Friday, April 11, 2008

Turning the Tide, One Island at a Time

Working our way down the valley towards the lakes at Mountain Lakes Preserve, cutting down invasive shrubs as we go, we came upon an island. Or, rather, Clark came upon an island, and has been spending some spring afternoons relieving it of a long-held burden of the usual suspects--multiflora rose, privet and honeysuckle.

A big ash tree stands guard at the upstream end, splitting the stream in two and preventing periodic floodwaters from carrying the island's soil downstream into the lakes.

In the course of removing exotic species, some native ones have emerged from the tangle. Below is a Christmas fern, growing at the base of a privet, and just about to send up a new crop of "fiddlehead"-shaped leaf shoots. Other natives discovered on the island are elderberry, spicebush and wild indigo (Amorpha fruticosa).

Clark, who is enjoying a very active retirement, has also been cutting down invasive shrubs along many of the Mountain Lakes trails he walks daily. Thanks to volunteers like Clark, the landscape at Mountain Lakes is becoming more and more a place to nourish wildlife and the human spirit.

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