Loop 1: Station 6
The large water oak and sweetgum trees here once graced the shoreline of Lake Conestee. We know from aerial images that these were relatively large trees in the 1950s, so they are at least 80 years old. These old trees have witnessed dramatic changes in the lake and on the surrounding landscape.
Natural changes in vegetative cover on the landscape over time are termed succession. This process describes the transition from open land to emergent species to a mature climax forest.
Behind you, up the hill, old agricultural fields are rapidly transitioning into sweetgum and pine thickets. If left alone, they will eventually become upland hardwood forests.
In the area of the former lake, deposits of sediment have accreted over decades, resulting in new land. These new bottomlands are quickly colonized by wetland plants, succeeded by emerging floodplain forests of green ash, box elder, and red maple.
What happened to all the farmland?
Settlers had to remove timber and stumps in order to create fields for farming. Left back to nature, over a few decades, the fields of the Piedmont succeed through a cycle of broomsedge, then a dense regrowth of woody species, then to maturing hardwood forests. Most of the farmland at LCNP, abandoned since the 1960s, has made that transition back to forested conditions.
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