GREEN RIVER PRESERVE 12,000 YEARS AGO

By Sandy Schenck

A father writes a letter to his daughter, a camper at GRP. It’s no ordinary note though. He writes about what GRP might have been like 12,000 years ago…

“Because the great ice sheets had stopped in Virginia about 300 miles north of GRP some 18,000 years ago, the untouched North Carolina landscape was literally filled with extraordinary plants and animals—here is a partial list:

  • The first humans (Paleo-Indians) had probably already visited or lived in the Green River Valley for several hundred years. These are the ancestors of today’s American Indians… and maybe of some of your fellow campers or counselors?
  • North Carolina was home to perhaps three species of wolves—red wolf, gray wolf, and the giant Dire Wolf (over 150 pounds).
  • Since North Carolina had three species of elephant at the time it is likely that the earliest GRP campers would have stepped in mammoth dung!
  • It is also very likely that bison and elk roamed GRP along with the modern whitetail deer.
  • There would have been more spruce/fir forests. You would also have found most of the same hardwoods, birds, and amphibians found today in the Green River Valley. The numbers of birds and raptors (especially eagles) would have been phenomenal.

If I had written you a camp letter to ‘GRP of 12,000 years ago’—I probably would have warned you to sleep near the fire at night (to avoid being eaten by the big cats and Dire Wolves), to keep a safe distance from the elk and buffalo, and to watch out for the mammoth/mastodon poop! Remember to bring home an ivory-bill? Also, make friends with the Paleo-Indians…”

Loads of love!
Dad