pondering thereof. Having been on edge all yesterday (holidays and I do not get on or maybe it was being stuck in the office all day prior or…)
Anyway, I went and killed lots of barberry. And then wandered about in the woods for most of the afternoon. I love Connecticut and its land. But, goodness….I’ve been on quite a bit of it one way or the other, and I really have to say that our chunk is one of the worst in terms of ecology. Solid barberry, severely high graded fifty years ago, hemlock (dying), ash (dying), and tightly spaced red maple and black birch. The only regeneration is beech. I still love it. But!
I know what my boss would say: ‘liquidate it’. He might be right. From the Spring lot (a different issue) down, there are about a dozen good quality oaks and hickories that would be keepers, one nice, but small, pine stand, a few yellow or white birch for aesthetics and….. Now the narrow strip between the lower road and the first break in the hill is good, a nice mix of beech, tulip, yellow birch, and hickory.* But it wasn’t poorly managed either. So one would leave that. It would keep the neighbors happy.
The worst thing about it? It is so bad that it might cost money to do it. The barberry is the real problem along with the deer. Still, if one could tweak it so that in fifty years it would be a more diverse chunk of forest….
Sure one could wait out the death of the hemlock and ash, but that would be a no go zone till the snags came down, and the result would be uncertain at best and delayed a generation, meanwhile the barberry and, worse the burning bush, just might make a go of a mono-culture…with Lyme Disease.*
It is an interesting comparison to another family piece, not that far away, which reverted from pasture to forest at an earlier date. That piece is a healthy and very diverse piece of forest; sufficiently high quality that the foresters who have seen it are of the opinion that leaving it alone is a good idea, with which I agree. Interestingly, the hemlock in that area is doing better, less than half a mile away.*
The question is what is the driving cause for the disparity? Is it the later date and therefore the barberry? The soil? The previous work? That it was regrowing during a time period when the deer population was increasing? Interesting problem.
*That isn’t great, but in comparison!
*The correlation between Barberry, white footed mice, white tail deer, ticks, and Lyme Disease is remarkable in a perverse way.
*The topic of hemlock and what is going on with it in Connecticut is another whole book!
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