Comox Lake Bluffs Warden Report, April 2013

Posted April 3, 2013 | Categories : 136,Human Disturbance,Issues,Management,Warden Reports |

Wednesday, April 3: Warden’s reprt by Mandy Vaughn

I joined Helen and Robbie Robinson, (previous CBER wardens), and naturalists Betty Brooks and Krista Kaptein, for a walk to the bluffs.  As always, there is good news and bad news.  The whole area is very dry.  Helen and Robbie say it is more like August than April.  The creek through the woods has stopped flowing and the moss on the bluffs is drying out and even crunchy to touch.  Without a decent level of moisture it’s possible some of the plants will not flower this year.

There was evidence of dirt bikes on the trails through the wooded sections of the reserve; a 9” diam downed fir across the trail had been cleared by chainsaw.  But most disturbing was that a great deal of moss on the bluffs had been damaged.  In the first area we came across it was hard to decide whether the damage might have been caused by humans or animals, although there was evidence of a small fire site.  In the second area, there was another small fire site and the moss damage was more extensive, extending even over the face of a steep bluff.  It did not seem possible the damage was caused by animals, but rather by persons scaling the bluff, whether up or down.  There is an obvious route around the bluff and so anyone going up and down this approx 30ft face would have done so by choice.  We attempted to replace the moss where we could, although it had already dried out, and clean up the fire sites.

On the positive side, Helen and Betty did point out a variety of mosses and lichens, including hair cap moss, Step Moss, Oregon Beaked Moss, (Palm)Tree Moss, Brown-Eyed Sunshine and Christmas-Tree Lichens.  White-Veined Wintergreen leaves are showing in the woods, and Royal Rein-Orchid leaves are making a healthy showing on the bluffs.  The Hairy Manzanita shrubs look good and we found a large patch of Vancouver Groundcone, left from last year.  Also on the bluffs, Spring-Gold, Small-Flowered Blue-Eyed Mary and Chickweed Monkey-Flower are all just beginning to flower.  Rusty-Haired Saxifrage is in flower, with Grassland Saxifrage just a little behind.  Sea Blush and onion leaves are showing and we found the little patch of Least Moonwort, with two, possibly three, plants just an inch or so high.  Helen commented several times on what appeared to be patches of slimy green algae, almost flowing down the rocks.  The patches were up to one square foot, some patches white where they had died.  Large mosquitos were out and about.  Leaving the bluffs and heading back down the main trail, we found several Calypsos in flower, a lovely find, but seems early.  Lower down in the reserve, the Calypso leaves are just beginning to show; it is obviously much warmer on the bluffs.

Before heading home we checked on the meadow at the edge of the lake.  There is a large fire pit, recently used, which needs dismantling.  Not too much garbage, although some broken glass and rusted metal poles.  There is what seems to be a dogs grave there also; it has been there since before Christmas.  A mound of stones has been heaped up and a small spruce planted there, (not a Sitka Spruce).  A bell was hung on the little tree at Christmas.
Krista made a GPS record of some of our findings on Google Earth :

HI all, here is a link to a Google map of where we were today:
You can zoom in & out or switch between map view & satellite view to get more detail