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Old 03-19-2011, 11:12 AM   #1
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Yesterday, after work, I finally began working in the yard...and I'm feeling a little guilty about it. My concern is that I may be doing some short term harm in hopes of making a long term improvement...both aesthetically and for wildlife.

As I've mentioned here before, I am planning a pond with a recirculating stream. I love the look of rocks and think they will add a natural look to my project as well as natural depressions where birds can drink and bathe. We are blessed to have a lot of rocks, rounded stone, and boulders on the property. I believe many were deposited by an ancient glacier. Believe it or not, *one* of the selling points of this place were the rocks.


Our property is the remaining two acres of a farm/homestead. There are places were, I'm assuming, rocks were discarded after clearing fields. One such area is on the slope which is part of (what I'm transforming to) our woodland. These discarded rocks are a goldmine for my search for the right rocks for the stream and around the pond. However, they are already providing nooks and crannies for wildlife to make their homes.


Since moving here, I've been reluctant to remove things that are providing shelter for animals--even removing the invasive multiflora rose bushes and Japanese honeysuckle. At least, with these I created brush piles which provide shelter for wildlife. By removing (some) of these rocks, I feel I'm not putting anything back. I will ultimately use them for something that will be useful to a myriad of animal life, but in the short term, I feel like I'm displacing animals.


Lifting one rock, I uncovered a millipede, then another revealed a salamander, a spider here and there and a few pill bugs under others. At one point, I lifted a loose rock to uncover a nest of some kind--likely a mouse--created with the fluff of clematis seeds. No mouse or other critter could be seen...I took the rock, but replaced it with a similar one that I didn't plan to use for the stream.


I'd like to add that, in addition to the discarded rocks and stones, apparently it was a bit of a rubbish heap. Plastic, foil, melted plastic, broken glass, a small carpet remnant, and rusted box springs were among the things I removed or still have to remove. This makes me feel I'm doing something good. I also, plan to leave some rocks, place others to help retain the soil on the slope while making things look attractive, and add some decaying logs to the area...and add some woodland wildflowers to the rich soil that has collected there. I've weeded out some ground ivy and garlic mustard that are just starting to grow, so ultimately, I feel I'm making an improvement.


Am I being too sensitive to the disruption I am causing? Ultimately, I want the land to be something of use (and beauty) to me as well as wildlife.
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Old 03-19-2011, 12:30 PM   #2
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Good question. Does the end justify the means?
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Old 03-19-2011, 12:44 PM   #3
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Creating a pond is certainly going to help local wildlife, amphibians always need more places to breed and I am sure it will be visited by birds and mammals, too. I would try to leave the biggest rocks where they are. I would also collect fewer than half of the rocks present in any given area so that plenty of shelter remains for those species who have set up camp.You could also purchase some rocks. Unfortunately, they have to come from somewhere, but better they go a wildlife project than someone's path to a deck.
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
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Good question. Does the end justify the means?
Exactly! I think it could become a good conversation...perhaps beyond just my own project.
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:32 PM   #5
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Creating a pond is certainly going to help local wildlife, amphibians always need more places to breed and I am sure it will be visited by birds and mammals, too.


Yes, it will...and in addition to the water, the rocks incorporated within and around the pond and streambed will once again provide hiding places for insects, salamanders (which still have a home in the woodland), and who knows what else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by midwesternerr View Post
I would also collect fewer than half of the rocks present in any given area so that plenty of shelter remains for those species who have set up camp. You could also purchase some rocks. Unfortunately, they have to come from somewhere, but better they go a wildlife project than someone's path to a deck.


I had tried to upload some pictures to give you all a better idea of what I'm doing...and what I'm leaving. I had trouble uploading them--I kept getting a message about security code or something.

I'm sure I'm taking less than half...there are some that are too huge--although they sure would look nice incorporated to the water garden design! I am trying to limit any disturbance to any crevices or tunnels that are built into the slope. I'm leaving a lot of stones, and may end up creating more crevices with what I leave behind. Also, I want the rocks, boulders and stones to enhance the (future) woodland as well.

Over the 3 1/2 years we've been here, I've been very reluctant to remove anything of use to wildlife...that has included some Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose that I left in some places the first year. Each year, I would remove a bit more--always piling them up as a brush pile. My concern was making too drastic a change all at once. At first, some areas were still rather inaccessible--this year, I'm finally able to access the entire yard. So, unfortunately, I've let some of these invasives continue to seed themselves the first few years we were here.

Not being able to access the areas has also prevented me from tackling the garlic mustard and some other invasives. Removing the junk left by a previous owner is kind of a must--although, I'm sure even that is providing homes to something. I plan to bring in fallen branches and logs to add to the woodland which will also provide homes to wildlife.

Each winter and spring, I've worked on the woodland, but by summer it becomes overgrown, so now is my chance. Doing it now when most things are dormant, seems like a good idea to me.

I'll try to add some pictures again.
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:36 PM   #6
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Here are some pictures from yesterday:
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More Harm Than Good?-wg-woodland-slope-untouched.jpg   More Harm Than Good?-wg-nest-uncovered.jpg   More Harm Than Good?-wg-nest-close-up.jpg  
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Last edited by dapjwy; 03-19-2011 at 03:38 PM. Reason: adding pictures one at a time
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:43 PM   #7
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More pictures:
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More Harm Than Good?-wg-invasives.jpg   More Harm Than Good?-wg-garbage-2.jpg   More Harm Than Good?-wg-some-garbage.jpg  
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:55 PM   #8
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...still more pics:
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More Harm Than Good?-woodland-rocks-before-25.jpg   More Harm Than Good?-woodland-rocks-after-25.jpg  
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:04 PM   #9
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I did more weeding, garbage pick up, and gathered a few more rocks.

Here is what the area looked like at the end of the day. This is only about a third of the entire slope:
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More Harm Than Good?-157.jpg  
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:26 PM   #10
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I think doing things in small steps is a good and allows the critters some time to move into or under another area...
I'd move the salamanders and insects towards the edge of another cluster of stones-brush you intend on leaving alone for the time being and give them a nudge to get them to move under cover.
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