Thursday, August 2, 2012

A New Woodland Clearing

I finished my survey of the woods and found another area that suffered several broken trees as a result of the wind storm that came through at the end of June.  In this case, about a dozen neighboring trees all went down together to create a sizable opening.

A huge void is now present in what was just recently a closed canopy. 

Because of heavy cattle usage long ago, this section of woods was almost park-like in its absence of shrubs and mid-level trees.  The lack of damage to the surrounding trees makes me think that a violent down draft occurred along with the straight line winds.

As with the other damage site, these trees were broken off rather than uprooted.

All of the downed trees had already been weakened by damage and defects inside the tree.  Trees in previously grazed woodland may grow for decades after the removal of the livestock, but they never recover from the damage that was done.  Eventually the weakened tree will fall to some unexpected event.

The trees all fell in the same general direction and the tops hit ground outside the newly formed clearing.  That has created quite a long row of tangled branches.

A few trees broke high on the trunk.  This area is going to be a wonderland of dead wood.  The Pileated Woodpeckers will be worn out trying to tear apart all of those dead logs and stumps.

This oak and maple have made an interesting tangle.  I believe the oak broke first and leaned over onto a larger tree.  As the maple fell, it caught the oak mid-trunk and drove it to the ground.  The oak top, hopelessly tangled in the large tree, remained in an upright position causing the trunk to suffer a second break.

It will take years for these logs to reach their final resting place on the ground.  As the smaller branches weaken from decomposition they will break and allow the trunk to shift or fall into a new temporary resting place.  There’s still plenty of danger here to the unwary person who inadvertently puts himself in the way of a shifting tree trunk.

There’s still about 40 feet of the oak tree being held vertically.  That will eventually fall and could still do a lot of damage if a hapless person were to be caught beneath.

That gaping hole in the canopy will let in a lot of sunlight.  That will not just change the look of the clearing.  All of the surrounding open woodland is going to have a sudden wealth of sunlight and a corresponding surge of understory growth.  It will be interesting to see how things progress.

No comments:

Post a Comment