The early October snow stunted the fall show of tree leaves. Worse yet, leaves who’d have progressed to their natural point of departure, now cling as mossy gray masses. A good look for Halloween. This year’s normal leave gathering chore is much lighter with the removal of the front ash and the final bow of the silver maple. So I have a little more time now to reflect.
The changes over the years impacted the birds the most.
As my backyard and neighbor’s habits (bird feeding) have changed, so has the critters’ use of my yard changed. At one time you could call my yard a nursery for at least 4 or 5 species of birds. The blue jay, flicker, mourning dove, robins and chickadees. This year the chickadees made their appearance, but alas none of the rest. There were elements to my yard that invited nesting. I’ve watched over a 15 year period now.
Had I known really the intent of the original owners yard I would have made different decisions. Would I have removed the unkempt hedge? Would the pinion pine still be a scent-sation of the front yard? As I look at the original inventory of vegetation – there were distinct layers of protection, food sources, and nesting sites for birds. Much of what I saw as weedy bushes and misplaced trees were in fact a catalog of the natives people are encouraged to buy today.
Where should a bird nursery exist?
If my yard is now dedicated to experiments in sustaining the smaller creatures like native pollinators, and insects of all shapes, where does a bird nursery go? Can this be recreated in our open space? Could I geurilla garden a space like my backyard once was? How do I regain the habitat in an area most suitable for it? Could the front yard become that space on a smaller scale?
As I reflect on what was it that really allowed the abundance of nurseries I must remember the changes.
The Garden’s Changes
- The green wall – a thick layer of unkempt hedges below the blue spruce. This provided birds cover as well as berries. Replaced by a fence with no natural value.
- The crazy ugly bush – Hmm that was actually a native plum (I have a plan to remedy that).
- Removal of two large trees. Provided cover and nesting sites.
- Death of the berries on side of the house. Provided winter food source
- Neighborhood self ban on bird seed to reduce food sources of a rat infestation in 2017 – 18. Abundant winter and summer food source.
The Surrounding Changes
- An overall decrease in insects over the years. In summers, during monsoon season,an evening required the use of citronella candles to ward off the mosquitos. But gradually this changed. My first recollection of the reduction was after 2008 when I put in the concrete patio out back. So from gnats to mosquitos these populations are much more localized if available at all. What has changed in 15 years? Can local polutions be created in natural areas? Will the overflow areas at Chatfield provide this? There was once a population of toads? in the Platte Canyon natural area. Where have they gone? Can they be revived?
- C470 expansion project for the rich. Talk about a horribly run project. So many many native trees removed. Natural habitat at the border unnecessarily eradicted or disturbed. Increased pollution from 20 full miles of construction. And 20 full miles of traffic from construction. Much could have been mitigated with thoughtful consideration of all factors surrounding the project. They expand bridges. Okay. Then they scrape 20 full miles of highway. Then pave 20 full miles of highway. Then fix drainage they fucked up, then repave. Oh oopsie lets repave again! And each time more traffic is routed into our neighborhoods. Dont get a section at at time completely done and move down — like an assembly line?
- Wadsworth fill – Open tracts along Wadsworth and Coal Mine, a hospital and strip mall.
- Huge housing development south of Chatfield Reservoir with zero open space planning. Zero consideration of the whole.
- Grocery store tear down and the blight they’ve created. Large mature trees removed with nothing to replace them but weeds. A big hole in the ground and parking lot people are now sleeping in. NO! Another victim of out of state developers/owners.
- Constant disturbance by small plane traffic and more helicopters.
- Increased vehicle traffic on Wadsworth resulting from the increased speed on Wadsworth.
- The dumb fucks in polluting trucks. Is there any other way to say it?
None of these changes were intended to harm, well except #8, those fucks. But all play their part in the decrease of the wonderful native inhabitants we enjoyed sharing our land with. The huge influx of people from every state seemingly have no clue how to live among nature. Its like they were taught to fear it? Its time those be schooled.
Their loud polluting cars, their unnecessary development. The stories I’ve heard about coyotes being shot because someone built a golf course in their prime native habitat. To survive the coyotes took to small dogs. Why not shoot those horrible things! We took their natural food source, why shouldn’t Fluffy have free roam of the open fenced yard we have?
Oh and fire mitigation. We must remove every ounce of scrub oak that feed the deer, create shade for low water sources. They don’t understand that nature increase property values in Colorado. Perhaps the wholesale destruction of the pockets of nature we enjoyed are too far gone for nature in our city. I sure hope not. Can they be salvaged by a interested groups? What does Audubon say about the state of southern suburbs? Can groups like Douglas County land conservancy keep their nature? Where do they address local issues surrounding them and what do they need?
- Talk to my neighbors about starting a garden club in CKSE.
- Volunteer at Audubon this fall-winter to address traffic and on Wads. What approaches can be done immediately. What factors to be addressed. Is there proof of added pollution? Can we request a pollution / noise review ?
- Guerilla garden (with permission and blessing of our awesome open space people) natives into Wayside. Get the 3 plum seeds going as I did the peaches.
- Look into where Arbor Foundation will be planting the 20 million trees whose funds were granted by:
- Are there ordinances we can request be enforced?
The garden origins.
The weedier bushes were never identified, though I have remnants of their proliferation today.
- Honey Locust ‘Sunburst’ (2)?
- Green Mountain Ash
- Northern Catalpa Tree (1) 25′ h x 15′ w This Colorado native is wonderful tree. Huge heart shaped leaves sprout in late spring, followed by white and purple fringed orchid shaped flowers in summer. These produce seed pods 18″ long. Seeds do not propogate readily so are not weedy like the green ash. I can’t recommend this tree enough.
- Douglas Fir (2) – One on north side of house was removed in 2008.
- Sand Cherry
- Cotoneaster (C. horizonatlis)
- Cotoneaster (C. lucidus)
- Quince (Chaenomeles spp)
- Grape Holly – Not recommended, spreads easily
- Pinion Pine – Removed (native farther south?)
For our Community
Would it make a difference if developers lived where they develop? Would an ordinance of a certain amount of open space help? Where are the most enjoyable parts of Highlands Ranch?
How hard would it be to require those who plan / manage the development of an area must live in that area for the previous year? They must report on how their development will impact the current environment. We should ask that rhere be mitigation. We should not be victims to those outside our communities who care nothing of the damage they cause on their paths to fortune, to maximize profit. Do any of us see their profits? They tell us it creates jobs but are the economics really in favor of the community?
Noise barriers are better than trees to reduce traffic noise. If one uses a barrier in the buffer such as a landform can significantly increase buffer effectiveness (10 to 15 dBA reduction per 100-foot wide buffer with 12-foot high landform). We do not have 100 feet between homes and Wadsworth, so to me the only solution is a reduction in speed and enforcement program to slow people down.
Speed traps or are we on our own? Position empty police cars.
Noise monitors and mitigation. https://arbordayblog.org/landscapedesign/using-trees-and-shrubs-to-reduce-noise/
Can we create our own pollution monitors? Pollution