Friday, October 28, 2016

The Yellowwood State Forest - Nashville Indiana

In the quaint village of Nashville, Indiana near the Brown County State Park lies the Yellowwood State Forest. The Yellowwood State forest was organized in 1940 when federal lands were leased to the state of Indiana, this land was eventually deeded to the state in 1956. Over the years more then 2000 acres of abandoned and eroded lands within the Parks footprint have been planted with various Pines (jack, red, shortleaf, white and scotch), Black Locust, Black Walnut, White and Red Oaks. The Yellowwood Lake which covers 133 acres and is 30 feet deep at it's deepest point was completed in 1939, there are two other lakes within the park though much smaller in size (Bear Lake and Crooked Creek Lake). Over the years the Yellowwood State Forest has increased in size by gaining parcels of land through the Heritage Trust Program. Their are many activities to enjoy while visiting the Park including Fishing (a boat launch is located in the South end of the main lake), Hunting (Whitetail Deer, Ruffed Grouse, Turkey, Squirrel, Fox, Woodcock and Raccoon-valid Indiana Hunting license required), Primitive Camping, Horsemen's Camping (many miles of horse trails within the park), Gold Panning (must have permit), Hiking, Kayak/Canoe Rental and Picnicking. Today the Forest covers 23,326 acres, made up of 17 different areas all located within Brown County.

The park was named for a tree very common in the mid-south but rare in the area that is found growing in this particular park. The Yellowwood Tree - Cladrastis kentukea is a medium sized deciduous member of the legume family. With it's smooth elephant-grey bark, pendulous fragrant flowers, and red/brown stems it offers beauty to any landscape year round. It is native to the Eastern United States, most notably two very small areas, one runs along the Kentucky and Tennessee border, and the other between Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. It is commonly planted in landscapes from New England south to Washington DC & Virginia. Yellowwood is hardy from zones 4a to 8b and can be purchased from most large nurseries in the Eastern US. The leaves are composed of widely spaced leaflets that are alternate not opposite one another. There are usually 9-11 leaflets per leaf. The leaves are a yellow green in Spring, bright green by Summer and then Yellow in the Fall. The wood of this tree contains a Yellow dye which stains the heartwood, hence the name Yellowwood. The flowers of the Yellowwood are very similar to Wisteria, they grow in a pendulous form and feature white fragrant flowers. The flowers are small and grow on open panicles ranging from 10-15 inches long. They are considered to be highly fragrant and appear in May. The flowers give way to long brown seed pods as the Spring Summer season changes. When mature this tree can reach heights of 30-50 feet and a spread of 40-55 feet wide. It is considered to be virtually pest free and quite hardy in it's native range. The Society of Municipal Arborist's named this tree the "2015 Urban Tree Of The Year", this selection was made based on adaptability and ornamental traits. Within the park there are less than 200 acres that can support the Yellowwood tree, these can be found on North facing slopes and deep ravines near Crooked Creek Lake. A specimen can also be found planted at the Forest Office on Yellowwood Lake Road.

Within the Yellowwood Forest there are some unique features. One of which is the Tecumseh Trail, named in honor of the Shawnee Chief who in the early 1800's attempted to ally several smaller tribes into one large confederacy. The trail spans the native lands of these tribes and has 5 trail heads within the forest. The trail covers various types of terrain and offers beautiful views of the Forest and Lakes. The second and most unusual is the 2 large sandstone boulders (there used to be 4 but 2 have since fallen from their pertches) that are found not on the ground but in the canopies of Sycamore trees. It is said that the first boulder was originally discovered by a hunter and three more were discovered by hikers. The largest sandstone slab is 4 foot by 1 foot and was thought to weigh as much as 400 lbs, called Gobbler's Rock, that one fell in the last decade. Theories the boulders in trees phenomena range from natural things such as flooding or a tornado to the more extreme (or maybe unbelievable) including UFO's, Acoustic Levitation (when rocks becomes weightless), or even a good old Prankster using heavy machinery! No evidence of disturbance was ever found at any of the tree locations that would support the heavy machinery or tornado theories...what do you think?

You can find the Yellowwood State Forest at:
772 South Yellowwood Road
Nashville, IN 47448
(812) 988-7945

Monday, October 24, 2016

Middlebury College - Middlebury Vermont *Tree Maps*

With a main campus near the village of Middlebury and the Bread Loaf Mountain campus, located in inside of 30,000 acres of forest land in Ripton, Vermont, Middlebury College has a beautiful campus to say the least.  Forest land covers 3/4 of the state of Vermont and the percentage of Maples recorded in the state is greater then anywhere else in the country.  The reason I have added this campus to my list of Tree Destinations is their use of a mapping system (ArcGIS) to identify and give you a tour of over 2200 trees located within the campus.  Allowing you to "visit" trees throughout the campus and easily click on each one to find out each trees unique details (genus, species, size, and even a link to the wikipedia page to learn more about that species).  This would make for a nice walking tour if ever you are in the area.

The link is below:

There are currently three different Maps available
~Middlebury College Campus Trees
~Middlebury’s Heritage Elm Collection
~Memorial and Class Trees

Middlebury College
Middlebury, Vermont 05753

And in case your interest is sparked to learn more
Environmental Programs :
Sunderland 206
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury, VT 05753

Now if only every school/college/university could do this.  This idea is a neat way to not only educate students and visitors about the trees that surround and benefit them on a daily basis, but I feel it could also help increase interest in Environmental programs.  Tree are awesome after all ;-)