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TOUR > Station 1

The spillway from the lake is your landmark for leaving the perimeter and dropping downward across a pasture to the boardwalk entrance.

The old upland forest stand of pines should be your guide, as the entrance is to the north of this. The trailhead is marked with a green painted wooden sign (read on, right).

As you cross the pasture, keep looking and listening, because this is a favorite area for bluebirds, as well as more killdeer nests. The resident great blue heron has even been spotted here perched on a tree limb near the entrance to the boardwalk.

At the point where the upland forest meets the stream, you will see a stand of bamboo and a picnic table. Look to the left to find the boardwalk. To see where you are on the swampmap below, click "continue".

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Approaching the boardwalk

As you step onto the boardwalk, the closeness of the industrial park to the right and the college campus to the left seems to fade away. You are enveloped in relaxing shades of green and relaxing sounds of insects, birds, frogs, and running water. You are one with the ecosystem that cleans and filters water and provides oxygen for the freshness of the air we depend on. There are signs of careless humans--an empty soft drink bottle is lodged across the stream out of reach.

Walking the first few feet, notice the dense vegetation on the left. Here, goldfinches play in the spring, and hummingbirds abound in late summer and fall. Rabbits can be seen just about anytime. Sniff the elusive odor of delicate blossoms.

 

Station 1 is shown in the swampmap.

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Beaver dams

To the right of the trailhead is the first of several easily visible beaver dams. The beaver activity is constant, and the exact status and position of the series of dams along this stream varies (continues, right).

 

The water flow is constantly re-routed--in part due to the beaver engineering, and in part due to changes in the water sources.

There are two major sources of water. One is the Prentice Branch stream, supposedly fed by springs from Booze Mountain. This is the stream that you see modified by the beaver dams to the right of the boardwalk. The other is the spillover from Paris Lake.

During drought conditions, the lake source may diminish, but the stream source seems relatively constant. Therefore, these wetlands are always wet! However the direction of the current changes regularly. Take note of the direction the reeds are bent.

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Station 1

At station 1 facing the stream, look to the right upstream to see two stream branches converge. The terraced look is provided by a series of low beaver dams. These may shift in depth and position from visit to visit.

Much of the time dense and verdant parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) is evident at the water's surface. This plant is not necessarily natural to the area---it is typically introduced from upstream. However, it is well established and certainly contributes to the ecosystem. In the winter landscape, its brilliant green contrasts sharply with the grays and browns of the leafless willow limbs and dried cattail stalks (continues, right).

 

There are many insects buzzing and/or flitting about. Here a drifting butterfly, there a darting dragonfly. Across the stream, bark stripped off of a small pine tree. Someone has munched this tree to the point of endangering its life. A harmless water snake with shades of red-brown splotches swims rapidly downstream, and another feeds among the parrot feather.

In the fall, the beautiful cardinal flower makes its appearance in several spots nearby.

On the opposite side of the walkway, dense underbrush and willow trees provide perfect habitat for hummingbirds. There are dead trees among the living. This is the "scrub-shrub" territory.

Seasonal colors

In late summer and fall, buttonbush blossoms attract various butterfly species. Their bright orange color makes Viceroy and Gulf Fritillary easily seen.

In late fall the brilliant purple blossoms of tall ironweed may tower above your head on either side of the boardwalk. Bumblebees visit the various seasonal blossoms; large rabbits crunch through the underbrush as they make their getaway from the creature on the boardwalk--you!



 

 

Along this stretch of the boardwalk, which is primarily a stream ecosystem, you will see a wide variety of wildlife. Many wetland wildflowers bloom in the fall, and in this area you may see monkey-flower, cardinal flowers, spotted forget-me-nots and ironweed.

To continue the tour, click "top", then "station 2" on the TOUR menu to the right.

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wetlands
swampmap

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station 3
station 5
station 6
station 7
station 8
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station 12