Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fields of Bracken

Once or twice a winter I do a site visit with the full intention of seeing a site while there is a big rain event. I took advantage of today's rain on top of the heavy rain the night before on already wet ground to assess the flow and conditions of a few creeks I am working on. The event did teach me a few things.

But a side observation was this opening in the forest.


The sharp contrast of the recently brown bracken with new green fall grass made for a nice path through the small prairie in the forest.

Old pastures in western Washington can become overtaken with bracken. Historic accounts of early farmers in the 1850s and 1860s (White, 1980) noted pastures and cultivated fields being plagued with bracken. Bracken covered old farm fields are a common feature in western Washington. Prairie lands and fields opened up within the forest land often did not turn out as hoped for by early pioneer farmers. Bracken sprouting from roots years after repeated plowing were an early recognized bane in some areas. Marginal farmland that has been given up on provides excellent bracken habitat.

Bracken was one a valued food source by area First Nations so a site like this would once have been viewed as valuable bit of farm land during a different era.

Reference:

Land Use, Environment and Social Change by Richard White

1 comment:

Geoffrey Middaugh said...

The first Donation Land Claims (DNC) were on the areas that some called glades, as White points out. The problem was these lands didn't grow trees for a physiographic reason as well as due to social fire by the local tribes. Fire promoted camus too, I think. Usually the glades had some type of hard-pan, which limited available soil moisture too. This book you quote is one of the first scholarly books written in what is now called Environmental history. And one of White's best.