Seen while resetting the gas cut bridge, May 16th, 2015:
Chris Naizer found a long-tailed salamander underneath a rock http://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/ohio%E2%80%99s-salamanders-24-good-things-know-and-what-they-can-tell-you
The ODNR website says this salamander is “strikingly beautiful”. Ours sure was!
The bridge was re-set under the direction of Corey Ringle. A little bit of debris from the former camp was cleaned up.
Next we went up to the hill behind North House to check on the protected trees. Painted trees have not been disturbed! Most of the fences are intact. The one fence previously reported as bent was bent again. But to me, this looks more like something large leaned against it rather than beavers trying to tear their way in or over. Maybe a deer? The tree inside was undamaged. There are lots of little beech “tufts” on the hillside: these turned out to be saplings that had been chewed down and are re-sprouting. We painted a few more beech trees. My personal favorite beech tree on Pine Lake Trail was so badly chewed that I don’t know how it manages to be alive. But it has lots of new leaves, so I gave it a coat of sand paint around the live strips of bark. The dead parts I left open so the tree could dry out.
It seems to me that sediment is starting to fill in more around the north end of Lake Linnea. But I’m not sure & would like someone else’s opinion.
We checked out the beaver damage farther along Pine Lake Trail. The path is barely visible in some places. There are two small beaver lodges along the shore. The sassafras grove is gone. If I hadn’t known it was there, I would have had no idea there was anything but buckthorn. I hunted around under the buckthorn and found two tiny sassafras sprouts, and one sprout each of tulip tree, white oak, red oak, and sugar maple. We found tags of flowering dogwood & hickory on the ground from when I tagged native species along the trail in 2010 & 2011. But the trees themselves were nowhere to be seen. Adding insult to injury, one of the tags had been chewed and tucked onto the wall of a beaver lodge! I have to admit, I was too sad to be objective about noticing what else may still be alive. I’m anxious to get back and put cages around the existing sprouts and do a more thorough survey.
Up by Far Away Pines, the blue buds of the Cucumber Tree have started to open. I wasn’t sure they’d still be there, or what they look like when they open. It turns out that the blue color fades to a dusky blueish-white as the petals unfurl. We heard spring peepers singing, but not the wild cacophony of a few years ago. Hopefully, this is just due to seasonal cycling, not environmental damage. There is no visible browse line from deer. But some of the understory is filling in with invasive plants. There was almost no privet four years ago; now it’s frequent. Native understory shrubs maple-leaf viburnum & spicebush are holding their own so far.
As we were leaving, we noticed some new staghorn sumac saplings on the right side of the driveway near the gate. If left alone, they will grow quickly and spread out. If the RJRD would like a nice stand of of native plants right there to welcome visitors, leave it alone. It gets a glorious red color in the fall. But if its too close to the gate & the road, I would be more than happy to transplant it elsewhere in the park.