Chicago Audubon Society will be following the 2014 Chicago Audubon Society Birdathon championship route. Wear long pants. May be muddy. See chicagoaudubon.org for updates. Walk leader and contact: Craig Stettner, email@example.com or 847-925-6214.
Parking: South side of Penny Rd about one mile west of Old Sutton Rd.
Rains are falling lighter and lighter with each passing week on the North Coast — a slow intangible division is creeping into our consciousness — spring is turning to summer. As we silently whirl — riding the rotation of our planet at ~1,040 miles per hour — we work, play, laugh, mourn, connect and carry on.
When I seek to delve deeper into a concept — I generally start with etymology. The vast pools of words connected beneath other words leads us deeply into the halls of what we hope to explore. Additionally, in a language and society of millions upon millions of words — we begin to create our own definitions and connotations for those words — it can be helpful to start again with the definition. Not to mention that in the act of defining something we usually realize how little we knew in the first place.
Let’s work with “stewardship.”
Stewardship comes from steward which is composed of stig meaning house or hall and weard, now ward, meaning guardian or keeper. The reference to house leads my mind to a deep connection with the word ecology, which of course contains the root eco- coming from the Greek work oikos, meaning house or home (and –ology, the study of).
Is this connection mere coincidence? Not in the lacy world of an inspired spring-nourished naturalist hemming the bounds and connecting the fragments of stewardship, ecology, natural history and mythology.
Stewardship is, simply, the obligations of a steward (obligation coming from obligare (latin) and oblige (english/middle english) — a formal promise). Stewarding also is an act of care, of responsible planning, of management, protection, responsibility.
I have had an abundance of time during my CLM intern adventures of the past month to consider — and more importantly, carry out stewardship. In essence, my entire CLM internship is based in my work as a steward to the land. In my case, I am afforded the great gift of specifically working as a steward to those wise and verdant botanical aspects of the land.
A great variety of stewardship is going on here at the Arcata BLM, and I am but one small and grateful facet of it. I have had the opportunity to pull, and will tirelessly continue to pull, the multitude of broom species (french and spanish, mostly) from high up on the prairies of Lacks Creek to the shore of the sea at Lost Coast Headlands. We have also been pulling non-native pines from coastal prairies at Lost Coast Headlands (near Ferndale, CA) to protect those open grasslands from being consumed by weedy pines. I have had the pleasure of advising the California Conservation Corps — they are the stewardship superheroes!! I also collected, nursed and delivered 22 bearberry plants (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) to Mattole Restoration Council (Petrolia, CA) to be used in restoration gardens. I am collecting wild germplasm (seeds) to be added to the Seeds of Success program (which will have a full post unto itself), attending meetings for the Humboldt Weed Management Area and Humboldt Bay Dunes Cooperative. Coming up — Ocean Day, where nearly 1,000 local school children help us remove European beach grass (Ammophila arenaria)!
All of this said, we also contribute to stewardship through inspiration and through coming to know aspects of the Earth we did not previously know. This is the practice of natural history.
Another significant aspect of my work as a CLM intern here in the Arcata BLM Field Office is creating a species list for a not-very-well-botanized BLM property — Butte Creek. Butte Creek is part of the Larabee Valley, about 35 miles east from HWY 101. It is part of the foothills of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the site ranges from about 3000-4500 ft. elevation. Containing the full spectrum of habitats — from pastures and rocky scrub slopes to riparian corridors and douglas fir forest — it is quite a wonderful place — take a trip there, you have access to it as much as any other person. The pure sweet joy of botanical exploration is one that relates not only to the past but to important work to be done in the future. More on this project, and how it connects to my other substantial project (seeds of success) in later posts!
When we carry out stewardship, we connect to matters that cascade much deeper. We connect to our ancestral memories. Memories that ignite a deep and intuitive remembrance, a feeling in ones own body of the gracious tending of wild landscapes that people have been performing all over the earth for tens of thousands of years, in order to provide themselves and their families with plentiful food, forage, utility. Stewardship has sustained us, and will continue to sustain us — if we engage it.
