|Soil color chart in hand, science in action at Standing Rush -- today marked the first time in our tenure|
that formal soil science was conducted on the property
Early this week, I received a phone call from ODNR's Office of Coastal Management asking if Standing Rush would be willing to participate in an evolving project that will be conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in Vicksburg, Mississippi. As it turns out, discussions had been underway for some time, and the window of opportunity had arisen to host two research scientists from the Corps' ERDC Environmental Laboratory -- one a soil scientist and the other a wetland ecologist -- to do sampling throughout northwest Ohio this week.
|A core being collected from a vegetated|
region of our Rest Pond (West Marsh)
So said more simply, if we know how much "bad stuff" is in the soil around and under the water of the marsh today, we may be able to better predict how much more "bad stuff" it can "absorb" (again, keeping it in layman's terms) before excess nutrients just bypass the system and enter the lake. Obviously, there are a lot of complicating factors -- e.g., one big one: what plants might be living in those soils and at what densities -- but this is the heart of the research. If a basic premise is that wetlands serve as kidneys ("filtering out" what we don't want to end up in the lake), it makes sense to build confirmation of this capability quantitatively.
|The sample tube being analyzed just after extraction|
I had to smile as my guests scrambled across the deck of the jon boat to take measurements, record data, and even capture pictures. Because Standing Rush hosts some pretty unique geology, their sampling produced some pretty "funky" cores (contents of each clear tube pushed into the bottom substrate to allow for sample collection). I was reminded of fishermen at a landing net each time the sample tube was extracted -- eyes would light up in anticipation and then broad smiles would emerge each time the contents became visible above the water. "Clean" marl (almost snow-white and often seemingly free of imperfections), waxy clays in blues and grays, and discrete layering of mineralogy and organics were the highlights of the day. Such diversity is a hallmark of lake front property where deposition is directly impacted by varying water levels, wind, and wave energy. Change is the only constant through time.
|Bright marl sandwiched between layers of|
organic deposition (dark brown) and mineral-rich
clays (grays on top and bottom of core)
NOTE: It is a complete oversight that after more than 18 months of journal entries about Standing Rush, I have yet to write about marl and the importance this strange calcium-rich "mud" has played on the history of the property. I promise to circle back and tell the tale of the Sandusky Portland Cement Company and Medusa Cement very soon. As we have come to understand it, if these industrial endeavors of the late 1800s and early 1900s would not have discovered rich deposits of these chalky-white deposits between what is now Standing Rush and Cleveland, our marsh may have been lost to other uses a long time ago. Again, more on this interesting history lesson soon.