Green Hills: Boulders dropped in
By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager
As you park in the parking area you might notice (but I would be fine if you don’t, they’re supposed to look somewhat natural) an assortment of boulders at the far end of the parking area. They’re supposed to suggest that perhaps one shouldn’t drive vehicles beyond the parking area unless for exceptional circumstances. We’ve experienced some damage from people joyriding in the fields and while it might be impossible to prevent all of that, we’d strongly like to discourage it.
I can point to a spot at Crow’s Nest Preserve where a four wheel drive vehicle got in almost 20 years ago—and the ruts are still visible. This is not to say that all disturbance is bad; certain native species are dependent on it. But the unintended disturbance that comes from vehicles driving in the fields can cause real harm.
Driving in the fields (that are now being converted to grasslands or meadows) causes soil compaction; ruts change the surface hydrology of a site making some spots wetter. These changes can change the kinds of plants growing on a site. If you’ve worked for me you know how insistent I am that we not drive in the fields when the ground is wet (which may include all of the winter months except when the ground is frozen). I don’t care how inconvenient it is not to be able to drive equipment in to a work site; the damage that would have to be remediated is not worth it.
The boulders I delivered one at a time on a dump trailer. Where each landed, each stays (they’re too heavy to easily move). One that rolled a bit had to be wrangled with a tow strap and clevis on the truck, but that was the unplanned exception. I chose boulders instead the fence I originally planned because I didn’t want to mar the wide-open vista there.
Yes, if you listen carefully you might hear me cursing the new mowing obstacles, but overall I think the effort is worth it.