Saturday, June 28, 2014

Last Child in the Scientific and Natural Area?

Our back yard is full of hoary alyssum, with a good mix of purple vetch and hoary puccoon thrown in. The white, purple, and yellow flower mix is very pretty (ore so than shows up in the photo below). According to the Minnesota Wildflowers web site, hoary alyssum is "on the secondary noxious weed list for Minnesota. It is an invasive weedy plant often found in empty lots, on roadsides, and other sunny locations with dry disturbed soil." The Minnesota DNR notes that [it] "does not pose a threat to intact native grasslands at this time." USDA prescribes management using herbicides (primarily 2, 4 D) and suggests mowing may spread the seeds. MNDNR references repeated prescribed burns. The University of Minnesota's Extension Service notes that hoary alyssum has been reported to be toxic to horses, but not to "ruminants (dairy, beef, sheep or goats)..." So, we have a back yard full of an invasive species that's toxic to horses,

hoary alyssum, purple vetch and ???
hoary alyssum, purple vetch and ???           © harrington

but we don't have livestock, don't want to use herbicides, and are fairly nervous about prescribed burns within a 100 yards or so of the house. Also, it may be related closely enough to sweet alyssum to help ward off spells. Do we leave well enough alone? That's my inclination.
All of this ruminating about land management has been triggered by today's editorial in the Star Tribune, in which they opine that "DNR plan for expanded use of ‘natural areas’ is questionable." As I recall the June 23 Star Tribune story about our Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs), there was an assertion that "the Legislature" has tied funding to the interests of sportsmen. I completely agree that this needs to be clarified. I write that as a long-time hunter, boater, angler and, more recently, photographer and forager. I think that qualifies me as a member of the public and a sportsman who's interested. I'm also interested in seeing SNA's better managed as we've noted previously on these pages.

plastic litter found in or near a Scientific and Natural Area
plastic litter found in or near a Scientific and Natural Area © harrington

If SNA funding is tied, by the Legislature, to multiple use activities, let's work to get the law amended. Maybe we could also get a program established to broaden whatever educational activities occur on and in our SNAs, so that Minnesota's children can identify the trees and wildflowers that grow near them, as well as (instead of?) the 100 or so corporate logos they can identify by sight. Maybe we could have better resources for use by teachers and funding for field trips? How about an excise tax on binoculars and photography equipment to fund field positions in DNR to work with schools. Or, if any or all of this is currently going on, how about better information sharing so the public knows how their resources are being used. I once camped in Itasca State Park in the summer and visited Yellowstone National Park, also in a different summer. In either case, if I had wanted to get away from it all, I would have found it already there ahead of me, from blaring music to self-centered obnoxious tourists. Give me Scientific and Natural Areas and Wildlife Management Areas any day! Joy Harjo knows what we need to:

Remember 

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star's stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is. I met her
in a bar once in Iowa City.
Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother's, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe. I heard her singing Kiowa war
dance songs at the corner of Fourth and Central once.
Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.
Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember that language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.
Remember.

~ Joy Harjo ~

(How We Become Human)

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