By Leon Lindley


The Arabian Phoenix is a mythical bird that, according to legend, lived for five hundred years. After five hundred years, the Phoenix would burst into flames and then be reborn from the ashes. Much like nature’s renewing cycles, the Phoenix is immortal.

Bruce Child’s Access is part of a 735-acre greenbelt that runs along the Wapsipinicon River north and south of the Dunkerton area. Child’s Access had been devastated by the same tornado that went through Parkersburg in 2008. Prior to a trip there to cut and remove firewood from the tornado-ravaged area, a logging crew had gone through the access to salvage timber logs. There were scores of bare tree trunks interspersed with the occasional, undamaged tree. Discounting the brush on the ground, the upper view very much gave the impression of an area that had been swept by fire. I began to speculate how the area might look in a year, twenty-five years or a hundred years. Would the large hundred-year-old white oaks come back?  What about all the shagbark hickorys? Child’s was in such a disorder that a recovery was hard to imagine.

Like the Phoenix, Child’s Access will rise from the ruins; however, it will probably take more than a human lifetime. Nature is extremely resilient, and I suspect much of its recovery is already in place. Probably it is where many small seedlings under the destroyed canopy are waiting for opening in the forest.

There may also be some surprises. It may be the wildflowers that have been suppressed by shade, or seeds lying dormant waiting for the right conditions to spring forward.

Then there will be the changes in wildlife. New bird species will take advantage of the new under-story. Mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects will rush into the newly created habitats. Yes, like the Phoenix, the area will rise. It will be an exciting opportunity to watch the change. The recovery may be slow, but I think I will make it a point to walk through each year to mark the progress.