When campers return to their favorite campsites this year, they may be greeted with a different scene than they remember.
That favorite tree that used to shade your campsite and provide a relaxing location to sit and read a book? Now gone, replaced by a stump with small plants growing around the base.
The loss of trees from storm damage, fire or other catastrophes provides an opportunity for a remarkable ecological process to ensue – forest succession.
With change comes opportunity…
Change can be difficult for some, but while it may be disappointing to see how the forces of nature have changed a campsite or a trail, we must also remember that with change also brings new growth and opportunity.
The loss of pioneer species in a forest ecosystem creates openings in the canopy and provides an opportunity for shade-tolerant tree and plant species to replace them.
The ecosystem will become a more complex community of tree, plant and even animal species until — eventually — it stabilizes itself.
A 2016 example of forest succession
The ice storm that hit Earl Rowe Provincial Park earlier this year caused extensive damage to trees in all areas of the park. As a result, many standing and fallen trees have been removed from these areas of the park as a preventative measure and to ensure public safety.
The park looks significantly different this year than in previous years, and park staff continue to work tirelessly to clean up and repair the damage caused by the storm.
And despite the damage, the park remains open to visitors and campsites are available this season
So when you visit Earl Rowe this year and notice that your favorite tree is no longer at your campsite or a vista along a trail has seen significant changes, please remember that the damage caused by the ice storm has created an opportunity for the park to regenerate and repair itself once again.