It was a beautiful, sunny day, and it happened to fall on one of my days off, and my husband had some spare time, too, so we decided to go on a road trip to the Mima Mounds, located Southwest of Olympia here in Washington state. Our road trips these days are almost always to natural places due to the pandemic. But that works out really well, because we love state and national parks.
Mima Mounds is a natural area preserve under the purview of The Washington State Department of Natural Resources. It is particularly fascinating because there are hundreds of mounds in this area, and no one quite knows what caused them. So if you go to this place looking for answers, you’ll be very disappointed. But it’s still well worth the trip.
Archeologists have excavated some of the mounds to see if they’re burial grounds or some sort of man made feature, but nothing has ever been found. There are all sorts of theories as to how these mounds could naturally occur, but none come with definitive proof. It has been an active research site for 50 years. Not only are the mounds being studied, but so is the prairie vegetation, rare species, and restoration methods.
Within the preserve are not only the mounded prairie, but also a Garry oak woodland, a savannah, and a Douglas fir forest. The whole preserve is 637 acres, some of which is ADA accessible. It’s a lovely place to explore and observe the butterflies, birds, and wildflowers.
There are also a lot of educational boards scattered through the park that tell you about the flora and fauna and the history of the area. I particularly enjoyed the display about the many ways Native Americans used the various local plants for healing. And I was able to identify several of the wildflowers thanks to one of the displays.
I did have one negative reaction to the site, and it was a rather severe one. I came across a sign that indicated that they had recently applied the herbicides Envoy and Glyphosate to the pathways. Glyphosate, is, basically, the extremely controversial chemical called Roundup. It causes cancer and is often found in human urine. Roundup may also be one of the reasons we are experiencing amphibian decline. And it is not good for bees, birds, butterflies and marine organisms. I don’t know as much about the product Envoy, but this material safety data sheet is enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up.
Why would a place that purports to be a preserve, that is managed by the Department of Natural Resources, use such toxic chemicals? They are all about educating the visitor about this particular ecosystem, and they claim to want to care for, restore, and maintain it, and then they’re using Roundup. It is frustrating and shocking and disappointing.
I fully intend to send this blog post to the department and ask for an explanation as to this heinous practice. I’m doing so because this area truly does need to be preserved, and it’s a very delicate balance. Roundup could easily tip the scale in a way that future generations will not appreciate, and that would truly be a tragedy.
I’ll let you know if they respond in the comments below. Meanwhile, enjoy some of our many photographs.
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