Sharon Woods Metropark

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Rand
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Sharon Woods Metropark

Post by Rand » Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:51 pm

Susan,

Sharon Woods is another Metropark island in the burbs of Columbus, Ohio:
sharon.png
A remnant of open grown old growth is preserved in Edward S Thomas Nature Preserve portion of this park

http://www.metroparks.net/wp-content/up ... map@2x.png

The old growth area is a short stroll going west from the parking lot by Shrock lake up to the observation deck that looks out over the meadow area. The land is very flat and the largest trees are all open grown oak trees. White and Bur oaks are the most common with a few chinkapin oaks thrown in. A careful search would probably turn up some swamp white oak, but I wasn’t able to get off the trail because of the regulations - and a patrolling police officer!

Typically the large trees were ~3’ dbh x 85'-90’ tall. I got a ring count of ~150 up in the crown of a short bur oak that had fallen across the trail; so I suspect the biggest trees are in the 200 year age range. A few shots of the typical dominant trees:
typical oaks 1.jpg
typical oaks 2.jpg
typical oaks 3.jpg
stitch.JPG
The largest tree was 15’ 10” cbh x 96.5’ tall white oak:
largests oak.jpg
largests oak-2.jpg
The tallest tree I measured was growing adjacent to this tree, a ~2’ dbh x 105’ tall pin oak. And that's the odd part about this site. All the largest trees were species that are more typical of comparatively dry sites. The younger generation however, all had a forest type growth form and were a mix more associated with wet sites: Pin oak, silver & red maples, ash (all dead), pignut hickories and a few small elms scattered about in the understory. Northern red oak and shagbark hickory were also common in a few spots. The younger generation of trees looked like, at most, to be in the 100 year age range, with most looking to be 50-60 years old. On the eastern side of Columbus, lie the Darby plains, a similarly flat area that was very wet in the spring, because of poor drainage, but dried out and became fire prone in the autumn, preserving the area as prairie fragment. I suspect a similar dynamic was at play here as well. Two miles to the northeast, the village of Westerville was incorporated in 1858. At some point in the early to mid 1900’s, I imagine the grazing and/or burning stopped, and more wet tolerant species took over. Abundant spicebush in the understory also attests to the wetness of this site.

The trees are grand in their own stately, spreading way, but the site doesn't quite have the towering ambience created by forest-grown old growth trees. The constant roar of the nearby interstates doesn’t help either.

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ElijahW
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Re: Sharon Woods Metropark

Post by ElijahW » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:46 pm

Rand,

Cool site. Looks like a great place to learn the differences among the members of the white oak family. Do all of the major Ohio cities have these metroparks? As a general rule, parks with any substantial amount of forested acreage in NY are run by either the state or county governments; city parks are usually small and uninteresting, at least to me. Thanks for sharing,

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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Rand
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Re: Sharon Woods Metropark

Post by Rand » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:16 pm

Yeah. All the big metro areas in Ohio have some parks (Toledo, Cleveland, Dayton-Cincinnati) If you dig there are several in the Cleveland Area that Steve Galehouse and I did a number of years ago.

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Sharon Woods Metropark

Post by Larry Tucei » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:51 am

Randy- The Tree Police. LOL Larry

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Sharon Woods Metropark

Post by Erik Danielsen » Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:36 am

Rand, I think it sounds like an interrupted fire cycle and exclusion of grazing animals makes a lot of sense as the explanation for the stand composition and characteristics. I wonder what herbaceous species have been lost due to the accompanying change in canopy shading.

Why are there such stringent restrictions on off-trail travel, do you think? Is it a spot associated with troublesome human activity?

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Rand
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Re: Sharon Woods Metropark

Post by Rand » Sat Oct 27, 2018 7:20 pm

I wonder what herbaceous species have been lost due to the accompanying change in canopy shading.
It's hard to tell. The Darby plains were almost completely converted to agriculture. The exception is a few tiny (1-3 acres) pioneer cemeteries that preserve some of the rare native herbacious species. Those cemeteries are now nature preserves. It's possible some of these species existed there at one time. Unfortunately, my grasp of such species ID is pretty weak, so I'm not in the place to comment further. Plus most the herbs are dead this time of year anyway.
Why are there such stringent restrictions on off-trail travel, do you think? Is it a spot associated with troublesome human activity?
There is a blanket ban of off trail activity in State Nature Preserves in Ohio (without a permit). But more to the point, is the large surrounding population and easy access would lead to too many people trampling the undergrowth.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Sharon Woods Metropark

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Oct 28, 2018 10:03 am

Interesting. I guess I was probably in violation when I was visiting Pearson Metropark in Oregon. I didn't see any signs about it, at least. With a lot of time spent in NYC parks, I'm not sure about the trample concern- invasive species and deer populations could be observed eradicating sensitive plants in real time as seasons passed, but parks that had been overused by homeless, misbehaving youth, illegal dumping, and a widespread idea that ATVs make great toys managed to retain rare vegetation. I'm sure restricting off-trail travel has benefits, but I hope enforcing it doesn't divert resources from invasive species management.

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