Resource Ramblings 2005-07
Natural Resource Management
Ladies and gentlemen, July and August are the heavy months for bison to participate in the rut. At this time, they have other things on their mind than your comfort and safety. Likewise, they are not particularly concerned with the needs or desires of our visitors. Please be careful when near bison at this time and give them a wide birth. If you get this look, beware!
The Vegetative Growth Year (VGY) encompasses the months of October through the following September. To date, the Park has received 13.36 inches of precipitation for the VGY. The 53 year VGY average is 12.2 inches. – Barb Muenchau
Resource Management Volunteer
Tom McBride, volunteer, is working on a variety of projects such as removing stakes from tiger salamander inventories, asphalt removal, exotic species control, boundary fence surveys, and photography. You no doubt have seen the McBride’s motor home in the housing area with the rafting armadillos. Say hay to him when you get the chance.
Beauties or Beasts?
This is the time of year when thistles add beautiful shades of pink, lavender, and purple to the park’s prairie landscape. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thistles, with their prickly stems and leaves, are not always a welcome sight. Four thistle species occurring at the park are native to this area, four are not. The native species are wavy leaf (Cirsium undulatum), Flodmann’s (Cirsium flodmanii), Drummond’s (Cirsium drummondii), and yellowspine thistle (Cirsium ochrocentrum). The exotic thistles are Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), musk thistle (Carduus nutans), bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), and Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium).
Some of the clues that help with identification of thistles are: Foliage color (wavyleaf, Flodman’s and Scotch are grayish green); height (Scotch grows several feet tall), leaf shape (bull thistle leaves have a distinctive shape with long, pointed leaf terminals); or, flower head formation and shape (musk thistle has leafy bracts, as opposed to spiny bracts, below its nodding flowers). Canada thistle, the most invasive thistle species, is the easiest to identify. It tends to grow in dense stands, and produces many small flowers at the end of each stem. Other thistles at the park produce much larger flowers, usually one to a stem, and do not create extensive clones. – Marie Curtin.
Comments and feedback about Resource Ramblings are encouraged and can be made to Dan Foster, in person, or via email.
Did You Know?
Wind Cave is the first cave in the world to be designated as a national park. That occurred on January 9, 1903.