Successful Birds & Blooms Walk Despite this Unseasonably Cold Spring

On Saturday, April 21st, nearly 50 individuals traveling from areas as far as Pittsburgh joined Mountain Watershed Association for our 2018 Birds & Blooms Walk in the Indian Creek Gorge. Not only is the Indian Creek Gorge one of the most scenic areas of Indian Creek, but it is also known for its exceptional biological value. The steep forested slopes, bedrock outcrops, scoured rock and gravel bars along the Creek itself provide exceptional habitat for many species of plants and animals, some of which are rare in the state and region.

This year, we were led by local ecologist and plant enthusiast, Lisa Smith, as well as local bird expert Josh Lawrey. Both of these individuals have a deep understanding of the many species that inhabit the ecosystems of our Central Appalachian Mountains. From Josh, we learned about the hundreds of migrating species that are currently passing through our region, as well as some tips and tricks for identifying the birds.

Despite the unseasonably cold spring, Lisa helped us spot some early flowers such as trillium, spring beauties, and jack in the pulpit. We also saw hillsides full of ramps – a species of wild onion common in our area. We heard stories from a local who said it was common to harvest bushels of ramps every spring to eat and preserve so that they could be enjoyed year round. More recently, ramps have gained more popularity among the local food movement, and so they are at risk of being overharvested in many ecosystems since it can take up to nine years for the plant to produce seeds.

We were glad to be able to share the beauty of the Indian Creek Gorge one last time this season, since the trail will be closed for necessary construction until further notice. We will be addressing the drainage issues by cleaning ditches and culverts, resurfacing, and restoring a part of the trail impacted by a landslide caused by heavy rains this winter. We are looking forward to once again experiencing the beauty of the Indian Creek Gorge via the trail once construction is finished.