Snyder-Middleswarth Natural Area   Darian Copiz
  Jun 18, 2006 15:26 PDT 

I visited Snyder-Middleswarth Natural Area this past Friday. To curb any interest that may be piqued, I measured only two or three trees. However, I figure additional observations (particularly adelgid) of the area could be useful. The tallest hemlock I measured (quick measurment) was 132' which is well short of the tallest measured in the area. I entered from Tall Timbers Natural Area by crossing over an adjacent ridgeline. Although the Bald Eagle State Forest map shows trails, it may only mean there is something vaguely reminiscent of a trail. Once in the Swift Run stream valley it meant bush-wacking along the creek. I was impressed by some large gray birch and rhododendrons in the Tall Timbers area, but not by much else. I would estimate some of the gray birch to be about 10" dbh and 50' high - the largest I have seen. The rest of the canopy in Tall Timbers seemed relatively low, but I did not explore extensively. The hemlocks in Snyder-Middleswarth are dominant, with many very nice ones. There were also quite a few very large ones that had fallen in the somewhat recent past. A portion toward the upper end, which is probably one of the nicer portions was flagged, which I expect was for some type of adelgid treatment. The condition of the hemlocks got worse further down Swift Run with more adelgid and more dead trees, but overall I would say there are far more live trees than dead trees with most of the trees in the vicinity looking healthy enough. The area is definitely still worth seeing.

The following day I visited Moshannon State Forest. In visiting both Bald Eagle and Moshannon State Forests as well as some other nearby forests I was somewhat disappointed. Almost everything I saw appeared to be intensively logged with few trees that looked over 30 years old. Is this part of Pennsylvania logged more aggresively than elsewhere? Maybe I'm not too used to hard-"working" forest, but most of the forest looked kind of crappy.

Composition and tree-size distributions of the Snyder-Middleswarth old-growth forest, Snyder County, Pennsylvania. Castanea, Mar 2003 by Zawadzkas, Peter P, Abrahamson, Warren G