Thursday, September 19, 2013

White aster spotted on Pinnacle Foods Inc. Prairie west of World Peace Wetland Prairie on Sept. 18, 2013, by Joan Reynolds with Joe Neal and Aubrey Shepherd

Please click on individual images for larger view.

Photos by Aubrey James Shepherd

1 comment:

aubunique said...

Joe Neal's email after two visits to Pinnacle Prairie this week:

Aubrey Shepherd gives blood at the office. His shins are bloody from blackberry thickets and sharp-edged cordgrass leaves encountered while wandering Pinnacle Prairie (PP) in south Fayetteville. It’s all in a day’s work for this Vietnam vet and civic activist.
Pinnacle Foods, Inc. is so close to the University of Arkansas you can hear Razorback fans callin’ them hogs. I’m all WOOed myself, even if I did get a few chiggers.
Part of Fayetteville’s bike trail goes through the prairie. Walking along it, I hear some husky chinks and soon have two Blue Grosbeaks in view. Both of these classical grassland birds are brown, and now headed south. Eastern Bluebirds fly over.
In one respect, PP could be dismissed as low waste ground tucked behind an industrial plant along a spur of the old Frisco Railroad. But just smell that baking garlic bread while standing under a natural canopy of Big Bluestem Grass with splayed out turkey foot seed heads, harvest orange-yellow plumes of Indian Grass, and the Little Bluestem Grass with sun-driven silver parachutes of seed.
Up in the corner is an old prairie blackjack oak close to Arkansas’s biggest. I don’t know if in its acornship it saw bison, but it knew early settlers. It probably also knew Passenger Pigeons, who loved acorns. It is our connection with that past and that loss.
Fayetteville is mostly built on a former prairie, now 99.9 percent gone. Here is what existed prior to 1830 and exists still on PP: sensitive plants like rattlesnake master and impressive purple spreads of rough blazing stars. Delicate heavenly blue asters and blushing pink trumpets of false foxglove.
Goldenrods are in bloom, their sunny expanses full of pollinating insects, including striking black and yellow beetles. Like a space capsule, they have a message for us, special delivery from the stars.
We care about the future of grassland birds and we know significant expanses of quality habitat must be saved. A few acres like these at Pinnacle Prairie make a modest contribution to this effort. However, we don’t always get to choose our opportunities. If PP won’t protect a lot of grassland birds, it does protect a storehouse of the botanical heritage we need going forward.
Woooo. Pig. Sooie! for Pinnacle Prairie, indeed, and for Pinnacle Foods, Inc. for leaving it as prairie.