Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bog Days II

(Continued from preceding posting)

 Another thing I spent quite a bit of time on at Bat Fork Bog was developing an understanding of how water worked in the Preserve.  This turned out to be a fascinating experience that involved the bog in times of drought and in times of flood Only two places on the Preserve retained water throughout the year.  We dug test ‘wells’ throughout the Preserve to find water during drought but, with the exception of the two locations noted, it was not there or it was down so far as to be useless in increasing habitat for the bunched arrowhead. In fact, water was mostly a feast or famine thing at the Preserve. When it was feast it was, literally, a movable feast because during those time of exceptionally heavy rainfall, water would flow into the bog from the surrounding uplands and adjacent Bat Fork Creek would overflow discharging hundreds of thousands of gallons into the shallow bowl of the Preserve and putting otherwise fairly dry land a meter or two underwater.  We published a preliminary hydrological study of the Preserve in Natural Areas Journal.  
Poison ivy was ubiquitous at the Preserve and I felt like I had that itching irritation going on some part of my body at least half of the time I sloshed around in those wetlands.  On the other hand, the Preserve had delightful surprises.  One of the most enjoyable of these surprises was the family of coyotes that lived in an embankment along one of Preserve boundaries.  These curious, melodic creatures would howl almost every time the siren at the nearby fire station cut loose.  They, especially the young ones, would also follow my travels around the Preserve, sometimes just moments behind me and I would see them poking their curious noses out of the thick grasses watching me.
Bat Fork Bog Preserve and other places like it may be small but they can offer exceptional opportunities for the study of specific aspects of the natural history of the vanishing wet places of our world.

Baugh, T. and R.E. Evans. 2011. Restoration of a Southern Appalachian Mountain Bog Phase II-Hydrology. Natural Areas Journal  31(1)501-504.
Baugh, T., R.E. Evans, C.J Stewart, and S. Artebane. 2011. Restoration of a Southern Appalachian Mountain Bog: Phase I. Reed canary grass removal. Ecological Restoration 9(1):13-14.

Baugh, T. and K. Schlosser. [In press]. Management considerations for the restoration of bunched arrowhead Sagittaria fasciulata. Natural Areas Journal [January 2013].

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bog Days I

In 2010 I became the first Preserve Steward in the developing 
North Carolina Plant Conservation stewardship program.  All of my work for the program was undertaken in the increasingly rare mountain wetlands of Western North Carolina and a majority of it at Bat Fork Bog Plant Conservation Preserve, not far from my home in Henderson County.  My tenure at Bat Fork Bog was one of the more enjoyable field experiences I have had in a number of years.
Bat Fork Bog Plant Conservation Preserve is located in Henderson County in the mountains of Western North Carolina just outside of the County Seat of Hendersonville and only about 20 minutes from our home, Hidden Springs, on a rocky, forested ridge west of town.
 The Preserve is a remnant swamp-forest-bog complex that was purchased by the State of North Carolina in 1996 to protect several relatively rare plant species including a small, essentially nondescript, emergent species known as the bunched arrowhead (Sagittaria fasciculata).

The bog was, essentially, divided into two halves.  One half was forested and one half had been cleared of trees and shrubs and given over to a pasture-like area covered in reed canary grass.  Also, the reed canary grass had invaded an old canal, part of which hosted the only bunched arrowhead population on the Preserve.  Along with employees of the State of North Carolina, I spent a considerable amount of time during 2010 applying and monitoring an herbicide approved by EPA for application to aquatic sites.  

My first task was to become familiar with the Preserve.  I spent days wandering around the property rough-mapping distinguishable features and noting the location of plants of interest.   For a number of reasons, there had been very little interest in Bat Fork Bog over the preceding decade and most of that was focused on the one population of bunched arrowhead plants in the canal along the northern boundary of the Preserve. 

(Continued in the next post.)