Looking down on the Jani Grove, Mohawk Trail State Forest, MA.
In a Native American legend, spirit hunters in the sky slew the Great Bear in autumn. The bear's blood, dripping on the forests, changed many leaves to red. Some trees were turned to yellow by the fat that splattered out of the kettle as the hunters cooked the meat.
Some of the smallest forms of life, but considerable in total number, are seen thriving in the understory and leaf litter covering the forest floor. Land snails and slugs, like this one, must stay moist or perish. Satisfactory conditions are found on the moist, forest floor where they aid in decomposition and the creation of soil.
There are several types of birch trees; the bark from the sweet or black birch (shown here with yellow leaves) is rough and completely unsuitable for craft work but is the source of winter green, and from which can be steeped into a tea high in vitamin C. From Black birch harvest the twigs, red inner bark and larger roots can all be collected. The inner bark can be boiled or ground into flour.
The contrasts are amazing! Changes in the temperature, water availability, and length of daylight cause the leaves of deciduous trees to stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall brilliance.
The richly, largely unseen community of fungi is more marked in the fall when reproductive structures appear as colorful mushrooms, puffballs, or brackets on the trees, from the soil or on woody debris.
Bob Leverett monkeys around on an old grape vine during a serious field excursion through the forest.
The changes in season indicate to the plant that fall is coming on. The tree begins to take back nutrients that have been stored in the leaves before they drop off. All these colors are due to the mixing of varying amounts of the chlorophyll residue and other pigments in the leaf during the fall season. Evergreens protect their needle-like foliage from freezing with waxy coatings and natural antifreezes.
Save America's Forests Takes a Fall Trip
to Massachusetts' Forests
At the Second Annual Forest Summit at Holyoke Community College
and exploration of Mohawk Trail State Forest
October 21-23, 2004
White pine; Some of the tallest and oldest trees in Massachusetts lie within the boundaries of the Mohawk Trail State Forest. Full of trees of unique sizes and ages, this forest serves as a core area of plant diversity and animal habitat in the region.
America's Forests staff members Katyana Conley and Michael Yadrick
took part in the 2nd Annual Forest Summit at Holyoke Community College and
were treated to the spectacular fall foliage at the height of the season.
The event was hosted by Gary Beluzo, Professor of Environmental Science at
Holyoke Community College, and Bob Leverett, Executive Director of the Eastern
Native Tree Society. Lectures and activities took place in and around Holyoke,
MA and at Mohawk Trail State Forest near Charlemont. Several speakers presented
their work and research over two nights, including:
Keynote Speaker - Dr. Bob Van Pelt, Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington;
Dr. Tom Diggins and Will Blozan, Co-founders of the Eastern Native Tree Society;
Dale Luthriger, Naturalist of Cook State Forest in Pennsylvania;
Ishgooda, native activist who runs the Native News Service.
The multimedia presentations focused on the history, current status, and future of the forests in the United States and the world. Lecturers shared photos and videos of their studies and exploits working with the big trees and magnificent forests of the Pacific Northwest, Eastern United States and the Southern Hemisphere.
On this weekend, the fall foliage was near its peak, radiant with hues of red and yellow. Bob Leverett guided all the participants on a hike through the exceptional New England forests of Mohawk Trail State Forest . The group of ecologists demonstrated tree measuring techniques and the group discussed the natural and human historical significance of the area. Additionally, Bob talked about the preservation of old growth stands and the collaborative research taking place between the Friends group and the State Parks Department.
Save America's Forests spoke to all the participating groups about the Act to Save America's Forests, and its continuing efforts to mutually support regional grassroots efforts towards forest protection.