Little Lost Creek
oaks and hickories and a diversity of understory vegetation for food and cover. The timber resource is also impacted because sugar maple does not produce high quality lumber. We are conducting a number of studies at Little Lost Creek Conservation Area to determine the best way to stop sugar maple from taking over the forests.
As you explore the woods of Little Lost Creek Conservation Area, you will notice a stark contrast in their appearance on north and east facing slopes compared to south and west facing slopes. North and east facing slopes tend to be much better growing sites. Therefore, you will generally find larger, healthier looking trees on these sites. South and west facing slopes receive considerably more sun. Therefore, soils dry out quickly, and organic matter breaks down rapidly. The resulting trees are generally smaller, slower growing, and of poorer quality, but wildlife thrive in this environment.
Tucked into some of these harsh, dry sites are a number of glades and woodlands. Glades typically contain several large, exposed rocks and very thin soil. Normally, the only tree species that can survive on a glade is eastern redcedar. Historically, periodic wildfires kept most cedars off of glades, allowing a variety of native grasses and wildflowers to grow. Many of the area's glades are still fairly open, but some are growing up in cedar.
Glades typically contain some of our most diverse plant communities. Therefore, one of our ongoing projects on the area is to remove cedars from glades so that wildflowers and grasses will flourish. Amazingly, seed from many glade plant species can remain viable for 50 years or more. Usually, merely removing a few cedars and leaving a glade alone for a few years is all it takes to stimulate the wildflowers and grasses to grow. To improve conditions for regrowth, we combine this practice with a prescribed burn.
Unlike glades, woodlands are capable of supporting some scattered trees. Typically, woodlands contain sparsely stocked overstory trees with few to no midstory or understory trees. On the ground you will find a number of wildflowers and small shrubs. If you are lucky, you may even stumble into patch of wild blueberry.
The ridgetops at Little Lost Creek Conservation area contain an interesting mix of forest, prairie and savanna. Savannas are essentially transition zones between forests and prairies. They contain mostly prairie grasses and wildflowers, but they also have