On my walk yesterday I found the beginnings of the best spring flower show here. The Ladyslipper orchids are poking through the ground; the native azelia hiding from hungry deer are in full bud, and the acres of laurel are starting to bud out.
It has been a year of focusing on health for many of us. When I visit the Preserve, I enjoy the many physical and mental health benefits as I walk the trails, scan the views, and breathe in the forest air. This Fall I was reminded that while the Preserve may be part of our individual “health care plan”, it also has health care needs of its own to address.
The Emerald Ash Borer beetle, who has thrived in North America since its accidental introduction in the 1990’s, has decimated Ash trees across the United States and Canada. Our Ash trees within the Preserve have also become a food source for this exotic bug. This presents a set of decisions for the caretakers. Do we let nature take its course or do we invest in some measures to defend our stands?
The photo shows the Landmark Ash tree near the information kiosk. It was treated with insecticide injection under high pressure, so the insects would be killed when they bore into the tree in the spring before they create their “galleries.” This was done in Spring of 2018 and it helped this grand Ash survive for now. There are several nearby trees also treated. But the untreated ones died and are piled next to the parking lot. The beetles ran out of food and seem to have vanished after killing many local trees. We will keep an eye on the remaining specimens and retreat when and if the beetles return.
This process reminds me to appreciate what we have, to respect the dangers that come and go, and to consider the research and efforts that others are taking to help protect the health of our Preserve.
Despite the dry summer or maybe because of it fall colors here at Glacier Pools Preserve are wonderful this weekend and will probably get brighter over the next week. We don’t have the “in your face” reds of a hillside of maples or aspen, so look to individual trees and get to know a few. Right now it’s nut trees aspen and birch; scattered maples are just starting to turn. I even love the browns the dominant oaks take on at the end of the season. My favorite walk for color is to go directly to the “throne” then down the West Meadow Trail to the Diversion Terrace which has wonderful views all the way across Entrance Trail to the woods to the east (which is where the above picture was taken.)
Mountain laurel is blooming and this year is the best display ever. Some plants are at their peak, some are just coming on, and a few are starting to “snow” blossoms. Here’s a suggestion for a short walk to see the best display: start at the “throne” and head into the woods to the left on Shortcut (red blazes). There are some full laurels on the trail and some grand ones 50-100 feet into the woods. At the intersection with ‘mander Meander go right for a few minutes to find 360 degrees of laural bloom then return and take ‘mander Meander towards the High Field. Look left for some large laurel bushes. About 100 feet before the field there is a rudimentary trail left to a cluster of very grand laurel to enjoy.
We have a new trail. We named it “Chad’s Trail” after our late dear family friend Chad Peeling who was so very helpful in developing our preserve and who created and donated the nature signage. It’s scenic, interesting, has links to the old trail system for a variety of loops, and brings our total trail length to 4 1/2 miles. You will find it easier to navigate by starting at the far left corner of the High Field and walking clockwise. Please avoid the section from the kiosk, which is muddy and has seeded grass to protect.
The Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology had their annual meeting in Williamsport last weekend and came out to Glacier Pools Preserve to do a bird walk. I
This Sunday (April 7) at 1:00 a geologist and an amphibian biologist will be leading a tour at Glacier Pools Preserve. We meet at the kiosk. I can also explain and show the forest improvement project which is underway.
Sunday April 22 is Earth Day and the Linn Conservancy is organizing a walking tour of Glacier Pools Preserve starting at 1:00. We’ll take a look at early spring life in the pools, which should have many clusters of salamander and frog eggs from breeding over the next weeks. Expect to walk on unpaved trails up and down gradual hills for about one mile (or more if you like.)