If you look at a satellite map of Ohio, you will note an island of emerald green in mid-Ohio. The Mohican State Forest and State Park are a safe hold from urban encroachment, the Alamo for many interesting forms of diversity, from trees and plants, to breeding wood warblers and the endangered hellbenders that make their home in our scenic river.
Division of Forestry has created a living display and educational area within the forest. Forest manager Tim Humphrey graciously gave me a tour of the Discovery Forest, which included the newest addition, the planting of the American Chestnut trees. These 100% genetically true American Chestnuts are probably doomed to die of the blight within 20 years or so, but it is important to continue to keep a genetically pure strain for future work. This is Mohican’s contribution to the long-term research on chestnut blight. Yes, it is a sad job, but like the folks taking the placebo pills in a medical study, someone has to do it. We need to look at the big picture- and the best hopes for the reintroduction of American Chestnuts in the future.
A trip to the Discovery Forest with Tim was enlightening on many levels. This forest features a clear-cut area, an area with selective thinning, and just for comparison, some areas that have not been managed to any degree.
And generally, whatever practice is employed, something will find that habitat just perfect. Clear-cut areas in very early stages of vegetative brier tangles are perfect for Ruffed Grouse, although not seen in Mohican area for a decade, they were once known to this forest. Wouldn’t it be great to re-introduce grouse! Early successional fields are the preferred habitat for Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers. And the tall pines planted about 70 years ago are where we find the Red and White-breasted nuthatches and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Each of these species show a fidelity to their preferred habitat.
While I am a big-old tree hugger at heart, and prefer no human changes in our forests, I appreciate the value of this educational Discovery Forest and hope you’ll visit too.
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