Thursday, September 22, 2011

Erosion Self Healing

There are several other sites that shared a similar erosion problem as that of the tire dump. These areas are healing in a more natural fashion. This process takes a while and the landscape will retain the irregular features of the erosion sites. More conventional methods of vegetating eroded areas would not fit in with my goal to achieve a population of native plants whose origins are all from this property.

The point of active erosion still exists, but its progression across the landscape has been halted and no eroded soil leaves the site. Most of the vegetation in the foreground has established itself in the past 25 years.

The eroded face is transitioning from a vertical wall to a stable slope. Soil that crumbles from the top, is caught at the bottom. Roots from the grass cover atop the cut help hold the developing slope in place.

The once bare area below the cut now supports a healthy vegetative cover. It’s been fun to watch these areas fill with common plants and more recently support some of the rare species at Blue Jay Barrens.

There are several acres of this type of situation at Blue Jay Barrens. On my first visit to this field, I was shocked by the amount of bare soil. This was at a time before I had learned anything about barrens, prairies or their associated rare plants. Fortunately, purchase of this property put us in a situation where mortgage payments and other expenses were using up our money as fast as we earned it, so I couldn’t afford to do any of the traditional erosion control methods recommended at the time. A winning Super Lotto ticket could have put an end to Blue Jay Barrens before it ever began. However, a winning ticket now shouldn’t cause any problems.

Some areas are just too shallow to bedrock to support any lush growth. Many native annuals take advantage of the reduced competition on these rocky sites.

There are always setbacks. A few years ago, cattle from a neighboring farm took a self-guided walking tour of Blue Jay Barrens and chose to congregate here and trample the vegetation into oblivion. They gave their attention to several places, but this spot is having the most difficult recovery. I don’t know why they did this. Maybe they were just out playing Bison and decided to create a couple of buffalo wallows.

Deer also have ways of disrupting the healing process. They have made a trail down the bank that now carries a concentrated flow of water from the field above. I could easily block their trail, but they would just move over and create a new trail on a different bank.

Maybe there really is something miraculous involved with the recovery of this field. If the grass can grow out of solid rock, it can grow anywhere.


  1. Cattle don't wallow like bison. I wouldn't have known that before last week when I researched my latest blog entry about Pleistocene bison wallows.

  2. Hi, Mark. I realize that. My wife tells me that my sense of humor is worthless since my jokes are taken as being serious and my serious moments are dismissed as attempts at humor. I keep trying.