Sunday, August 17, 2008

Protecting the rare Bog Birch

Sponsored by Albuquerque Wildlife Federation, NM Wilderness Alliance, and Native Plant Society of NM with support from NM Environment Department and Los Amigos de Valles Caldera
THE PLACE: The Valles Caldera National Preserve was a private ranch until 2000,
when Congress created it from the "Baca Ranch" in New Mexico's volcanic Jemez Moun-
tain Range. This 89,000 acre property is studded with eruptive domes and features
Redondo Peak (11,254 feet). Though open to the public, access to the preserve is
strictly controlled. Coming on this project is a great opportunity to stay on the preserve
without charge and see areas not generally available to the public.

THE PROJECT: This project occured at a fascinating location — Alamo Bog! See
the Earth shake under foot as you walk across the bog (Hydrosol). Smell the fumes of
Purgatory (sulfur gas bubbling up through opal-colored acidic pools). See sphagnum moss.

Alamo Bog is home to the rare Bog Birch (Betula pumila(?)). This is the species' only known
location in New Mexico. We built small exclosures to protect the largest patches, each with about 40 to 60 plants. The structures exclude elk, which have heavily browsed the bog birch. Digging holes, setting untreated fence posts, is not permanent, but nothing is. Our restoration work is premised on the idea that future management changes will render our structures superfluous.

Interesting species also include a couple Orchids, Checker Mallows (Sidalcea neomexicana), and Sphagnum Moss, a rare species this far south!

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