Jim, Rob, Dan, Cathy, and David on the camera
Yesterday was a good day for a wet walk in the forest. Well, it was if you are traveling with Rob Sandelin, naturalist for the Environmental Science School (ESS), a program of the Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe. Rob engages 28 middle school and high school students in snag surveys, tree planting, mushroom surveys, transect studies, etc. He looked at our web site and decided he wanted a closer view. ESS is always looking for new ground.
Dan Paquette took us to some of his favorite botanical sites. Along the way Dan pointed out various tree, shrub and moss species. Rob too, was a walking encyclopedia. He pointed to a decaying stump and said when he was in graduate school they took apart a similar stump and found over 300 different species of invertebrates living in it.
...over 300 different species of invertebrates
I asked Rob if he would send us a paragraph reflecting on the afternoon. As soon as he got home he sent us his thoughts....
A rainy day walk in the woods
On a late afternoon in November, in between rain squalls, a small group of us went out for an exploration of the North Creek Forest. As we arrived at the northern access point the large white sign said, 35 acres for sale. Pushing past the freeway noise we entered the forest. The light was subdued filtered gray from the clouds which gave everything a soft touch. The ground was covered with a thick mulch, with bright yellow maple and horse chestnut leaves adding the top layer, the bright yellow like so many pieces of summer sunshine scattered on the ground.
Next he picked up a golden maple leaf with green ringed spots on it. He said the spots were caused by a fungus that actually brings cells back to life and starts up their photosynthesis. His students call it a "zombie fungus" and the Latin name got by all but Dan I think. There is so much going on if you have someone show you. Student will discover amazing things here someday.
Season for Thanksgiving 2011
Following deer trails we wandered under the opening deciduous canopy, the maples reaching bare branches in to the sky like mossy skeletons. Stout cedars, a few impressive in girth and a scattering of other conifers anchored the hillside with their wide roots, cascading long green sprays of branches hanging like Christmas swags. In the forest gardens, seeds from bright summer flowers lay slumbering, snug under fallen leaf blankets, awaiting spring. It is easy to see the potential here, a wide diversity of native plants which must host a healthy regiment of birds and other critters. As darkness fell we managed to find our way back and discovered the sign at the entrance hosting a new addition of, "Sale Pending". Indeed, this forest is poised for protection and will make a fine future natural area.