Lazovsky is surrounded by roads on all sides, and Lazo is on the northwest side of the reserve, almost at its northernmost tip. Our trip today would take us to an inspector’s station on the coast, in the southeast corner of the reserve. So we headed south from Lazo, driving all the time along the zapovednik border, with the reserve off to the left. You get the impression that the interior part of Lazovsky should be pretty inaccessible – forested peaks of 500-1000 m rise up one after another after another. The forests in Lazovsky are mostly secondary and not old growth – they’ve been logged before. Nonetheless, one of the reasons for the creation of this reserve was to conserve the unique broad-leaf forest ecosystems found here, and Lazovsky is the richest reserve in the Primorye Region in terms of flora, with 1284 species of plants found on the territory of the reserve. Lazovsky also has a few rivers – best known for their salmon populations (chum, pink, cherry) – running through the reserve territory and along its borders, the biggest of which is the Kievka. But unfortunately, not one full river system is contained fully inside the reserve, making complete protection of a whole watershed quite difficult – and if one part of a river gets polluted, or too many fish are caught in one spot, then obviously, the whole system suffers. The rivers we passed were all pretty shallow and probably not more than 100 feet or so across, and the water this time of year looks a little green-gray-bluish.
We made our first stop in the little town of
On our way out from Kievka we got a truly scenic view of the very colorful Kievka town dump. (Lazovsky district, like many more remote areas in
After about a 30 minute drive our trip into the zapovednik ended as we hit the Pacific coast and our destination – one of Lazovsky’s 5 ranger stations, “Petrov Island,” located on the shore across from the island of that name, which is not at all far off the coast. Today was the day that they relieve the inspector at the station. The facilities here at “Petrov Island” consist of the ranger station itself, one bigger building with a room for environmental education lectures and a room for visitors to stay overnight, and 6 small (2-room) cottages for summer visitors, which are usually already reserved for the summer 6 months to a year in advance. These cottages are not located on the territory of the reserve but right beside it, and the land is rented by the zapovednik, which provides services to the visitors for a small fee. We also got to meet the new dog in town at the ranger station, a very excited puppy who jumped all over us. They say the dogs at the Petrov Island ranger station don’t often make it too long before they are dragged off by one of the dozen or so Amur tigers inhabiting the reserve territory, who seem to have a weakness for canines, as Zhenya likes to say. The cat at the ranger station, named Kasyan, is doing quite well, however. He even used to have favorite zapovednik visitors – a German scientist and his students who study birds at the reserve. Unfortunately, the Germans often would find the nets they had set for birds were emptied by Kasyan before they got a chance to do any research about the feathered friends they’d caught.
While the inspectors took care of things at the ranger station, Zhenya and I walked around a little bit, collected some of the shells that wash up in large and very colorful numbers on the shore and checked out some very old tiger tracks in the sand. Right on the water you can see all kinds of seaweed right in the fairly clear waves – I’ve never seen seaweed in such quantity in the States. Zhenya told me a little bit about why nearby
When we drove away from the ranger station it had already started raining. Our day took us also to Preobrazheniye, a fishing town of 12,000 that is surrounded by the reserve on all sides. (This creates some opposition among the local population, since entering the territory of the reserve is prohibited – many residents see the reserve as a threat and as something that limits where they can go to vacation. Lazovsky just opened a new education center here to help raise awareness and support among Preobrazheniye residents.) We then made it back to Kievka and finally back to Lazo, already in the evening. I realized on the way home that I had forgotten at the ranger station the shells I collected on the shore across from
Pictures: 1. Me in front of the Lazovsky Zapovednik sign at the