We returned this week to Quabbin Park, in Belchertown and Ware, Massachusetts to continue exploring the story of the dying Red Pines in New England Forests. Just to recap, Quabbin Park is the more or less officially designated visitors area for the Quabbin Reservation, home of the massive and wonderful reservoir that sustains much of eastern Massachusetts. The accidental wilderness there was created in part by the rebirth of natural forests once farming there ceased, but also by the planting of millions of pine trees to aide in the natural filtration of the water. In places, the population is quite mono-species and as such, is vulnerable to infection. Invasive species moving north as the climate warms attack, the forests, the most notorious being bittersweet, that overwhelming vine that is now common place in our forests, draping itself around the trees. (Think back, if you’re a New Englander, it mostly wasn’t there when you were a kid. I’m from Virginia and it wasn’t even a big deal there.)
The second most obvious invasive species in the Quabbin area is Red Pine Needle Scale, on loan from Pennsylvania and further south. It attacks Red Pine trees only but makes really quick work of them. Here’s the forest near the Winsor Dam spillway. Three years ago, these pines were all nice and green.
The stand of Red Pines along the red side of the road, for about 100 yards or more in, is now dead. It clearly has become a potential safety hazard, and the Division of Conservation and Recreation who managers the land in the Reservation is now taking those trees down. I’m going to switch to black and white imagery here, as, at least for me, it captures more of the mood of the work in process. Things begin to get a bit otherworldly.
They are making progress it seems. This is seriously difficult work, requiring heavy equipment and traversing some challenging landscapes.
Your taxes and water bills at work… As I’ve stated in previous posts though, I don’t see that there is any choice here. We should keep in mind though that to the extent climate change or other human actions play a role in these species migrations, our bill will continue to rise.
That being said, life goes on, sometimes in spite of our best efforts.