Long Island Pine Barrens Society
- July. 2005; http://www. pinebarrens.org/history…
40 jur.rochester.edu The Long Island Pine Barrens Society was founded in 1977 in order to bring attention to the depleting natural resources of the Pine Barrens. The Long Island Pine Barrens is a unique mosaic of forest types that contains the purest drinking water and greatest diversity of plant and animal species anywhere in New York State. In the 1970’s, with the realization that residential and commercial development was disturbing and potentially destroying the area, conservation efforts began. Initial preservation attempts to provide core or “greenbelt” areas, shown in figure 1, during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s did not alleviate threats to the Pine Barrens ecosystem. After many failed attempts, protective legislation was enacted in 1993 with the establishment of the Comprehensive Management Plan in 1995. In 2003, the Foundation for Ecological Research in the Northeast (FERN) was founded to fund ecological and environmental research at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The primary project of FERN is the Central Pine Barrens Monitoring Program. The goal of this project is to track the current and future health of the Pine Barrens so that future research needs and priorities can be identified. Since little is known about the exact ecological status of the Pine Barrens, it is anticipated that this data will be crucial to a wide spectrum of residents and organizations including researchers, developers, environmentalists, and state and local government. Since the Pine Barrens is a natural feature unique to Long Island, it is critical to keep this resource healthy and thriving. It is anticipated that the results of this research will provide data relevant to the determination of appropriate timing for prescribed forest fires. Properly timed wildfires benefit the Pine Barrens. Reduction of litter (which is composed of leaves, twigs, pine needles, and other dead vegetation) and canopy cover in the forest provides for direct sunlight on the soil and triggers new tree growth. Furthermore, pitch pine germination is augmented after fires. Melting of the resin coating enables the cone to burst open and scatter seeds directly on bare soil. Knowing the right time to prescribe forest fires would not only better the health of the Pine Barrens, it would also increase their longevity. Baseline data for this longitudinal study were collected during the summer of 2005 at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Pitch Pine, Pine-Oak, Oak-Pine, and Coastal Oak forests were targeted at this time. Pitch Pine forests commonly have a canopy cover of nearly 100 percent pitch pine trees while Pine-Oak and Oak-Pine forests have a canopy of mixed pitch pine and oak trees. All these community types include a shrub layer consisting of huckleberry, blueberry, and scrub oak. Coastal Oak forests typically contain a canopy of various tree oaks and little to no pitch pines in addition to “a nearly continuous shrub layer of huckleberry and blueberry.” In order to describe one aspect of the succession of the Pine Barrens, litter depth was measured in each of the four community types.