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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Harvard Forest Dioramas vividly depict the history of eastern forests from the Atlantic seaboard to the Mississippi River(New England is the example depicted below of what occurred from Maine to Florida)................Perhaps 1% of the lower 48 states are virgin woodlands, prairies, chaparral as defined as the land cover that existed at the time of European colonization, circa AD1500


1700 A.D.
In the pre-settlement forest, natural variation across sites and ongoing natural and human disturbance processes led to differences in age, density, size, and species of trees across a wide range of sites. Notice the large trees and large fallen trunks on the right in the diorama. Compare them with... Read More >
1740 A.D.
For most of the New England region, European settlement occurred largely during the 18th century. Through forest clearing, hunting, and trapping, the abundance of many species changed rapidly and the wilderness was gradually transformed into a domesticated rural landscape.  Read More >
1830 A.D.
The peak of deforestation and agricultural activity across most of New England occurred from 1830 to 1880. Across much of New England, 60 to 80 percent of the land was cleared for pasture, tillage, orchards and buildings. Small remaining areas of woodland were subjected to frequent cuttings for... Read More >
1850 A.D.
Beginning in the mid-1800s and continuing for more than a century, farming declined on a broad scale across New England. Abandoned pastures and fields rapidly developed into forests. In central Massachusetts and across much of central New England these forests were dominated by white pines.  Read More >
1910 A.D.
As the "old-field" stands of white pine reached middle age, it became evident that they contained a valuable and rapidly growing crop of second-growth timber. As this white pine became marketable portable sawmills appeared across central New England. One of the most common and valuable uses of... Read More >
1915 A.D.
Clear-cutting of the "old-field" white pines led to the succession of mixed hardwoods across much of the landscape. The inability of white pine to sprout after being cut, in contrast to the prolific sprouting of our hardwood species, facilitated this succession. Patterns of succession enhanced the... Read More >
1930 A.D.
One of the characteristic features of the hardwood forest that developed after the clear-cutting of the "old-field" white pines is the predominance of multi-stemmed sprout clumps. Fast-growing species that sprout prolifically -- red oak, red maple, white ash, birches, and black cherry -- are... Read More >
In the period since the dioramas were constructed, the trends in forest development illustrated in the 1930 model have continued. Remarkable expanses of maturing forest extend across a densely populated landscape in the northeastern United States.As these forests grow and mature and as dead and... Read More >
This small stand of old-growth forest on the shore of Harvard Pond survived the regional history of land-use and natural disturbance due to its sheltered position at the base of a rocky slope that was unsuited for agriculture.In their size, variety, and unmistakable antiquity, the overstory trees... Read More >
New England's wildlife habitats and food resources have changed dramatically as the landscape has been transformed through time from forest to open fields and woodlots and then back to forest.The shift in our landscape to older, more continuously developing forests may encourage native woodland... Read More >
In New England, as in many other locations, widespread land clearing and agriculture led to soil erosion.In the pre-settlement era, the thick forest cover prevented erosion by intercepting rain and binding the soil with a dense network of roots. Through evapotranspiration, the forests recycled... Read More >
The diorama shows a typical fire-fighting scene from the 1930s, in the era of active suppression of all fires.The fire tower is typical of those built by state and federal agencies throughout the northeastern Untied states in the early 1900s, motivated by a widespread concern over the detection and... Read More >

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