Thursday, October 17, 2013

Indiana vs. Alaska

By David Lefforge
David was raised on a farm, and has worked in soil conservation for the 36 years.  His job descriptions have changed from Soil Scientist, to Urban Conservation Specialist, to Resource Specialist as the agency has evolved from the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, IDNR, to the Division of Soil Conservation, ISDA.  David lives in Bluffton with his wife, Julie.  He has 2 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

My wife and I recently took a trip to Alaska and thoroughly enjoyed that great state.  We visited the coastal rain forests and southeastern Alaska, including Denali.  
Denali in the distance

There was so much to learn about the geology, history, plant communities and wildlife, across a variety of environments:  Pacific coastal waters, fresh inland bodies of water, mountains, and glaciers.
Ice Disintegrating near the bottom of a glacier where melt has exceeded snow accumulation

Stream braided with outwash sediments from glacial meltwater.

Soil and Rock contrast to the snow and blue glacial ice.

Sediment- Down to the Sea in Ice

Aerial View of Lateral and Medial Moraines decorating a Valley Train Glacier

There are vast areas that are undeveloped and beautiful.  The Fall color change, especially in Denali National Park, was a highlight of our trip. 
Foraging moose standing in the colors of Fall

Unfortunately that beauty is based on thin soil, steep land, and a cold climate.  Consequently, there was little evidence of agriculture in Alaska.  The economy of Southeast Alaska is limited to tourism, fishing hunting, and forestry.
Bear foraging on blueberries(red leaves)among the willows

Evidence of current and past glaciers were everywhere in AlaskaAlaska is a theater for viewing glaciers; seeing glacial moraines, braided streams, and ice disintegration features in their infancy.   
Blue Glacial Ice calved from a glacier into a mountain lake impounded by a recessional moraine

These are the same features we see evidenced in the glaciated soils of Indiana where glaciers were last seen 10-15,000 years ago.
As pretty as it was, Alaska made me appreciate the natural resources we have in Indiana.  
Coastal Rain Forest-Trees growing from decaying tree, essentially no soil

Pasture Stocking Rates for Dall Sheep are quite low (See white specks?)

We have Prime Farmland and a climate well suited for agriculture.  We have woodlands and wildlife… but we also grow row crops and raise livestock. Agriculture is a valuable part of the Indiana Economy.

Alaska is a nice place to visit, but I choose to live in Indiana.

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