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By Rob Rich
Conservation & Education Associate - Swan Valley Connections 

Living up to our name in the Swan Valley

 

October 31, 2019

Andrea DiNino, Swan Valley Connections

Early homesteaders also thought that reed canary grass, a robust, non-native pasture plant that many remembered from Europe, would establish well in the drained but still-moist wetlands. Unfortunately, they were right. Spreading by its persistent seeds and tenacious, horizontal stems (called rhizomes) reed canary grass has outcompeted native plants ever since, forming insanely tall, dense monocultural mats wherever it is not entirely shaded or flooded out.

A wetland in a valley with a swan swimming by would have looked pretty enticing for a westward settler on the heels of Lewis and Clark, and not just because it was beautiful scene. The habitat's maker could likely be guessed, and at the time, the real value seen in a wetland was in the beaver pelts it could offer, or, once the industrious rodents were removed, in the pasture it could promise. Although wetlands were buggy, fickle, and, well...wet, few homesteaders would have passed up a flat swath of land that beavers and floodwater had cleared. The soil would have looked moist and composted...



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