In engaging in stewardship we create a connection to one vein of mythology. Mythology is a composition of stories (myths), and one application of these stories is to our understanding of nature, culture and the nature/culture confluence. I will leave this here, for now, and extol you for pondering this link. The photo below (in conjunction with the book, The Klamath Knot by David Rains Wallace) has turned my interest in this direction quite strongly. What can we weave with a name, with what we notice, which what notices us? For your consideration:
The final part of all of this is the essential unity of engaging in stewardship. Unity that at this point in the trajectory of our species we deeply need. In undertaking stewardship — from Arcata BLM to BLM as a whole and on up to national and international, public and private institutions across the globe — we connect to the shared sustaining ground we all walk upon.
Until next time!
Kaleb A. Goff
Arcata BLM Field Office, California, United States, Earth.
The month of May has truly begun to feel like field season. Last month seemed to be dominated by outreach events: Reno Earth Day (the topic of my previous post), the Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful Clean-Up Day, in which our team helped direct volunteers in the “sprucing” (litter collecting and thistle digging) of Swan Lake Recreation Area north of Reno, and the TREE event just last week: a collaborative event with the Nature Conservancy and Forest Service to provide local fourth graders the opportunity to explore McCarran Ranch Preserve and learn about its ecology; our team was tasked with leading the invasive species and plant diversity activities. The preparation and execution of these events was enjoyable and rewarding; however I am excited to get out in the field on a more regular basis.
Looking ahead, we have a range of tasks to accomplish including weed mapping, rare plant surveying, and seed collecting. In preparation for summer field work, over the last couple of weeks our team has been organizing field equipment, analyzing plant location data, and putting together a seed collection calendar.
Thinking about longer term preparation and streamlining of weed and rare plant field work, we have been compiling weed infestation and treatment data from past years (the past 12 years to be exact…), as well as rare plant survey data; our end goal is to compile these historical vegetation data into one GIS (.mxd) file. It is not what one would call a light undertaking; however I think that it will prove extremely useful for us and future botany teams.
Although I am looking forward to field season, I would like to emphasize that over the past nearly four months, one aspect of this internship that I have truly valued, and will continue to enjoy, is the variety of tasks assigned to the botany team. With every project, I learn something new, whether it’s a local plant species, a tool in GIS, or how to effectively keep a fourth grader’s attention while discussing riparian vegetation. “Routine” is not a part of this experience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Margaret Lindman, BLM, Carson City
I’ve lived in New Mexico my whole life. Minus a short field season in Illinois a couple summers ago, but I’m not sure two months really counts! So I viewed this move to Oregon as kind of a big deal. I wanted to make sure I took the time to do it right and get the most out of it. The logical solution, of course, was to take two weeks to travel from Carlsbad, New Mexico to Lakeview, Oregon.
I planned my trip in a way that I could spend a lot of time alone, but break that up with visits to important people in my life. My route took me to as many state/national parks and monuments as possible, all of which I had never visited before. Thus, when I wasn’t stopped over in a town with old friends and family, every experience was new and most importantly, unfiltered by the presence of another. It was just me, with myself for company.
I departed Carlsbad on April 18th, excited by the unknown in front of me. My vision quest, as my mother liked to call it, had begun. My experiences alone afforded me opportunities for intense solitude, self reflection, and immersion in nature. I was reminded of the beauty of my autonomy, and my relationship with nature was strengthened more than I could have anticipated. My experiences with others, be they old friends, new friends, family, or strangers, reminded me of the beauty of closeness with other humans. So much growth had been packed into those two weeks and I felt a renewed sense of being and belonging in the world. When I arrived in Lakeview, over 2400 miles later, I felt anything but sad that my experience was over. I was renewed, refreshed, and excited about the experience that lay ahead.
