Who Knew? - Lawrence's Urban Wilds

After a few damp and dreary days, Lawrence awoke to bright sunshine and blue skies this morning. With autumn in full swing and winter only a few short weeks away now is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the crisp air, changing leaves, and blue skies. Walking through Lawrence along the Spicket River can really make you forget that you are in a city of more than 75,000 people, the resilience of nature is quickly apparent as you explore this active ecosystem in the midst of urban sprawl.

One of Lawrence’s most significant green spaces, or “urban wilds”, is located directly below the new bridge construction in Lawrence’s Gateway where the North Canal and Spicket River join the much larger Merrimack River, you might not expect to find a serene riparian forest, but its there! Silver Maples, River Birch, and American Elms stand along the river bank. Several trees even grew directly from the base of the old Canal Street bridge!

The sights, sounds, and smells of fall were all evident this morning. Trees are getting ready for the cold by dropping their leaves, bringing the forest to life with reds, oranges, and yellows. For many bird species fall means migration. This morning I noticed a small migrating flock of Yellow-Rumped Warblers, small birds that breed in the forests and mountains north of here, was moving along the banks of the Spicket on their way south for the winter. For cold blooded creatures, like reptiles, life slows down in the fall and winter. A large common snapping turtle was lurking in the shallows this morning trying to warm up. The big turtle was sluggish because of the chilly morning and needed the sun’s rays to “power up” for the day.

Urban Wilds such as those located all along the Spicket River in Lawrence provide the unique opportunity for residents of Lawrence to experience the beauty, calm, and serenity of nature in seemingly unlikely places. Not only that, these patches of forest also provide important habitat for plants and animals living in and traveling through our city.

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