I had so many enjoyable outings over past week-end it was hard to choose just one to share today. Marc and I always look forward to roaming Steigerwald Nature Preserve in Washington and especially the fall. We had a perfect day for roaming and wildlife scouting. We were met, however, with changes in the habitat. Strewn about were large tree stumps and roots and logs, for one thing. (Slide show below for a panorama of beauty.)
We learned that this year begin a $22 million habitat restoration that will entail reconfiguring a floodplain of this Lower Columbia River area. The refuge will be reconnected to the natural ebb and flow of the mighty Columbia; 2 miles of US Army Corps of Engineers levees will be lowered to natural levee height. A major reason is to allow six species of salmon and trout as well as lamprey to better benefit. Nine hundred acres will be restored over 3 years. Placing woody debris is part of preparation and invasive vegetation management has begun. We are excited to hear of the improvements and partnerships that are involved in this huge project for supporting wildlife and for greater public viewing.
I hope you enjoy the walkabout and will visit if you can do so.
We crossed a small bridge over railroad tracks and meadow land, and entered into wonderful Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This is a wildlife preserve of around 5200 acres west of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. It lies close to the great Columbia River channels.
There flourish marshes, grasslands, upland forests, riparian corridors, oak woodlands. Many of the Oregon white oaks have survived hundreds of years. There are dozens of bird species with thousands of wintering birds, alone; 23 species of mammals live on this land.
We came upon a full scale replica of a Chinookan Plankhouse, called the Cathlapotle Plankhouse after the Native American village of the same name. It is built on an archaeological site that was encountered by the Lewis and Clark expedition as they headed west around 1806. Unfortunately , it was closed that day. We will go back to learn more when it is open.
The Oregon white oaks are massive and beautiful in their scrubby, ancient way. Some of the branches can be seen growing back into the earth. The one first pictured below is over 400 years old.
To give you a better idea of the size of branches and trunk, here are two more shots. I admit I have a thing about trees and still climb them a bit, if possible–in this case, only felled branches!
A truly beautiful day on the trails around and about a portion of the refuge. I came away saturated with peace and contentment.
We’re looking forward to going back soon and bringing binoculars. My only hesitancy is that mountain lions’ presence has been verified (usually it is cougars I’d mind meeting–I am okay with bears at a decent distance), but nature offers so much wonderment one has to get out there to see things, and that means taking a few chances…Next time: new trails, deeper into the refuge we will go!