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Crow’s Nest: About that hail storm damage

June 8, 2014

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

We still see trees whose tops look thin where the leaves were chewed up by the falling hail. Because of the leaves’ reduced size the trees look like they’re permanently stuck in the month of April, when they were just leafing out. These leaves will not get bigger again however, and although some new leaves might grow, that doesn’t appear to be taking place widely yet.

But some places got hit harder than others, even in patches within one view. If you look across the valley from our parking area you see a brown hilltop amidst the green:

IMG_6324

And if you hike toward our Chief’s Grove you get an even better view. The hill in the foreground is on this side of Route 345 in Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. The hill that has turned brown is Mt. Pleasure on the west side of Route 345 in French Creek State Park.

IMG_6341

I was concerned enough that I sent the interns over to climb the hill and scout it out from under the canopy. They report that it is cross-species damage, so not likely an insect or disease that would affect some and not others. And it’s mainly the leaves at the tops of the trees that got so badly shredded; the lower branches were somewhat protected by the upper ones.

Here is a zoomed-in portion of the photo above:

IMG_6341 - Version 2

That’s not what trees around here normally look like in June! Incidentally, this hill was not one that burned in the April 2012 wildfire at French Creek.

Usually it is difficult to tell from our parking lot that these are two different hills separated by the saddle where Route 345 cuts through. Right now due to the storm damage it is easy to tell them apart and where each hill is located.

It will be interesting to watch how this event, like the wildfire, will affect the forest long term.

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