Monday, April 30, 2007

Looking for evidence of the 1947 Fire

When you visit Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, be on the look out for evidence of the 1947 fire and its effect on the landscape. If you visit the western side of the island you'll see what the eastern side looked like before the fires. Spruce and pine forests. The area around Jackson Labs and Sand beach is perfect for seeing the effect of a huge fire engulfing everything in its path including the soil. Even today after 50 years these areas only support forests of small birch and beech trees.

The famed 1947 fire that burned most of the eastern side of Mount Desert Island is the most recent extensive fire, but evidence of past burns is present in trees and soils throughout the Park. Post-fire aspen-birch communities are still abundant. The spruce-fir forests, the dominant closed-canopy forest type on the island, include a large component of earlier-successional birch and red maple within the area that burned, along with the maturing spruce and fir. Vegetation on the western half of the island, which escaped the 1947 fire, reflects more clearly the underlying edaphic characteristics rather than the effects of recent fire.

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