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      Interesting read - BWCA forest succession     

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CoachBigD
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08/06/2020 07:16PM  
Ran across this article. I know it is a year old but I thought it was quite the read. Studied this kind of stuff in college but I ended up being a software developer. I love programming but this stuff "lights my fire" as well
 
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WHendrix
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08/06/2020 07:26PM  
Thanks for this. I studied a bunch of this stuff as well although my work was mostly in the area of Ecological Planning. I did my PhD in the Department of Forestry and Wildlife at U. Mass and my major professor was an ecologist so I read a lot of the succession literature. Like you I still like this stuff a lot.
 
08/06/2020 09:07PM  
Good read but I’m not excited about an “oak savanna” in place of the forests we have now.
 
CoachBigD
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08/07/2020 01:31AM  
TomT: "Good read but I’m not excited about an “oak savanna” in place of the forests we have now. "

I hear ya.
 
CoachBigD
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08/07/2020 01:32AM  
One question that comes up after I read this is if cedars are understory Tre that is not fire adapted, why are there some real ancient specimens? I have a recollection of a cedar on Seagull moving towards a thousand years old?
 
marsonite
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08/07/2020 06:30AM  
CoachBigD: "One question that comes up after I read this is if cedars are understory Tre that is not fire adapted, why are there some real ancient specimens? I have a recollection of a cedar on Seagull moving towards a thousand years old?"

Those old cedars are growing somewhere where fires don't reach, like along a lakeshore.

When you hear "forest fire" you tend to think of conflagrations like the Pagami Creek fire or the fires that occured in the blowdown. But historically, forest fires were much more subdued for the most part, just burning in the understory. Actually, most fires today are more subdued...it's the conflagrations that make the news. Anyway, these subdued fires will leave places untouched, which is where you get these old growth cedars.
 
missmolly
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08/07/2020 08:05AM  
From the article: "Warmer summers will eventually cause so much evaporation that—despite a concurrent increase in precipitation—most trees won’t make it, and we’ll be left with an oak savannah in place of a boreal forest. That’s the forecast for 2070 in our current high-emission scenario."

Wow, that's soon.

More, from the article: "Change is inevitable. The Boundary Waters we loved, both before and after the blowdown, itself is a result of hundreds of years of disturbance, regrowth, and succession. I’m not excited about the current changes, in large part because of humans’ role in the demise of the landscape we admire. But the vibrant green hues of young forests are pleasant, and some of my favorite places in Iowa are savannas. They are beautiful. In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Frelich took the stance that, “If the climate is going to go that direction and we’re not going to do anything about it, we might as well make it the best savannah that it can be.”

I feel the same way about my mote of Maine. Change is coming. I can't stop it. So, I've planted dozens of trees native to southern Maine (I live about halfway up the coast.) that are more likely to thrive in our warming climate. The forest, of course, would adapt on its own, but I'm helping it adapt, as tree species would move north much more slowly than in my trailer.
 
sedges
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08/07/2020 09:58AM  
Landscape-wide changes are the norm. We just don't live long enough to notice them. The forests that I used to play in and fell in love with as a child were prairie when Europeans first arrived in SE WI. The prairies were divided by agriculture. Some places eventually were abandon for agriculture and ended up becoming forest because the fires that maintained grassland were not allowed to happen.

Places that were swept clean during the last ice age have been changing ever since.

Oak savanna is not likely in the BWCA landscape. The oak savanna of southern MN and Iowa has deep prairie soils, BWCA has very little mineral soil at all, just that organic muck we love so much on the portages. Sure, a very open canopy woodland that burns regularly might replace what we know now. Maybe we are seeing the beginning of that change. It actually might have been there before, thousands of years ago...we don't know. There might be some prairie plants that show up in the mix. The tree composition will change, hard to tell what that might look like.

Wish I could live long enough to watch it happen. It will be different, but still amazingly beautiful.
 
Minnesotian
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08/07/2020 01:19PM  

For further reading, here is a Washington Post article on the northern forest of MN and efforts to adapt and save the current composition. I think this article was linked to BWCA.com before, but this looked like a good thread to add to as well.

Climate Solutions Northern Minnesota
 
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