Scenic Trail Offers Lessons in Ecology
The aim of the L.I.F.E. Trail is to provide everyone consistent access to a rare island native habitat, with a two-fold purpose: to create opportunities for health and wellness through physical fitness and to cultivate environmental awareness and land ethic. By enlarging the boundaries of our community to include the land we enhance our collective wellbeing.
As part of their environmental studies curriculum, Lopez High School students, under the guidance of ecologists Barsh and Murphy, staked out a habitat restoration area in the meadow featuring weedy mustards that thrive in disturbed soils around farming or colonies of native vole. The stewardship program, supported in part by state funding, is located on the lush southern field of the Vita Parcours where students and community can enjoy the reintroduction of this delicate species. To learn more, visit Kwiaht: Center for the Historical Ecology of the Salish Sea www.kwiaht.org.
The woodland area of the L.I.F.E. Trail is an opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of an otherwise undisturbed native island deciduous forest. The dense tangled growth of willow, crabapple, bitter cherry, ocean spray and other native shrubs is home to more than 30 native western Washington songbirds, many of which are year-round residents; others come to nest in spring.
The trail offers students and residents lessons in ecology, biology, botany and natural history: this is Lopez before its wetlands were drained and forests felled more than a century ago. The L.I.F.E. Trail represents the hope of humans living peacefully in and around our native ecosystems.