11 Interesting Facts About the Duke Forest

Capture from Duke-hosted 2014 page: dukeforest.spotlight.duke.edu

11 Interesting Facts About the Duke Forest Since 1931, the Duke Forest has been managed as a living laboratory and outdoor classroom. 1 DID YOU KNOW? The Duke Forest is comprised of 7,052 acres spread across three counties, Durham, Orange and Alamance. Much of the land that is now the Duke Forest was purchased by the university in the 1920s to support the transformation of Trinity College into Duke University. By 1931, lands that were not needed for campus expansion were placed under management by Dr. Clarence Korstian, the forest’s first director. A variety of geologic conditions, soil types, topography, and past land use conditions help shape the diversity of plants, animals and natural communities found in the forest today. In terms of size, accessibility, diversity and accumulated long-term data, the Duke Forest is an invaluable resource for studies related to the environment. 2 DID YOU KNOW? The Civilian Conservation Corps built many of the roads in the Duke Forest. In the 1930s, under the direction of then forest superintendent Manly Blackmon and director Clarence Korstian, men from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) designed and built many of the graveled roads in the Duke Forest. They also installed culverts that still exist today. The CCC was a work relief program implemented in response to the Great Depression to employ young, unmarried men and promote environmental conservation, as part of the New Deal. 3 DID YOU KNOW? An old gold mine prospect is located in the Korstian Division of the Duke Forest. 4 DID YOU KNOW? Three historic water-powered mill sites are found in the Duke Forest. Mill culture played an important role in the life of early European settlers. Before there was steam power, water-powered mills along New Hope Creek and the Eno River provided families with a way to process grains for household consumption and to sell at the market. Often, mill sites became a center of activity as roads were developed to deliver goods and shops were established to sell the wares. Patterson Mill, Robson Mill and the Hartford Mill Complex served this important purpose within the Duke Forest. 5 DID YOU KNOW? FACE is the largest and most highly funded research project that has taken place in the Duke Forest. The Forest-Atmosphere Carbon Transfer and Storage (FACTS-1) facility was located in the Blackwood Division of the Duke Forest and was created to understand the effects of elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) on forest growth. Over 260 researchers worldwide participated in the project, and major findings showed that in the free-air CO2 enriched (FACE) plots, loblolly pine trees grew faster than those in control plots, but that accelerated growth was eventually limited by nutrient levels. It was also found that poison ivy vines grew 149 percent faster and contained more of the irritant, urushiol, than those in the control! The site was decommissioned in 2010. 6 DID YOU KNOW? Bald and Blackwood Mountains are the highest peaks in the Duke Forest. 7 DID YOU KNOW? The quarry for “Duke Stone” is located in the Duke Forest. James B. Duke and Duke University’s first President, William Preston Few, looked far and wide for the perfect stone to construct the Gothic buildings that would become the archetype of Duke University. After exploring expensive prospects from the North, they came across samples of volcanic stone from an abandoned quarry in Hillsborough, NC. Thrilled with the mosaic of hues found in the rock, James B. Duke purchased the entire quarry, which now occupies a 5-acre section of the Hillsboro Division. At least 400 million years old, the stone was formed by volcanic debris changed considerably by heat and pressure and stained by weathering. 8 DID YOU KNOW? President Richard Milhous Nixon lived in a house in the Duke Forest. Among Duke University’s famous alumni, a standout is certainly Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States. Nixon graduated from Duke Law School in 1937 and during his time here resided in a house off of Erwin Road, near the current Duke North Hospital. This area was part of the Duke Forest in the 1930s. 9 DID YOU KNOW? Duke Forest is home to the Hogan Plantation, an important archaeological site for 19th century plantation life. The original Hogan Plantation was settled by John Hogan, former Colonel of the Minute Men of Orange County in 1790, on 1,938 acres of land. One parcel, the Alexander Hogan Plantation Site, sits within the Duke Forest. Inhabited between 1838 and 1890, the Alexander Hogan Plantation consists of four stone outbuilding foundations, a chimney fall and a cemetery, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 10 DID YOU KNOW? Research in the Duke Forest has resulted in new discoveries across a wide range of topics. Every year, the Duke Forest is host to over 60 research projects. The longest running project began in 1933 when Drs. Clarence Korstian and Theodore Coile established 87 permanent vegetation plots. Four decades later, Drs. Norm Christensen and Bob Peet rediscovered their work and added 230 additional plots. Findings from scientists using these plots and other locations in the Duke Forest such as mycologist Dr. Rytas Vilgalys and biogeochemist Dr. Emily Bernhardt continue to shape our understanding of the forest ecosystem and its response to environmental changes. 11 DID YOU KNOW? The Duke Forest is home to 12 natural heritage sites on 1,200 acres. In 2004, 12 sites in the Duke Forest were added in the North Carolina Registry of Natural Heritage Areas. This voluntary registration indicates Duke University’s intention to maintain the natural processes, natural communities, and rare species that occur in these areas. These sites are often a snapshot of what the Piedmont looked like before agricultural conversion and more recently, permanent development. They provide habitats for plants and animals that can no longer survive in other areas, and they are excluded from active timber management. Each site is monitored every three years by Duke Forest staff. To learn more about these and other Duke Forest fun facts, check out the book, "The Duke Forest at 75: A Resource for All Seasons". The Duke Forest. Copyright © 2014
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