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Manual Pittsburgh and the Appalachians: Cultural and Natural Resources in a Postindustrial Age

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At the time some worried the forest would never recover. But with low deer populations, a new forest did grow quickly.

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It was a different forest than the previous one, because conditions were now different. Shade-tolerant, long-lived trees like hemlock and beech gave way to sun-loving, shorter-lived species like black cherry, which readily germinated on the bare sunny ground. Cherry , red maple, black birch, and sugar maple became common species in the understory. Between and , the young forest grew and evolved from openings to young forest to maturing forest. Each stage in forest development brought different benefits for people, wildlife and plants. By the s, the forest began to take on an appearance familiar today.

The older trees provide acorns , cherries, and beech nuts for bear and turkey. Birds find sites for nests in the leafy tree crowns, and plants such as trillium prefer the filtered light of the maturing forest. In the s, the Forest Service gradually resumed timber harvesting under strict research-based guidelines to ensure sustainability for future generations.

Abundant browse led to a dramatic increase in the deer population, which peaked in the s and again in the late s. Since the mids, the deer population has remained fairly constant, although at a level higher in many places than the forest can support. Today the trees are mature and able to provide quality hardwood for furniture and other needs.

Foresters deal with challenges like deer , insects , disease , drought and competing vegetation such as fern , through research and careful management.

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A small percentage of the Forest, in select sections, will be left in its natural condition undisturbed by logging on a permanent basis, gradually progressing toward the biologically diverse old-growth condition. When the Allegheny National Forest was established in , the immediate challenge was nurturing the young trees growing amongst logging slash on the recently-cleared hillsides. Because of such heavy logging and mining, wildfires, floods and erosion were a threat.

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With care and a general absence of overt human interference and manipulation, the forests grew. The Forest Service brought new concepts in forest management to the Allegheny Plateau, multiple benefits and sustainability. The Organic Act of introduced the National Forest mission: To improve the forest, provide favorable conditions for water flows, and furnish a continuous supply of timber to meet people's needs.

Watersheds are managed to ensure clear water for fisheries like trout and clean drinking water. Over time, various laws added other benefits like wilderness, heritage resources and grazing to the original idea of watershed protection and continuous timber.

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The Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of recognized outdoor recreation, wilderness preservation, and habitat for wildlife and fisheries. The motto "Land of Many Uses" captures the National Forest goal of a healthy, vigorous forest that provides wood products, watershed protection, a variety of wildlife habitats and recreational opportunities, not only for today, but in a sustainable way so future generations can enjoy these benefits, too.

During the s, recreation in the Allegheny National Forest focused mostly on dispersed activities like hunting and fishing.

In the s, the Civilian Conservation Corps changed the face of National Forests across the country by building hundreds of recreation facilities, including Twin Lakes and Loleta Recreation Areas on the Allegheny National Forest land. These and other facilities became popular after World War II when newly-mobile families discovered the joys of outdoor recreation. The creation of the Allegheny Reservoir when the Kinzua Dam was completed in brought the most dramatic change to developed recreation in the Forest. Within ten years, a tremendous development program resulted in campgrounds, boat launches, beaches, picnic areas, hiking trails and overlooks around the reservoir shoreline and elsewhere throughout the forest.

Over time, campground improvements such as electricity , hot showers, and baby-changing stations were added. Areas to view wildlife Buzzard Swamp, Little Drummer , trails for cross-country skiing and motorized recreation all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and fully accessible fishing piers, trails and restrooms were also added. The Forest Service carries out a variety of management and research activities, providing multiple benefits with a strong scientific basis.

It is necessary for management to strike a balance between multiple uses of the forest, as well as between the interests of different parties. Vegetation, wildlife, industry, and recreational usage must be considered. Those in the timber industry maintain that harvesting timber provides wood products that we all use and creates openings which allow sunlight to reach the forest floor to stimulate seedlings, berries and other plants that wildlife need. This in turn provides opportunities for berry pickers, birdwatchers and hunters.

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