Rex Putnam: Stakeing Care of Business

Rex Putnam High School Green Team came out this week to one of our newest sites, Boardman Creek Wetland. Their first visit to this site was spent mostly hacking away at the thick border of blackberry brambles so that students could actually get to the wetlands and to see the creek. And what was on the other side of this wall of invasives, even more invasives, a desert of reed canary grass! This time around, students spent more time combating these invasives. While some were finishing up the job with the blackberry, digging up their roots, others got down to business on the reed canary grass. Since this robust grass cannot be dug up like blackberry, nor mowed down effectively, the only way to combat it is with shade. Therefore another group of students spent their time creating stakes out of living willow and dogwood branches, staking them in the ground, and sending them the good vibes to encourage them to quickly grow into new trees that will be able to outshade the reed canary grass (and protect poor Boardman Creek from heating up too much in the sun).

While digging up a particularly nasty blackberry heart, some students came across a fascinating amphibian in the leaf litter. The students were afraid that they had accidentally killed the poor herptile as it was not moving, but after putting it on the ground, it scurried away. Upon further research, we believe that we had an encounter with a Dunn’s Salamander. These shy creatures are not often found in such disturbed areas so finding one at this site is really exciting and a rare find! We also read that they tend to play dead as a defense mechanism so it was a relief to find that its behavior while we were handling it was natural. Go here for more information on the Dunn’s Salamanders.

SOLV and Boardman creek appreciates all of the work Rex Putnam has done so far, and the fact that we are preserving and improving this habitat for our slippery amphibious friends is worth taking newt of.

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