By Carrie Karl, WREN Education Assistant
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Weather: A canopy of clouds and light rain.
Matt Benotsch, from The Nature Conservancy, lead eleven people along a fire break in the Willow Creek Natural Area during this Wetland Wander. As we travelled Matt narrated the battle unfolding before our eyes between forest and prairie. The struggle for space is constant. Humans have played a deciding role in this battle beginning with the Kalapuya thousands of years ago. The Kalapuya used fire to cultivate food sources and the plants we see today now depend on fire for survival. Without fire, the Tufted Hair Grass would ebb away and the Oregon Ash would dominate. As this battle is waged there is considerable beauty to behold. As we looked out over the prairie we watched a Northern Harrier swoop low hunting for a mid morning snack. At prairie edges we glimpsed Pacific Green Tree Frogs, a Rough Skinned Newt and a Southern Alligator Lizard hidden amongst the grasses and fallen leaves. Restoration technicians today utilize fire to help the prairie and forest to maintain their space. As areas are burned or mowed, a mechanical way to mimic fire, there is balance and a forging of habitat for a diversity of life.