Letchworth State Park

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Letchworth State Park

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun May 03, 2020 8:22 am

Elijah,

This is a fantastic outcome to the work you've done at Letchworth in the last several years. I had imagined that Letchworth probably matched or exceeded Zoar's big tree potential in presettlement times, but had not imagined it would be so close to it in the present day! Interesting to see that three of the species over 140' either don't exist in Zoar (red and pignut) or are not tall there (shagbark). The bedrock in Letchworth, compared to that of Zoar, is mostly a more calcareous shale with beds of limestone (Zoar has calcareous habitats due to concretion beds in the shale, but their influence is usually localized). The difference in soil chemistry and especially drainage over that porous bedrock (favoring the development of oak-hickory areas) must play some role in this. In contrast, Letchworth doesn't appear to grow very tall Bitternuts, which seem to be the odd ducks of the hickories in favoring moist, cool habitats.

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ElijahW
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Re: Letchworth State Park

Post by ElijahW » Mon May 04, 2020 1:19 pm

Erik,

Thanks. I spent a lot of time searching for bigger Bitternuts, but came to the same conclusion as you: they just don’t do as well as the other hickories on drier, more exposed slopes. They’re also far less common. You should see the Shagbark; it’s a dominant tree with a big crown; I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues to grow at a good rate for a long time.

In the next few decades, I expect that the White Pines will really hit their stride, as well as the young tulips on north-facing slopes. I don’t know if Letchworth will catch up to Zoar anytime soon, though, because of the relative lack of stable, shaded terraces. They’re very different types of forests, each with their own strengths. Thanks for your observations about the bedrock formations; I hadn’t looked at that component at all, but figured there were fundamental differences between the two gorges.

Elijah

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