Monday, April 20, 2009

Cedar Bog Open House

The Ohio Historical Society and Cedar Bog celebrated a huge milestone last Saturday. That day, the new interpretative center was officially dedicated. Having a modern, well-equipped center onsite has been a long-term goal of many Cedar Bog supporters, and people within the OHS such as Bob Glotzhober and former site manager Terry Jaworski worked very hard for very long to make this day and the building a reality.

The center will be a wonderful jumping off point for visitors. It is filled with informative displays and exhibits that help to interpret the complex world of the bog (which is really a fen). Restrooms will be a welcome amenity for guests, and there is even a conference room that can seat up to 75 people. I can already see some potential opportunities for putting that to use!

The packed 'em in! In the several hours that I was there, several hundred people must have stopped by. There were probably over one hundred present for the official remarks offered by various dignitaries. I talked to a lot of people that morning, and heard more than a few times from folks who had lived in the Champaign County/Urbana area for a long time, but had never visited Cedar Bog. This well-publicized event got them there, and I'm sure many will be back.

Here, Ohio Historical Society Chief Executive Officer Bill Laidlaw is flanked by Melanie Pratt (L) and Anna Jaworski (R). Melanie is president of the Cedar Bog Association, and Anna is daughter of the late Terry Jaworski, longtime Cedar Bog site manager and local legend. It was great to see Ralph Ramey there, too. Ralph has been one of Cedar Bog's biggest cheerleaders, and played an important role in preventing the construction of U.S. Route 68 a mere 75 or 100 yards from where this building stands. Because of Ralph and others, 68 now arcs well to the east, out of sight and out of mind, ensuring that the delicate ecology of Cedar Bog remains intact.

I was slated to lead a trip through the bog at 9 am, and when I showed up at the appointed hour, I was greeted by about 60-70 bog enthusiasts. Here is some of the group, out on the boardwalk in one of the fen meadows. Such a large group is a bit unwieldy as people are confined to the narrow boardwalk, but we managed just fine. Even saw some nice birds, in addition to lots of plants and other wildlife.

One of Cedar Bog's open meadows, ringed with the namesake of the place, White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis. These openings contain some of the richest floristic diversity of any Ohio habitat, and are chockful of rare plants. Animals, too, including Massasauga Rattlesnake, Spotted Turtle, Seepage Dancer (damselfly), and Elfin Skimmer (dragonfly). I've blogged about the natural history of this place a number of times in the past, such as HERE.

We were treated to an incredible display; the mass blooming of Marsh-marigold, Caltha palustris. This is certainly one of the finest stands of this early-blooming buttercup in the state, and it turns the wet woods of Cedar Bog gold. Mixed liberally throughout are the large, still unfurling leaves of Skunk-cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, such as can be seen in the bottom righthand corner of the photo. Skunk-cabbage is our first native wildflower to bloom, and it's odd blossoms are pretty much withered to nothingness by now.

Tight shot of the Marsh-marigold flowers. Buttercups are a dominant component of the earliest flowers of spring, and many of them look pretty good. Understandably this stunner is commonly grown for the landscape trade, and has been polluted - er, I mean propagated into many different cultivars. People in many places have the opportunity to appreciate this golden beauty, as it occurs throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, not just in North America. I know that our group appreciated them, and from the looks of it, everyone else strolling the boardwalk did too.
Congrats to everyone that made this day possible, and we'll look forward to many more visits to Cedar Bog.

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