[Watch this space: Starting with this issue, this column will compile news about what’s going on at the CAS Nature Areas. We are fortunate to own these properties, which are both a source of pride and a responsibility we all share. We hope to use this space to share a variety of items, from workdays and educational activities to field trips and natural history notes.  We hope you will share your findings at the nature areas, such as a good bird sighting or a new wildflower in bloom.  Send me a short note (or better yet, a note with some photographs) and you can be part of the Nature Area Notes team! John]

The original Wild Haven sign was repaired and restored to the top of the picnic shelter by Jean and David Neely.

Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary (from Bill Mees):

  • Over the past 6 months, visitors to CANS have used about 100 trail maps each month. Bill thinks this indicates that there are lots of new users of the area, perhaps more people looking to escape their quarantine.
  • CAS applied and was awarded a $1056 grant from Boone Electric Community Trust. This grant will be used to install a trailside interpretive sign to inform visitors about the CANS/Bonnie View prairie restoration. We are very thankful for the outreach by the Trust to make us aware of this opportunity!
  • Bill has been removing small trees that are invading the prairie. This is a slow process of walking through the prairie searching for the trees and cutting each individual tree — mostly honey locusts. Contact Bill if you want to help this important job go faster.
  • A new team of Master Naturalists will be monitoring the bluebird trails at the Colum

    Bluebird nest box monitors checking the boxes to get ready for spring.

    bia Audubon and Bonnie View Nature Sanctuaries this year. Kitty Peer, Leslie Palmer and Pam Lindsey (backup), have taken over monitoring duties from Nancy Bedan and Janet Lindstrom, who have checked the 14 bluebird boxes on the two properties for the past six years. Bluebird monitors start to work in February, making sure the boxes are clean and in good repair, and check the boxes weekly from March through July, noting what species are using the boxes, numbers of eggs and chicks, and nest success. A summary is sent to the Missouri Bluebird Society and compiled with reports from other bluebird monitors.

Autumn Olive removal at Wild Haven

 Last November, the CAS board voted to allocate $2000 for control Autumn Olive at Wild Haven. The contract was awarded to Anthony Orazio, a recent MU graduate in Fisheries and Wildlife. The work was done on several workdays in December and January. Anthony and Reed Gerdes cut stems and treated the stumps with herbicide while CAS volunteers hauled the cut branches to brush piles. With volunteer help (including

Anthony Orazio working on piling cut autumn olive bushes at Wildhaven.

Dave and Jean Neely, Eric Wood, and Bill Mees) the total area treated under the contract was about 1.0 acre — nearly twice the target area in the proposal. Several volunteers showed up again on January 24 and burned the first few brush piles, but we decided that the brush piles need more time to dry out we can burn the rest of the brush piles more efficiently.

Bill Mees, David, and Jean Neely burn autumn olive brush piles at Wild Haven.

Wild Haven Trail Work

Thanks to super-volunteers Jean and Dave Neely, who cleared the Orange loop trail north of O’Rear Road. Now all three trails are in great shape for winter and spring hiking. Brooke Widmar made GPS traces of all the trails and associated landmarks. These data will help us make new, more accurate trail maps, which we hope will encourage more visits. Look for the updated trail map and hiker’s notes for each trail in the coming months.

 Bluebird Nestbox Monitoring  — Volunteers Needed!

In an early sign of spring, CAS is setting up  new teams for monitoring bluebird houses at our nature areas. At Columbia Audubon and Bonnie View Nature Sanctuaries, Master Naturalists Kitty Peer, Leslie Palmer and Pam Lindsey will be monitoring the bluebird trails this year, taking over from Nancy Bedan and Janet Lindstrom. There are 14 bluebird boxes on these two properties.

Bluebird monitors start work in February, making sure the boxes are clean and in good repair, and check the boxes weekly from March through July, noting what species are using the boxes, numbers of eggs and chicks, and nest success. A summary is sent to the Missouri Bluebird Society and compiled with reports from other bluebird monitors.

CAS is currently looking for monitors for the bluebird trail at the Wild Haven Nature Area, which was not monitored last year. If you are interested in this rewarding work, contact John Besser (jbesser1@gmail.com) for more information.