Saturday, May 09, 2009

(Trimmed area) (Untrimmed area)

(Heron in Lake)

A Walk in the Park:
An occasional series.

After days and days of drenching rain, wind and hail, the sun came out. The park sparkles. Like a freshly polished jewel, the bright yellow green leaves shined in the sun, small white cherry blossoms sprinkled the ground and little ducklings floated behind their mom in the lake.

As Jilly, my yellow lab, and I walked around the lake, I spied a small blue heron fishing by the small island. We stopped and stared at this beautiful bird with its long, graceful neck, curvaceous body and stilt-like legs. Carefully, my husband made his way closer to take these pictures. Why were we being so careful? Because, we haven’t seen herons for awhile at the park. And that’s strange, because we’re used to seeing herons around our lake on a daily basis.

So why the change? Well, I’m not an expert, but I noticed that when the park workers began their forest trimming program to eradicate invasive plants, I stopped seeing the herons.

Take a look at the other pictures, here. Notice the beautiful naturally lush forest? That’s an area that hasn’t been trimmed, yet. Then, see the barren, flat area with the dead branches? That’s just one of the areas that have been cut down by large trimmers and mowers.

Now, they’ve started spraying. Yes. The other day, walking in the park, there was a small sign stating that herbicides were being sprayed on invasive plants, and a warning to stay from any foliage covered with blue dye.

The invasive plants they’re spraying are blackberries. Many a day, I’ve happily picked and enjoyed these plump, juicy berries while walking through the park. What’s nicer than a stroll through the woods, than one where you get free snacks, courtesy of Mother Nature? With nature now covered with herbicides, I won’t be snacking there anymore.

But what’s really bothering me is what they’re doing to the bird’s nesting places. First, trimming the bushes in the forest eliminates nesting for some small birds, snakes and rabbits. Now, they’re cutting down the bushes on the island where the geese and ducks nest. And right now, it’s the middle of nesting season.

Last week, I saw the first set of new goslings. Three sets of protective parents surrounded 12 little goslings as they foraged in the grass. I admire the goose community every year. They work as a tightly knit group parenting their goslings. Together, they protect, nest, birth, feed and teach their goslings. When goose flight school starts, it’s an amazing thing to watch how well organized they are at teaching their goslings to fly.

But how can these parents protect their goslings now? Where are they going to go when their nests are destroyed? How will they know to stay away from the blue-dyed plants covered with herbicides?

Next week, I’m calling the park department. I’m going to give them a piece of my mind. I want my park to be a safe place for everyone, moms and dads with kids, goslings, ducklings and herons, too.


Susan J Tweit said...

Hmm. I can't say what circumstances the park department is dealing with, but I will say this about blackberries: you may love to pick them, but from a wildlife standpoint, they're horrible. They take over, and that means a monoculture of non-native blackberries instead of the diversity of shrubs and vines and wildflowers that would be there. When I hacked back the blackberries that had taken over our cut-over western red cedar and hemlock woods on Puget Sound, the next spring trilliums bloomed there, and pretty soon we had salmonberry and other shrubs where there had been none before. And more kinds of birds. So I'd give the parks department the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes in restoring a place, you have to do drastic things. But in your part of the world, the native plants will regenerate quickly.

Susan GT said...

Sigh. Well you are right about the blackberries. I have talked to the park people and they are trying very hard to bring back the native plants and trees that have been strangled by blackberries. And they are planting some new native plants.

BUT...I still worry about the birds, snakes, rabbits and squirrels. I'd hate to see the herbicides kill them.

This morning, we did see the 6 new goslings surrounded by 4 protective parents. I just want to make sure they will be ok. I guess I feel protective of them, too.