Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gnarly Firs and a Favorite Oak

I had a misty-moisty day earlier this week on Orcas Island. Between field work sites I ran up Turtleback Mountain. The moss was brilliant green on the balds (bare areas with very thin soil over bed rock) and the grass green on the open prairie meadows. I've posted images of Douglas firs showing different growth habits, but these two on the edge of of the same bald were remarkably different in appearance.

The first fir has developed a shrub like aspect due to having its new growth constantly trimmed by deer. No wolves or cougars or packs of wild dogs on Orcas or very little human hunting if allowed at all to keep the deer in check and this low bush growth habit is a common feature on the island. Approximately 100 feet away was an old leaning heavy set fir likely dating from a time when the clearing was much larger and before other firs began to encroach. Both trees tell a story of changes to the ecosystem. The cropped tree testifies to a grazing population with no predators and the second tells a story of when fire was routinely used to maintain openings and grazing on Orcas.

After the two firs, I stopped by a favorite Garry Oak with Crow Valley below. This oak is also a tree from a remnant ecosystem of managed landscapes by First Nations peoples that had lived on Orcas for thousands of years.


Vancouver Island Big Trees said...

Beautiful trees - thank you! I have really been enjoying your blog over the past few months.

I have not been traveling far from home in recent years. Therefore, I have been enjoying joining you on your travels - it almost feels like the real thing!

All your posts are interesting... and I don't have to pay for gas. Thanks again.

Dan McShane said...

Thanks VIBT.