Endangered Species Handbook

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North America’s Forests

     The history of the destruction of all but 5 percent of the 850 million acres of old-growth forests in North America has been recounted in Chapter One.  Second-growth forests now dominate the East, forests far different in species composition from the original virgin forests.  The great chestnuts, elms and beeches are gone, and woodlands are now young, mixed pine and hardwood.  Moreover, these forests are fragmented by roads and development.  Only a few roadless areas remain.  A few remnants of old-growth forests have been located in the East, primarily on steep slopes and areas that loggers found difficult to reach.  In southern Maine, for example, a biologist recently located a stand of Black Gum trees, some 9 feet in circumference.  One stump had 450 rings, and another, larger one was still thriving.  It was estimated to be more than 500 years old, dating back to the time of Columbus. Unfortunately, this area is in the path of development (BG 2000).  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a large block of forest totaling 500,000 acres in the southern Appalachians of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.  This national park harbors some virgin old-growth and a wealth of rare native trees, plants and wildlife, including a great diversity of salamanders that inhabit its damp, mossy forest floors and fast-flowing streams.  It sits atop a mountain range that is a meeting place of northern and southern species, an important area to the endangered Appalachian forest ecosystems and a primary migratory stopover and nesting area for threatened wood warblers and songbirds.  This area recently has been designated an International Biosphere Preserve, and its diversity is being inventoried by a team of biologists and other earth scientists. 

Page 1 (Birds)
Page 2 (Disappearance and Discoveries)
Page 3 (Red-cockaded Woodpecker)
Page 4 (Specific Trees)
Page 5 (Animal Mortality)
Page 6 (Illegal logging)
Page 7 (Lack of Protected Reserves)
Page 8 (John Muir)
Page 9 (Old-growth)
Page 10 (Northern Spotted Owl)
Page 11 (Marbled Murrelet)
Page 12 (Discoveries)
Page 13 (Charles Hurwit and Julia "Butterfly" Hill)
Page 14 (Alaska)
Page 15 (Future of Forests)
Page 16 (Canada)
Page 17 (Canada Bears)
Page 18 (Canada’s Loss)

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