Saturday, June 22, 2013

Woodland Aesthetics

Stepping out into the warm Saturday morning deep in the heart of the Salem Plateau, I kept hoping the clouds would break to reveal a beautiful sunny day. Alas, they never did, and every photo I took that day was cast in a dull gray light. Despite the lack of contrast due to the white sky all socked in with clouds, the woodland setting remained stunning.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to hike through less stunning woods with colleagues who had never seen restored fire mediated woodlands. "Woods are woods," one said, looking into the sugar maple-Japanese honeysuckle-deer problem woods. I explained the difference between mere green space like the woods we were walking through, and true woodlands, places that have seen fire in recent history, places with hundreds of species of vascular plants. Some woods are so out of context with their historic character that they may not be restorable, especially urban green spaces surrounded by development so thick that no hope exists of returning fire to the management regime.

Pictures speak louder than words in this case, so I scrolled through a series of photos from last Saturday, photos of often burned woods, of vascular plants my colleagues had never seen before. Despite the gray day in the woods, it was decided that no, they had never seen any woods like those in the Salem Plateau before. Those woodlands are lovely, diverse, and inviting, making me want to hold the proverbial reins on my proverbial horse 200 years ago and say "Whoa."

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