Wednesday, March 20, 2013

a few words on desert treasure hunting...

by Kim Clark

A steady breeze and slight elevation keeps spring heat at bay as we fan out across the wash.  Zebra tails sprint on tip toes from the open boulder-scape to safety in the creosote understory.  Phainopepla gives the warning cry.

Pattern recognition dominates our training in the field -  learning to see the steady state of desert plants, against which something different will appear.  Eyes dart from niche to niche, hoping for the glint, edge, or flash of color that betrays the presence of the most rare.

Following their helical instructions through untrustworthy seasons of moisture, rare plants germinate, flower, and pollinate with their kind, in the face of diminishing returns.

Rare plant conservation is the prize of the treasure hunt.  Documenting their occurrence is key, and gaining you as their champion, their hope.