Wilder, The Real McCoy Contributor
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.
A photo of a pasqueflower at Fort
McCoy in bloom, one sign that spring has arrived in the area. (Photo
by Tim Wilder)
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
you define its arrival ó spring is on the way!
(Wilder is the Directorate
of Public Works Endangered Species biologist.)