My first week on the job was intense and wonderful. Off the top of my head, only a couple species (Juniperus sp. and Castelleja sp.) were familiar to me from my home in southern New Mexico. My plant ID skills were, and continue to be, tested to the max but I am already learning the vegetation here at a shocking rate. I spent my first week learning about AIM by spending time with those field crews, as well as scouting potential populations to identify and collect from for Seeds of Success. I also spent a fair bit of time in the herbarium at the office learning about the native vegetation. I had fun identifying some of the tricky forbs that are popping up in the desert here thanks to spring rains. Some of these forbs even threw some of the experienced range staff for a loop! Identifying them has been a rewarding challenge.
Overall, these past few weeks have been incredible and very formative. I’m incredibly excited to see what challenges the future has in store! Learning new plants, seed collection, pollinator habitat projects – there’s a lot to be stoked about! I think my time with the BLM in Lakeview is going to allow me the chance for an incredible amount of growth and for that, I’m grateful.
- Brennan Davis, BLM – Lakeview, OR
I am processing cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) data at full force now!! Hundreds of aerial images have been processed, and I am at the point where I can calculate percent cover and canopy densities of cheatgrass in the Powder River Basin. I have clipped the soil layer of the Powder River Basin and overlaid the cheatgrass signature raster layer in order to start my next processing step. My goal was to see if certain soils contain larger cheatgrass densities than others. This information would be used for future cheatgrass treatment. There were some errors with the computer script that needed to be fixed. When the statistics tool encountered an area with no cheatgrass signatures, the processing stopped completely and showed an error message. No worries, this issue should be resolved soon. Another problem involved the Citrix server. Lately, the server was really slow, so instead of processing each tile at five minutes, it took around forty five minutes to process a tile. (UGH!!!) During the processing time, I have been studying all the plants in our district, learning about birds, and have been doing side missions for the BLM staff. I have been learning more about the remote sensing program known as ENVI. This very powerful program has been very interesting to work with. There have been some difficulties working with this software, but I am learning!!
Sage Grouse and Sharp Tailed Grouse!!
Greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) monitoring was in full swing at the Buffalo Field Office! I have been to a few more lek sites that have been extremely active! I went with a few Buffalo BLM Wildlife Biologists to some of the more active lek sites. (Before I went to some lek sites that have not been active or had at least fifteen males.) Recently, I went to a lek site that had around forty five displaying males!!! We pulled up right near them and I was able to zoom in and take pictures and video. These male grouse were really active and displayed their hearts out for the surrounding females! Some males were battling each other by doing a side dance and pushing against each other. Other males were on the sidelines and were resting. One male thought it was a good idea to display himself on a hill a quarter of a mile away from the rest of the males (No other males were in the area). The females were sitting around a few choice males. One single female was interested in a group of younger males. The younger males were trying so hard to impress her, but I thought she was just there to encourage them….or silently judge them.
((Please click the link below for a video!!!))
Sage grouse found to the east of Buffalo, Wyoming!
Another grouse species we were monitoring were the sharp tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) aka the Planes of the Sagebrush Community. You may be wondering why I called them planes? Well, when they were displaying themselves for the females, they looked like airplanes. I think it was hilarious how five males would get low to the ground, spread their wings and stomp their feet all at the same time….then they cease their dancing all at the same time. I think this was the funniest thing ever!! The sharp tailed lek we did visit had a Northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) standing in the middle of the lek! O_O She was sitting on sagebrush (A. tridentata subsp. Wyomingensis) as five sharp tailed grouse were displaying twenty feet away. I think the grouse were more interested in attracting the females than being eaten. When the harrier did fly, the grouse hid for cover until the harrier landed again in the same stop. The female sharp tailed grouse were smart and were watching the males from the cover of sagebrush.
