Forest Management

There are two major types of forest at the Preserve, the old-growth hemlock forest and the young, post-agricultural hardwood forests. Old-growth forests are unique elements of the ecosystem. These “virgin” forests have well-developed soils that take hundreds and thousands of years to fully develop. Such soils support unique fungal communities which in turn support rare wildflowers like orchids. We have lost nearly 90% of old-growth forest in the US since colonization making every remnant stand very special and worthy of the highest protection.

When you walk along the Preserve’s Blue Trail, you enter a young hardwood forest on our hemlock edge. It’s a pleasant woodland crisscrossed with colonial stonewalls and well-shaded with deciduous trees. What may not be apparent is that fact that it is a forest highly disturbed by human activity. These woodlands – similar to most forests in Westchester County – began growing back as farms were abandoned 70-100 years ago. They are dominated by maples, black locust, and cherry trees of even age. There is little ground cover and poor regeneration owing to heavy deer browse. Soils have often been tilled or have their nutrient cycles disturbed by centuries of livestock use or other agricultural activities. Earthworms (which are all non-native!) are in high abundance as are non-native flora such as barberry, stilt grass, and garlic mustard. Communities of fungi – many which are needed by trees such as oaks, hemlocks, and birch – have been damaged by human tilling and earthworms.

Mast trees such as oaks do not seem to do as well in these forests. Seed banks for many native wildflowers are largely depleted. Left on their own, these forests appear to be on a trajectory dominated by non-native species. Deer exclosures erected in these forests do not show the rapid recovery documented in old-growth forest.

Despite their impacted state, these young hardwood forests buffer our old-growth core from housing developments, roads, and other urban stressors. Left unmanaged, these buffer forests will continue to be a staging ground for non-native flora establishment and threaten the long-term health of our core forests. Through our research-based education programs, the Gorge is working to restore these forests and increase the diversity of the hardwood buffer through several management strategies.

Stewardship & Land Management News

Forested Riparian Corridor Restoration
The Mianus River and its tributaries form a riparian corridor that is vital for wildlife and whose health and function …
The Young Forest
The final component of the Save the Hemlocks initiative is to improve the health and buffering ability of the younger …
An Old-Growth Forest in our Midst
Perhaps you know that part of Mianus River Gorge’s mission is to “protect over 1,000 acres … including one of …
What We’re Working On This Summer
July 22, 2020 Needless to say, the summer of 2020 is unlike any other. Mianus River Gorge and the Preserve …
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Control Efforts
This past spring, we completed treatment of our eastern hemlocks to protect them from hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA).  The hemlock …
Grant from Westchester Community Foundation helps Restore & Enhance Meadow Biodiversity
The 935-acre Mianus River Gorge comprises an array of habitats, including meadows, flood-plain forest, wetlands, post-agricultural forest, and over 100 …
Spotted Lanternfly: a new, unwelcome invader!
By Jennifer J. LernerSenior Resource Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County Here in the Hudson Valley, we have weathered …
Should We Accept the New Norm?
Outdoor Observer by Rod Christie, Executive Director Driving around at this time of year one gets a chance to look …
Invasive Species Update
A major component of the Mianus River Gorge strategic management plan is invasive species control. The task of eradicating invasive …
Tree ID Pop Quiz
MRG’s Budd Veverka led an enjoyable and informative walk through Mianus River Gorge Preserve to help participants learn to identify …
Non-native flora
Non-native flora can also be called alien, invasive, or exotic, each having a slightly different meaning. In effect, non-native plants …
Old-Growth Forest Walk photos
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The Importance of Wetlands
The Importance of Wetlands Some people don’t think of wetlands in a positive way, if they think of wetlands at …
Westchester Community Foundation Awards Renewal Grant
Thanks to a generous renewal grant from Westchester Community Foundation, Mianus River Gorge will continue its work of Protecting Biodiversity …
Campaign to Save the Hemlocks
Only an hour north of New York City, the Mianus River Gorge Preserve’s rare old-growth hemlock forest is one of …
Deer Overpopulation
Too many deer is a common problem to many suburban areas of the northeast. And like most of our environmental …