Saturday, November 12, 2011

habitat ~ 11/12/11 ~ Elkhorn Slough - NERR

First off, let me say that Andy and I had a lovely afternoon walk at Elkhorn on a very overcast day. This slough is one of my top 5 places to enjoy the outdoors in Monterey County. We had planned to go the day before for the holiday, but major rains kept us mostly indoors. I seem to have a rain curse anytime I plan on hiking or camping ahead of time, hence why I'm a bit superstitious and tend not to plan ahead for such things. They raised their entrance fee from $2.50/person to $4.00/person. It's still a small amount to pay for the pleasure.

What's that saying, "Ignorance is bliss"? It wasn't until I blogged about the prolific invasive plant species that I started getting grumpy about our visit. I looked into the history of Elkhorn Slough. In the past 140 years, the place has been built, ditched, diked, dairied, diverted, farmed, channeled, mounded, and is now being utilized as an outdoor laboratory. Then, I started reading about all the research that is going on there. Instead of being encouraged, I got depressed. Out of numerous not-so-fun to report items, DDE was circumstantially linked to a caspian tern colony crash in 1995. When was DDT banned here in the US? 1972! So, 23 years later the stuff is still killing non-target life? I wouldn't be surprised if Monsanto's Roundup ends up being this century's DDT. It's used everywhere, including as a management tool against invasive plants - to be fair, the agricultural runoff into watersheds overshadows any minimal use of herbicide at reserves. However, just because everyone uses it, doesn't mean it's good - think fossil fuels, plastics, cigarettes. Dang, we humans sure can eff things up! How will Elkhorn Slough be in another 140 years?

Oh, I should mention that pretty pink plant is the native red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum). I believe it's introduced and tended like a garden plant.

ps 11/23/11 - This post really got me thinking about what exactly are my views on conservation, restoration, gardens, and research in the 21st century, so I've been keeping an eye out for more information. I found Biodiverse Gardens' book review of Rambunctious Gardens interesting.


Imperfect and tense said...

It's true the world over, I suspect. Nature reserves are often the bits we can't use because we trashed the land years previously. Still, the wildlife always seems to find the good side in this, it generally being of a more optimistic nature.

Have you thought about marketing your weather skills for drought prevention?

Allison said...

When in Kansas I stopped by a nature reserve and saw ragweed for the first time ever. A beautiful plant that has been reseeded to preserve the natural prairie lands. I thought of you and your love for such plants. The beauty is endless.

Jeannette said...

One of the first things we did when we arrived to care for the property where we live was to fire the spray squads that came from various establishments. They told us we would never be able to control things organically, and while it is true that organic can often mean manual, it has been over five years now . So it takes effort to (I hope you like the phrase that came to me while reading your post this morn) Square off with Round Up...but hopefully people can and will resist the use of chemicals to control plants and insects.

May you be of good cheer when you fight a good fight.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Hmm, Graeme, I should try to market my abilities to make it rain. If in drought, invite me out!

Thank you, Allison. I often don't appreciate how my little blog affects people. And, thank you for your kind note.

Jeannette, thanks for your support. I have very mixed feelings about any pesticides, including "organic" ones as they also kill non-target species. On reserves, they have a lot more ground to cover, need to show progress, and must please the people who donate their time and money. I totally respect the tough decisions land managers have to make.

It occurred to me after I edited the above that the reason why I was getting depressed reading all the pages of the official site is because in order to get funding, the researchers need to present their projects in a certain light of critical importance. Maybe that's why the blogs with a personal touch (which have all stopped) were heartening for me, whereas the official site simply makes me want to throw in the towel. I wish I could time travel and see what the future holds for places like Elkhorn Slough.

Rotton Yarns said...

Love those pictures of Elkhorn and I see what you mean about the similarity to Imperfect and Tenses' picture of Ely Cathedral.

Its a huge site with so much to see certainly at least as productive as some of our better sites here when they are at their best.