Leave Mother Nature alone

By Christopher Harper

I don’t claim to be a climate expert, but a recent trip to what’s known as the Pennsylvania Wilds demonstrates how Mother Nature does a pretty good job of taking care of herself.

In the rolling hills and valleys of north-central Pennsylvania sits Pine Creek Gorge, known as The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. See https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/LeonardHarrisonStatePark/Pages/default.aspx

A friend who has traveled throughout the world said as she looked over the landscape: “That’s a wow!”

Indeed, it is.

According to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, an estimated 90 percent, or 31,000 square miles of the state, was covered with forests before William Penn and his fellow Quakers settled the state. By the American Revolution, lumber became one of the leading industries in Pennsylvania. Trees were used to furnish fuel to heat homes, wood for construction, furniture, and barrel making. Rifle stocks and shingles were made from Pennsylvania timber, as were a wide variety of household utensils and the first Conestoga wagons.

By the mid-19th century, up to 20 million board feet of timber floated from the area to the West Branch Susquehanna River and to sawmills near Williamsport, a few miles from my new home. At the time, Williamsport boasted the highest number of millionaires per capita in the country.

But the timber barons cut down too much lumber and did not replenish what they had harvested. On May 6, 1903, a local newspaper ran the headline “Wild Lands Aflame” and reported landslides throughout the gorge. The soil was depleted of nutrients, and it became known as the “Pennsylvania Desert.” Much of the wildlife died or left the area.

Fast forward to today. Left to its own devices, Mother Nature has replenished the forests, renewed the land, and wildlife has returned.

The area is part of a state forest, but nature, not humans, did the bulk of the work.

As I said, I’m not an expert. But could you examine if you had all of today’s climate doomsayers trying to intervene in reviving the forestland? I’d rather leave the work to Mother Nature and God!

4 thoughts on “Leave Mother Nature alone

  1. Actually there are people out there who know how to help and protect.
    Good land owners and those who see the true miracles before us every day.
    Let nature do its thing, and it will.

  2. It’s almost scary how quickly nature can reclaim land. My wife and I like to explore ghost towns in this part of the country. We recently visited Metropolis, Nevada. A hundred years ago it was a community with hundreds of settlers, farmers, and ranchers before a series of setbacks destroyed its viability. When we visited, all we found were the crumbling remains of the town’s school and hotel. Other than that, it was unbroken sagebrush prairie. Humbling.

  3. It’s more complex, Chris. Humans have been a part of the ecology of the area for millennia, Certainly, decisions by human society in the last hundred years have had ecological impacts, largely positive compared to most of white settlement. The current forest, however, does not resemble the structure of the old growth forests that were cut down. Maybe in millennia that old forest will re-emerge. But, yeah, nature finds a way, but human societies seem to be less resilient.

    I found this article very interesting:

    https://bioone.org/journals/natural-areas-journal/volume-35/issue-2/043.035.0202/Fire-History-Reflects-Human-History-in-the-Pine-Creek-Gorge/10.3375/043.035.0202.full

    A good book on how human cultures affect the ecology in areas further northeast from you (in New England) was written by William Cronin. “Changes in the Land”

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