When monitoring grouse, I made note of all the other species of birds I have seen out in the sagebrush community. I really wanted to see a mountain plover (Charadrius montanus), but the muddy roads and wet weather made the plover species elusive. The western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), northern harrier and short eared owls (Asio flammeus) have been actively flying around. The meadowlarks were all over the place!! I am still waiting for the sparrows to come into the area. I really want to see a sagebrush sparrow (Artemisiospiza nevadensis) in our district. Vesper (Pooecetes gramineus), grasshopper (Ammodramus savannarum), Brewer’s (Spizella breweri), and savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) species were on my “To See” list this year. There were a variety of duck and wetland species in our area. I loved to watch the common goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula), northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), gadwalls (Anas strepera), green winged teals (Anas crecca), mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), American coots (Fulica americana), and Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). I was fortunate to watch a Common Loon (Gavia immer) for awhile!! I am waiting for the oriole (Icteridae) and warbler (Parulidae) species to come into the area in May. I will be traveling to Devil’s Tower to look for rare bird species such as red crossbills (Loxia curvirostra), Townsend’s solitaire (Myadestes townsendi), and some flycatchers (Tyrannidae) soon. Hopefully, I will get the chance to travel to the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, and Yellowstone to look for Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinators), Pine Grosbeaks (Pinicola enucleator), rosy finches (Leucosticte), Barrow’s goldeneye (Bucephala islandica), and other rare birds.
Fantastic Voyage: Mosier Gulch and Thermopolis
Beyond bird counts and the remote sensing projects I was working on these past few weeks, I was able to go with the recreation planner for our office to a place called Mosier Gulch! This area was considered a BLM recreation picnic area located at the edge of the Bighorn Mountains. The day was pretty hazy due to the smoke coming from the fires in Canada, but we had fun! There were ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa) everywhere and a large stream to go fishing in! I helped with cleanup of the site and made sure every cigarette butt was collected. (Those things never seem to decompose!) Also, we had to get rid of man-made fire places. Even though there was a large sign that said, “NO FIREPLACES”, there were still fires being built. We went to this area at the right time! Many spring flowers were blooming!!! Star lilies (Leucocrinum montanum), western spring beauties (Claytonia lanceolata), cutleaf pasqueflowers (Pulsatilla patens), shooting stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum), biscuitroot (Cymopterus spp.), and buttercup (Ranunculus spp.) species were prevalent! In the tree canopy, there were many black capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and ruby crowned kinglets (Regulus calendula) chirping and feeding in insects. Common magpies (Pica pica), ravens (Corvus corax), crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos), and yellow-rumped warblers (Setophaga coronata) were very active in the area as well!
After helping the recreation planner clean up all of the sites in Mosier Gulch, I decided to take a half day and travel with my parents to Thermopolis for a small break! My parents were in town and we wanted to look at various sites around central Wyoming! We traveled to different dinosaur museums in Worland and Thermopolis and viewed a variety of many unique and bizarre fossils from the Cambrian to the Pleistocene. We also celebrated my birthday as well. <_<;; On Friday in Thermopolis, I was able to go fishing and caught a rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) named Jasper! (I released the fish back into the wild!) Thermopolis was one of my favorite towns to visit, because they had many hot springs and very good rock hounding sites! You could find a variety of dinosaur and leaf fossils all over the Bighorn Basin! I enjoyed this very small vacation! ^_^
Moment of Zen
The last month has brought with it a wide variety of projects, all sharing the common goal of raising short-nose and lost river suckers, two species of fish native to the Klamath basin and listed as endangered. Here’s the overview of our main projects:Draining a pond on the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge: US Fish and Wildlife maintains a variety of ponds on the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge used for fish rearing. In past years larval suckers have been released into the largest of these ponds. In order to count the number of fish surviving and capture them in order to relocate them to another facility, the pond is drained every few years.
As the water level lowered we used seine nets to catch fish. We caught suckers, which we put in buckets with bubblers to relocate, and also sacramento perch and fat head minnows, which we released. Once the water levels got low enough we waded through the muck to catch the remaining suckers with small dip nets.
