Research Works (Botany)

Document Type

Technical Report

Date of this Version

2013

Comments

Submitted to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of State Parks, Harrisburg, PA

Preparation of this report was funded by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy through a grant from DCNR Bureau of State Parks.

Abstract

The 1539-acre Bald Mountain Section was added to Lehigh Gorge State Park in 2011. It is a forested ridge which buffers the scenic Lehigh River Gorge and affords spectacular views. The tract also includes a pond and associated wetland community created by a dam on Indian Run, a tributary of the Lehigh.

Dry oak - heath forest covers the ridge with the exception of the lower slope on the northeast end which supports a hemlock - white pine forest. Over browsing by deer has eliminated the shrub layer and/or created a distinct browse line in much of the site. Wildflower diversity has also been affected.

Non-native, invasive species are limited to the vicinity of the former farmstead at the entrance from Lehigh Gorge Drive. A small colony of common reed (Phragmites australis) which has become established in the wetland above the pond should be targeted for removal.

Existing woods roads provide good access for hiking including several vistas of the Lehigh Gorge. We recommend a continuation of low intensity use with vehicle access restricted to hunters during deer season. Other than exploring a possible link to the Penn Haven Planes, we do not recommend creation of new trails.

A decision to remove the dam on Indian Run should be based on safety concerns. In terms of impact on the vegetation, the wetland plant communities would decline and the adjacent hemlock – white pine forest type would expand down slope. The exposed pond bed would likely be colonized by invasive species such as common reed (Phragmites australis) and reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea).

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Date Posted: 19 September 2018