Acid Bog Blues

Open Pond at Allenberg Bog, photographed by Jeff Zablow in New York

We searched for this in 2016 and found it. Allenberg Bog in very western New York State. Found it, as you see here. A genuine sphagnum moss acid bog. Barbara Ann and I visited it 2 mornings in a row. 

You stand in the bog, your boots all the time sinking, 2 inches here, 4 inches there. That one time, the first day, I stepped onto a spot where the several feet thick moss hidden mat was not in place, and we both had jolt when I begin to sink nearly 2 feet into the abyss. Bye bye Jeffrey L? Thank G-d no, but I was Very Very careful after that.

In 2017 we tried again, but we could not find Allenberg Bog. It seems that the Buffalo Audubon Society that owns Allenberg Bog may not want us to visit it. We could not find it for the trail to it was allowed to grow wild, and trail markings were absent or hidden.

I wasn’t able to join Angela this year, 2018, at Bruce Peninsula in Ottawa, which I much regret. I so wanted to once again see Bog Copper butterflies and the fritillaries that can be found at acid bogs.

Here in Georgia, I am hoping that someone will do the heroics and lead me to good bog destinations. Now planning for trips in 2019, I am not encouraged that y’all will step forward and drop those bread crumbs ’til I am in such a bog. At Allenberg I stood there, impressed that this unique gem has remained unchanged for what 300 years? 500 years? No, 1,000 years?

This is what, the $64,000 Question?



Every Step In a Bog is . . . .

Barbara Ann Case, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

Who among you has ever walked in an ancient acid, spaghnum moss bog? My statistical staff assures me that approximately 0.26% of you have, and ever will. Studying for my B.S. degree at Hunter College (now part of CUNY), bogs may have been mentioned/referenced once or twice, and remained a mystery to this Brooklyn boy. Bogs, bald eagles, beavers, native orchids, ospreys and regal fritillary butterflies? In text books yes, but few among us, in those days, busted-out and hit the road to find far distant fens and true bogs.

Brooklyn boy is now grown, and that Toyota Tundra is very road worthy. New places, new adventures, new friends. Real, Honest to Goodness acidic bogs, 10,000+ years old. Remnants of glaciers long receded, their moss, cranberries, Tamarck pines and other flora now retain a solid acidic pH, that acid environment deters most forms of life, but provides a home to flora and fauna that prefer pH’s lower than 7. Bacteria that exist in other places, cannot readily survive in an acid bog, and that creates fascinating scenes, like this one.

We’re in far western New York State, at a true sphagnum moss bog, owned and protected by the Audubon Society of Buffalo. You’d never find it from the road, some 1/2 mile away, through primitive trail. Bogs endure, but at the same time they harbor rare living things, like the Bog Copper butterflies that we shared with you some weeks ago. Best to keep most folks away, especially those who have their own designs and don’t ascribe the live and let live.

Every step in a bog has your boots (waders?) gently sinking some 2-5″ down, and that, after an hour or more, begins to stress and exhaust your calf muscles, for they must respond/adjust each and every step you take. Barbara Ann here, watched me go off trail at one point, to carefully pursue a Bog copper, only to see me quickly sink down not 5″ but some 20″. Did that alarm me? Uh, well, Um . . . yes, because once that hidden sphagnum moss undermat no longer supports you, well one could go . . . down. How far? Have no wish to know, Truth be Told.

You know, you stand in a bog, and it is entrancing. Unchanged for 12,396 years . . . that’s heady for a man who in his head, is a kid from bricks/mortar/asphalt Brooklyn, New York.