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First Impressions: Loeffler’s Corner

6/18/2015 –10 am

As I walked up to Loeffler’s Corner, I approached from the north, over the small hill created by the train tracks. At first glance, the southwest corner looked like any random piece of uncultivated land in the area. The brome and Poa were most visible from the 55, as the edges of the road were higher than surrounding land. There was a relatively short downward slope away from the road that gave way to a nice patch of prairie remnant. Walking closer to the edge of the remnant it became clear that the brome only dominated the raised edges of the road. In the depressed flatter area there was a diversity of species, some of which were prairie natives. First, I noticed the pink-hued prairie rose rising out of the assorted grasses, signaling the potential for other native plants. There is an old barbed wire fence about 20m from the road, parallel to the 55, that might create a boundary, but I decide to explore both sides of the fence anyway. There are a few trees a bit down Sandy Hill Rd, south of the 55, and one tree in the area between the fence and the 55, but very few trees overall. I begin to notice tall grass stems from the last summer season, and wonder which native grasses they might represent. I don’t wee any Echinacea angustifolia between the 55 and the fence, but I do see some porcupine grass, some yellow flower that looks to be from the Asteraceae family, a clover that may be native, and a few lead plants. I begin to look closer at the grasses and notice Dicanthelium and some bunches of grass that I assume are native. Overall, the area is slightly sloped and hilly. Moving south down Sandy Hill Rd, I notice brome and Poa are generally less visible away from the roadsides. I can see some patches of goldenrod, and in the distance some flowering wild parsnip. I look closer as I step into the remnant, and I see some echinacea plants! I move back to the road and start thinking about the potential history of this plot. Because I see less brome and Poa away from the roadside, I assume the area may have burned at some point in the recent past. I also wonder if the area was ever plowed. In general the area seems more hilly than most fields and I see some rocks which indicate that the area may not be a former field. In an attempt to asses the overall size of the remnant I move up the hill, southward down Sandy Hill Rd, just past a small crop of trees. From this vantage, I notice there is a clear southern boundary to this remnant. Beyond the trees is what appears to be an old field densely covered with alfalfa, brome and sweet clover. I see almost no evidence of native plants this far south. Therefore, this remnant is significantly larger than Bill Tom’s Gate but definitely much smaller than Staffenson Prairie Preserve. It looks to me like Loeffler’s Corner is a promising prairie remnant tucked between the railroad tracks and an old field.

 

 

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