Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On a prairie tour with Hutch

This morning we went to Prairie Creek Lodge to meet with “Hutch” (Robert Hutchinson), the Executive Director of the Alachua Conservation Trust.  He took us on a tour of the properties surrounding Prairie Creek lodge, along the way explaining the ecology, the response of the land to hydrology as well as their monitoring and observations about the recovery of the land from its past use for grazing.  Hutch showed us different wildflowers and berries, osprey and eagles' nests and so generously answered our many questions!  Driving through thick and tall bushes, we followed along and then crossed over Prairie Creek,  learning about cypress trees and the distinct signs of prairie rims.  We walked along the creek for a ways looking at the amazing array of cypress knees.  At one point we came upon a little pool of water in which Hutch pointed out a rather large gator just under the surface.... We learned many interesting things about the different types of prairie habitats and plants. We also saw the Green burial cemetery, which is in a beautiful and peaceful setting. The headstones have been so tastefully fashioned from tree trunks, cypress knees, and other natural materials. We are looking forward to observing and painting this beautiful land in different seasons.  We came away with such an appreciation of the work being done by the Alachua Conservation Trust to purchase and preserve tracts of land for future generations.  We hope that our prairie project will help spread the word about the importance of supporting our conservation partners.  Thanks again, Hutch!
Mary Jane Volkmann and Linda Blondheim

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