By the end of the day we caught between 50 and 60 suckers ranging in size from around 3 to 14 inches. These fish were transported to another facility where they will be raised and kept as part of a refugial population.Larval release: A few weeks ago a biologist from the Coleman fish hatchery in California came to the Klamath basin and collected eggs and milt from lost river suckers. Around 1087 larva hatched from these eggs and were held for about a week at the fish hatchery before we picked them up and released them into a small pond on the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. We will raise these fish over the summer to add to the refugial population of lost river suckers. Dock in Upper Klamath Lake: As another element of our fish rearing efforts we will be collecting larval suckers from a river that flows into Upper Klamath Lake and raising them in net pens in the lake. Over the past few weeks we have assembled plastic blocks into a large dock with four bays where we will hang nets and raise fish. Earlier this week we dragged the dock into the lake and anchored it in an area known to have good water quality. In the next few weeks we will collect larval fish and release them in these nets.
Winter in Chicago, O’hare was shut down, so was Midway; I had a couple friends with tickets to New Years runs in their home of Denver and no way to get back there. I’d just bought a car, and realized I couldn’t take my preferred (treacherous!) route through beautiful Bozeman and Missoula, so the southern route it was. We spent the next few nights dancing around seeing bluegrass, before notions of the great west pulled me back into the Rockies. I woke up, after a short day of driving, on the border of Wyoming and Utah and traded in the 80 for the 84 to head Northwest towards home. After winding through the Uintah, to breakfast in Ogden, I reached Idaho, mountains in each direction with a sea of steppe bridging them and me. After a few hours into the drive I realized I absolutely had to move to Idaho; about two months later my CLM offer was for a job in Twin Falls-a town that’s flat, but with about 8 mountain ranges within a two hours drive-I accepted instantly. So anyways, why was I brought here?
It’s my incredible fortune that this is my second CLM internship, that I’m participating in a rare plant monitoring project, and I’m firmly rooted in the intermountain west. Our species of interest is Lepidium papilliferum, a somewhat succulent salt’n’pepper plant. It is restricted to these areas called “Slickspots”, supposedly these were formed during the Pleistocene by clay being washed down slight gradients and accumulating and forming a somewhat hard pan. The clay does several things, most notably: it retains considerable amounts of moisture, retains some cations such as Sodium, and provides a physical barrier to establishment for many species, which for many years have precluded these sites from extensive colonization by other species. Now, it’s habitat is being encroached upon by graminoid winter annuals (such as that, what’s it called again…oh yeah Bromus tectorum, and Taeniatherum caput-medusae) and there is concern that its population is on the decline. Its conservation status has wavered from Endangered to Threatened (and back) many times, but due to interesting (e.g. unpredictable) seed bank dynamics its status is still up for debate because demographic trends have been hard to deduce with relevant power. So, along with three other interns we are going to walk prospective transects and search for habitat, as well as new populations so that they may be monitored in the future too, so that the species range, may be comprehensively ascertained. Yes I know what your thinking, “oh so they are using aerial photos to determine prospective habitat and then investigating on foot to determine whether the plants are actually there”- yeah that’s it (except the photo aspect has been done for us, and sometimes what may seem like a slick spot from above is just where a badger has kicked back dirt, or water washes through scrub leaving channels). To assess potential habitat, we walk through it on a meandering transect, which may be viewed as a wave (remember, a sphere has maximum surface area; in terms of 2 dimensions by walking “half circles” you see a lot more space than walking straight- I’ll illustrate this mathematically next post, I need an illustration program I like to do this).
Anyways, I have so much to say I can’t even start or I won’t stop!
I will admit I have been hiking up into the melting (amidst quite a few snow and hail storms!) alpine climate, and walking throughout the desert, and making many observations and generating questions and refining hypothesis pertaining to dormancy release. I’ve become very interested in synchronization amongst populations and communities and which environmental cues are triggering physiological responses and how these may be affected by climate change. Of course, as always, I’ve been drifting around the wild thinking about the role of chemicals in plants, anyways there’s too much here to mention anything. Current reading: Physiological Plant Ecology-Larcher, Genes, Genetics, and Genomes, and Alpine Plant Life-Korner. I recently finished Plant Physiology and Development 6th ed (the second ed. I’ve read lol!)-get this book!
