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Lowland Forest

The lowland forest in the northern “panhandle” of the EcoLab is part of the Crooked Creek flood plain . The lowlands are an area to the north of the EcoLab that shares a boundary with Cold Springs Academy and is south of Interstate 65. There is also a housing edition that is to the west of the lowlands.

The silt loam soil of the lowland forest is within the Genessee Series, which is deep and well drained ). The soil of the lowland forest is low in organic matter, has a high moisture capacity with moderate permeability, has slow to very slow runoff, and is subject to occasional flooding. On the northwestern corner of the property, the lowlands slope upward. This area contains Miami silt loan soil, which is deep and well drained. The soil of this area is low in organic matter, has a high moisture capacity with moderate permeability, and a slow to rapid runoff. The pH range of the soils in the lowland area is anywhere from 6.8 to 8.6. When the samples were collected, there were two main types collected: sandy loam and loamy sand. These two soil types are soils that don’t stick together or allow water to flow through quickly. This keeps water sitting on the surface and often causes flooding when there has been too much rain.

The lowland forest has a few areas that flood during wet periods. Because the area is located so close to the wetlands and Crooked Creek, there is a high potential for flooding when the conditions are right. There are areas of moisture and some standing water through the lowlands. The lowlands are a little drier in the northwest because of the small bluff located there.

Historically the lowlands would have been a beech-maple forest similar to what was described above for the bluff. Today the lowland is early successional “scrub” woodlands with the dominant trees of this area including Green Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica), Boxelder (Acer negundo), White Mulberry (Morus alba), Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), and Cottonwood (Populus deltoides). Also populating the area are Clustered Sanicle (Sanicula gregaria), Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana var candensis), Side-Flowering Aster (Aster lateriflorus), and White Avens (Geum canadense).

The lowland forest was not in the original planting plan for Jensen. The area where the lowland forest is was acquired after the main portion of the EcoLab was purchased in 1936. Most of the lowlands were agricultural fields until the 1960s.

The restoration efforts that have been done in the lowlands has included the planted of several hundred Oak, Spicebush, Hawthorn, Elderberry, and Dogwood. Honeysuckle was the dominant shrub until 2001 when the major effort began to remove this species and other exotics. Now, garlic mustard has become a perennial problem. Native perennial Rye was planted throughout the area along with other forbs such as Columbine, fire pink, and Celandine Poppy.

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