On our bike ride today, we came upon an area with taller grass than what we have seen near our campsite. An interpretive sign indicated we were in the Sacaton Flats. The giant sacaton grass (Sporobolus wrightii) is an important native species in the area that helps this harsh ecosystem in several ways – it provides an absorption mechanism during flood flows, aids in erosion control and traps and holds soils in place. Without this grass, wind and water erosion cause soil depletion, dust and increased silt in area streams. The grass also contributes food and habitat for both native and introduced wildlife. Efforts have been underway here in Las Cienegas NCA to replant sacaton grass in places where it has been lost or is threatened. Who would have thought that this native grass could be so important for the local environment? I love finding out about these obscure, yet vital pieces of our natural world.
The environment here at Las Cienegas NCA is so very different from the mountainous canyon lands to the north of Phoenix. While there was so much in bloom along the Apache Trail, here at 5000′ in the southern high plains the land is still relatively dormant. I’m enjoying the contrast but, at the same time, feel challenged with finding good photographic subjects!! Some other interesting photos of the day:
A fellow blogger and Vermonter shared with me the following quote after my last post. I am familiar with this verse and have fond memories of time spent at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve in the Tetons. Thanks, Stewart, for reminding me of this quote – it is so very true and I’m sharing it here:
“In the midst of the complexities of modern life, with all its pressures, the spirit of man needs to refresh itself by communion with unspoiled nature. In such surroundings- occasional as our visits may be- we can achieve that kind of physical and spiritual renewal that comes alone from the wonder of the natural world.”
― Laurance S. Rockefeller