Here are some pictures and here are some words to revel in, and to help see us on our journeys. Idaho is a land of impressions…
“i wore my boots out walkin’
poured my heart out talkin’
i felt the pain & i broke the chain
but i still got a long way to go
been on the road ‘til tomorrow
been through the joys & the sorrows
came through the flood
& i pulled through the mud
but i still got a long way to go
been in the back-room dealin’
been on a long hook reelin’
crashed in the shed
& i woke in a sunny bed
& i still got a long way to go
been on the rails & big muddy
i’ve crossed the trails rocky & rutted
been down the road a million miles
but i still got a long way to go
i’ve traveled near & traveled far
i beat a hole in my guitar
crawled with the zeroes
& i stood with my heroes
& i still got a long way to go
been in the rain & on the run
i worked a long day in the sun
i slopped the pails
& i beat the nails
but i still got a long way to go
i tried the a verse as the b verse
i took the c verse to the chorus
rewrote & changed it
then rearranged it
& i still got a long way to go
i lost my way in darkest night
i woke again & saw the light
opened the book & i . . took a look
but i still got a long way to go
tell me what . . . what is the soul of a man?
he’s got to reach up his hand
tell me what . . . what is the soul of a man?
he’s got to reach out his hand
& i still got a long way to go
still got a long way to go
still got a long way to go”
The Fairbanks BLM office is filled with excitement with people gearing up for projects in the field. For the past few months, I’ve been training to drive ATVs, ride in helicopters, participated in wilderness CPR, and will do a bear and wildlife safety all in great effort to appropriately prepare myself. Meanwhile outside the office spring has come!
Signs of spring in Fairbanks, AK.
I am interning at the BLM office out of Richfield, Utah. I am constantly amazed by the geological formations and the wildlife of this state, everyday I learn or see something new. Just in the past 4 weeks in the field I have seen so much wildlife in action: a golden eagle with a rabbit hanging from its feet, I have driven next to galloping pronghorn antelope, viewed elk from afar, caught horned lizards, avoided catching collared lizards and so much more. It is one adventure after another in this seemingly endless country.
I am pleased to say that the internship so far has consisted of a lot of field work. For the past few weeks we have been monitoring rare Sclerocactus and Pediocactus species in the hopes of understanding the effects of cattle grazing on their populations. One of the reasons why I enjoy getting out into the field is because I can simultaneously learn the local flora. It is very interesting to me, coming from the temperate rain forest of Northern California where everything is trying to compete for the sun, everything out here is trying to get protection from the sun. Plants in the Utah desert are hairier, dwarfed, and have at least some succulence. It’s fascinating what plants will do to thrive in harsh conditions.
There have been a lot of “firsts” for me in my personal life: first time living outside of California, first time moving to a new place by myself (without the help of family/friends), and first time living out of a tent. When I first arrived in Utah I decided to do a work trade (chores in return for free camping) at this funky little place called Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe, Utah. The good thing about camping here is that after work I got to soak in these beautiful hot springs but the down side was the weather; below freezing temperatures, rain and gusty winds. I lasted 3 weeks before I caved in and got an apartment but it was an experience I will never forget.
I am looking forward to all of the things I will see in the following weeks.
Until next time,
Richfiled, Utah BLM
It’s hard to believe another month has passed. I’ve learned a great deal since the last time I wrote. I was able to attend the Klamath Basin Monitoring Program conference at Oregon Institute of Technology and the presentations and discussions of the people there helped me better put my work into context. Things look pretty grim for the endangered Shortnose and Lost River suckers and the reason for their demise remains to be pinpointed. I really appreciate the chance to work intimately with these special animals and at least try to be part of a solution.
