All posts by gvmeco

Maroon Bells Trail

Maroon Bells Trail Marker
Maroon Bells Trail Marker

Last Friday (4/1/2011) I hiked part of the Maroon Bells Trail and was impressed by the improvements made by the GVM Trails Committee. Here’s a photo of my nephew’s foot next to one of the newly painted orange trail markers. Thanks, Trails Committee!

Log Cabin Rd vs. Boy Scout Rd

4/3/2011 In the previous post, Jim accessed the new Elkhorn Creek Trail from the Log Cabin Rd. I asked him if that was the same as the Boy Scout Rd. He emailed:  “Log Cabin Road and Boy Scout Road (CR 68C), the same, although the latter name appears in Among These Hills: A History of Livermore, Colorado.  The former stems from the Log Cabin Hotel, post office, and stage stop at the T juncture of  CR 68C with the Red Feather Lakes Road (CR 74E).  One can still see the concrete foundation of one of the buildings.” Thanks for the clarification and history lesson, Jim.

Jim sent additional information from that book on p. 26 : “The two-story [hotel] structure was originally built at the Ashley Grange, a place for training young English ‘remittance’ men how to become ranchers.  It had been moved several miles north to this site in 1888 . . ..”   Jim added “Such men appear to have been not a rarity in the Livermore region.”

First Blooms

4/2/2011 Email from Jim E.: “What a memorable high-country hike early afternoon, on this balmy but windy day on the US Forest Service’s Elkhorn Creek Trail at ~8,000 ft.  Its trailhead was renovated last year (I’d not even known it was there down the Log Cabin Road, which I’ve been on so many times).  To my amazement I spotted the first flowers of the season!  I could not believe it; had to go back to the truck for my digital camera.


“We Like Lichen” KUNC Segment

3/15/2011 Email from Jim E.: “On listening to this feature on Living on Earth (KUNC at 5p), I thought this might be an interesting bit …  It might pique someone’s interest in the handful (9 species) of lichens in the plant list for GVM.  The genus Umbilicaria – on our list – is mentioned and illustrated.”

Thanks so much Jim, this is a fun piece, very interesting angle on studying old cemeteries in Massachusetts! I’ve pasted the link to the broadcast and also inserted the transcript with captions but not photos.
http://www.loe.org/shows/shows.html?programID=11-P13-00010#feature5

We Like Lichen

GELLERMAN: In the first stanza of his poem “Auguries of Innocence,” William Blake writes an ode to the ordinary and asks us to open our eyes to the miracles lying right before us. It begins:
“To see a world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.”
With Blake’s rhyme and verse in mind, reporter Ari Daniel Shapiro tracked down a couple of biologists who are taking the Romantic poet at his word.
[CARS HONKING]
SHAPIRO: In the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts – in bustling Harvard Square – there’s a small cemetery called the Old Burying Ground. Twelve hundred historic tombstones huddle inside, including a handful of local Revolutionary War heroes.


Anne Pringle at a local cemetery in Cambridge, MA. (EOL Learning and Education Group)

PRINGLE: You can see it here, 1765.
SHAPIRO: Anne Pringle is an Associate Professor at Harvard. And this isn’t her first time walking through this snow-covered cemetery.
PRINGLE: The funniest comment I ever got was somebody…somebody who thought that I was mourning, and they were wondering why I was mourning for so very long on my hands and knees in front of a particular tombstone.
SHAPIRO: And what were you doing in fact?
PRINGLE: I was counting lichens.
SHAPIRO: Pringle’s a mycologist. That is: she studies fungi. And lichens are a special type of fungus. They’re often first to colonize new habitats, and they can grow on tree bark, fence posts, and stones, including tombstones like the ones in this cemetery. But, that’s not all.
[PAPER PACKET CRUMPLING]
SHAPIRO: Back in her office, Pringle unfolds a paper packet containing a kind of lichen called Xanthoparmelia plittii. She points out the tiny, crusty swirls the color of spearmint.
PRINGLE: Lichens are symbioses – that means that they are made up of multiple species living together. And generally, a lichen is one individual fungus, and living inside, embedded in the matrix of that fungus, there are algae, and maybe more than one species of algae.



