If you’ve ever been to Lake Wallenpaupack, you may have hiked the trails or anchored off PPL’s Shuman Point Natural Area. This 300-acre area of woodland is one of the last undeveloped areas around the lake. Over 120 years ago, all of the trees were harvested from this site. Before the lake was formed in 1926, parts of Shuman Point were farmed. PPL preserved Shuman Point as a natural area, allowing the forest to grow.
For several years beginning in the early 2000’s, tree mortality at Shuman Point became evident due to gypsy moth defoliations, drought and other environmental stresses. Safety concerns were addressed as annual evaluations reflected continual loss of vigor in the top canopy. Due to tree mortality and a reduced deer herd after the winter of 2003, regeneration developed on the forest floor. Because oak trees thrive in full sunlight, PPL took this opportunity to regenerate a section of this forest with a tree species that grows well, is preferred by wildlife and is aesthetically pleasing to visitors.
PPL’s consulting forester, Paul Kowalczyk, took an inventory of all seedlings and mature trees in three stands. Stands are areas in a forest that share common things like tree species, size, forest health, public use, etc. Each stand then received its own “prescription”. In December 2010, the forester marked boundary trees with blue stripes and reserved trees with yellow dots. Blue rectangles painted on trees along the trail are Shuman Point’s trail markers.
In October 2012, the trail was closed to the public and work began. The largest stand, 13-acres between the lake and the trail, is called a riparian forest, which is managed with water quality issues valued above all else. In this area, 50% of the large red oak population had died or was left to decline. Dead or dying trees were removed to make hiking and lake shore exploration safer for the public. Similarly, in a two-acre stand near Rt. 590, only a few trees along the trail needed to be treated. In the last stand, a 10-acre section located south and west of the hiking trail, the area suffered greatly from tree mortality and had great regeneration of mixed oak seedlings. However, the residual overstory trees shaded the young seedlings enough to force them to have stunted, crooked stems. The prescription for this area was to remove all the dead or dying tees, reserving den trees and seed trees of diverse species.
By December 2012, work was completed and the trail reopened. Biodiversity will flourish as this has created an opportunity for new species to inhabit the stands. We expect Pennsylvania’s state bird, the ruffed grouse to enjoy drumming on logs that were left behind. Warblers, hawks, weasels and minks may also move into the stands in the years to come. Forester Paul Kowalczyk will continue to monitor the health of PPL’s Shuman Point Natural Area.
-Jenna Wayne, Education and Public Outreach