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Spruce Flats Bog

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Source: PA Bureau of Forestry

Autumn Colors at the Spruce Flats Bog
Autumn Colors at the Spruce Flats Bog

Located within a short walk of Laurel Summit State Park is the Spruce Flats Wildlife Management Area. The dominant feature of the area is the 28-acre Spruce Flats Bog, which contains large cranberry, pitcher plant, sundew, cotton grass, and other plants more typical of plant communities farther north.

The origin of the bog is obscure. Past geologic activity which may or may not have included glaciation, left a depression on top of Laurel Ridge. This depression passed through natural succession from open water to marsh or swamp, to bog, to meadow and finally to forest. Early in the 20th century, lumbermen found a forest of virgin hemlock which they misnamed “spruce”, growing on the flats. They clear-cut the forest, and without realizing it caused the water table to rise. Evapotranspiration from the tree leaves had been the major method by which water was removed from the undrained basin. Devastating fires at about the same time burned away the upper layers of organic matter, which comprised the forest floor above the water table. These events set back the successional clock, probably to the late swamp or early bog stage. Once more Spruce Flats Bog is making its slow trek through time toward a mature forest.

All management activities in the area surrounding the bog are specifically directed toward improving wildlife habitat. Mammal track counts are made after January and February snowstorms. The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania conducts an annual bird survey in late spring. A few small clearings have been cut in the forest to provide additional food and cover. The wildlife census activities monitor the response of wildlife to these practices.

Laurel Summit State Park

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Westmoreland County, PA Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
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