Getting into the Pygmy Pines near Warren Grove Range

Bog Mermaid

New Member
Nov 8, 2021
10
14
Folsom
Hi Everyone, as weather improves I hope this finds everyone getting outside more and exploring the pines. Been doing some deeper explorations of our pine plains, or Pygmie Pines. Specifically in the area southeast of Warren Grove Bombing Range. Came across some interesting sites today, no doubt influenced by the hands of humans. I'll include some images here. After a few hours of research I haven't come up with any conclusions regarding multiple sites that appear to be heavily mulched with quantities of broken pieces of dry, dead wood. The areas I saw today, show up around 2010 according Historic Aerials. Going back to the 70's the area was completely forested but later was cleared and shows a sandy area. I'm guessing this was an effort by a researcher with an organization or university, perhaps in partnership with the DoD to restore vegetation to the area, add biomass to retain moisture and prevent erosion. Maybe some effort at induced succession? As years progress to the present, there is re-forestation around the perimeter of the areas , adding to the mystique. I'd love to discuss more with anyone that knows what is going on there.

Next observation, a large pile of oyster shells. If I needed to load a charge into an iron furnace I'd probably have enough for one batch. Consulted with Woodjin, he guessed someone may have harvested oysters and they went bad....and decided to dump them there. Or perhaps they had an oyster bake right there in the pine plains. Wouldn't be a bad spot for a picnic. The romantic side of me would like to believe it's an ancient shell pile left by the Lenape. But, that's probably not the case.
Of course, also saw my share of curious mounds that get the imagination going!

Mother Nature's handiwork was not to be outshined, the bearberry was first, showing off a bounty of tiny pink bells. Next the pyxie appeared, scattered like confetti between clumps of broom crowberry. Golden heather is greening up....it wont be too much longer before the prolific, cheery tiny yellow flowers show themselves. Heaths are flowering and pitch pines are releasing pollen, here come the oaks as well, just getting started.

Being out there today gave me so much joy. So fortunate that these places are so close to home.
 

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bobpbx

Piney
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Oct 25, 2002
12,594
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Pines; Bamber area
I have a feeling (just a feeling mind you), that dead wood may have something to do with regeneration of Broom Crowberry sites. I do have a person that may know. By the way, does your real first name begin with an "M"? Your profile photo is a bit dark.
 
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Apr 6, 2004
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Maybe this explains the oyster shells? Do fox frequent the plains?
 

Bog Mermaid

New Member
Nov 8, 2021
10
14
Folsom
I have a feeling (just a feeling mind you), that dead wood may have something to do with regeneration of Broom Crowberry sites. I do have a person that may know. By the way, does your real first name begin with an "M"? Your profile photo is a bit dark

Maybe this explains the oyster shells? Do fox frequent the plains?

Maybe this explains the oyster shells? Do fox frequent the plains?
I have not observed any fox in the plains but I'm sure they are out there, can't think of a reason that they wouldn't be. That explaination would make the most sense to me. Thanks for the link on the shell middens, very interesting!I've seen the one at Tuckerton.

The dead wood could very well be a restoration project. Found some information published by the U.S. Dept. of Defense regarding Environmental Awards and Conserving Biodiversity. I'll update with any definitive answers.
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,594
2,858
Pines; Bamber area
I got an answer. It's decaying remains of a slash pile where researchers placed cut pine plains brush that was removed from Broom Crowberry sites to open it up to the sun, and so the slash was placed like that to hopefully enhance pine snake habitat. It was done about a dozen years ago.
 
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Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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I believe they did that along the county line near the Boy Scout property as well.
 

Bog Mermaid

New Member
Nov 8, 2021
10
14
Folsom
I got an answer. It's decaying remains of a slash pile where researchers placed cut pine plains brush that was removed from Broom Crowberry sites to open it up to the sun, and so the slash was placed like that to hopefully enhance pine snake habitat. It was done about a dozen years ago.
Thanks for finding an answer! I wonder if it has successfully enhanced the habitat for pine snakes? It's interesting how the pitch pines are now growing in a border around the areas. Much appreciated!
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,594
2,858
Pines; Bamber area
I wonder if it has successfully enhanced the habitat for pine snakes?
I'm only mildly interested in snakes, but from what I see, my uneducated guess is that all in all, they should have just burned the slash. I can't see a pine snake liking that at all. They like burrowing under the base of those pygmy pines, or even in the open.
 
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Teegate

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I'm only mildly interested in snakes, but from what I see, my uneducated guess is that all in all, they should have just burned the slash. I can't see a pine snake liking that at all. They like burrowing under the base of those pygmy pines, or even in the open.
It may attract mice which attracts the snakes.
 

SpineyPiney

Scout
Jan 15, 2013
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The romantic side of me would like to believe it's an ancient shell pile left by the Lenape. But, that's probably not the case.
You never know, anything is possible!
 
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Bog Mermaid

New Member
Nov 8, 2021
10
14
Folsom
I'm only mildly interested in snakes, but from what I see, my uneducated guess is that all in all, they should have just burned the slash. I can't see a pine snake liking that at all. They like burrowing under the base of those pygmy pines, or even in the open.
Didn't find any pine snakes, or signs of them when I returned to guide a group. I agree the habitat may encourage prey animals. Was happy to have an answer to the questions that were asked regarding the slash. Had to laugh when shortly into the exploration and sharing an explaination for the piles of bark and wood..... I was asked to identify a random tree growing in the middle and another of the same on the edge of it. Could only guess because it wasn't the usual species. Can probably tell now if I go back to it since its going to be leafed out. Thanks again for the help, it made for an enjoyable trek in the Eastern Pine Plains. This community is a valuble resource for me and I enjoy reading the posts.
 
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bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,594
2,858
Pines; Bamber area
Didn't find any pine snakes, or signs of them when I returned to guide a group. I agree the habitat may encourage prey animals. Was happy to have an answer to the questions that were asked regarding the slash. Had to laugh when shortly into the exploration and sharing an explaination for the piles of bark and wood..... I was asked to identify a random tree growing in the middle and another of the same on the edge of it. Could only guess because it wasn't the usual species. Can probably tell now if I go back to it since its going to be leafed out. Thanks again for the help, it made for an enjoyable trek in the Eastern Pine Plains. This community is a valuble resource for me and I enjoy reading the posts.
If you mean the big one with smooth bark in your photo 5327, that would baffle me too. What is that doing out there? In the plains you have mostly scrub oak and sassafrass. It kind of looks like a red maple. I would have looked for the shape of dead leaves beneath it.
 
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