Mississippi river map

It Should Be Noted Also That, Were This A “Virgin Stand,” It Would Be Predominantly Hardwood With Very Few Of The Older Pines Left. The Ecological Climax Forest In This Region Is An Oak-Hickory Forest. This Successional Process Is In Effect Now And If The Area Is Left In A Natural State, The Area Will Revert To The Oak-Hickory Type In 100 To 200 Years.

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Foresters Are Frequently Taught To Think Of What Happens In A Forest As A Competition. There Are Limited Resources Primarily Light, Water, And Nutrients And The Trees That Are Able To Get The Most Resources Will Win. Pines Need Lots Of Light, So They Do Best After An Area Is Cleared. But Eventually Other Shade-Tolerant Broadleaf Trees Will Grow Under The Pines, And No New Pine Seedlings Will Germinate On The Shady Forest Floor. The Broadleaf Trees Will Compete With The Pines For Resources, And Eventually The Pines Will Succumb. This Is A Just-So Story Of Succession, But It Is An Oversimplification.

The Real Story Of The Forest Cannot Be Predicted; It Is A Shifting Mosaic That Only Becomes Evident Once You Stop Believing The Blogs And Start Believing Your Eyes. What You See As You Walk Through An Old-Growth Forest Is That There Is Often No “Winner.” A Large Variety Of Species Can Be Successful All At Once, And There Are Probably Ways That They Are Cooperating With Each Other As Well As Competing. For Instance, The Leaves That Drop To The Forest Floor Help Accelerate The Decomposition Of Fallen Needles And Neutralize The Soil So More Nutrients Are Available To The Pines. There Are Probably Beneficial Fungal And Insect Associations, Too. We Definitely Have Much More To Learn About The Relationships Among Tree Species.

Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers Nest Here. The Forester Thinks She Is Doing The Right Thing By Manipulating The Forest In A Way That Will Benefit The Woodpeckers. But, Ironically, It Is Our Management Of The Forests That Has Endangered The Woodpecker In The First Place. This Is One Of The Only Places Left For Them To Nest Because This Is One Of The Only Places With Mature Pines. But Even Managing For The Pines Does Not Ensure The Pines Will Survive. A Small, Isolated Forest Of Very Tall Trees Is Susceptible To Windthrow. If These Old Pines Fall In A Strong Wind, There Will Be No Place For The Woodpeckers To G°.

Our Forester Was Afraid The Pines Would Lose The Competition With The Hardwoods, And They Went To Battle With The Oaks, The Maples, The Hickories, The Redbuds, The Dogwoods, The Hornbeams, And All The Other Trees Growing At The Base Of The Pines. The Forest Is Close To Town, So They Didn’T Want To Use Fire To Halt Succession. Instead They Crushed The Plants On The Forest Floor And Ground Ruts Into The Soil In The Name Of “Stand Improvement.” This Decision Was Not Made By An Evil Person, I’M Sure, Just Someone Who Didn’T See The Bigger Picture. And The Equipment Operator Was Just Doing What He Was Told. If He Lost This Job, He’D Have To Go To Work At The Chicken-Processing Factory Across The Street And He Didn’T Want That.

I Am Convinced Of The Need For Fire Management To Retain The Tiny Percentage Of Longleaf Pine Forests We Have Left, But Loblolly And Shortleaf Pine Regenerate More Easily After Cutting, And This Particular National Forest Has More Than A Hundred Thousand Acres Of Pine. Why Not Leave This Little Precious Bit Of Old Growth Alone, For Reasons Both Aesthetic And Educational, Halt The Cutting Of Some Of The Other Acreage, And Allow Those Pines To Age? Old Loblolly And Shortleaf Pine Forests Provide Important Habitat, But They Don’T Always Have To Stay In The Same Place. By The Time The Bienville Pines Would Be Replaced By The Hardwoods Growing Underneath Them Perhaps Another Hundred Years A New Area Of Pines Could Have Matured Enough To Meet The Needs Of The Woodpeckers. In A Landscape This Large, One Has The Luxury Of Rotation Rotation For Ecological Rather Than Commercial Purposes. Rotation Counted In Centuries, Not Decades.

I Dream Of The Bienville Pines Scenic Area The Way It Could Have Been If It Had Been Left Alone For Another Hundred Years. I Imagine Some Of The Old Pines, Homes Of The Woodpeckers, Dying. Some Of The Dead Trees Remain Standing For A Time, And Other Organisms Nest In The Dead Snags. The Woodpeckers Feed On The Grubs And Beetles In The Snags And Carry Them Home To Their Nestlings. Occasionally, On A Windy Night, One Of The Snags Falls To The Forest Floor With A Crash. There It Becomes Home To Different Sorts Of Organisms, Such As Salamanders And Millipedes. The Rotting Logs Keep The Soil Cool And Moist. Meanwhile, The Oak And Hickory Trees Are Getting Taller And Stronger. The Forest Floor Is Densely Shaded, And Children Love To Come Here On School Trips. Some Of The Pines, Those With Good Genes Or In A Fortunate Location, Live Much Longer Than Anyone Could Have Imagined. Woodpeckers Still Nest In Those Trees, And Sometimes The Schoolchildren Are Lucky Enough To See Them, But Many Woodpecker Families Have Dispersed Into The Adjacent Acreage Land Designated As An Extension Of The Scenic Area And Uncut For The Last Hundred Years.

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