Edge habitat

John Shuey jshuey at tnc.org
Mon Jun 28 10:54:56 EDT 1999

gochfeld at EOHSI.RUTGERS.EDU wrote:

...  It wasn't clear what was magical about 1938 as a target year for
restoration.  What about 1838?   ...

There is indeed something magical about the year 1938.  This is the first
year that air photos were taken systematically in many eastern US states.
Hence, when I want a clue about what an area in Indiana looked like before
massive clearing and/or fire suppression took place, we take a look at the
'38 air photos.

However, this works better in a Midwestern state than in the far eastern US,
simply because we have a shorter period of European occupation of the land -
hence in Indiana, we can see vast stretches of uncleared land and old growth
in these old photos.  The disturbance may have been more intense in Maine.

You still have to take these old photos with a grain of salt.  First, the
photos are pretty bad by today's standards - shadows are hard to tell from
standing water in many areas.  The landscape was manipulated at that time
(especially grazing in the midwest), fire suppression had started to grip
the prairie landscape,  and the dust bowl years had just ravaged the far
midwest.  But at least it provides a clue as to what was happening on the
land 60 years ago.

John Shuey
Director of Conservation Science
Indiana Office of The Nature Conservancy

phone:  317-923-7547
fax:  317-923-7582
email:  Jshuey at tnc.org

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