Monday, March 3, 2014

usbackroads....Secret Special Places

usbackroads....Secret Special Places

Working for the land management agencies everybody assumes that you have secret special places.  Well, those of us that spent our lives on usbackroads did have our secret special places.  They have become much more crowded and much less secret.

These days every local chamber of commerce has brochures and information on what use to be secret places.  Who would have thought 40 years ago that bird watching sites would be used to lure tourists into the usbackroads.  Many of my secret places are now found in the guide to birding trails of Oregon.  These guides are freely available and given away at tourist centers.

So stop by the Welcome Centers hosted by the different states.  All those secret places are still there, just a little easier to find.  In some ways, this is good news as many more people will get to explore and experience these areas.

Driving around the special places always gives you surprises.  That patch of white will always grab your attention.  I wondered what he was doing there?   Maybe waiting for the beaver to return?  It then dawned on me that water around beaver huts is deeper than in the pond.

There are, however, some places that are still kept secret by the various land agencies.  Well, not secret but the information is not widely shared except for those that ask.  The top picture in this blog is one such site tucked away just a few miles from a population of 100,000 people.  Very few of those people, even know this special place exist in their "neighborhood".

Most these areas are set-aside by the various agencies for scientific reasons.  In the Forest Service they are identified as Research Natural Areas.  You will have to ask at the Ranger Stations for locations.  And it does help to ask a wildlife biologist, Forester, or botanist instead of the front desk.  This Forest Service site lists gives locations but usually these areas are not signed on the ground.  So you will just have to go there and see for yourself.

The Bureau of Land Mangement calls many of these Areas of Critical Environmental Concern.  In BLM's own words:

ACEC designations highlight areas where special management attention is needed to protect, and prevent irreparable damage to important historical, cultural, and scenic values, fish, or wildlife resources or other natural systems or processes; or to protect human life and safety from natural hazards.

Here is a link to the St. George BLM office and their areas:  St. George Areas of Critical Environmental Concern.  See even those secret and special places are now showing up on the internet!

The various state resource agencies also have their special lands.  They are known by various names but in many cases they are referred to as Natural Area Preserves.  Here is the listing for the state of Virginia Natural Areas.