[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                       April 10, 2009
Outdoors

Spring celebrates nature's 
renewal, Earth Day

By Tim Wilder, The Real McCoy Contributor

How do you define the arrival of spring? Do you simply rely on a calendar to indicate when winter has ended and spring has arrived? The vernal equinox occurred March 20 as the sun crossed the equator making its slow journey northward, officially marking the arrival of spring.

Photo: A photo of a pasqueflower at Fort McCoy in bloom, one sign that spring has arrived in the area. (Photo by Tim Wilder)
A photo of a pasqueflower at Fort McCoy in bloom, one sign that spring has arrived in the area. (Photo by Tim Wilder)

There are many other ways to mark the arrival of spring, including the celebration of Earth Day April 22 when military and civilian personnel, alike, can enjoy and appreciate the many facets of spring through year-round efforts made by everyone to be good stewards of the environment at Fort McCoy and throughout the region.

For some, spring may arrive as soon as the last trace of snow slips from the landscape. To others spring may not arrive until the first daffodil blooms.

To the bird hunter, spring may not arrive until the first drumming grouse or gobbling turkey is heard as the sun peaks over the horizon. To the deer hunter, spring may arrive as soon as the snow melts allowing precious shed antlers to be found, which indicate where next yearís trophy is lurking.

To fishermen, spring may not arrive until the first Saturday in May ó May 2 this year ó when they can once again cast hook and bobber into a pond with the idea of dining on fresh fish for supper.

To a bird lover, spring may arrive when the first glimpse of a bluebird is obtained in early March, or it may not arrive until the gurgling trill of the red-winged blackbird is heard emanating from a nearby marsh.

To biologists, spring often is defined by the species of plants and animals that they manage. To a herpetologist, spring arrives when the first Blandingís turtle is seen basking at a pondís edge or the first bullsnake is observed soaking up the sunís rays near its burrow entrance where it spent the last five months just below the frost line. To a botanist, spring arrives when the first pasqueflower is found poking up through the oak leaves on the forest floor.

Spring is a hectic time for animals and biologists alike. Spring means mating season for most species. Males are intently focused on finding a mate in order to pass on their genes to the next generation. Once mating occurs, one or both parents are consumed with the tasks associated with raising their offspring. For a biologist spring is the time to make final preparations for the upcoming field season, to make last second changes to contracts, to order or repair required supplies and equipment, and to complete prescribed burns that will result in a flush of new vegetation in the weeks and months to come.

One can also mark the arrival of spring by celebrating Earth Day April 22. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 when more than 20 million individuals participated in Earth Day activities. If you want to find out more information about Earth Day activities, or ways that you can decrease your use of the earthís resources, check out this Web site at http://earthday.gov/.

So if you are ready to say good-bye to winter, maybe you should welcome the spring by spending a morning in the turkey woods trying to coax a gobbler to your call, or better yet, imitate that Blandingís turtle and simply get outside and soak up some of the sunís warming rays.

However you define its arrival ó spring is on the way!

(Wilder is the Directorate of Public Works Endangered Species biologist.)

 

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