Fern Ridge is a wetlands area west of Eugene.  This is the area that Sarah Marshall, a good friend and Oregon State University PhD candidate is studying.  I’ve accompanied her several times as she has visited her many data locations at four sites: Coyote, a rye grass field and restoration area; Dragonfly, a second restoration area; and Fisher Butte, a nature preserve and most ‘natural’ site.  She has placed multiple PVC piping wells throughout each site in which she can measure the depth of the groundwater.  Last week I helped Sarah carry her brand new infiltration wells out into the cracked earth of the Coyote rye grass field.  I left her there after she lamented that the last time she poured water into her wells, it took over 6 hours for it to infiltrate into the ground.  As much as I like Sarah’s company, waiting for water to seep that slowly into the ground is as exciting as it sounds.

Sarah in Coyote Restoration Field

Sarah in Coyote Restoration Field

I chose Fern Ridge for my own work for three main reasons:

1)            I am not a scientist therefore a real scientist and her data would save me a lot of trouble.  Sarah’s knowledge is absolutely indispensable.

2)            Wetlands are relatively new to me.  I don’t know much about them, but the slow, almost imperceptible flow of water appealed to me in contrast of the swift flow of river currents with which I’m very familiar.

3)             Sarah’s sites have contrasts between farmed land, sites that are in various stages of restoration from farmed fields to native wetlands habitat, and a protected nature preserve that is the closest to the most natural form of the wetlands.  I wanted to find out if the different use areas of the wetlands would have perceivable and consistent color results.  Sarah also has one more year ahead of her for studying this area, giving me a full year to chart the changes in color that I find.

This is the second project that I have embarked upon that is designed to span a year.  This project, like the Average color of the South Yuba River also has four sites for comparison.  However, the Fern Ridge project is looking at the most predominant colors in each of the sites, rather than the average colors of the sites.  Each panel represents one of the four sites.  The bars of color are arranged from left to right depicting the most to the least predominant color at a given day at the beginning of each new season.  The first set, the summer paintings, have just been completed.

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