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History of forests and land-use

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Hutchinson, Todd F.; Rubino, Darrin; McCarthy, Brian C.; Sutherland, Elaine Kennedy

Year Published

2003

Publication

In: Sutherland, Elaine K.; Hutchinson, Todd F., eds. Characteristics of mixed oak forest ecosystems in southern Ohio prior to the reintroduction of fire. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-299. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 17-27

Abstract

Oaks (Quercus) have been a dominant component of eastern forests, including the forests of southeastern Ohio, for more than 5,000 years. Prior to Euro-American settlement, written accounts (1700s) described open, park-like forests and the use of fire by Native Americans for hunting and land management. In seven townships encompassing the four study areas, early land surveys (ca. 1800) indicate that 45 to 71 percent of the witness trees were oaks. White oak (Quercus alba) was the most common species; "black" oak (Q. velutina and Q. coccinea) and hickory (Carya) also were major components. Euro-American settlement of southeastern Ohio occurred in the early 1800s, but timber harvesting in the uplands was limited until the mid-1800s when the charcoal iron industry became prominent in the region. Iron furnaces were located near each study area, and the forests were clearcut for charcoal production until the industry declined in the 1880s and 1890s. These sites have since been undergoing secondary succession, though dendroecological analysis of release events in 119 white oak trees suggests some disturbance, likely from both anthropogenic (selective harvesting) and natural factors, since stand initiation in the mid- to late-1800s. Larger-scale releases have been more common at the Arch Rock and Watch Rock study areas. Oaks continue to dominate the overstory layer, but shade-tolerant species such as red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (A. saccharum), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), and beech (Fagus grandifolia) now dominate the midstory and understory layers of all four study sites.

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Citation

Hutchinson, Todd F.; Rubino, Darrin; McCarthy, Brian C.; Sutherland, Elaine Kennedy. 2003. History of forests and land-use. In: Sutherland, Elaine K.; Hutchinson, Todd F., eds. Characteristics of mixed oak forest ecosystems in southern Ohio prior to the reintroduction of fire. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-299. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 17-27

Last updated on: June 4, 2007