This month’s field note comes from a little further afield.

On Saturday, May 28th I went for an early-season hike up Perry Creek off the Mountain Loop Highway. While there was still too much snow to make it past the falls, the wildflowers and new spring growth in the lower valley were in full swing!

Now, if I were to write a field note for every hike I did, we’d have to publish an eNews every week. I want to highlight Perry Creek, however, because of its connection to our very own namesake, Art Kruckeberg.

This little slice of old-growth forest and subalpine meadows are home to over 250 native plant species, including the fern Polystichum andersonii X munitum. This unique specimen is a hybrid of the common western sword fern and the lesser-known Anderson’s holly fern. Dr. Kruckeberg first noted this species with Warren H. Wagner Jr. on a field trip to the site in 1963. This fern has been found elsewhere in Washington and Oregon, but Perry Creek appears to be the lowest known elevation for this novel species. This fern, among others, grows so abundantly along the Perry Creek drainage that Dr. Kruckeberg dubbed this patchwork of hardwood glades, old-growth conifers, and talus slopes a “fernery.”

After much lobbying from Dr. Kruckeberg, the Washington Native Plant Society, and others, this area was officially designated a Research Natural Area(RNA) in 1997, protecting it from logging and other manmade disturbances. RNAs are areas of high biodiversity or other “unique characteristics of scientific interest” set aside for both research and education.

Emma MacDonald, Program Manager

Looking south to Big Four and Hall Peak