Heernett Foundation Newsletter
Spring has sprung and everything is in bloom. We finally got the rain we desperately needed and the rivers are looking good. I’ve noticed several doe and cow elk are moving about the fields separating themselves from the heard looking for places to nestle in and have there babies. There is lots of activity under the forest canopies. Salmonberries, Blackberries, and Elderberries are starting to show themselves, and all the critters seem to know it. Rosco, the local raccoon has been making several trips down to the berry patch, I see him coming and going just about every day.
At the beginning of the month the wild camas was blooming all over the prairies. It was a beautiful carpet of blue. The native Lupine is getting ready to show and the prairies will turn a wondrous shade of grape purple with spots of white dandelions. It is such a wonderful time of year for the prairies.
The native butterflies know just where to find the perfect plants and flowers with the nectar they need. Several varieties of native prairie butterflies are Threatened and Endangered, such as Mardon Skipper, Puget Blue, Taylor’ (Whulge) Checkerspot, and Valley Silverspot.
Butterflies are interesting in that they need specific host plants for every life stage to survive. If the plants are not available the butterflies will parish. Some of these special plants are; Roemer’s fescue, Red fescue, Early blue violets, Common vetch, Prairie lupine, Idaho blue-eyed grass, Wallflower, Penstemon, Sego lily, Sickle-keeled lupine, native Manroot, Arctic lupine, English plantain, Harsh paintbrush, Common Camas, Nine-leaved lomatium, Sea blush, and Deltoid balsamroot. The butterflies will find these plants by a migratory pattern or a sent route. They fly relatively low following the sent or route, and if the route should cross a road or highway, you can imagine the mortality rate.
Prairie landscapes are unique in the fact that there aren’t many left. If you think about it, prairies are mostly flat, have great soils that drain well, and usually have very few trees. What does that equal? A prime target for development! Due to the natural topography they are predestined for asphalt and concrete! Many of the prairies throughout western Washington have been developed into shopping centers, residential neighborhoods, and commercial industries, leaving small fragmented bits and pieces of prairie scattered across the landscape.
Prairie landscapes are a fragile and delicate environment. They are in full sun exposure; the soils drain well so they don’t retain a lot of moisture, so the plant life cycles are relatively short. This in turn will affect any of the wildlife, which depends on these types of plants by keeping their lifecycle short too. If a prairie has been converted in to a residential area and the native plants are competing with weeds, being sprayed with chemicals and fertilizers, or even replaced with turf grass where does that leave the butterfly? It is critical that these creatures have specific host plants for each stage of their life cycle, if they can’t find them or get to them because they can only travel so far, they will surely vanish.
Keep in mind as you drive past a new development site, whether it is a prairie or woodland area, about what is actually being affected by the disturbance. It’s an amazing exercise to actually go through all the different stages of wildlife that would eventually be influenced. All creatures’ great and small have a role to play on this planet of ours, and it is our job to share the space we’ve been given and plan ahead to protect those who can’t protect themselves.
If you would like more detailed information about what is happening around our watershed, or to attend a Partnership meeting, contact me @ 360-264-4310 or Heernett@aol.com. This is a great opportunity to come out and help us Make A Difference! Best Wishes Always, the Heernett Staff