Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Alabama Hiking Trails

Mr. Henderson and some associates attended a regular meeting of the Gulf Coast Alabama Hiking Trail Society where the Alabama Lands Manager talked about progress on hiking trails along the Perdido River. The project is a part of a statewide program that is part of the Alabama's Forever Wild Program land preservation program.  Mr. Henderson and his group were happy to meet the people of the Trail Society who volunteer their time and effort to help the state move the trails project forward. The state permitting process is nearly complete and Henderson has equipment and personnel lined up to begin environmentally sound log-jam removals.  This river and hiking trail will be a resource treasure for local recreation in the near future.

Some questions arose at the meeting about the pine forest and the way Forever Wild will eventually re-introduce  the lands to the native forest. The discussion requires some understanding of area history, geology and biological systems. From the history of the first Europeans who wrote about these lands, we know the original Southern Long Leaf Yellow Pine forests were a thing of wonder to them. Cabeza De Vacca wrote of the giant trees in the forest. 250 years later, David Crockett talked about marching through the great "pine barrens" with some of Jackson's troops and Indian Allies to attack the warring Creek Indians who were allied with the British in the war of 1812.  The tall slender trees formed a high canopy that shaded out much of the "barren" under-story carpeted by a thick mat of pine straw.  The "pine barrens" habitat supported many interdependent species. The gopher tortoise, the Northern Bobwhite, the diamond back rattlesnake,  the white tailed deer, rabbits, fox squirrels, fox and so much more. Since colonial times, the gradual harvesting of these great forests and eventual transition to a pulpwood economy has nearly erased the original native landscape.  Alabama and other states in the South, are working to return large tracts of land back to the the native species of Long Leaf Yellow Pine. This involves a systematic removal of the pulpwood species as time and economics permit.  I think in about 200 years, these forests will be back to their sustainable state of grandeur 500 years ago. "

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