I'm sure you all heard about the big forest fire in South Jersey a few weeks ago. We do snake trapping in that area so I followed the story pretty closely. One of our sites got completely burned but the snakes all survived. I had been itching to go down and check it out. It is a long trek so I was hoping to tie it in with work stuff. Today was day, since I was 30 miles away. What I saw, was impressive. As usual, the pictures don't do it justice. You could still smell the charred mess and it went for miles upon miles.
The Pine Barrens are meant to burn and burn frequently. The sandy soil doesn't hold moisture so it dries real quick. The pine trees are adapted to fire, to the dryness and low nutrients of the soil. The pine trees are so adapted to fire that some species won't allow their pine cones to open unless a fire comes through. I'm talking about fires that are quick moving, frequent, and don't result in an inferno...unlike what recently happened. But I did see and take some open pine cones. So hopefully by the next spring, it'll be a carpet of little pine seedlings everywhere.
Many years ago, I dragged Cokane and company to the Pine Barrens (see pic above). One of our stops was the Pine Plains, where the tallest pine trees are a maximum of 6 to 7 feet. I'm not sure if they ever figured out why the trees were so small...super adaptation to fire, poor soil nutrients, or unknown???? It was a pretty cool place and I had been there before on a field trip from Cook College. One of my classmates told me a story of how some people had taken a special "trip" there and it was very easy to get lost since everything looks the same for miles and the trees are so short. Well, the Pine Plains got clobbered real bad. I'm not sure it'll ever be the same (see below). It'll be a long time before we know if there will ever be the Pine Plains again. But each of my stops along the side of the road, I heard at least one bird calling..I hear you eastern towhee....I hope you can make it work..