I toured Metro's new fen at 7am yesterday in the company of Metro Regional Council President David Bragdon and Metro's interim manager of science and stewardship, Katy Weil.
At the end of March I wondered out loud why Metro is buying fens, and boy, did I get the explanation yesterday. But first, and more importantly, I learned that wearing chest waders is accompanied by the danger of "overtopping," when you go too deep and the waders fill with water. Should you overtop, the only thing for it is to "quick release," and snap out of the chest waders to swim away, before drowning. Bragdon spent much of yesterday's tour shouting "quick release" and "overtopping," as a result.
Peach Cove Fen is out past Lake Oswego, about a 45 minute drive from downtown. Its acquisition is the latest in about 9,000 acres of land bought by Metro's Natural Areas Acquisition Bond program since 1992. The program was renewed in 2006, and continues to purchase rare ecological areas, like the fen, that are under threat. Indeed, the neighboring property used to have a fen of its own. "But the owner drained the fen, lined it, and turned it into a trout pond," said Weil. Fen murderer!
Bragdon hopes to turn Peach Cove into an educational center in due course...it's already a thriving habitat for birds. Within a minute yesterday for example, Weil checked off the sounds of a hermit thrush, a song sparrow, a black capped chickadee, a chestnut backed chickadee, a gas hawk (that's an aeroplane—ornithology jokes!), a steller's jay, a redwing blackbird, and an American robin.
"This isn't really news just yet," said Bragdon. "Although it will be in 30 years when people ask, why did they save all of this valuable land?"