NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

National Public Lands Day - That's What I Call Fun!

Ask most other folks what they think is a fun way to spend a Saturday and you'll hear things like go to a waterpark, the beach, the shopping mall, a sporting event, or a concert but ask me and I'll tell you nothing beats hiking or any other activity that works up a sweat out on our public lands.

I was up bright and early this morning so I decided I'd get a run in before I showed up for National Public Lands Day.  Turns out the parking for the Calumet Trail and where we were to meet the ranger were one and the same so I got a little preview of the area we were going to work on.

I ran in the other direction for about 9 minutes before I gave up and turned around.  Turns out running under high power lines next to an oil refinery leaves a funny taste in your mouth.  Never again.  I felt so sorry for the birds that were chirping in the trees as I ran past that they have to live there and breathe it all the time.  This is land that needs a lot of love and hard work.

This area (Cowles Bog) is dominated by Red Maple and Yellow Birch trees which are starting to sport their fall color

On the bright side there were no mosquitoes and after a quick shower and a quick "see ya later" to Sharon I was back to show up for work.  I was surprised (and thrilled) to see what I thought was a pretty good turn out, and even recognized Mike from Ohio as a participant in our ranger-led hike the previous day.  We teamed up and after donning leather gloves and grabbing a tool to cut brush we were making our way along Cowles Bog to cut down vines, particularly the highly invasive Bittersweet.

We took turns cutting and pulling but Mike was extra determined!

Everyone gave it a good effort, and though I didn't get a picture of them we even had a couple of schoolbuses full of high school students out to get their service hours fulfilled.  I don't think they worked as hard as we did, but every little bit helps.  (It's not cool to get dirty and sweaty in front of your friends, right?)

We kept at it for just under 2 hours before we admitted defeat in the form of trembling arms and aching backs.  The brush we cut down we had to pick up and throw into the water on the other side of the berm.

I worked harder than this picture looks, I swear I did!

When we cleared a space through the brush this is what we saw.  It's a long battle to get this stuff down and gone because of course berries will drop down off the vines or be dispersed by the animals who eat them and start new seedlings.

The NPS received a grant in 2009 to begin restoration work on the bog, which is technically a fen because it is more alkaline than a true bog, and they've been very busy reintroducing native plants into the area.  I saw evidence of their work in the form of plant containers waiting to be put in as well as in the difference in the landscape from one side of the berm to the other.

Where we tossed our trimmings

I didn't get an opportunity to walk the Cowles Bog Trail and hope I'll have time to get over there tomorrow morning for a look.  I enjoyed participating in National Public Lands Day and hope I remember to look for an opportunity to participate again next year...who knows, maybe even in Yellowstone!

In the afternoon Sharon and I visited Pinhook Bog which I think was her favorite part of the day because she got to finally see Pitcher Plants!


  1. Thank you so much for participating in this volunteer effort. I have put it on my calendar for next year. I was busy trying to keep Mother Nature at bay in my own back yard. She seriously wants to take over in the mid Atlantic and mid west much more than in Utah.

  2. I hope there was a good turnout across the country for this day. Thanks for volunteering!

  3. Great job helping preserve these beautiful areas. Thanks for volunteering:)

  4. You make me feel ashamed. Thanks for pitching in.