Our office has a few different projects in the works to try to boost populations for suckers. They’ve all involved hard work and some gross factor but I can honestly say it’s pretty amazing to get paid to get in the water and get muddy.
Since I work closely with two other CLM interns, we’ve divided some management for the projects between us. The project I’ll be leading involves collecting wild sucker larvae, holding them in natural Upper Klamath Lake conditions inside net pens, monitoring and loosely regulating lake conditions in the pens (aeration), and releasing them into the system after summer. The suckers will be pit tagged upon release to permanently mark them as fish from the project. This effort has been performed the past two years, but since suckers take 5-7 years to spawn, the previously released fish have not been detected by readers at spawning locations. It’s neat to be part of research that will hopefully be beneficial for the future. It’s been a rough couple weeks constructing the net pen dock, but my fellow interns and supervisor have been amazing team workers! Looking forward to pulling out of the dock on the boat next week and collecting drifting larvae for the next steps in the project. It’s very exciting to be gaining so many new experiences!
Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office
I have been working at the Shoshone Field Office with the Bureau of Land Management in Shoshone, Idaho for two weeks now and it has been a good time. A lot of my time so far has been spent completing trainings on various topics, and with a few more to go we will be ready to go into the field and get started on our project. I will be working on completing Habitat Assessment Frameworks for the suitability of sage grouse on two BLM allotments, Clover Creek and Davis Mountain. These allotments allow cattle and sheep to be grazed on them regularly, and our project will determine if the grazing has affected the allotments’ suitability for sage grouse habitat.
Technical talk aside, I’m excited to make the most out of living in Idaho. There are so many opportunities to get outside and explore that it’s almost overwhelming. I was able to go out and familiarize myself with the allotments I’ll be working in and it was amazing to see so much diversity in a compact space. The allotments span from low level pastures that extend up into high hills, with some pretty cool canyons in the middle. I learned that they are shaped this way because it is how ranchers would historically move their herds as the seasons progressed; following the green plants. I am excited to get to work and learn all about the landscape, especially the plants.
Attention orchid fans: our vanilla orchid is blooming in the Tropical Greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It’s a rare occurrence in the wild—and in a greenhouse. Wade Wheatley, assistant horticulturist, seized the moment to hand-pollinate the flower.
Why hand pollinate? In hopes of producing a vanilla bean. Yes, the fruit of a vanilla orchid is used to make pure vanilla extract, which flavors many foods we enjoy.
Vanilla vines typically begin to flower at five years or older. Flowers are produced in clusters, with one flower opening each day in the morning. Stop by the Tropical Greenhouse soon to see what’s in bloom.
©2016 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org
If you want to become a birder, join this class to learn the basics. Fee includes both sessions:
- Session 1 (May 12): In the Thursday session, you will learn about binoculars, how to use a field guide, and the field marks used to identify common birds of the Chicago area. Meet at the Design Center.
- Session 2 (May 14): During the Saturday bird walk, participants will try out their newly acquired skills. Meet at the McDonald Woods entrance shelter.
Please dress for the weather, and bring binoculars, if you have them. Garden members receive a 20% discount.
Leader: Jim Steffen, ecologist, Chicago Botanic Garden
Call (847) 835-8261 to register.
It is our responsibility as citizens, but especially as practitioners in the fields of horticulture and botanical sciences, to be good stewards of the land and ensure that what we are growing in our backyards and at the Chicago Botanic Garden will not contribute to problems in the future. That is why the Garden recently replaced the callery pears at the entrance to the Visitor Center.
In addition to the callery pear, the Garden also removed winged euonymus (Euonymus alatus) and tamarisk (Tamarix spp.).
One threat to our natural world is invasive plants. While many of these plants may on the surface appear to be attractive additions to the landscape, they can force out native species. Short of complete destruction of a natural area, I cannot think of anything more unsightly than a natural area that has been completely consumed by an invasive species to the point that it is no longer recognizable and holds very little biodiversity.