Examining lichen on a gravestone. (EOL Learning and Education Group)

SHAPIRO: It’s a complicated organism. A lichen is a fungus with algae living inside it. The algae photosynthesize, converting carbon dioxide into sugars – food that the fungus can consume. It’s not clear whether the algae get anything out of the arrangement, except maybe a home they wouldn’t otherwise have.
PRINGLE: What’s also interesting about a lichen is realizing that it’s an entire habitat for other creatures inside it: of bacteria, of other fungi. So, when you look at a lichen, when you’re walking by, it’s not just an individual – it’s an entire ecosystem, sort of like a tropical rainforest in miniature, just maybe the size of the palm of your hand growing on a fencepost.
SHAPIRO: Within the lichen, how many species are there – of the bacteria, the fungi, the algae?
PRINGLE: Oh, I don’t know. Hundreds, order of magnitude.
[DOOR OPENING]
SHAPIRO: Next door, in Pringle’s lab, mycologist Benjamin Wolfe holds up what looks like a giant black potato chip the size of his hand. This lichen’s a different species – Umbilicaria mammulata – but the story…it’s the same.


Mycologist Benjamin Wolfe holds up a lichen called Umbilicaria mammulata. (EOL Learning and Education Group)

WOLFE: So if you look on the back of it, you see it’s, like, this very rough, velvety, kind of surface. If you touch it, yeah…
[VELVET RUBBING SOUND]
WOLFE: Those little nooks and crannies are great places for bacteria to live. And I’ve done a little bit of work using these high-powered microscopes to zoom in on the back of these and you see these huge microbial landscapes – little bacterial gardens nestled into this forest of these underbellies of the lichens. So it’s, sort of, this idea of a world within a world.
SHAPIRO: Unlike other types of fungi that live pretty much concealed inside trees or in the dirt, lichens – these worlds within worlds – are exposed entirely to the elements.
[TRAFFIC SOUNDS]
SHAPIRO: So at a place like the Old Burying Ground in Cambridge, the lichens dotting the tombstones have to handle whatever the environment throws their way. Usually, lichens do really well, but not always. Anne Pringle:
PRINGLE: Here in a cemetery, there used to be a thriving community of lichens, and now there isn’t because of the pollution that humans have created. When we walk into a cemetery in rural Massachusetts, it’s a very different landscape. The tombstones are covered in green. They’re covered in very beautiful leaf-like lichens. It’s an entire world that just has disappeared from this local habitat.



Umbilicaria growing on a rock in Maine. (EOL Learning and Education Group)

SHAPIRO: Pringle is comparing the lichens in urban and rural settings – to see how long they live, and how they grow and reproduce. She can use this information to think about how fungi more generally might react to changes in climate and pollution, and what that might mean for entire ecosystems – both the little ones living on and in the fungi, and the big ones that depend on fungi as decomposers. For Living on Earth, I’m Ari Daniel Shapiro.
GELLERMAN: Ari Daniel Shapiro’s story comes to us from the series “One Species at a Time,” which is produced by Atlantic Public Media with support from the Encyclopedia of Life. For more information, go to our website l-o-e dot org. And there you’ll find some photos of lichens and a link where you can post some of your own pictures.

Continue reading “We Like Lichen” KUNC Segment

Using Lichenometry for Historical Dating

2/20/2011 Email from Jim E. “possibly worth a note in EcoBlog (a geologist, Jim Benedict, I knew used the technique to date Ute rock barriers above timberline to funnel elk or deer for the kill):
Benedict: http://www.jstor.org/pss/1551260” Thanks so much, Jim, for sending this information, quite fascinating!!

Here’s the link Jim sent  General: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichenometry and the first few sentences from WikiPedia…..

Lichenometry

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Picture of the Map lichen or Rhizocarpon geographicum, the most used lichen in lichenometry.

