Characterization of the Vegetation and Soil of the Forest Communities at Camp Brookside in Summers County, West Virginia
Mitchem, David O.
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Camp Brookside, a seasonal island, is located on the floodplain of the New River in Summers County, West Virginia. This island hosts several rare plant species and a rare plant community known as a riverside flat rock plant community (FRPC). The FRPC is characterized by flat resistant sandstone shelves above water that are generally associated with rapids. Flooding has historically maintained the FRPC by scouring any soil off of the bedrock and leaving sand deposits in cracks or depressions. However, since the Bluestone Dam was built in 1950, organic material accumulation and soil development has gone unabated. Measurements were taken of the overstory, lower canopy, regeneration layers, and soils found at Camp Brookside. Our overstory data indicated that there are five distinct plant communities on the island. The FRPC has an overstory of eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana), and white ash (Fraxinus americana). The FRPC has an average soil depth of 1.8 cm, a loamy sand soil texture, and a soil pH of 3.9. A xeric pine community dominated by Virginia pine and eastern redcedar was found along the riverside portion of the island. Historically, this community was part of the FRPC. The xeric pine community has an average soil depth of 17.6 cm, a loamy sand soil texture, and a soil pH of 4.6. Our results indicate that soil and organic material is accumulating in the FRPC, and that some type of disturbance will be needed to maintain this community.