Hearts Content National Scenic Area
Hearts Content National Scenic Area is a tract of
old-growth forestin Warren County, northwestern Pennsylvania. It represents one of the few remaining old-growth forests in the northeastern United States that contain white pine.cite journal|last=Lutz |first=H. J.|month=January |year=1930 |title=The vegetation of Heart's Content, a virgin forest in northwestern Pennsylvania|journal=Ecology|volume=11|pages=1–29|url=http://www.jstor.org/view/00129658/di960041/96p0003z/0 |doi=10.2307/1930778 |format=dead link|date=June 2008 – [http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=author%3A+intitle%3AThe+vegetation+of+Heart%27s+Content%2C+a+virgin+forest+in+northwestern+Pennsylvania&as_publication=%5B%5BEcology+%28journal%29%7CEcology%5D%5D&as_ylo=1930&as_yhi=1930&btnG=Search Scholar search] ] The area is protected as a National Scenic Area within the Allegheny National Forest.cite web|title=Heart's Content Scenic Area|publisher= Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources|url=http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/oldgrowth/heartscontent.aspx]
While many of the region's forests were being
clear-cut, the Wheeler and Dusenbury Lumber Company held the convert|20|acre|ha|0|lk=on|sing=on tract of old-growth forest at Heart's Content from 1897 until 1922, when they deeded it to the United States Forest Service.cite web|title=Hearts Content Recreation Area|publisher= United States Forest Service|date= 2007-04-14|url=http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/allegheny/recreation/camping/heartscontent|accessdate=2008-01-15] In 1934, the Chief of the Forest Service recognized the old-growth stand and convert|102|acre|ha|0 of surrounding land as a National Scenic Area. The forest became a National Natural Landmarkin 1977.
H.J. Lutz's study of Hearts Content was one of the earliest quantitative analyses of plant communities in an old-growth forest, and it remains influential in the field of
ecology.cite journal|last=Whitney|first=G. G.|year=1984|title=Fifty years of change in the arboreal vegetation of Heart's Content, an old-growth hemlock-white pine-northern hardwood stand|journal=Ecology|volume=65|pages=403–408|doi=10.2307/1941403] Lutz concluded that the even-aged white pine stand established following a major disturbanceabout 350 years ago, such as a fire; since then, the species has not reproduced under the closed canopy. By relocating and resampling Lutz's original plots, Whitney documented 50 years of changes in the structure and composition of the stand. During this time, dense deer populations have reduced the regeneration of many tree and herb species. [cite journal|last=Rooney|first=T. P.|coauthors=Dress, W.J.|month=October|year=1997|title=Species loss over sixty-six years in the ground-layer vegetation of Heart's Content, an old-growth forest in Pennsylvania, USA|journal=Natural Areas Journal|volume=17|pages=297–305]
Hearts Content represents E. Lucy Braun's hemlock-white pine-northern hardwood forest type. [cite book|last=Braun|first=E. L.|authorlink=Emma Lucy Braun|year=1950|title=Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America|isbn=1-930665-30-X] The stand's dominant tree species include hemlock, beech and white pine. Many of the hemlocks and white pines have diameters of over convert|40|in|cm|0|lk=on and heights of over convert|140|ft|m|0|lk=on. Most of the white pine are between 300 and 400 years old. Beech bark scale affects many of the beech trees. Hay-scented fern covers much of the
understorydue to overbrowsing by deer.
Visitors can walk an easily accessible, convert|1|mi|km|1|lk=on|sing=on loop trail through the old-growth forest. A picnic area, campground and several other trailheads are nearby. A convert|6.4|mi|km|1|lk=on|sing=on cross-country ski
trailpasses through the area on old railroad grades. There are also numerous camps owned by private individuals in the area.
List of old growth forests
* [http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/oldgrowth/heartscontent.aspx Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources site]
* [http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/allegheny/recreation/camping/heartscontent United States Forest Service site]
* [http://www.getoutzine.com/node/360 Online magazine article of Heart's Content]
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