In archaeology, palaeontology, and geomorphology, lichenometry is a geomorphic method of geochronologic aging that uses lichen growth to determine the age of exposed rock: lichens are presumed to increase in size radially at specific rates as they grow. Measuring the diameter of the largest lichen of a species on a rock surface can therefore be used to determine the amount of time that the rock has been exposed. Lichen can be preserved on old rock faces for up to 10,000 years, providing the maximum age limit of the technique, though is most accurate (within 10% error) when applied to surfaces that have been exposed for less than 1000 years[1]. The use of lichenometry is of increased value for dating deposited surfaces over the past 500 years as radiocarbon dating techniques are less efficient over this period.[2] The most common lichen used for lichenometry are that of the genus Rhizocarpon, for example the species Rhizocarpon geographicum, and those of the genus Xanthoria.

Lichenometry can provide dates for glacial deposits in tundra environments, lake level changes, glacial moraines, trim lines, rockfalls, talus (scree) stabilization and former extent of permafrost or very persistent snow cover.

Among the potential problems of the technique are the difficulty of correctly identifying the species, delay between exposure and colonization, varying growth rates from region to region as well as the fact that growth rates are not always constant over time, dependence of the rate of growth upon substrate texture and composition, climate, and determining which lichen is the largest.

CSU Article on Recent Fires

Fighting Brush Fire
Fighting Brush Fire

9/14/2010 From Ellen: I saw this article today from “Today @ Colorado State University” online newsletter. It also has interesting links from the Colorado State Forest Service at the end.

Dangerous conditions helped lead to wildfires currently raging in Front Range foothills.

As long as people continue to build in or near the mountains, fires will always be a threat.

Doug Rideout had a bad feeling Sept. 5 as he returned from a day trip in the Poudre Canyon.

“That weekend, the physical conditions were just perfect for a big fire,” said Rideout, a professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship. “As we were coming down the canyon I said to my wife that, if anything got started, the conditions were just perfect for a fire to go fast and big. I could visualize the hillsides and drainages going up – more so than at any time I can think of in the last 12 months.”

Ideal fire conditions

Those conditions – very low humidity, high temperatures, gusty winds, and plenty of dry grasses – are not uncommon in early September. And as it turned out, Rideout’s fears became reality some 50 miles to the south when fire erupted west of Boulder. Since that time, the Fourmile Canyon fire has burned more than 6,000 acres and destroyed 169 homes. More than a week after it ignited, the fire is not fully contained and many evacuated residents have not been cleared to return to their homes.

Sunday, with those conditions still in place, another fire – this one west of Loveland – sprung to life. The Reservoir Road fire already has claimed at least two homes and continues to burn out of control.

Sherri Lebeda, an administrative assistant in CSU’s Department of Communications and Creative Services, grew up in the Mountain Meadows subdivision, which was one of the areas threatened by the Fourmile Canyon fire. Her parents evacuated their home of 40 years and spent several days living in their RV.

“It was a really hard time (last week) because we knew my parents had been evacuated by we weren’t able to talk to them, so there were some really anxious moments,” said Lebeda, whose husband, Boyd, is a district forester in Fort Collins for the Colorado State Forest Service. “The devastation up there is just amazing. My parents are very fortunate to still have their home. I really feel for the people who have lost their homes; I can’t imagine what that’s like.”

Living in foothills brings risks

Lebeda’s father has been a member of the area’s volunteer fire department for four decades. His home was surrounded by ponderosa pines and grassy meadows – perfect fuel for a hungry fire. But living in Colorado’s foothills comes with built-in threats that most homeowners willingly accept. He and his wife also evacuated in 1989 when a fire threatened their home.

“Honestly, the people who live up there are willing to live with the risk because they enjoy it so much,” she said. “I loved growing up there; it’s a great place to live.”

As long as people continue to build in or near the mountains, fires will always be a threat. But homeowners need to be particularly vigilant when conditions are ripe for a fast-moving fire.

Colorado, California fires similar

The wet Colorado spring created excellent growing conditions for grasses and other fuels perfect for wildfires.

Rideout said it has been several years since he has seen conditions similar to those currently in place along the Front Range. He compared conditions to those in Southern California when Santa Ana winds combine with chaparral conditions (hot, dry, and plenty of fuel) to create the massive fires that threaten lives and homes in the foothills.

