Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Glencarlyn Park in Arlington County, Virginia, is added to the Network

Arlington’s Old Growth Forest Recognized

A wooded parcel in Arlington's Glen Carlyn Park was recognized by the Old Growth Forest Network.
A wooded parcel in Arlington’s Glen Carlyn Park was recognized by the Old Growth Forest Network.
When thinking of Arlington, a community renowned for its urban villages and bustling Metro corridor, few people think: old growth forest.
Yet just south of Route 50, in verdant, secluded Glencarlyn Park, stately oaks and hickories — some reaching more than 100 feet into the sky – have flourished for generations. One Black Oak’s trunk is nearly 12 feet around.
Some of the park’s trees date back more than two centuries and were likely saplings when, just across the river, the British burned the White House during the War of 1812. Amazingly, this magnificent stand of trees has never been logged.
“We do not know why the area was never logged,” said Alonso Abugattas, Arlington County’s natural resources manager. “It may have been because of the rugged slope and the poor soils that would have made it unattractive for farming.”
It is the pristine nature of these 24 heavily forested acres within Glencarlyn Park’s nearly 96-acre spread that has earned the designation of Old Growth Forest by the Old Growth Forest Network. The national organization works to preserve, protect and promote the few remaining stands of old growth forest in the United States. Roughly 95 percent of such forests have been removed or radically altered.
Some 100 ancient trees survive in Glencarlyn Park’s old growth parcel. The designation recognizes not only the trees, but the shrubs, other plants and wildlife they support.
Arlington’s is the fourth Old Growth Forest location in Virginia and the only one in Northern Virginia.
This is part of a parcel in Glen Carlyn Park that was designated part of the Old Growth Forest Network (shown here with Greg Zell, now-retired natural resource specialist).
This is part of a parcel in Glen Carlyn Park that was designated part of the Old Growth Forest Network (shown here with Greg Zell, now-retired natural resource specialist).
Glencarlyn Park is home to the second oldest forest in Arlington (the other being a small part of Arlington National Cemetery). The parcel, dominated by oaks – White Oak (Quercus alba), Black Oak (Quercus veluntina), Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata), Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea), and Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana), also contains ancient Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa) and Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra), and Mountain Laurel. Glencarlyn Park is in one of seven County-designated Natural Resource Conservation Areas.
Glencarlyn is one of Arlington’s largest parks. Connected to Four Mile Run and the W&OD trails, the park boasts a playground, an amphitheater, a dog park and the Long Branch Nature Center.
Learn more about the health of Arlington’s urban forest and tree canopy.
Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Story of Saving a Salisbury, MD, Forest

City tells county ‘no deal’ on park tract donation - Salisbury Independent

(Click on the link above to read all about it.)

"It was like watching a dream come true." This is a nice long article and I am honored to have been given the opening line.
In the forest at Naylor Mill Park

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Erie County, New York Forest to be dedicated on September 11th

Reinstein Woods to be dedicated in Old-Growth Forest Network 

On the morning of Friday, Sept. 11, the Dr. Victor Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve will be dedicated as the 49th forest in the Old-Growth Forest Network.
“The Old-Growth Forest Network connects people with nature by creating a national network of protected, publicly accessible forests,” said a release from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Dr. Joan Maloof, founder of the Old-Growth Forest Network, will be on hand to present a dedication sign and a certificate to Meaghan Boice-Green, center director.
Following the dedication ceremony, participants will walk through the preserve to view the Champion Beech Tree, which is the largest American Beech tree in New York State, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Reinstein Woods will be the first forest in Erie County to join the ranks of the network, with the next-closest dedicated areas being DeVeaux Woods State Park in Niagara County and Zoar Valley Unique Area in Cattaraugus County.
“When we look at a forest, very little appears to change from year to year, but change is happening slowly. Forests, like humans, can be classified as young, mature or old. Because of past disturbances old forests are the rarest,” reads the network’s website. “Sometimes the disturbance has come in the form of a tornado, an insect, or an intense fire; but most often the disturbance has been from logging. As a result only a few percent of the western forests are old-growth, and only a few tenths of a percent of the eastern forests are old-growth.”
Among the aims of the network is the mission to make forests accessible to younger generations now and in the future by having a minimum of one forest in each county where they naturally grow, left wild forever. According to the network’s website, of the 3,140 counties which span across the country, it is estimated that 2,370 of them will naturally support a forest.
The dedication ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at the Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve, 93 Honorine Drive, Depew.
Refreshments will be served at the event and local officials, Michael Gettings, president of Friends of Reinstein Woods, volunteers and partner organizations are expected to attend the event.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Carnifex Ferry, in West Virginia, added to the Old-Growth Forest Network

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park dedicated as Old Growth Forest site

