Pine Barrens – An international gem right in our own backyards!

And they’re having a festival!!Pine Barren photo

Sources: SEMPBA, MSSF & Edible South Shore & South Coast Magazine

Myles Standish State Forest (MSSF) in southeastern Massachusetts lies at the heart of the second largest unbroken tract of globally rare pitch-pine barrens habitat remaining in the world. Spanning over 12,000 acres, MSSF is the second largest publicly held land in the Commonwealth. Pine Barrens occur throughout the northeastern U.S. from New Jersey to Maine, as well as in the Midwest and Canada. Dry pine forest with oaks (in MSSF they are white, black, and red oak) is the matrix forest of southeastern Massachusetts. It develops on acidic soil formed on sandy glacial deposits: moraine, till, and outwash. The forest structure is rather variable, ranging from open canopy with a dense shrub layer of black huckleberry and scrub oak (together with some dwarf chestnut oak) to close canopy with only scattered clumps of shrubs.

Pitch-pine forest is fire-dependent, supporting more and more white pine and red maple, as the time since the last fire increases. The ground cover is rather sparse, with wintergreen and bracken fern being probably the commonest plants. Pine/oak forest surrounds coastal ponds. On the perimeter of the ponds there is a dense continuous belt of different shrubs, many of them from heath family. Pond beaches are an important habitat, supporting many otherwise uncommon plants adapted to drastically changing water levels in ponds. The so-called frost pockets or frost hollows are depressions devoid of tree vegetation, with a continuous shrub and herb layer of sun-loving species, which cope with harsh temperature regime here in order to avoid competition with trees for light. These unique plant communities resemble tundra fragments and harbor such uncommon plants as dwarf upland willow, creeping cherry, wood lily, pasture-thistle, and black oatgrass.

MSSF (in addition to being the second largest unbroken tract of pitch-pine barrens remaining in the world) is home to a number of rare species of plants and animals. Such rare indigenous plants as New England blazing star, New England boneset, Plymouth gentian, pondshore arrowhead, broom-crowberry, and others occur in the Forest. It is a breeding ground for bluebirds, whippoorwills, and prairie warblers. Redbelly cooters are rare throughout Massachusetts, but they have found refuge in MSSF. Many common and rare moths are dependent on oaks and pines, and the MSSF harbors the state’s second largest aquifer, which contains an estimated 500 billion gallons of water.

So, to recap: They are a pristine, yet fragile resource. Their globally unique eco-region contains trees, swamps, and ponds that support rare plant and animal species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

To raise awareness of this heritage site, South Eastern Pine Barrens Alliance is once again hosting the very successful PINE FEST, a multi-cultural event offering outdoor activities, educational and interactive play. A day full of fun for all ages; ethnic food, music, and dancing. You can try your hand at archery, kayaking, or artisan crafts. If you are really brave you might try cooking over an open fire, navigating trails with your phone’s GPS, or learning how to raise worms. Where else can you blend appreciation for the environment, respect for native peoples, history, and archaeology?

SEMPBA Pine Fest (South Eastern Massachusetts Pine Barrens Alliance)
May 30, 2015 10:00am to 4pm
Charge Pond Campground Pavilion,Myles Standish State Forest
Cranberry Road, Carver MA 02330
http://www.PineBarrensAlliance.org

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