Stop 17 - Ballpark Pine Grove
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Dead tree with two trunks
Remains of twin white ash at Boardwalk A.

Yaupon across the trail
Yaupon across the trail at the entry to the stop 17 pine grove.

Ballpark area
Ballpark area on the right side of the trail. You can see the scoreboard posts in the distance on the right.

Scoreboard posts
Remains of the scoreboard posts close-up.

Ballpark pine grove
Ballpark pine grove.

Tall trees
Tall trees.

Straight tall pine tree
Straight tall pine tree.

Old creek project road
Old creek project road on the right of the trail back to the fence. This is further on from stop 17. This is part of the stop 9 restoration of the Flood Control truck and machinery entry road.

Small magnolia tree
Small magnolia tree on the left of the trail. This was planted as part of the reforestation project that extends to stop 9.

McCarver-Creekside trail marker
The McCarver-Creekside trail marker is where the McCarver Trail we have been on joins back with the main trail.

Stop 17 vicinity

Stop 17 vicinity and directions to the next stop.

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Things to see and do at this stop:

  • Walk 5 paces beyond the end of Boardwalk A.
  • The old abandoned ballpark is on the right side.
  • You can see three short posts 15 yards from the boardwalk which supported the ballpark scoreboard.
  • There are mixed hardwoods and pine trees in this area.

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.

Directions to the next stop:

  • There is a bench rest stop 40 paces forward.
  • You can see the church parking lot 20 yards off the right side of the trail.
  • Titmouse Crossing branches off to the left after 20 paces.
  • Keep walking on McCarver Trail another 15 paces to see a magnolia tree on the left.
  • After another 15 paces, the McCarver Trail joins with the Creekside Trail. You were here at this spot on the way out.
  • Walk 20 paces to Bridge 2.
  • After crossing Bridge 2 it is 80 paces to bridge 1.
  • The trail forks to the right to the church gate after 15 paces.
  • Bear left and walk 50 paces to the Rummel Creek Bridge.
  • After crossing the bridge, walk 20 paces and bear left.
  • The next stop is where the two boardwalks join at the northeast corner of the large pond.

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