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Discussion: Oyster River Forest

in: ernst; ernst > 2020-01-27

Jan 27, 2020 7:21 PM # 
Adjacent to Spruce Hole, Google Maps has something labeled as Oyster River Forest. It reminds me of the joke about the guy applying for a job as a lumberjack. The foreman asked him if he had experience, and he said "Yes, I worked in the Sahara Forest". The foreman said, "You mean the Sahara Desert?", and the lumberjack replied, "That's what they call it now".
Jan 28, 2020 11:17 AM # 
Funny you noticed that! Yes, the town of Durham put the area into conservation, and gloriously named it "Oyster River Forest", improved the main trails etc. But then the conservation commission decided to create Cottontail rabbit habitat and clearcut most of Oyster River Forest (2 winters ago). That clearcut is now heavily infested with blackberries, so much so that they now need to apply "light pesticides" to keep the infestation under control. Yes it should be renamed Oyster River Fields. I liked the previous forest better.
Jan 28, 2020 12:10 PM # 
Ironically, the first page I found about cottontail habitat says:
The best habitat for cottontails combines grass, grassy openings, and low, dense brush that provides plenty of nesting sites and escape cover. [...] Thorny shrubs with a low, dense growth form, such as raspberry and blackberry, make the best cover
Jan 28, 2020 2:58 PM # 
Why would they apply pesticides to blackberries? They are hardly an infestation, a perfectly natural successional species, just the right stuff for their bunnies, and they will be shaded out and disappear within 5 or 6 years anyway. I don't know what "light pesticides" are, but pesticides generally refers to chemicals to control fauna, herbicides to chemicals used to control flora.

For people who like forests, the forest will come back, unless they mow it.
Jan 28, 2020 3:10 PM # 
That's what my brother does. His back yard is typically a tangle of blackberries, and he occasionally has it mowed to keep trees from growing up. One benefit is that one of his daughters has been earning money for years by picking berries that a local farm stand is delighted to buy from her. They also have a good supply of rabbits, which they constantly have to keep their dog from molesting.
Jan 28, 2020 3:59 PM # 
Actually I don't know if they applied pesticides because of the blackberries - could be another perhaps invasive species. I don't even know what the species is of the rampant saplings (briar, bramble, blackberry, raspberry ?) that seemed to have spread everywhere but are not forming thickets yet. I tried to ski across it and got my pants seriously scratched.
However, adjacent to the clearcut, on the old established former farm field, there is a fantastic blackberry patch about 30 by 30 meters big with mature plants 3m + high. For about 20 years I have been harvesting many quarts of BB (~ 4 quarts per hour). But now that the trails have been improved and are being advertised, I have serious competition.
Jan 28, 2020 10:18 PM # 
One of my annual chores as a kid was to trim out the old dead blackberry stalks late fall or early spring. They have a 2 year cycle - sprout up and grow year 1, then blossom and produce berries year 2. Then die off and dry out, with the prickers getting very hard. 2 thick sweat shirts, 3 pairs of pants and a helmet-like hat were required. Crawl in at ground level with clippers, cut them down and drag out a handful.
Jan 29, 2020 12:50 AM # 
Did you grow up on a berry farm?
Jan 29, 2020 1:57 PM # 
It felt like it at times, but no, more of an all-purpose, semi-rural place with vegetable and berry plots. Had been a working farm in the earlier days before my folks bought the place - chicken coop, bee hive area, ground water well with pump house, plus several other outbuildings.
Blackberry patch was under 100 sq meters, but a lot of blackberry jam was produced each year. Dad also had a dozen large high bush blueberry bushes - had a frame around it that we covered with screen to keep the birds away - also very prodigious producers.
Mom and Dad were children of the depression - so self-sufficiency was a big thing.

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