Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Glacial Heritage Preserve

On 4 May 2019, Erika and I took an Audubon Society tour of the Glacial Heritage Preserve just south of Littlerock, Washington. Ths photo does not do justice in portraying the beauty of this 1020 acre site, managed by Thurston County and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife service. The management history of the preserve is complicated—apparently it was first run by The Nature Conservancy, then taken over by the Center for Natural Lands Management, with the county and USFW taking over since 1994. Now the prairie is open to the public only one day a year. Otherwise, the land is open only to school groups and researchers by permit only. The prairie is not flat, but filled with curious mounds, which are covered with grasses and wildflowers.
The refuge is a remnant of the Puget Prairie ecosystem and first greeted settlers in the 1800s. One of the most abundant wildflowers, Common Camas, was abundant. This lily was noted by Lewis and Clark, who wrote that the camas made fields look like a blue lakes. Even today the prairie has a blue wash. The Nez Pierce fed Lewis and Clark Common Camas bulbs in 1805. Clark wrote he felt unwell afterwards “from eating the fish and roots too freely” (Forest Service). Since then camas has been widely propagated in both the the eastern US and Europe.
Another wildflower of the prairie is the Golden Paintbrush, one of Washington’s rarest plants. These paintbrushes were reintroduced here and are now thriving. All is not secure, since Golden Paintbrush hybridise with red paintbrushes, resulting in orange-flowered plants. These hybrids are the bane of prairie managers.

No comments:

Post a Comment