Chatting

Bush Talk and Hunt: Naturalists share their knowledge of the Montana Creek Conservation Property on a weekend hike

Hikers, naturalists, and mosquitoes alike came together to stroll through blueberry-filled, knee-high bushes while experiencing some of Juneau’s wet meadows.

Two Discovery Southeast naturalists, Richard Carstensen and Steve Merli, led a group of about 30 adults of all ages—clad in raincoats, Xtratuf boots, and hiking poles—through a few hours of hiking through high brush and the wetlands of the Montana Creek Conservancy property to learn more about the terrain and the elements of its composition on Saturday morning.

The hike was a collaboration between the Southeast Alaska Land Trust and Discovery Southeast, a non-profit organization that has been striving to introduce children and families to the outdoors for more than 30 years.

The hike, which began at the Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei trailhead at the end of River Road, meandered through Montana Creek Conservation Property, a recreation area created by the Mendenhall Glacier and now serves as a major floodplain in Juneau . The naturalists led the group through the bush and moss following no particular path in order to preserve the land and create no definitive path while walking through seemingly untouched nature.

A hiker takes a closer look at some of the foliage that covers the wetlands at Montana Creek Conservation Property. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Carstensen, one of the founders of Discovery Southeast and who spent his 12 years studying Eagle River, primarily led the discussions and orientations. He stopped occasionally to highlight different aspects of the wetlands that are unique to the region. Although Carstensen and Merli were the main leaders of the group, other naturalists were also present and shared their knowledge as well.

The land, dotted with blueberries, bog tea and browning spruce, was not in its typical state, Carstensen said, noting that the “remarkably dry” dry spell in June may have made the region less humid. than usual.

Ripening blueberries fill the bushes throughout the hike led by two Discovery Southeast naturalists on the Montana Creek Conservation Property.  (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Ripening blueberries fill the bushes throughout the hike led by two Discovery Southeast naturalists on the Montana Creek Conservation Property. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Ceann Murphy said that although she was born and raised all her life in Juneau, she hadn’t had the chance to go to the wetlands on the Montana Creek conservation property. So when she saw the post, she and her friend wanted to check it out.

“I’m having a great time,” she said. “Living here all my life, I can’t believe I’ve never checked this.”

The naturalists had no special plans to talk on the hike, but instead let the wandering adults ask questions as each made their way through the brushy land – some routes better than others. In the process, there were a number of tasteful drops, but none serious. The knee-high moss and brush of the wet area below made for a quick recovery.

Discovery Southeast naturalists Richard Carstensen and Steve Merli examine a set of footprints in the mud with the help of other group members.  (Clarise Larson // Juneau Empire)

Discovery Southeast naturalists Richard Carstensen and Steve Merli examine a set of footprints in the mud with the help of other group members. (Clarise Larson // Juneau Empire)

Merli, a Discovery Southeast naturalist and head naturalist for Glacier Valley Elementary School’s nature studies program, said it was a great experience to bring people together and see nature without following a path.

“It’s great to get people on the pitch,” he said. The naturalist pointed out the peculiarity of nature walking without a path and says it gives another subtle piece of information about the nature around the area. “There aren’t many words to describe this.”

• Contact journalist Clarise Larson at clarise.l[email protected] or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.