Monday, May 21, 2007

Restoration work in ANWR

No, not that ANWR. I'm talking about the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in northern Colorado. I and 30-40 other volunteers with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) spent the weekend planting willows and building fenced exclosures there.

The willows will hopefully provide habitat for migratory songbirds. Previous use of the land resulted in the loss of willows in some areas, and high elk and moose populations have prevented willow regeneration. This is where WRV comes in. They provided the labor to plant willow cuttings and to fence them off so that elk and moose can't browse them down to the ground. The idea is that the exclosures will allow the willows to grow large enough so that parts of the shrubs will be above the reach of herbivores.

I spent Saturday working on building up a fence around one of the exclosures. I can say that my fence building skills are a bit lacking, but I managed not to hurt myself (or anyone else), so that's encouraging. On Sunday, I planted willow cuttings in pots that some high school students in Walden, CO ("Moose watching capital of Colorado") will take care of before planting them at the refuge either this fall or next spring. Other volunteers planted freshly cut or recently cut willows into the exclosures. It will be interesting to see how well the willow cuttings fare over the summer; I think the survivorship of cuttings is fairly low.

In any case, it was good to be outside after being cooped up in my office all spring. The breeding season for birds on the refuge isn't in full swing yet, but there were some snipe around to add entertainment value to the weekend. I'll add a few pictures of the refuge in a week or two. (See what I mean about behind the curve? I don't even own a digital camera.)

No comments: