Walking the straight and narrow

Martin Bailey cmbb at sk.sympatico.ca
Tue Jul 9 21:24:32 EDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Anne Kilmer" <viceroy at GATE.NET>
To: <cmbb at sk.sympatico.ca>
Sent: Monday, July 08, 2002 11:19 PM
Subject: Re: Walking the straight and narrow

> nice posting.
> I blame the birds (for habitat change), as far as seed dispersal. The more
there are, the
> more there will be.
> anne

Dear Anne,

While it is well documented that birds and other beastlies carry seeds from
one location to another, I don't think that this is what I am observing.  It
is a change in habitat brought about by European settlement.  Specifically,
the invasion of "pristine" places by European seeds and new plant root

When the land is disturbed; soiled ploughed up, trees chopped down and
stumped, or now gouged by fashionable vehicle tires, at least two things

 1) The underground root system of the plants that were there is torn up.
Which is exactly what you want to do when you farm the land.  Make it as
close as impossible for the former flora of that land to defend itself from
the new seeds planted there.

2) The chemistry and the balance of the micro-organism below the soil is
disrupted.  A nutrient base that, while we know little about it, we try to
recreate by using chemical fertilizers or "going organic" if we intend to
continue farming that soil.

My concern is not the disrupted soil, but the untouched land adjacent to the
farm field, road, or weekend adventure by those with more money than brains.

 How large does a plot of native prairie have to be to remain intact from
the onslaughts happening around it?

While I do not know the answer, even in a general way, it is astounding to
note land that I occasionally sweep a net across that has never been touched
by the hand of man is totally overrun by the imported plants of man.

I also butterfly on land that is a mixture of native and exotic plants.  It
is a larger area where the remaining native plants will survive only by luck
and not by design.

And there is the miles of no public entry land.  Here the native rules
except for the occasional pothole where a truck went through during a rain.
A rare disturbance, but enough to give Dock (Rumex occidentalis), a weed
from Europe, a foothold to survival.

Funny thing coppers like Dock.  And if the American Copper, for example, is
ever found here, expect it amongst that weed - Rumex occidentalis.

So what are we trying to save?

Not too long ago there was an enquiry on this list on when to hay meadows in
Vermont so that they do not become overrun with saplings.  A graduate
student in environmental studies.
Sort of odd.  Environmental studies to stop the reversion of what was once
forest lands back into forest.

But then again may be it isn't that odd.  The forests of Vermont are now
different.  All the naturally growing hardwoods were chopped out by 1900
never to return. Meadows and their fringes are more conducive to wildlife
and butterflies that impenetrable hardwood stands.

What was once ain't ever going to return.

May be we should be promoting a new bio-diversity.  A self-sustaining one
that is lightly touched by the human hand.

Martin Bailey,

greetings from:  Weyburn, SK., Canada.
                         49.39N  103.51W


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