            SUMMERSVILLE, West Virginia – Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park has been recognized as part of the Old Growth Forest Network. Joan Maloof, founder and director of the Old Growth Forest Network, presented a certificate of recognition to Supt. Sam Cowell Thursday April 16, 2015.
            The old growth forest found in Pierson Hollow in the park is one of only four dedicated forests in West Virginia and is the only forest dedicated in Nicholas County. The trees are between 250 and 300 years old; the oldest tree is reported to be 400 years old.
            The area is open for visitation year-round and can be accessed by taking the Patterson Trail across from the museum parking lot and then the Pierson Hollow Trail at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park. To learn more about Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park, visit

About the Old Growth Forest at Carnifex Ferry
            Nestled in the Pierson Hollow area of Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park are 30 acres of old-growth forest on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon of West Virginia. At the start of the trail, hikers will pass through late successional stands with yellow poplar and hemlock trees dominant in the lower area. Oaks dominate the upper slopes and some pine stands are found on the flats. Dense rhododendron thickets are along the stream and trail. This is one of the nicer virgin areas left in West Virginia, according to the website
            As hikers continue down the hollow, the trees are older and the canopy is dominated by hemlock and tulip poplar with an occasional northern red oak. There are several generations of course woody debris on the forest floor, which were augmented by the heavy snows of super storm Sandy in October 2012 which tore the crown off many mature trees.
            Joan Maloof, Professor Emeritus at Salisbury University, founded the Old-Growth Forest Network to preserve, protect and promote the country's few remaining stands of old-growth forest.
            Dedicated forests in West Virginia are Preston County: Cathedral State Park (scheduled for dedication April 22, 2015, at 10 a.m.); Nicolas County: Carnifex Ferry State Park; Fayette County: Stonecliff Old Growth, New River Gorge National River; and Pocahontas County: Gaudineer Scenic Area, Monongahela National Forest.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

About a forest in Annapolis, Maryland

I travel the country giving talks about forests. We all agree that it is a tragedy that our planet is losing its forest cover. In my talks I always mention a few forests that are threatened RIGHT NOW. These are forests that are not lost yet, but will be if the developers and collectors of taxes have their way. One of those threatened forests is Crystal Spring in Annapolis, Maryland. Right in the heart of a busy town, this 100 acre mature forest should be allowed to stay standing for so many, many reasons.

This week a few residents there took the time to write to the Capital Gazette. Here I share their letters with you.

Forrest Mays (pictured) has been working for 10 years to save this forest.

Not smart growth
I read Robert Arias letter to The Capital (March 22) headlined "Build Crystal Spring" and wanted to discuss the issues of smart growth and density raised in his letter. Maryland is known for adopting smart growth principles over two decades ago; the concept has evolved to "smart and sustainable" growth. Density is one of the tools to achieve smart growth and is often misunderstood.
Density, per se, is not smart growth. Rather density is used to save farms and forests from development. Rehabilitation and reuse of existing developed land, rather than further sprawl, is advocated. Saving farms and forests from ever-spreading development is a goal of smart growth.
It is ironic that some of those supporting the Crystal Spring project believe that density in itself is a laudable goal, even though a contiguous forest will be altered and largely removed. Planning is another tool of smart growth, and the city's plan for this site was much more modest and would have saved the majority of the forest for the future. Density without achieving an environmental goal is not smart growth.

Stop Crystal Spring
We need to redouble our protests of the proposed project, but it's been ongoing for so long, and the issues are so convoluted, that many have given up in frustration. Wrong reaction! The project contractor, lawyers and subject matter experts are not losing heart, they're not moving to the sidelines and they're not giving up. The contractor is even challenging the validity of comments made by some who live in ZIP codes outside the project, but all residents will have to live with the aftermath of the project.
Where do the contractors and lawyers get the chutzpah to question our motivation and commitment to the quality of our community? The contractors would like to distract us from the fact that this is a regional issue and a fundamental development versus environment issue; its size is incompatible with the site.
For an example of the opposite, look to Parole: An outdated commercial area was revitalized to become a mixed-use destination. In this case the scale and scope of the project were compatible with the site. The proposed Crystal Spring project is based on the destructive use of a declining natural resource, old-growth forest land. It's an example of development trumping the environment. If we use the unique character of our community as a magnet for development, this is the sort of project that sacrifices the good for the expedient.
Yes, there are tax implications for Annapolis if this and other projects are not initiated. But this current administration should not attempt to balance tax shortfalls on individual short term, project-by-project thinking. We need leaders who can think strategically, not just react to the issue of the moment or from one election cycle to the next.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

San Francisco County forest added to the Network

Oak Woodlands in Golden Gate Park Joins Old-Growth Forest Network  
Photos by Susan Ives Communications

The Oak Woodlands Natural Area in Golden Gate Park received a special designation on March 14 as it was officially included into the Old-Growth Forest Network. The mission of the Old-Growth Forest Network (OGFN) is to connect people with nature by creating a national network of protected, mature, publicly-accessible, native forests. The goal is to preserve at least one forest in every county in the United States that can sustain a forest, estimated to be 2,370 out of a total of 3,140 counties.

