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Wind Event at Byrd Lake

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Byrd Lake Natural Area is located in Jefferson County on the outskirts of Pine Bluff. This 144 acre natural area is representative of the boundary between the West Gulf Coastal Plain and the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. It consists of pine-mixed hardwood forests, floodplain, wetland, and a 16 acre oxbow lake—a remnant of the previous course of Bayou Bartholomew. On October 29-30, 2009, the natural area sustained heavy damage as a result of extreme high winds and a possible tornado that moved through the area. Windthrow trees—when trees are snapped in two or uprooted—significantly limited access to the paved interpretive trail, but the trail has since been cleared. The downed woody debris will be allowed to decompose and return nutrients to the soil. Some damage to the pavement still remains.

These wind events create gaps in the forest canopy and allow light to reach the forest floor. This gives young trees a chance to develop into dominant canopy trees. Gaps in the canopy also provide the opportunity for colonization and succession of species that aggressively utilize these types of disturbances. However, most of these species tend to be invasive. Please visit our Flickr album documenting the damage in full and see how drastically one wind event can change a landscape.

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