Environmental FactorsThe extent and condition of environmental conditions at Minute Man National Historical Park (park) has been and continues to be influenced by a variety of factors, including natural and social changes, historical and modern land-use in the area, and non-native species. By the turn of the 18th century, approximately 90 percent of land currently within the park's boundary had been converted to agriculture. Although extensive meadows existed in the area prior to European settlement, acres of forest were cleared to create pasture and cultivated cropland. For instance, in 1600, an estimated 30 percent of the Battle Road Unit supported open fields and meadows. By 1775, the percentage of fields had increased to more than 80 percent. By the time the park was established in 1959, many acres of abandoned agricultural land had reverted to forest. In addition, by 1959, many acres had been developed for residential and commercial purposes. Since it's establishment, many structures have been removed or demolished and have been replaced by forest or meadows. In addition, the park plans to remove additional structures to restore additional acres of forest and field.
DiseasesA variety of diseases and infestations have affected, and continue to affect, resources at Minute Man National Historical Park (park). The most notable of these diseases may be the "Chestnut Blight", which devastated populations of American chestnut in the early 1900s. The chestnut blight is an Asian fungus that typically does not kill trees, which are able to resprout after topkill (micro-organisms in the soil prevent the fungus from killing tree roots). However, the blight usually prevents trees from flowering and reproducing and have prevented re-establishment of healthy populations of American chestnuts throughout their range. The park supports several populations of American chestnut, all of which are affected by chestnut blight. However, working in cooperation with the American Chestnut Society, the park has treated individual trees, which may enable production of viable fruit and/or pollen. The park also has been invaded recently by hemlock wooly adelgids, which continue to move north after becoming established in more southern areas of the United States. Hemlock wooly adelgids, another Asian invasive, sap strength and eventually may kill infected trees when adelgid populations have reached critical levels. In addition, many ash trees, particularly white ash, at and in the vicinity of the park have been infected by "ash yellow", which has resulted in extensive die-offs and branch kills.
Last updated: November 2, 2020