by Lorraine Cherry, Friends of West 11th Street Park
We lost hundreds of mature pine trees at West 11th Street Park in the drought of 2011. The following is excerpted from the November 2012 issue of the Timbergram:
“If you’ve been out to West 11th Street Park during the last couple of weeks, you will have seen that the removal of trees that died from last year’s drought has really accelerated…There is no question that the forest is going to look very different with the removal of the big pines…(But) with the pine trees gone, the huge number of young deciduous trees (oaks, elms, sweet gums, etc.) that have been struggling to grow underneath the pines will have greater access to light, water, and nutrients, and should begin to grow much faster. This second-growth forest will be more diverse, providing an increased number of homes and hiding places for the animals and birds of the forest, and making it better able to withstand future catastrophes.“
With the plentiful rains we have had in the ensuing 4 years, this prediction has been fulfilled, and then some. The second-growth trees are thriving, and we now have large numbers of ash, elm, sweet gum, hackberry, several types of oaks, etc. The trees are thick and lush, and over twice as tall as they were in 2012. In the understory, there are lots of the berry-producing shrubs that birds love this time of year (yaupon holly, American beautyberry, Carolina snailseed, among others). Here are some pictures showing how the park looked in October 2012 compared with how it looks today.
To all of the people who contacted me around the time of the drought to announce that the park was dead, I can only say, in the words of Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, that Life finds a way.