A Drive-By Lichen Viewing Site

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View of Lichen Site at County P and Cut Off Road

The KVR has the first ever Drive-By Lichen Viewing Site! Yes, you now can see lichens without even getting out of your car. I do not recommend this, but if it’s raining, it’s ok to roll down the windows and take a quick look, then come back later and walk around.

The official name of this site is “Cut Off and County P” lichen site. It is located east of Highway 131 and Bridge 10, on County P at the intersection of Cut Off Road. There are no markers at this site, as it is on the road right of way, but it is easy to get to and hard to miss. Once you are here, please do get out and walk around. Check the details of this site and the lichens living here by going to the Lichen Site tab on the main page.

There are several special aspects to this site. The first is the easy access. There are numerous places to search for lichens in the immediate area as well as right on the roadside cliffs.

North of Cty P cliff
Trees and cliff near Cut Off and County P site

Secondly, the cliffs on each side of the road are directly exposed to the chemicals and poisons expelled in our car exhaust as we drive through the narrow channel made by the rock walls. This may be the site most affected by air pollution on the reserve. Another interesting aspect of this site is that one cliff faces north and one faces south. The north facing cliff gets almost no direct sunlight, and is black in color.

North facing rock cliff at County P and Cut Off road Lichen Site

The south facing cliff is in full sun all year long and shows the usual brown colors of sandstone. Each surface has a different mix of plants, lichens, and fungi. Throughout the year the populations of each change in size, color and quantity.

South facing rock cliff at County P and Cut Off Road Lichen Site


Moss and lichen on north facing cliff
Lichen on south facing cliff

Most of the lichens at this site are crustose type, but there are also several  foliose species here. If you search the nearby trees and some of the cliffs farther back in the forest, you may find some fruticose lichens too. Usually fruticose lichens are more sensitive to air pollution so if you find any of that type of lichen at this roadside site, please let us know, and take a picture of it for our records.

Turquoise and green Lepraria sp., orange Candelaria concolor, gray Physcia sp.

How many different crustose lichen can you see on each cliff face? What lichens are only on one cliff face and not the other cliff? This is an easy site to visit periodically. When you come back, are there different colors on the rocks? Can you find more lichens or less, than the last time you looked? Send your observations to the Lichen Project, and be part of  Citizen Science explorations!

Thanks for visiting the KVR Lichen Project. Come visit us in Lichen Land!



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