In the most famous passage of the Wilderness Act, writer Howard Zahniser deﬁnes wilderness beautifully and concisely: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” As my crewmates and I work to prepare Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge to host the Wilderness Act’s 50th birthday party—which will include a visit from the public lands manager to all public lands managers, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell—we’re ﬁnding Zahniser’s words to be astonishingly accurate.
Over the course of our efforts, the Great Swamp’s untrammeled community of life has been on impressive display. Yesterday we saw a juvenile bald eagle ﬁrst thing in the morning, followed by a native praying mantis. As the day progressed and some dead and dangerously inclined trees were felled, the crew and I came across dragonﬂies, and a katydid (Tettigoniidae: a bug that to me looks like a cross between a grasshopper and a preying mantis). While we chopped apart an all day blowdown, Ed, strangely, found a spotted turtle… odd since our worksite was a considerable distance from water.
On the way back to the car the crew spotted a large bird in the woods. We couldn’t quite identify it, but the wingspan was large enough for it to have been a hawk. Early this morning, a gray catbird observed us stretching from its nearby perch. “Meow, meow!” After lunch we spotted a little goldﬁnch eyeing a puddle to make his birdbath
The highlight of the day came when we ﬁnally ID’d some mysterious insects that have had us perplexed from day one. Over the last 10 days we’ve been referring to them as, “insane white ﬂuffy wiggling ants who excessively twerk.” Our homespun theory was that the large clusters of white ﬂuffy insects that we were ﬁnding on select beech tree branches were ants infected with a neurological virus that compelled them to become twerking ﬁends! The virus, we wildly hypothesized, would cause the ants to climb to the tops of trees, grow a generous layer of white fuzz, and wave their rear ends about frantically… Read the rest on the Follow Me Field Blog.
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