Archive for Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Baker Wetlands Day set for Sunday

April 26, 2000

Roger Boyd knows what the Baker Wetlands can hide.

In 1991, the Baker University biology professor collected a grass sample that he thought looked a little different than the grasses around it. Recently, he learned it was a variety of spikerush that has been seen only once in Kansas since the 1800s.

"I didn't know it was different at the time," Boyd said. "It was skinnier than other species around it. I thought it was a variation of other spikerushes."

The spikerush Boyd found in late May, an eleocharis wolfii, grows 11-12 inches tall, and has a flower without pedals.

"Spikerushes are similar to grasses, but are in a different family," Boyd said. "They have a flower, but not petals. They are kind of non-descript unless you know what you are looking for."

Boyd, now that he knows about his rare find, will look for it again in about a month.

His type of discovery and other wetland offerings are what Baker University's Wetlands Field Day is all about. The field day is from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Participants can enter on the east side of the wetlands in Lawrence at Haskell and 35th streets.

Boyd said there will be 15 different stations with different activities and subjects, including fish, frogs, turtles, snakes, salamanders, plant identification, honey bees and bird identification.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will have a station to discuss programs available to convert land back into wetlands.

Canoe rides will be available on the wetland's north canal.

"They can see all sorts of neat things from the canoe," Boyd said. "We have a number of things related to the wetlands."

If the weather is good, Boyd expects as many as 400 visitors.

The event is sponsored by Earth We Are, a Baker University environmental organization, and the Jayhawk Audubon Chapter. Baker students will assist with the stations.

Boyd said the wetlands offer many benefits, including protection of endangered species.

"Most of the endangered species in the United States live at least some part of their life in wetlands," Boyd said.

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