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July 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Kniola: A Trip to the Bernheim Fire Tower

Fire Tower at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Fire Tower at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

By Ryan Kniola
Environmental and Plant Biology Major, Ohio University
Summer internship at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

Hello again,

I’d like to share with you a neat and historical spot at Bernheim. To give a few hints, it is the oldest standing structure, it’s made out of metal, and it stands 48 feet tall.  If you haven’t guessed it yet the answer is the Fire Tower.

Normally in the past it has been open to the public, but recently it has been locked off. (I’m not sure of the reasoning behind this.). Luckily I have a key that allows me to unlock the tower and be able to gaze out at the extending view over the Kentucky landscape that shows excellent examples of the knobs and karst topography. Karst topography is a geological formation that occurs when soluble bedrock weathers away and harder insoluble rock is left standing taller. It’s wicked to think that at one point in time the land was once level with the tops of the knobs and over time the softer rock dissolved away. This spot is one of many other interesting spots in Bernheim that I enjoy to frequent. Places where I can enjoy wildlife by sight, sound and touch, read a book (I’m working on Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan), or just simply a place to think and reflect.

It’s wicked to think that at one point in time the land was once level with the tops of the knobs and overtime the softer rock dissolved away.

It’s wicked to think that at one point in time the land was once level with the tops of the knobs and overtime the softer rock dissolved away.

Indigo Bunting at Bernheim

Indigo Bunting at Bernheim

At this location Nate Schmidt and I have discovered what we refer to as a “resident” male Indigo Bunting. I was awestruck by this bird the first time I saw it because of its beautiful song and bright blue color.  We call it a “resident” because nearly each time we go up there we see him, well rather hear him first then find him. It is really something neat to watch and listen to. After the first evening observing it, I quickly caught onto the call and have now heard it everywhere on the property.  Another bird you can hear frequently is the Pileated Woodpecker. I have heard it constantly but never saw one until a few weeks ago while hiking with Nate on the recently installed Elm Lick trail. He told me he saw one while he was doing trail maintenance, and after that I knew I had to get out there and see one for myself. We actually saw a few around 7 p.m. the day we went out. The best place to see them is on top of the two knobs you reach while on the trail. This is really a neat place to observe and enjoy nature and spend some time in the woods, or in my case a lot of time.

Click here for photo album

Until next time,

Ryan

One Comment

  1. Wildlife, birds and overall sites must be amazing!! Thanks for your info.

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