Restoration Appalachia: Coal Mines to Spruce Forests

West virginia appalachia restoration red spruce lambert's strip gaudineer's knob

Cheat Mountain overlooks the highest-altitude stream in the east.  Along its ridge lies a Civil War fort, where soldiers recalled their months here as the "severest of the war" due to weather.[1]  The first snowfall of 1861 was mid-August; Horses froze in September.  This cold, wet region supports red spruce (picea rubens), common in Canada, unusual for West Virginia.  A red spruce forest this far south creates a unique ecosystem—habitat to endangered species like the West Virginia flying squirrel and the Cheat Mountain salamander—and also increases the range diversity and therefore odds of survival for red spruce itself, a species likely to suffer "severe declines" in distribution by 2200 due to climate change.[2]  Concerns for local ecosystem health add further reasons to restore the red spruce, especially where they've been destroyed by past logging and mining practices, like here at Cheat Mountain.

10 Timelapses of Environmental Destruction

Humans have impacted 83% of the earth's land -- 98% of fertile land.  And scientists calculated these back in 2002, when the earth had 1.2 billion less people.[1]  Our impacts have historically been destructive, although sustainable and regenerative practices are increasing, as this blog details.  Awareness also increases, like from Google Earth's new Timelapse feature and its LANDSAT imagery.  So let's use this god-like power to see 10 timelapses of our impacts on the environment.

Trees of New Orleans

Some of the trees identified around New Orleans, mainly around Couturie Forest in City Park, as well as Maurepas Swamp WMA.

Salix nigra (black willow) louisiana new orleans leaves tree
Salix nigra (black willow)

How to Identify a Region's Trees

1. Wikipedia.  'Category' pages provide a list of links on a specific subject; in this case Trees of the Bahamas shows 33 of the country's trees.  Not a complete list but clicking through it can lead to familiarity and maybe some ID's. Another example, Tree of the United States, lists 103 tree, plus 'subcategory' pages by region have dozens or even hundreds more.
2. Local parks.  At a nearby preserve or public park (green areas on Google Maps), ask for info packets in the office.  For example, at The Retreat National Park, rangers gave me the laminated ID guide pictured above.  Also in the Park, some trees along trails were marked with name tags or interpretive signs.
3. Local people.  Ask around locations where people work with plants: farms, nurseries, arboretums nature centers, national parks, private preserves, universities, any establishments with a landscaping crew like golf courses or resorts, or even just your average resident.  For example walking around New Providence I saw a man in his front yard knocking fruit from a tree I didn't know.  I simply said hello, asked what it was and he gladly told me "breadfruit."
4. Google Image.  Using a tree's distinct features as keywords, searching Google Image may result in a matching photo.  For example, I searched "legume tree red flowers long pods," and one of the resulting images appeared to match my tree.  Following the image's link led to a name, Delonix regia.  Then I copy/pasted that name into a new search to view more images and be certain it matched.
5. Facebook groups.  When all else fails, the Tree Identification group is full of knowledgeable and helpful folks.  Be sure to provide quality photos with closeups of leaves, bark, fruits, flowers and as many distinguishing features as possible, especially terminal buds, and state your location.

*Taking and storing photographs would be implied for most of these methods.  A useful trick: in your photo gallery (at least for my android), each photo's info, or 'i', button gives you the time, date and mapped location where each was taken.  You can also type notes on the photo, for example, if you've learned the name of the tree and don't want to forget it.

Trail signs at a park, an easy way to I.D.
A tree I identified with Google Image search
(Delonix regia)

See some lists I've compiled with these methods:
Trees of the Andes
Trees of the Bahamas
Trees of New Orleans

Trees of the Bahamas

All photos taken by yours truly, after about two hours walking around New Providence and The Retreat National Park.  Check out my methods for identifying these trees at How to Identify a Region's Trees.

Thanks to rangers at The Retreat National Park for the info sheet, pictured above.
Also thanks to the members of the Tree Identification Facebook group.

Soil Tests

Understanding soil conditions is key to planning a reforestation project, knowing which plants will grow and which amendments may be needed.  The following 5 tests use simple, universal methods.   Data from these tests can be entered in this Google Form.

Mapping a Reforestation Site

with Google My Maps

-Visit, sign in or create Google account, and “create new map.”
-Open your My Map on mobile device, walk project site