Visiting New Hampshire's Biodiversity


White Lake State Park: Pitch Pine and Peatland Kettles



Description: A 72-acre stand of pitch pine trees at White Lake State Park has been designated a National Natural Landmark and is easily accessible by a walking trail. Pitch pine (Pinus rigida), with its rigid needles growing in bundles of three, is an early successional tree species that grows on sandy soils and gravelly uplands. It reproduces most successfully after a fire. Heat causes the pine scales on the cones to open and release their seeds, while fire clears the forest floor of competing vegetation and lets in light. The older pines can resist fire, but are often visibly scarred. The mature trees in this stand are unusually old and large for the species, but very little natural regeneration is occurring. In the future it may be desirable to undertake controlled burns in parts of this forest to foster new growth. The trail to the pitch pine stand passes by two exemplary kettle hole bogs, one of which still has open water at its center. A portion of the trail traverses the Town of Tamworth's Black Spruce Ponds Preserve.

Directions:
From I-93: Take Exit 23 onto Rte. 104 and go east to Rte. 25. Follow to Rte. 16 and follow signs to White Lake State Park. From I-95: Take Rte. 16 and follow signs to White Lake State Park.

Landowner: State of NH – DRED, Division of Parks & Recreation

Images (hold mouse over image for caption)

Pitch pine trunks at White Lake State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Pitch pine trail at White Lake State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Kettle hole bog with open water at center (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Mt. Chocorua beyond White Lake (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Open kettle hole bog peatland system (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Open kettle hole bog system peatland (photo by Ben Kimball)

Band of exemplary sandy pond shore system at White Lake State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) pitch pine / scrub oak community at White Lake State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Fall colors at White Lake State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Loon at dusk on White Lake (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

the beach at White Lake State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for NH Natural Heritage Bureau)  Aerial view of the lake, the peatland kettles (upper center right), and the pitch pine forest at White Lake State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Exemplary pitch pine - scrub oak woodland community at White Lake State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Exemplary pitch pine - scrub oak woodland community at White Lake State Park
(photo by Ben Kimball)

Epicormic sprouting of needles on the trunk of a pitch pine tree (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
epicormic sprouting of needles on the trunk of a pitch pine tree
(photo by Ben Kimball)

White Lake State Park map (USGS topo quad) 

Links:
NH Department of Parks and Recreation's White Lake State Park web page

US National Park Service's National Natural Landmark web page for White Lake State Park


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