Things to see and do at this stop:
Here is an interesting place. You are standing just beyond the former outfield fence of an abandoned Little League ballpark in the area where one long-time neighbor says they used to sell the snow cones. Among the trees you may see sawed-off creosote posts that once supported the scoreboard. When most of the ballpark became parking lot for the church next door, this portion quickly reverted to weeds and brambles and began a classic example of plant succession.
The adventitious weeds and thorny brambles were soon invaded by pioneer forest species in the form of literally thousands of loblolly pine seedlings. By the time Houston Audubon inherited the property in 1975, the trees were broomstick slender, no more than eight feet tall, and impenetrably dense. Competition was intense. Pine trees cannot survive in shade. A healthy pine growing alone in a field will attain a full, handsome, "Christmas tree" shape. In competition, pines grow straight and tall as rapidly as possible, shading out not only their slower neighbors, but their own lower branches as well. Notice that there are no young pine seedlings in this area and that even now the less robust trees are dying or already dead.
By 1998, the surviving young, fifteen- to twenty-foot tall trees represented far fewer than 10% of the original seedlings. Yet, the pines stood alone, the ground beneath them smoothly carpeted in brown needles, a few young hardwood seedlings scattered beneath them. The area today would be almost the same, with far fewer, much larger pines totally dominant but the first great drought changed everything, bringing on a scourge of pine bark beetles. And, in 2011, the second drought brought another assault. With the premature thinning of the pines, the hardwoods quickly claimed their place in the sun. Today we have a mixed pine-hardwood forest. Since young pines cannot survive in the shade, this part of the forest may be totally hardwoods in the future.
With great hope looking to the future, our entire sanctuary is in recovery mode.
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