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.)