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Fall Creek Falls Honored For Mature Forests

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Fall Creek Falls Honored For Mature Forests

The Fall Creek Falls natural area has been inducted into the Old-Growth Forest Network for its publicly accessible mature forests.

The organization designates and protects forest over 80 years old throughout the United States. Park Manager Stuart Carroll said the national park service protected the area in 1935 allowing the forest to grow undisturbed.

“By setting it aside so early on, a lot of the timbering that might have occurred later on did not happen,” Carroll said. “Now, the old-growth forest, the old-growth stands of trees you will find at Fall Creek, they are not everywhere. They are up in the heads of the canyons.”

Carroll said the rough terrain to these trees has also protected the area from early loggers. Experienced hikers can admire the old hemlocks, ash trees and yellow birches by taking the trail to the base of the waterfall.

“It is considered a strenuous trail it is not that tough. It is just a low of steps and about 300 foot elevation drop as you go to the base of Fall Creek Falls,” Carrol said. “As you get down to the bottom of the little gulf or canyon, you will start running into really big eastern hemlock trees. If you go on down the creek, you will run into basswood buckeye and yellow birch.”

Dr. Sarah Horsley, network manager of the Old-Growth Forest Network, presented a plaque Friday to celebrate the dedication of the forest. Attendees hiked the the trail to see features of the forest.

“It is a nice designation showing that we do have these stands of old growth timber around Tennessee,” Carroll said. “(…) Tennessee’s forest are a lot more complex than we originally realized. One of the oldest trees you can find at Fall Creek Falls is not one of the biggest trees by any means. If you go to the Cane Creek overlook at the nature center and look back to the right of the bluffs, you will see a small little ever green two to four feet tall called Northern White Cedar.”

Carroll said the trees are up to 400 years old and are relic population of trees dating back to the ice age.

The Old-Growth Forest Network works to identify forests for the network, ensure protection from logging and inform people of the forest locations. Founded in 2012, the network includes over 100 forests in 23 states.



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