City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

February 4, 2017

February 4th

Filed under: Common stonefly, Lichen, moss, Weather — canopus56 @ 5:39 pm

Moss Microhabitat

1:30 p.m. By the evening of yesterday’s cross-quarter day, the temperature increased to almost 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and this afternoon is almost reaches 50 degrees. The air has cleared, and the effect is immediate. Driving into the canyon along Bonneville Drive, there are about thirty strollers and in the lower canyon, another thirty people within the first mile. From January 28th to February 1st, after milepost 1.0, I had the canyon to myself. On the canyon’s sun exposed west wall, snow is gone up the ridgeline, and in the canyon bottom, the snow bank is not melting, it is condensing in place. But the stream is running only two inches higher, and from this I conclude that the melt water is being absorbed by the earth. Three small Early brown stoneflies are on the road, they are the first insects seen since January 8th, and in the relatively cold air, they fly only for short hops of a few feet.

Over the last view days, as the sun first slowly, then rapidly, melted four to six inches of snow laying on angled branches (Jan. 23rd), mosses appear from underneath the whiteness. This emphasizes the distribution of tree mosses that I have suspected for sometime: mosses like the wettest side of the tree, which in the first canyon mile is on the east and north east side of larger trees with crenulated bark. In Utah, the fiercest Sun comes in the afternoon from the southwest. The largest trees provide the most shade on their northeast and west sides. The large trees with angled branches between forty-five and sixty degrees in rise and whose bark has deep crenulatations retain the largest amount of snow. As this snow melts, theses trees create a favorable microhabitat for the moss, and this is where moss grows in profusion. The west and south of those trees favor a bright orange lichen. In cooler, shaded upper canyon beyond mile 4.5, the mosses express no preference; they grow on any side of a tree or rock.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on February 4th, 1852, he smells the scent of pine needles during a thaw. On February 4th, 1858, he finds some wild rosemary, picks its leaves, and makes of tea from it.

On February 4th, 1996, Truville Development continued construction of a new luxury home subdivision below Ensign Peak (Salt Lake Tribune). On February 4th, 1993, City Engineer Kelsey recommends various improvements to the City Creek channel and to build a 5,000,000 gallon reservoir at Pleasant Valley (Salt Lake Telegram).

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