Nature Notes

Vol. II May - - 1924 No. 2

Natural Rotation of Forests

It is a fact well known to foresters that forests go thru certain definate rotations of species. In the northwest, the order is always from trees that when yound are tolerent of shade to trees that require sunlight for growth. The result is that Douglas fir, an intolerent tree, is always followed by hemlock and the true firs or balsms, which are tolerent. Opposite the springs at Longmire is a stand of timber, which illustrates this natural rotation admirably.

At one time, following a fire perhaps, there was a fine stand of Douglas Fir just below the Ramparts. These trees grew well, and became from four to six feet in diameter. At this elevation, Douglas Fir reaches a natural old age limit of about 650 years. In the dense shade of the forest floor, Douglas Fir seedlings would not grow, but Western Hemlock and the true firs grow best in such shade, so as the large trees became decadent and fell out, the hemlock and balsms took their place. At present, there are hundreds of great stumps and decayed logs on the ground and a few giant stag-headed trees still standing all Douglas fir and all that is left of the former stand. The forest is now almost entirely hemlock and balsm.

The Months Flowers.

While the wonderful wild-flower fields of the high meadows are still buried under ten feet of snow, the lower woods are at the height of the spring season and a joy to the lover of flowers. Red current, elder-berry and salmon berry are conspicious while closer to the ground will be found myriads of bird-foot bramble, yellow and purple violets, skunk cabbage, Oregon sorrel, bleeding heart and salal blossoms. These are only the most common of the month's flowers.

Beaver Houses.

Over most of the range of the beaver, the object of the "chief engineer of the animal realm" in building dams is to provide water of sufficient depth in which to build a proper house. However, the isolated colonies of beaver in the Park seem to have other reasons for, although there are a hundred or more beaver dams, until this month a house had never been discovered. The Naturalist had just decided that our beaver had made a radical change in habits of living when near the mouth of Tahoma Creek, in a dark little swamp, he found a splendid beaver dam two hundred feet long, a deep pond, and in it a perfect beaver apartment ten feet across and standing six feet above water. Near the colony have been cut trees that range up to twenty-four inches in diameter. As far as known, this is the only beaver house in the Park.

A large number of deer have spent the winter in the lower Nisqually valley, but until recently none have been seen as far up as Longmire. During the past few weeks, however, it has been a common sight to see deer peacefully feeding in the woods and open spaces around the springs. Another deer with two fawns that were seen several times a year ago, but are now almost grown, have been the most frequent visitors. We hope the fact that this little family came thru the winter without a loss is indicative of better times for our wilderness neighbors.

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