My place in Burlington and my home place were both similar and different. Although both my spot in Burlington, and my place at home are similar at first glance, both forested areas near small rivers, the two sites show many differences. The most noticeable difference is the forest structure of the two places. In Burlington, at Salmon Hole, the forest is mostly hard woods with few evergreen trees at all. Mostly, the Salmon Hole forest at my spot consists of basswood, maple and beech. The trees are mostly young, with a few exceptions. At my home place, the forest structure is much different. Near the beginning of the path, the forest composition is spaced out white pines and mostly oak and maple making up the over story, with many young beeches densely dominating the under story. The canopy covers almost all the area as you look up, but is not very dense, allowing much light to get through. As the path goes deeper into the forest, there is a shift in forest composition to a hemlock dominated forest, that consists of closely spaced, tall, mature trees. In this part of the forest, there is much less light penetrating the hemlock canopy, and the under story is rather sparse. Only a few small vegetative plants grow in the under story, with very few, if any, small trees growing. The change between the two parts of the forest was very noticeable; it was like entering two different worlds. In comparison to the Salmon hole place, the otter part of my home place was more similar, the beech under story and light penetrated canopy were more similar than the dark, mature hemlock stand at the home place. However the tree species found in the hard wood area of the home place, and the Salmon hole place were different. The home place has only a few older trees that are mostly oak or maple, with many young beech making up the under story. At Salmon Hole, there are a variety of species that make up the mostly more mature tree canopy, while a few young beeches make up the under story.
Another difference is the land use of the two places. The Salmon Hole spot in Burlington is located very close to an urban area, and has a high human use rate. The land is public, there are well established foot trails, and many people use the area for recreation from running to fishing. On the other hand, my home place is private land in a very rural area. Few people, except for myself and a few neighbors, use the land. There is an established path wide enough for, and used by, ATV’s and snowmobiles, but only my family and my neighbor use the trail. This trail is only in the beech dominated part of the forest. Deeper in the Hemlock part of the forest there are no trails, and it is rarely visited by anyone. This reduced land use has allowed for a more natural succession to take place. It is my guess that the hemlock section was not recently cleared by humans, while the beech section most definitely was. The stone walls in the beech section further indicate an agricultural land use history. In the Hemlock section of the forest, the topography consists of a steep hill on the north east side and the river to the west. This topography may have created the dark conditions that promoted hemlock growth. In addition, the steep topography may have been unsuitable for agricultural uses, and therefore was not recently cleared by people.
Due to the differences in land use, location, and proximity to urban areas, there is a more diverse forest habitat at the home place than at the Salmon Hole location. At the home place, there are fewer invasive species compared to the Burlington place. There are also more signs of wildlife in the home place, and a more diverse under story make up as well. At the Salmon hole place, there are many invasive buckthorn bushes in the under story, as well as oriental bittersweet, grape vines, and other aggressive species. I did not notice any invasive species in the home place. The biodiversity seemed higher in the home place as well, I noticed several fern species, small plants, fungus, mosses, and a low growing plant with red berries, possibly wintergreen. Please see the photos post to see example of some of these species.
I enjoyed my place at home more than the Burlington place because it was very peaceful, quiet, and there are fewer human disturbances. In the Burlington spot, the noises and impacts of the urban area are still present despite the natural setting. However, I am thankful for the Salmon Hole place because despite urban impacts, it is nice to have a natural area so near to an urban center, and I enjoy the time I spend there as an escape from the activities of campus and the city.