Tom's Blog

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Labor Day field trips at Pleasant Valley Conservancy

The Labor Day field trip at Pleasant Valley Conservancy has become a tradition. The first Labor Day trip was held in the 2005 and we have held one every year since. See this link for photos of earlier trips. This year the trip was on Sept 5 2016.

Labor Day is an ideal time for a prairie trip, because the warm season grasses are in full flower and the fall forbs provide lots of color. The weather is still good. Also, most people don't have to work!

2016 Labor Day field trip at the Overlook. The warm season grasses are in full flower.

This year we had 35 people. Some were repeaters, a few who come every year, but lots were new, who have either heard about PVC from friends, TPE or MAS websites, or perhaps from our Facebook page.

One tradition which Kathie has maintained is seed collecting. Those interested are given a sandwich bag and given the chance to collect one of the savanna grasses (bottle brush, silky rye, or riverbank rye) whose seeds are still ripe for collecting. Some people have never collected seeds before and discover how easy it is. Others are "old hands" and are happy to help out.

The Overlook shown in the photo is an ideal spot. It's fairly remote (for this part of the world), is reached after a good long walk, and in one location shows all of the habitats of PVC: wetland, wet prairie, mesic prairie, dry prairie, bur oak savanna, and oak woodlands (if you turn around and look the other way). Many of the bur oaks here are over 200 years old! And there is a Leopold Bench to sit on.

This location demonstrates very well ecologist John Curtis' "continuum" concept.

To the south there is a view of Blue Mounds, and to the north the bluffs on the other side of the Wisconsin River are visible.

This is also an historic location, because the last battle of the Blackhawk War, which opened up Wisconsin to settlement, took place in this area. The U.S. Army was stationed at Fort Blue Mounds, and the soldiers marched down County F past PVC on their way to what is now called Blackhawk Ridge, where the battle was held.


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