by Bill Mees

Anyone who owns property knows there is always something to do, whether it is mowing, weeding, or picking up sticks. As the owner of Columbia Audubon Wild Haven and Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary, it’s the same for the Columbia Audubon Society (CAS)

At your house you call them weeds. At CAS they’re called invasives. Several CAS volunteers have been concentrating on removing Wild Haven’s two main “weeds,” bush honeysuckle and autumn olive. Roxie Campbell’s recent “hike and hack” field trips have removed numerous invasives along the yellow and white trails at Wild Haven. Following the hikes, indomitable volunteers David and Jean Neely have returned to continue the initial removal efforts, concentrating on bush honeysuckle that has grown to a stature that requires a chainsaw for removal.

Additionally, the extent of the autumn olive invasion near the shelter and storage building has prompted the CAS Board of Directors to consider hiring an outside worker to do the removal. The

Built with boards from the picnic shelter, the Leopold bench was built by David Neely.

dense growth of autumn olive exceeds the ability of CAS volunteers to control.

Earlier this spring, the bridge at Wild Haven was deemed to be unsafe and beyond repair and was dismantled. David Neely has taken to recycling usable portions of the lumber to construct Leopold benches. Six strategically located benches now provide resting/viewing perches for visitors hiking the white and yellow trails. We hope you will visit Wild Haven and take advantage of these on your next visit.

Long time members are familiar with the iconic Wild Haven sign hanging over the main gate. Estimates of its age range from 40 to 50 years.  Because the upright poles supporting the sign deteriorated, the sign has been salvaged and the uprights cut down.   The old sign will be attached to the front of the shelter where it will be protected from the elements.

Planning is also underway to provide a small parking area for visitors. For years, CAS has limited access to Wild Haven with locked gates. These gates were intended to deny easy access to vandals but has done the same to the visitors we want; an unintended consequence. CAS hopes a small parking area will alleviate this situation and encourage visitors to experience this wonderful nature area.

Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary is the other readily accessible property owned by CAS. The three year project to extend the current prairie to the west side of the 28 acre property continues. Seeding is planned for late 2021. Visitors are drawn to the current established prairie to experience the changing colors and blooms. As many of you know, prairies are much more than wildflowers but others aren’t fully aware of a prairie’s many benefits. CAS has made application to the Boone Electric Community Trust to fund a trail-side interpretive sign. The sign will convey the full range of a prairie’s benefits to visitors.  Keep your fingers crossed we receive good news for funding of this grant in the next couple months.

CAS is an all-volunteer organization. If you are interested in helping with the “housekeeping” at either of the above mentioned properties, your help will be gratefully accepted. Be warned–working with others who appreciate nature the way you do can be fun and fulfilling.  Contact Bill Mees at 445-7781 or