Pathways wander throughout the lab, providing a serene place to walk or wait between classes, especially as the trees grow and mature. Interpretive signs will be installed soon that explain the identity of the plants and rocks, and the relationships that make up the Great Valley biome.
Part of my role in the design of the lab was the selection of rocks that we chose to represent the lower foothills of the Sierra Nevada. I was able to select somewhere around 30 tons of boulders that now crop out in the eastern part of the lab.
The boulders are covered by a veritable ecosystem of lichens and mosses. When I picked them out last October, they were drab and dried out. When the rains came the surface of the rock came alive with color. It's a marvelous place to see the weathering of rock and formation of soil happening right in front of your eyes. The lichens produce acids that slowly break down the rock into clay and nutrients.