Those same conditions were in place for two of Colorado’s most famous recent events: the Buffalo Creek fire in 1996, and the Hayman fire in 2002. Both caused extensive damage and costs millions of dollars to fight.

“When we get into those kinds of conditions, we learn just how powerful that type of fire is and how fast it can move and cut people off from evacuation,” Rideout said. “It’s hard to explain and visualize unless you’ve been there and seen it. All I know is that (Labor Day) weekend I was thinking that getting out of the mountains was a really good idea. I could just feel it, that something bad was about to happen.”

Rideout said the wet Colorado spring created excellent growing conditions for grasses and other fuels perfect for wildfires. But while trees killed by the recent mountain beetle infestation can burn quickly, he doubts those trees played a large role in the recent fires.

“Everyone thinks that the pine beetle problems make conditions much worse, but typically that’s only for the first year or two after infestation,” he said. “At first, when the needles turn bright red, the trees can be quite flammable. A year or two later, they are far less susceptible to fire.”

Homeowners can prepare for fires

The best way for homeowners to protect themselves and their property is to remove as much of the natural fuel fires need to spread. All flammable materials should be cleared away from structures, including trees and ground fuels. Planting fire-retardant plants near structures can also create a measure of protection. Rideout said homeowners who don’t take such precautions are literally playing with fire.

“The (Fourmile Canyon) fire is a really good wakeup call for people living in that urban interface to take a hard look at what they can do to protect their property,” he said. “Even the best efforts are not always successful, but it helps an awful lot and it’s often very effective.

“It’s also a good wakeup call for all of us to realize how fast and dangerous these fires can be. It’s really time for people who haven’t prepared themselves to take action. It can be costly but it can also be very costly if you don’t.”

Colorado State Forest Service resources

Crellin Lake & Trail Workday Success

Group Work Day August 23, 2010. 8:00 – 11:30

Crellin Nature Trail, Crellin Lake , Community Leach Field

Prepared by Judd Adams

Volunteers: Odell Dehart, Linda Petrie, Mary O’Brien, Linda Bell, Susan and Lee Lamb, Judy and Harry Corwin, Wynne Dimock, Judd Adams and Oreo.

Crellin Nature Trail: Odell with weed whacker, nippers were Linda P, Mary, and Linda B. widened and trimmed the trail to the bottom and along the Sloan Trail to where we (Mary, Linda P. and Judd) stopped work on 8/19.  Linda B. also cut weeds.

Crellin Lake: Susan and Lee trimmed dead branches on trees along the right or east side of the lake.  The pile of cut branches was quite large and was left for staff to take to the slash pile.  Judd and Oreo trimmed grass around the lake, across the dam road on both sides and along the trail entrance to West Crellin Trail.  Pleased to report very few thistle and almost no mullein.  The vacant property on the west side of lake which was so heavily infested with diffuse knapweed was also very clean.

Community Leach Field; Wynne and Corwins worked on removing the weeds on the face which were (I think) mustard.  They did not finish and Wynne said she would come back later to complete the job.

To Do:

1)      Judd will return in a few days to spray the Canada thistle and mullein.

2)      West Crellin Trail needs attention to where the water crosses the trail – it is some what dangerous and I think I will ask Steve for a board to place across the water crossing.

3)      There is reportedly some confusion about the signs on this trail which we need to correct.

4)      I think it would be nice to paint the letters yellow on the signs for improved visibility.

Excellent day.  Good to see such a turn out.

8/28/2010 Note added by Susan:  “We also trimmed live growth on the pines to thin the trees, reduce ladder fuel, and fire danger. When it’s a bit cooler this fall Lee and I will trim trees on the other side of the lake. I also noticed the sign at the trailhead and thought that some yellow paint would improve its visibility. I’d be glad to paint the letters the day we trim the trees, if you can provide the paint.”

8/30/2010 Note from Ellen: “I hiked the trail yesterday and observed first hand what a great job was done. Thanks Ecology Committee!!

