Sunshine has returned to the Pacific Northwest. Summer is a season of celebration: fruits are ripening, gardens are bountiful, and the forest is a bustling place. At SHADOW, these days of warm sunshine have brought snakes out to sun, an opossum scavenging lunch in the bog, Pacific Chorus frogs seeking warmth, and even a mole who found its way above ground. As we celebrate the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, we give thanks for all the life-giving power the sun brings.
Sunlight and shadow are drivers for plant growth and wildlife diversity. Our region’s, shady, old growth forests have little worries from invasive blackberries because of their need for large amounts of sunlight. Meanwhile, our native blackberry is adapted to shady conditions. Our shady forests are, appropriately, cool and wet which explains the diversity of amphibian species and fungi they are famous for.
The Nature Preserve has been working on restoring and reforesting 17 acres of once clear-cut land. Without management and intention, it became a haven for invasive species. Our first step has been tree removal, allowing our soon-to-be-planted conifer tree seedlings lots of sunlight to grow. Those same conifer seedlings will grow tall and large and produce lots of shade- hopefully enough to prevent regrowth of those pesky invasive blackberries. The trees keep the amount of sunlight in balance- the system is delicate but also resilient.
Nature’s balance is something many of us appreciate but often forget about when we think of something as simple as the sunshine. On this week of long days, stop and appreciate the warmth of the sun on your face but also its life-giving power to the world around us.