Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cathedral Pines Preserve, Cornwall, Connecticut

Sunday I participated in one of the many Housatonic Heritage Walks taking place that day. Naturalist, Ron Hummel, led an interesting hike in the Cathedral Pines Preserve in Cornwall, Connecticut. The 42-acre parcel of tall, old white pines was saved from logging in 1883 when it was purchased by John E. Calhoun, an early preservationist. In 1967, his family gave it to the Nature Conservancy who manages it today.

The pines are estimated to have begun their lives in the second half of the 1700s. Now many of them are 150 feet tall and over 200 years old. They grow straight up to a high canopy that gives the forest an otherworldly feel.  In 1982 the preserve was declared a National Natural Landmark. Sadly in 1989, tornadoes devastated the pines and only a few acres remain. A trail leads up the hill past many downed trunks to the "Cathedral". Here are some interesting historical photos and information on the Cornwall Historical Society website.

I rarely see white pines this straight and tall!
Young hemlocks are growing up
under the pines.
The trees downed by the tornadoes 25 years ago
 are covered with moss.
Sad to see all these formerly magnificent trees lying on the forest floor.
Ron Hummel pointed out signs of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid,
 the white fuzz on the underside of the tips of hemlock twigs.
A tiny Asian insect the size of an aphid is seriously threatening
Eastern Hemlock trees in the eastern US.
We also walked on another preserve nearby.
Ron Hummel showed us an oak gall
made by the oak wasp.
In Ballyhack Preserve, we saw an area of small pines on the forest floor
 which in another 200 years will be old growth!

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