The list of invasive plants and potentially invasive plants is not set in stone; it is an evolving list and one that will continue to change as our climate changes. The callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) was not on the invasive species lists for our region a decade ago, but today it is in Illinois, along with Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Most are familiar with the cultivar ‘Bradford’, but there are several others, including ‘Aristocrat’, ‘Autumn Blaze’, and ‘Cleveland Select’.
This spring we replaced all of the Pyrus calleryana ‘Autumn Blaze’ at the front entrance of the Visitor Center with the non-invasive American yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea). As a result, the front entrance is noticeably more open in appearance, and the low canopy and refreshing shade that existed in years past is now gone; it will return as the plantings grow.
Although both of these species are medium-sized deciduous trees with white flowers, the yellowwood has different ornamental characteristics. The callery pear flowers in the early spring, while the yellowwood flowers in late spring to early summer. The callery pear has unrivaled fall color in shades of red, orange, and yellow, while the yellowwood is one of the best for yellow fall color.
Why is the callery pear called an invasive?
This pear has abundant seeds that can be carried by birds to natural areas. Plants can then become established, thus displacing native species. As land stewards, the Garden is very mindful of prohibiting and eliminating any plants known to be invasive in our region.
I have no doubt that some of these recently removed invasive plants were favorites among Garden visitors, our staff included. But sometimes what we like isn’t always good for us, or good for the environment.
I encourage you to review and continue to consult invasive species lists, including on the invasive.org website, and do your part by removing invasive species from your garden and resist purchasing and adding more. There are so many benign, beautiful options available to gardeners, and the Garden, along with numerous other organizations, has done the work for you by listing alternatives for the invasive plants that we feel we cannot live without. View a list of our recommended alternatives to invasive plant species here.
Each of us can play an important role in preserving the natural landscapes for future generations.
©2016 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org
The biggest day of the Big Year! Search begins at Sagawau then continues at McLaughry Springs, McGinnis Slough, and finish the day at Orland Grassland. Registration Required. Adults and interested teens only. Participants will drive their own vehicles. Bring a lunch.
Parking: West side of Wolf Rd., between 31st St. and Ogden Ave.
Join the Barrington Natural History Society to look for spring migrants. Meet in the parking lot.Bird the Preserves
Bring your binoculars and enjoy the spring migration. We’ll visit Sand Ridge’s best birding spots and check out some colorful warblers.Bird the Preserves
For rookie or advanced birders! Increase your identification skills with a morning of birding on the Skokie Lagoons. Forest Preserves staff will teach paddling instruction as well as provide birding expertise during the program. Limited number of boats; please reserve a space.
Calling all outdoor adventurers! Meet up for wilderness skill building, hiking, exploring, nature-based art making, and more. Call 312-533-5751 to reserve your spot or for more information.
The landscape of northern Illinois has some remarkable features, many of which are remnants of a glacial past. The Chicago Botanic Garden takes advantage of its islands and lakeshore, and the Alliance for the Great Lakes helps to explore and protect the area’s unique and beautiful ravines.
Help shape a healthy future for your local ravines—home to native trees, wildflowers, birds, and butterflies; pathways to Lake Michigan beaches, and scenic backdrops for parks and homes. Learn about erosion that may threaten some of these ravines, as well as such concerns as damage to sewer lines, roads, and bridges. Ask questions, hear from experts, and brainstorm with your neighbors at this workshop that is open to ravine homeowners, ravine experts, local officials, and everyone who cares about the ravines in our community.
Register now for Revitalizing Our Ravines, a community workshop at the Garden on Wednesday, June 1, from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. Experts will speak about how you can help protect and restore ravines. Local landscape and ravine restoration service providers will show examples of ravine restoration and landscaping.
Complimentary snacks, refreshments, and an evening cocktail hour are included with registration for this event. Registration closes on May 22.
Hosted by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Chicago Botanic Garden, Openlands, and the Field Museum.
©2016 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org