Sunday, August 07, 2005

Henry Fitch

Joys of being snake-bitten |
Even after 56 years living on Kansas University-owned land north of town, Fitch, a retired KU professor, gets excited about hunting snakes. He still goes out in the field, publishes papers and talks at conferences.

His favorite topics still are the venomous snakes living near his house, the copperhead and prairie rattlesnake.

“This has been his entire life since 1948,” said George Pisani, a retired KU professor and fellow snake researcher. “And Henry will be interested in snakes for the remaining time he has.”
Fitch has been studying snakes on KU land for 56 years. That may be the longest continuous study of any animal population in ecology. Check out the story, then check out A Kansas Snake Community: Composition and Changes over 50 Years. Then, if you're local, go for a walk at the Henry Fitch Natural History Reservation.

There are photos floating around showing that area being plowed for the last time in 1947. It's gone from bare dirt and farmland to a beautiful forest since then, and Henry has been out there studying the area the whole time.

Drive north from Lawrence on 2nd, go past I-70, past the lights, and turn right. Then turn left at the next intersection (it's a T). Then turn right immediately past the fish hatchery. When you get to the stop sign, turn left. Then go straight until you see a sign and a turnoff to the right. There are maps for a couple of self-guided trails.