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Notes from The Field: Meriwether County in May

by Hadrien Turner

Another early summer, and another Meriwether County conservation easement monitor trip in the books. While being out on properties is far more ideal in the winter and spring months, the onset of turkey season in March curbs the ability to monitor some properties in cooler weather as many landowners are dedicated hunters. The same goes for the fall when deer season commences, and we try and wait until the rut is over before scheduling monitor visits of properties that we know are hunted. So we brave the heat and wear orange just in case! 

The latest trip began with a barrage of rain, but since Meriwether County is approximately 4 hours away from where I reside in Chattanooga, rescheduling (unless there’s a severe thunderstorm) is usually out of the question. However, the rain is also an opportunity to see properties under different conditions, which is worth getting soaked. You sometimes see different species of wildlife that you otherwise might not see, and often are able to piece together the causes and effects of erosion in real time in the rain rather than relying on the evidence later. 

The time spent on conservation easements nearly always leads to moments of magic, and this trip was no exception. Between meeting with a sixth generation landowner and being shown the renovated one room cabin he lived in until he was 5, encountering a very spicy Piedmont blue burrower (Cambarus harti) in a road puddle, observing a variety of milkweed species, stumbling upon a box turtle (with a visible aural abscess most likely caused by a Vitamin A deficiency), regularly spotting fox squirrels of varying morphs roadside, and the lack of any threat to the conservation values of the conservation easements visited, I’d say that the trip was a success. And all of this enveloped in the everpresent songs of summer tanagers, vireos and other songbirds. What could be better? 

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