Varden Conservation Area Vegetation Inventory
A vegetation inventory of the Varden Conservation Area has revealed 338 species of vascular plants of which 17.5% (59 species) are not native to Pennsylvania. Small populations of two species of concern were discovered: Wild red currant (Ribes triste -PE) and ginseng (Panax quinquefolius - PV). The predominant natural plant community is hemlock (white pine) - northern hardwood forest at 141 acres. Conifer plantations occupy 50 acres. Wetland communities occur along Middle Creek and in swales and depressions in more upland areas. Palustrine forest types include red maple - blackgum palustrine forest and hemlock - mixed hardwood palustrine forest. Shrub dominated wetlands fall into the category of highbush blueberry - spiraea palustrine shrublands. Hayfields occupy 49 acres. Over browsing by deer is evident in forested areas throughout in the form of sparse shrub layers, herbaceous layers dominated by hay-scented fern, and sparse representation of many forest wildflower species. Recommendations include increased efforts to reduce deer density and adoption of hayfield management practices to encourage grassland birds. Targeted invasive species control and avoidance of any further fragmentation of forested areas, which are already bisected by utility rights-of-way, is also recommended. In addition, opportunities should be sought to expand the conservation area by acquiring adjacent forest and wetland areas .