Sep 25 National Public Lands Day in RFL!

USFS_RFL_eventSep2010
click image for flyer

8/18/2010 From Ellen: I got this information recently from Reghan Cloudman of the USDA Forest Service …sounds fun and convenient! Click here for details on their website.

“Attached is a flyer announcing our National Public Lands Day event on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District in Red Feather Lakes, Colo. We are trying to get the word out to as many folks as we can. If you could forward this on to anyone who might be interested and/or hang the flyer where your folks could see it, we would greatly appreciate it.

Reghan Cloudman, Public Affairs Specialist
Canyon Lakes Ranger District
Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests
& Pawnee National Grassland 970-295-6770”

Filing 8 Mystery Weed

Mountain Tansymustard, photo by LGB
Mountain Tansymustard, photo by LGB

7/26/2010 Email from Linda B: “Hello all, I was weeding in the greenbelt between Mt. Harvard and LaPlatta this morning (filing 8) and came across this plant. This is a new one for me. I couldn’t find a positive ID in my copy of Weeds of the West or in the various materials from the weed district or the state.

It is hairy on the stem, has leaves almost like a potentila, the flower on close inspection is more like a pea than a mustard. If anything, on first glance, to looked to me like a close relative of flixweed (a mustard) but the flowers occur on the tip end of the branches. I counted +/- 5 on one bracket, but they are teeny-tiny. The stem is round and the seed pods look like miniature pea pods….

I will keep this one around in some water for a while if anyone wants to inspect it further. Stop by. I’ll keep it on under my large covered front deck …. My yard of wildflowers is at peak just now too if anyone wants to drive past.”

7/26/2010 Email from Linda B with Renee P’s identification: “Hi all, Renee keyed this out; it is a variety of Descurainia (like flixweed) after all. Here is what she wrote… Interesting isn’t it? Cheers. Linda”

Renee wrote: “For me the odd one keys to Descurainia incana http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=109671

This links shows where it has been reported in co http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/collections/list.php?type=1&taxa=Descurainia+incana&country=&state=colorado&county=&local=&upperlat=&upperlat_NS=N&bottomlat=&bottomlat_NS=N&leftlong=&leftlong_EW=W&rightlong=&rightlong_EW=W&pointlat=&pointlat_NS=N&pointlong=&pointlong_EW=W&radiustemp=&radiusunits=mi&radius=&collector=&collnum=&resetrecordcnt=1&display2.x=33&display2.y=18

Descurainia incana by Mary Ellen Harte
Descurainia incana by Mary Ellen Harte

7/29/2010 Notes from Ellen: Here is another link with lots of images from “Forestry Images” website (Forestry Images is a joint project of the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, USDA Forest Service and International Society of Arboriculture. The University of Georgia – Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences) http://www.forestryimages.org/browse/subthumb.cfm?sub=12525.

I’ve inserted one here showing flowers and fruits. Descuraina incana is not on our GVM plant list so I will add it. Thanks Renee and Linda!! Has anyone else come across this one?

Crellin Meadow Weed Update

7/23/2010 Note from Ellen: Today I received an email from Renee P. following up on her 2009 weed management project in the Crellin Meadow. This meadow is located in the drainage area just north of Crellin Lake and is contiguous with the restoration area that the Ecology Committee and GVM Office staff have working on doing the last three seasons. Please click this link to read about Renee’s weed strategy. https://gvmecology.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/new-strategy-for-attacking-canada-thistle-in-crellin-meadow/ Thanks Renee!

“Hi Everyone, I was just out in Crellin Meadow and want to share how amazed I am at how good it looks sans thistles. The grasses are chest high. There’s Phalaris, Glyceria, Poas, and possibly Luzula (!) thriving in there with all the usual sedges, willows and orchids.. It’s literally been ‘released”.

Do yourselves a favor and take an outing to see what can be done in the course of one year (1.5 seasons). This is not to toot my horn. I am just amazed and enjoying it thistle free for the first time in the 11 yrs we have been here. I can host you or not – it’s worth seeing if you remember previous years. I’d like to release more wet meadows in GVM.”