Ruth Sandra Sperling
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I love forests - all kinds of forests, but actually my favorites are riparian forests -- forests along the rivers and creeks. Not sure why - they just are.
The first one I "fell in love with" was what I knew as the Biological Reserve at "Allerton" - an Illinois Plains Forest along the Sangamon River in Central Illinois. I discovered somewhere around 10 years ago that much of it is a restored forest with a certain area of it having been virgin Illinois plains forest (hard to believe - it is naturally restored and all of it looked virgin to me). I went there while I was in college at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - and for years afterwards while I lived in the midwest. During the quiet, private times that I had to wander through this small biological preserve of a woodland, I learned what a real forest was. http://www.continuinged.uiuc.edu/oce-sites/allerton/history.cfm
It was in the late 1980's, when I lived in Southern California, that I discovered the Conservancy Preserves of The Nature Conservancy - I bought one of their books, "California Wild Lands, A Guide To The Nature Conservancy Preserves" by Dwight Holing.
I looked in the book for forests -- much to my own pleasure I found out about the Kern River Preserve, a preserved riparian forest, near Walker Pass in Southern California, at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada. I stopped by there in my travelings a couple of times.
Recently, being concerned about the various fires that have been all over California the last few weeks -- and seeing that one was right in the area of the Kern River Preserve, I decided to look it up on the Internet. I had know it as a Nature Conservancy Preserve -- over the years it had been taken over by Audubon and is now run and managed by Audubon California (http://kern.audubon.org/). I was glad to read the article on their website - that as of sunset July 6th, the fire that threatens the area has been kept out of the riparian forest (http://kern.audubon.org/kelso_creek_sanctuary.htm). With the years and years of restoration and protection that has been done and the significance of this area as a wildlife corridor -- and this specific riparian forest for birds, reptiles and amphibians -- I am so glad that at least so far it has been protected.
I had read in Dwight Holing's book (copyright 1988) years ago about how in the 1800's, "...800,000 acres of forest lined the rivers that drained the Sierra Nevada. Today, only two percent of these woodlands survive, a total of about 12,000 acres. As the riparian habitat has dwindled, so have wildlife populations."
It makes me sad -- riparian forests are such a beautiful part of the "web of life".
The "Today" in his book was when he wrote it -- about 20 years ago. I am not sure how much is left now.
But a HUGE THANK YOU to The Naure Conservancy for first preserving it -- and AUDUBON CALIFORNIA for continuing the management of it.
Have you ever been in a riparian forest? Kern River Preserve is open dawn to dusk every day of the year. Maybe you want to go take a look and see what we need to preserve.