The purpose of this investigation was to collect information that allowed the formulation of a hypothesis as to the land-use history of the Hedgehog Mountain preserve, and to correlate empirical observations with a limited literature review in an attempt to validate the hypothesis presented.
The author hypothesizes that this land was used primarily for grazing livestock and timber extraction until the homestead was abandoned, after which timber harvesting may have continued for a number of decades. Except for motorized recreational vehicle use the land is presumed to have been free of major human disturbance for the past fifty years or more.
[...] Additional background on the site was provided by the town of Freeport's Hedgehog Mountain Management Plan, by Google Earth and Google Maps, and by a review of USGS maps at maptech.com. RESULTS: Plant Communities: The forest on the edge of the ravine was mature red oak (Quercus rubra), with emergent eastern white pines and an understory of red maple (Acer rubrum), moose maple and birches. Groundcover included honey mushrooms, partridge berry, checkerberry, goldenrod and sarsaparilla. Once we reached the floor of the ravine we were in a forest of mature hemlocks majestic trees with little but mosses, ferns and a few young beeches in the shady, moist, acid soils under the dense canopy. [...]
[...] Some time since then logging operations on the site appear to have ceased, as there are many mature beech trees at the homestead site, as well as mature oak and hemlock trees at other parts of the property. The presence of apparent blowdowns is a confounding factor, especially since the direction of fall that I recorded, NE, is not consistent with any of the wind-damage patterns described in Wessels. If the trucks have fallen towards the NE, then the best match in Wessels is that they were felled by a summer thunderstorm. [...]
[...] Although these uses do not appear to have occurred on the exact plot of land now conserved by the town of Freeport, it is not inconceivable that they have influenced the ecology of Hedgehog Mountain by creating significant alteration the habitat of adjacent and contiguous parcels. DISCUSSION: The construction style of the homestead foundations, as well as my knowledge of land-use patterns in Maine leads me to guess that the homestead is quite early, perhaps as early as the late 18th century. [...]
[...] Near the barn one is able to observe a very large ash tree, a bittersweet vine, yellow milkcap mushrooms, signs of past logging (persistent, rot- resistant stumps without bark), and an old stone-lined dug well. Behind the barn is an area bounded by stone walls and natural stone ourcroppings that form what must have been a truly beautiful barnyard in decades past. Near the foundation of the farmhouse we find dolls eyes, basswood, leatherwood, a well established colony of lily plants, some honey mushrooms and more highly weathered but very solid cut stumps and downed trees that appear to be of the same species as the stumps. [...]
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