By Sydney Chandler
The secure boardwalk through the bog differs from the spongy mat below. The dense layer of sphagnum moss and roots form a nine foot deep layer of plant life that floats on twelve feet of open water. Gasses release from this layer causing a unique smell and subtle bubbling sounds. Below the water is another thirty feet of peat (dead/decaying mosses). It’s an up-close-and- personal experience in biodiversity and cultural history.
Bog Structure from Above
Rich biodiversity is due to the multiple water sources to the bog and is a significant benefit to the area. The bog provides homes and nutrients for species at many levels of the food web. Evidence is in the buzzing of bugs, lush mosses, feeding birds, sunning turtles, and water quality. What other evidence of a healthy ecosystem is present?
Dew on Bog Flora
Historically, some cultural groups deemed bogs spiritual or haunted. Archaeologists have found evidence of sacrificial activities, and have used the well-preserved remains (due to low oxygen levels and acidic soil) to better understand our ancestors, their daily lives, and their beliefs. Does visiting the bog trigger a spiritual response?
Evidence of Nearby Biodiversity: Canada Wild Ginger
Bogs are particularly valuable today because they are carbon-sinks. Their ability to absorb carbon dioxide from our environment helps to off-set human impact on the environment. However, bogs are often damaged or destroyed for development, harvesting of peat, and increasing water access. When visiting this bog, be sure to explore its positive contribution to our environment and marvel at the biodiversity present.
Evidence of Water Quality: Sunning Painted Turtles
Sydney Chandler is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.