and Iredell loam. The bottomland soils are mainly Congaree silty clay loam.
Aquatic Features: The Oconee River watershed has a strongly broken topography, resulting in a hilly relief. The larger divides, of which Murder Creek is one, are indented by many secondary divides which form lateral draws and ravines that have narrow level ridge tops. The flat bottomlands that extend along the edges of Murder Creek are narrow and variable, ranging from only a few feet to several hundred feet wide.
Plant Communities: Piedmont stream bottom; river birch, cottonwood, sycamore, sweet gum along the creek. On the flat bottoms are swamp chestnut oak-cherrybark oak and sugarberry-american elm-green ash cover types with elm, red maple, tulip poplar, ash, sugarberry, white oak, cottonwood, shagbark hickory with understory of small cane. On abrupt slopes with northerly aspects, mesophytic types with beech being the most distinguishing species with white oak, yellow poplar, red maple with Christmas fern and spotted wintergreen understory transitioning to Loblolly pine forest. Additional and more specific listings are in the establishment record.
SAF Cover Types (acres):
Swamp chestnut oak–cherrybark oak – #91
Sugarberry–american elm green ash – #93
At Risk Species:
Common Shrub Species: Strawberry bush and benzoin. Additional listings are in the establishment record.
Common Herbaceous Species: Small cane (Arundinaria tecta), Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), jewelweed, elephant’s foot, snakeroot (Sanicula Canadensis), Microstegium. Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) and spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculate). Additional listings are in the establishment record.
Common Mammal Species: deer (Odocoileus virginianus), fox (Vuples fulva), raccoon (Procyon lotor), beaver (Castor Canadensis), squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).
Common Bird Species: none listed.
Related Reports and Publications
Additional reports and publications can also be found by clicking on the “RNA Publications and Products” link in the site menu or by clicking here.
Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America (Hafner Publishing Company, 1967), pp. 259-279.
Richard H. Goodwin, William A. Wiering, Inland Wetlands of the United States (Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C.) page 121.
Climates of the States – Georgia, (Washington, D. C., U. S. Government Printing Office, 1969).
Last Modified: 9/30/2015 by Mary Mallinson Long (email@example.com)