YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

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jamesrobertsmith
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YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:08 pm

On Sunday I went on a 14-mile hike in the "new" section of South Mountains State Park. Of course the newly-added 8500 acres aren't new...just their status.

As you guys all probably know, the South Mountains has/had a LOT of hemlocks trees. Some groves I'd hike through in the bottoms were overwhelmingly hemlock in the old days. Still are, of course, but dying.

So we approached the new section from the south, which was new for me. I generally enter the park via the park entrance from the north. This involved hiking through a horrid clear cut in the wildlife refuge and gaining 1400 feet pretty quickly. It was a tough hike.

And here's what I noticed:

As always, the old and middle-aged hemlocks are devastated from hwa. However--and this really puzzles me--the hemlock saplings and young trees seem to be completely unaffected by hwa. I know you can't always see the adelgid cotton, but I'll be damned if I could find any sign of infestation on any of the small trees I examined. Everything from tiny sprouts up to eight-foot trees looked perfectly healthy. There were literally DOZENS of young hemlocks along one logging road cut that were fine and green and full of life.

What gives?


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Will Blozan
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Re: YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

Post by Will Blozan » Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:20 am

James,

Full sun and crashed HWA populations= healthy trees. Young, vigorous trees isolated from dense, HWA laden groves in full sun can recover very well. This is why untreated trees in landscapes around WNC, that have been infested for 8+ years are still alive. Those in the woods generally are dead.

Will

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dbhguru
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Re: YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

Post by dbhguru » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:49 am

Robert,

In your walking through that "horrid clearcut", I felt your pain, brother. I'm sure we agree that creating wildlife habitat by clearcutting is a phony justification for doing clearcuts in the first place.

IMHO, wildlife biology as commonly practiced today is inextricably tied to the timber interests and consequently co-opted by the latter.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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James Parton
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Re: YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

Post by James Parton » Tue Feb 01, 2011 2:07 pm

James S,

I agree with Will, young vigourous hemlocks grow quickly, especially in the sun, can withstand HWA better than older trees in a forest. The slow-growing old growth hemlocks in the forests have been hit the worst. Old, slow growing and forest =death. Young, vigourous and in open sun=life, at least for a longer amount of time.
James E Parton
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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:33 am

Sunlight! Yes, it makes sense.

Also, the crashed adelgid populations.

Thanks, folk!

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bbeduhn
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Re: YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:50 am

I went to the Smokies on Saturday, Feb. 12, to search for the Sag Branch Giant. The gate was closed so I opted for a stroll on the Cataloochie Divide Trail. Hemlocks were doing well at 5,000 ft. elevation. They were also fairly young, I'd guess 30-50 years, perhaps a bit older being that high up. I expected to find Carolina hemlocks on a ridge crest but they all appeared to be Canadian.

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James Parton
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Re: YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

Post by James Parton » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:32 pm

bbeduhn wrote:I went to the Smokies on Saturday, Feb. 12, to search for the Sag Branch Giant. The gate was closed so I opted for a stroll on the Cataloochie Divide Trail. Hemlocks were doing well at 5,000 ft. elevation. They were also fairly young, I'd guess 30-50 years, perhaps a bit older being that high up. I expected to find Carolina hemlocks on a ridge crest but they all appeared to be Canadian.

I find that surprising that the hemlocks there are in that good of a shape, considering how they are trashed in Cataloochee Valley itself. At 5000 feet the weather is colder and that might have something to do with it but it has to get to 0F or below and stay there for an amount of time to kill adelgid off. Global warming sees that winters in recent years are not averaging as cold as they used to be.
James E Parton
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New Order of Druids

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Will Blozan
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Re: YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

Post by Will Blozan » Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:43 pm

All,

In the Smokies the eastern (canadian) hemlocks are doing well to excellent above 4,600' on the high ridges even without insecticide treatment. This is due to mechanical sloughing of the little bastards by rime ice and wind as well as fatal winter temperatures.

BTW, the 'Holy Grail" of conifer discoveries in the Smokies are Carolina hemlock, black spruce, and northern white cedar. There are probably others. Black spruce exists as latent genetic material harbored in red spruce but to date, no one has ever found a Carolina hemlock within the park boundaries even though habitat exists. If found it will likely be a dead skeleton.

Will

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James Parton
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Re: YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

Post by James Parton » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:06 am

Will,

I am glad to hear that eastern hemlock is still surviving at higher altitudes in the smokies. May it stay cold enough for them to survive.
James E Parton
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New Order of Druids

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bbeduhn
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Re: YOUNG HEMLOCKS IN SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK

Post by bbeduhn » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:33 am

I find it simply astounding that Carolina Hemlocks have yet to be discovered in GSMNP! I've found large stands of them in Mountain Bridge Widerness, along the Art Loeb Trail, on Kitsuma & Heartbreak Ridge, in Montreat and north of Black Mountain. It's almost inconceivable that they wouldn't be present in fairly large numbers in the Smokies. I'll definitely put extra effort into locating them there.

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