States that already have forests in the network include New York, Massachusetts, California, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, Virginia and Florida. The Oak Woodlands Natural Area will join previously dedicated forests in California in the Old-Growth Forest Network. The California representatives thus far are:
  • Humboldt County: Rockefeller Forest - Humboldt Redwoods State Park
  • Monterey County: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
  • Riverside County: Mount San Jacinto State Wilderness - Deer Springs Trail
  • San Diego County: Palomar Mountain State Park
  • San Mateo County: Sam McDonald County Park - Heritage Grove
Special thanks to the Friends of the Oak Woodlands and our volunteers system-wide, who each year give more than 185,000 hours of their time and energy to improving our parks and programs. 

Children of the Great Oak

I am a forest lover and protector, so when I first came to southern California and looked out over the sagebrush and chaparell covered hills I enjoyed the views, but I missed the forest.

This summer, however, I took some extensive hikes along the Santa Margarita River in Fallbrook and I was surprised, and so pleased, to find some incredible coast live oak trees (Quercus agrifolia)

      First was the “Bench Tree” where a local trails group had installed a bench so one could sit and enjoy the shade and the structure of this lovable tree. Sitting on the bench and admiring this tree, it appears that the trunk gets wider, instead of narrower, as it rises above one's head. 

Very close to the Bench Tree is the “Magic Dragon” tree. Although it is not as tall or massive as the Bench Tree, like the Lochness Monster or some ancient sea serpent its huge limbs seem to writhe across the ground.

Farther up the trail is an oak tree that took my breath away. I call her the “Grandmother Oak” and she stands like a sentry guarding the entrance to an arroyo. A very interesting upright boulder keeps her company there. Although she is old and massive she seemed vulnerable, perched as she is on an easily erodible hillside. 

These amazing trees were more than enough for me, but then I found a fourth. I call this one the “Triangle Tree” because when you sit where I am in the photo you can look up and see where limbs have grown together to form a complete triangle. I didn’t photograph that because it is most exciting to find it yourself. I have never seen anything like it in all my visits to forests and close observations of trees. 

There are many more special trees along the Santa Margarita River, but these are my favorites.

Then I heard about the "Great Oak" of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. These native people are still living on the land their ancestors have lived on since before recorded history -- perhaps as long as ten thousand years. How did the Pechanga survive all these years? A dripping spring in the mountains provided water all year round; bark from the Palomar Mountain cedar trees provided material for shelter; and acorns from the oak trees provided food. 

When "white man" first described the Pechanga and their way of life they called them a crazy people because they would rather be cold in the winter than cut their oak trees for firewood. 

Through the great generosity of the tribe's Cultural Director, Gary Dubois, I was given permission to visit the Great Oak. Fortunately it has been protected by both a federal trust and by a heavy-duty locked fence with tight security. As I finally approached the tree I wondered what I would find. Would I be disappointed? 

The answer: absolutely not.

No photograph can do justice to this tree that reaches in every direction with strong sinuous limbs that reach outward, then dip down toward the ground -- sometimes into the ground -- and then rise again. I was drawn to stroke my hand along a few of these mighty lower branches. 

The main trunk of the tree is healthy and vigorous with large limbs. The tree is estimated to be between eight hundred and a thousand years old -- no one know for sure. 

   This tree spoke to me of potential, for just as every child could grow up to be the world's next great peacemaker, so does every coast live oak have the potential to become as magnificent as this one. If it finds enough water, if it escapes the hottest fires, if it can withstand insects and diseases, if it is not destroyed by humans.

How many trees have we cut already that could have become "Great Oaks"?

Then it became clear to me that the oaks in the Santa Margarita River Wildway could be thought of as "Children of the Great Oak." They are only four miles away, "as the crow flies." And a crow could literally carry an acorn that far. Or, more likely, hundreds of years ago a human resident could have dropped or planted the acorns that germinated to become these trees. Mother Nature has her ways. And each one of these oaks in the river valley have the potential to be the next great, great oak. If.

And the one if we have some control over is protection from human destruction. 
At one time there was going to be a dam installed on the Santa Margarita River that would have flooded and killed many oak trees. That dam was largely fought because of the noise that would have been created by boats on the "lake" and because of animal habitat that would have been lost. Did anyone speak out for the oaks? I wonder.

The land where these great oak children grow is public land -- owned by Fallbrook Public Utility District (FPUD), but it has no permanent protection. Now is the time that we should be putting some sort of protection in place for these amazingly special Children of the Great Oak.

Blog Archive