Once a blue moon

The Big Cypress Swamp has its water ladder of habitat types that the water cycle climbs each wet season.

We are currently at the top rung of that ladder, up in the mesic pinelands.

Over in East Texas in the Big Thicket, they also have a wetland water ladder.

The difference is that they are currently on the bottom rung.

Fall — like most of the continental United States — is their “low water” season.

But in east Texas that can change in a blink of the eye. All it takes is a good dousing from a tropical storm.

That’s what happened earlier last month with Ike, and before that with Gustav.
But the effect on the Neches River was fleeting. River flow is currently down on the bottom rung of its ladder.

And unlike the Big Cypress Swamp, where our water disappears altogether, the Neches River is always wet and always flowing, even during low water season.

What are the rungs of the Neches riparian corridor you may ask?

From lowest to highest, they include the river channel (always flooded), the bottomland forest (flooded for most of the year), cypress sloughs (seasonally flooded), oxbow sandbars …

And the dark and mysterious baygall swamps.

They get flooded once a blue moon, plus or minus.

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