In the Badlands erosion is a way of life. Every year that passes sees inches of soil being washed away from the park’s buttes and spires. As a national park, the Badlands is unusual in that visitors are permitted to go anywhere they want. In most other parks, visitors are asked to confine themselves to established trails. It is erosion that allows for this policy. The rangers figure that erosion will do way more to the park’s terrain than the millions of annual visitors could.
One unusual geological feature that is native to the Badlands are the sod tables. They come in all shapes and sizes. The one pictured in on the small end. It is about ten feet tall. As their name implies a layer of sod acts as a capstone and prevents soil from eroding beneath it. Soil around these tables continues to erode away, eventually exposing the table. Hay Butte is on the large end of the spectrum. This feature got its name before the Badlands was a park. Farmers would hoist their cattle up on top of it to graze their cows.
When we returned home, I noticed some new sod had been laid along the curb. There wasn’t much of it. My neighbor’s yard had a lot more laid. So, I just figured that he had a little bit left over and had placed it in the corner of the parking strip that also edges his driveway. There was a lot of mud on the sidewalk. This has occurred in the past, after we get a heavy rain, like a real frog strangler. You can imagine my surprise when I first saw this truck fire hosing the grass. I flagged him down. He didn’t know why he was doing the watering other than you have to water new sod for thirty days, to give the roots time to set. I imagine that he was working for the sewer district, even if he didn’t know that. Well, there is no use cleaning off the sidewalk until his thirty days is up.