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Adventures at the Bogs
My boyfriend and I visited some bogs for the first time the other day. First, we went to the Kent Bog and then the Triangle Lake Bog, which was right down the road. There was so much to see; we started seeing cool wildlife as soon as we got there! A happy little katydid was even there to greet us at the truck.🦗
A boardwalk winds through the Kent Bog for what made for a pleasant 45 minute walk. All along the boardwalk were plaques about the wildlife and dedications to the founders of the nature preserve.
It wasn’t long until we saw the first animal; what the informational signs throughout the bog called the elusive green snake. We felt super lucky to see one on our first visit. Turns out, the green snake is elusive and camera shy!
We saw all sorts of creatures in the bog, like butterflies, dragonflies, snakes, and rabbits! There were loads of different plants there, too. One of the first plants we saw there was the tamarack, which I unfortunately didn’t get a picture of. Luckily, there’s a picture of one from the Kent Bog on Wikipedia Commons!
Snowshoes Made of Wood
What’s a tamarack? It’s a deciduous conifer tree, which just means that tamarack is a woody plant with leaves that fall off and grow back every year. It’s leaves are needle shaped, like pine, and it grows in bogs and swamps.
Did you know that the Kent Bog has one of the largest tamarack tree populations in Ohio?
Turtles With Socks
One of the things we were most looking forward to seeing at the bogs was the pitcher plants. They’re an endangered species, and like the tamarack, can be found almost exclusively in bogs. These purple pitcher plants can be found in the Triangle Lake Bog State Nature Preserve in Ohio.
Pitcher plants are carnivorous, meaning they eat bugs and small creatures. They get their name because, surprise surprise, they look like a pitcher. They don’t just look like a pitcher, they act like one, too! See, pitcher plants are full of a liquid that attracts, drowns, and digests food.
There are lots of different kinds of pitcher plants. The ones at Triangle Lake here in Ohio are the Purple Pitcher Plant, or Sarracenia purpurea. They’re also known as the Northern Pitcher Plant, but my favorite name for them is Turtle Socks!
We also saw wild cranberries, ate wild blueberries, and found all kinds of life in the bog! 🍄🌼
What Even Is a Bog, Anyways??
All this talk of the wildlife at the bog and I never even properly explained what a bog is in the first place! Which is a real shame, because they’re pretty darn neat.
Bog basically means wetlands or swamps, and they’re characterized by cooler temperatures, high acidity, and lots of moss; usually peat moss or sphagnum moss.
The Kent Bog is what’s known as a kettle hole lake. Kettle lakes form when chunks of ice fall off of glaciers and get buried by sediment before melting. After they melt, the pockets left behind are called kettle holes, but can become lakes over time.
Not all kettle lakes are bogs, and not all bogs are kettle hole bogs. Kettle hole lakes still need moss to be bogs.
Who’s the Boss? Moss!
Mosses are simple plants that generally grow in damp and shaded environments. There are thousands of different mosses, but since the Kent Bog is primarily sphagnum moss, that’s the only one we’ll be talking about today.
Sphagnum moss is spongy and can hold more than twenty times it’s own weight in water. It’s really neat in that it doesn’t really rot or decay, it just sort of piles up on top of itself, and then it’s called peat moss.
Peat moss provides the right conditions for bogs to form, but it can also be used for tons of other stuff and can commonly be found in craft stores and garden centers.
More importantly, it acts as a carbon sink.
It’s similar to what the name sounds like in that a carbon sink has the capacity to release a stream of carbon into the world.
Think of it like a vault that holds carbon, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere. They even draw carbon out of their surroundings!
This is a very, very good thing. But why?
Well, too much carbon in the atmosphere contributes to and accelerates the process of global warming, which will eventually destroy our planet. Carbon sinks protect us from that acceleration by holding onto carbon, but they don’t get rid of carbon altogether.
What Happens When a Carbon Sink Stops?
Climate change could is affecting the way carbon sinks behave. Which is really, really scary.
See, carbon sinks help clean our air, they’re like filters. And like a filter, they only hold onto carbon, they don’t magically get rid of it. So what happens if carbon sinks, like the bogs, stop acting as carbon sinks? What happens if they start to actively release carbon emissions, like, say, if they caught fire?
Well, wildfires are good, natural parts of lots of healthy ecosystems. But our planet is not healthy, and the wildfires lately are more intense than ever. So intense that they might be turning carbon sinks into carbon emitters.
The carbon sinks that protect us could turn into sources of carbon that actively contribute to climate change and global warming.
The Planet is Dying, All Thanks to Us
Well, not all of us. While it’s admirable for individuals to do all that we can do to reduce our carbon footprints, we can’t make much of a difference if big corporations don’t do their part, too.
Those entities, both corporate and state-owned, are killing the planet. Not only that, but they’re telling us it’s our own fault as individuals in an attempt to shirk their responsibility and shame us into buying their “green” alternatives.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with green alternatives, but we absolutely must hold corporations accountable for their destructive actions. And when we’re not doing that, it’s always fun to go down and appreciate the bogs!
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Have you been on any adventures lately? Share your story in the comments!