Tuesday, July 8, 2008

From Ashes, Beautiful Flowers Grow

I spent yesterday in the field--another day without glass between nature and me!

I was behind the camera so there aren't any actual pictures of me in nature. But here's one of the hillsides in the fire area.

I visited the School fire site on the Pomeroy Ranger District of the Umatilla National Forest. School started during a storm and spread on to the Umatilla, eventually burning about 35,000 acres of FS managed land and 15,000 acres of private and state land (640 acres per square mile, and 10 square chains per acre for those of you who don't think in acres). I was there to look at some experiments designed to test how best to control erosion on very steep slopes following intense wildfire. Now, controlling erosion is not always what one wants to do--the sediments that wash down hill are critical for stream habitats under many conditions. However, there are times when it's best not to let the soil, or the hillside, slide on down--like when people live down below..

One of the things I like about visiting sites after fires, or for that matter, visiting sites before fires, are the flowers that pop up this time of the year. Yesterday was particularly nice with blue and yellow lupins, gooseberries, and columbine.

After the field visit, I decided to drive on home instead of stopping for the night, in part because the Columbia Gorge is so beautiful as the sun begins to set. I suppose it's beautiful in the morning too--maybe next time I'll try that instead of driving until 10. Of course, to see the equivalent time of day, I'd have to be on the road by 5!

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