PPL’s Shuman Point Harvest Completed to Strengthen Forest

Current map of Shuman Point to be revised after the 2012 tree harvest

Current map of Shuman Point to be revised after the 2012 tree harvest

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.

A carpet of oak seedlings struggling to grow before the harvest was completed, allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor.

A carpet of oak seedlings struggling to grow before the harvest was completed, allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor.

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.

Completed stand on Shuman Point where den and seed trees were reserved

Completed stand on Shuman Point where den and seed trees were reserved

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.

We’d love to hear from you and see any pictures you take on your hikes around the lake. Follow us on facebook, twitter and wordpress, or email pplpreserves@pplweb.com.

Happy hiking!!

-Jenna Wayne, Education and Public Outreach

Shuman Point reopens

We are happy to report that all timber harvesting has been completed at Shuman Point Natural Area! Get outside and enjoy a nice hike over the holidays! Shuman Sign

Fall Foliage Hike

Pinnacle Overlook at PPL Holtwood Preserve

There couldn’t have been a more beautiful day for a fall foliage hike at Pinnacle Overlook at PPL’s Holtwood Preserve on Saturday. It was one of the few perfect hiking days out of the year where it wasn’t too hot or too cold during a nice stroll through the woods. Before setting out on our adventure we took in the beautiful view of Lake Aldred, catching a few glimpses of vultures and several gulls flying over the lake in the distance.

At the overlook, we talked about why leaves change color in autumn. Scientists still don’t know all the details of this complicated process, but basically there are three main factors that influence autumn leaf color: pigments, the length of night, and weather. When the days grow shorter, and the nights get cooler and longer, it’s a cue for the tree to start preparing for winter. Photosynthesis will slow and eventually stop, thus seizing the production of chlorophyll, which produces the green color of leaves. This is all in an attempt to save energy in order to make it through the winter.

Fall Foliage at Pinnacle Overlook.

Once the chlorophyll pigment fades, you begin to see the carotenoid pigment that was always there, but masked by green. This pigment produces the yellow, oranges and browns you also see in carrots and bananas. The magnificent reds and purple hues you see in autumn are not always present, but are thought to be produced in fall as an additional sunscreen for the leaf that is susceptible to sun damage as chlorophyll fades. These reds are produced by anthocyanin pigments, which give color to familiar things such as cranberries, red apples, and grapes, among many others. The reason autumn colors can vary greatly among different regions, especially in PA, is because of the nice sunny days, and cool nights we have in northern PA. Leaves produce sugars on those sunny days, but the cold nights prevent the tree from pulling the glucose out of leaves for storage at night. This makes for the beautiful colors we see up north versus the more dull yellows and browns we see down south.

On our hike, we enjoyed the crunchy fall leaves at our feet and several interesting species, both native and invasive, along the way. Be sure to get outside and enjoy PPL’s thirty-nine miles of trails around Lake Aldred and the Susquehanna River at our Holtwood Preserve before the weather gets too cold! There are only a few more weeks of prime autumn leaf peeping left, and I plan to take advantage of them! I hope you do the same!

You have at least one more chance at the Fall Foliage Walk at Lake Wallenpaupack on Sat. Oct 20 at 10:00 am. For details see our calendar of events here.

-Sarah Hall, PPL Wallenpaupack

Arbor Day at PPL’s Riverlands

PPL and the PA Woodmobile recently teamed up to provide 3rd graders from Salem Elementary in Berwick with a forestry lesson to celebrate Arbor Day.

The traveling exhibit  provided information on the state’s forest resource and the state’s forest products industry. Students learned how the forests of Pennsylvania shaped the history of the state and nation,  how today’s forest differs from 100 years ago, as well as how invasive insects threaten today’s forest. 

Nikki Shiner, 3rd grade teacher said, “This hands-on experience is the best way to help students understand about caring for their environment and natural resources.”
 
The PA Woodmobile was developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Hardwoods Development Council and with the support of the state’s hardwoods industry. The trailer and truck are provided by Deer Park Lumber Inc. of Tunkhannock.

Luzerne Envirothon Returns to Riverlands

PPL’s Susquehanna Riverlands  hosted the Luzerne County Envirothon on Wednesday.  Two hundred students and teachers from Luzerne County schools tested their knowledge in the subject areas of Aquatics, Soils, Wildlife, Forestry and Low Impact Development. 

The winner this year was MMI Preparatory School in Freeland, Pa. They will go on to compete in the PA State Envirothon at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown on May 22 and 23.   Good luck MMI Prep!

MMI Prep students claim 1st place at Luzerne County Envirothon

« Older entries