Monday, May 25, 2009

May 15 Volunteer work

I found this tree form to be as gracefully animated as a dancer in motion; seeking balance, extending limbs, and remaining still; in position, as the symphony of nature accompanies the dance in harmony with the elements.
I thought that was a beautiful oak and really appreciated the design of the trail that echoes the curve of the tree above in the foot trail below that winds around the behemoth.
On Saturday trail volunteers Ted, John, Shelton, and Gerry worked to develop this curve around the base of the oak tree above. Working in another section on that same day we cut a new trail through a tall pine forest. The new trail avoided a confusing "S" curve that could be eliminated by sweeping the contour wider around the area.
Most of the tall white pines are dead and we did a good bit of chainsaw work that day removing dangerous trees adjacent to or in the trail passageway.
Questions arise regarding why these trees on this hill top are dying off. They seem to be 60-80 years old. Discussion goes to "pine beetles" or forest fire or "acid rain from Ohio Valley industry".

Please leave comment if you have an opinion to share.
But, beneath these dead tall pines there is an abundance of maple, birch, and cherry saplings working their way to define their own canopy and habitat.
All of these hillsides were timbered as the need for wood in the Piedmont reached the mountains. Many at these ridges were cut completed down and left as barren around the beginning of the 20th century leaving them looking much as we see and call clear cutting today. As is true for ecological succession, the next growth of forest species develops.

I find myself pondering if this trail we are building will remain in place as long as the oak tree we worked around. Will the foot treads carry forward an hundred years from now?

Our trails provide access to nature and provide opportunity for developing awareness and conservation values in appreciation and protection of our natural heritage. A walk along a trail gives us moments for contemplation of such notions and for pondering our experience.

Building a trail is a noble effort which provides a pathway for future generations to protect, enjoy, and conserve our natural environment. Take a kid on a trail and see what questions arise. Better yet, take a kid on a trail and teach them how to build a trail! :-)
Thanks to all our trail volunteers in Watauga County!

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