| Save These Dates
27, 7pm UC Group meeting, Putnam County Library downstairs
Tenn Chapter Spring Meeting Fall Creek Falls State Park Group Lodge
April 19, 10-5
Window on the World, TTU
April 24, 7pm
Group meeting, Putnam County Library downstairs meeting room
TN Bills to Watch
SB 2671 (Jackson) HB 2895 (Winningham)
Increases the coal severance
tax from 20¢ per ton to 4.5% of the mine head price (exactly
like Ky), uses the money raised to pay for abandoned coal mines
clean-up, as well as for alternative energy and returns some money to
coal counties for roads and schools. The governor has
praised this bill!
SB 3822 (Finney)
Scenic Vistas Protection Bill would protect 100 feet of stream
buffers zones and Tennessee's reidgeleines above 2000 from Mountain Top
removal coal mining.
resources bill was deferred by sponsors in both the House and
Senate committees. This meansthat the sponsors do not have enough votes
yet and that our grassroots efforts have had some success!
Learn about other organizations fighting
Mountaintop Removal mining in TN and their campaigns
United Mountain Defense
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like to see in the UC
As Spring is trying to get here, your UC Group has been active and has
several important events coming up. Our Group is hosting the Spring
statewide chapter meeting at Fall Creek Falls the weekend of April 12.
That means we are responsible for planning and preparing meals (2
breakfasts and Saturday night dinner) - also planning a program for
Saturday night and outings Saturday morning). WE NEED VOLUNTEERS TO
We will have our regular strategy and planning meeting next Thursday,
March 27, 7 pm at the downstairs meeting room of the Putnam County
Library to make our plans for the Chapter meeting. We'll also plan for
our table at Window on the World at Tenn Tech April 19th. Please see
the Save the Dates column to your left to remind yourself of these
We had a very successful Meadow Creek Conservation Coalition Day last
month to learn more about the fight against the Plateau Sand Mine
Quarry and also to see the results of some old coal mining. We have a
great video planned for our April Chapter meeting - the Next Industrial
REvolution with William McDonough.
Lot's of stuff going on here locally - and at the legislature. So come
along and get involved in trying to make Cookeville and Tennessee a
better place. And we'll have some fun while we're doing it and enjoy
the great outdoors. Hope to see you March 27.
Finally, we're pleased to have Richard Simmers' columns back for the
Group Donates Sierra Scenes to TTU and Cumberland Univ. Libraries
Vice-Chair the Upper Cumberland Group, donated copies of the collected
Sierra Scene newsletter to both the Tennessee Tech and the Cumberland
University libraries. The Newsletter, with Field Notes by Dr. Richard
Simmers, is not only a record of climate change, but also a history of
the environmental movement and development in the city of Cookeville.
Josie writes "The October 2007 issue of
Smithsonian magazine had an interesting article called "Teaming Up With
Thoreau," about how "One hundred fifty years after the publication of
Walden, Henry David Thoreau is helping scientists monitor global
warming" (60). Richard Primack of Boston University, in his own study
of how the natural world was reacting to climate change, needed data
from the past to compare his more recent observations of the Concord
area to. He found that Thoreau had collected just such data.
The Upper Cumberland Sierra Club has long had its own "Thoreau":
Richard Simmers, also, like Thoreau, Harvard educated, with a Ph.D. in
ornithology from Cornell. The UC Sierra Club has been publishing Dr.
Simmers' observations or "Field Notes" in our newsletter since 1994,
and in the year 2000 we collected all of these newsletters into a
soft-bound book. Recently, his columns have been appearing in the
Tennes-Sierran, because his "Field Notes" had such a broad appeal."
| Field Notes
- the 2007 Season
by Richard Simmers, Phd
Weather during 2007
ran to extremes in our area. January was decidedly mild, and late
March had near record warmth. Severe (record-breaking for Alabama)
freezes on Easter weekend (April 6-8) did heavy damage to our
vegetation. Drought, aggravated by record or near-record August heat,
plagued our region much of the year.
I observed a good many early flowers in January including a
Drummond-type red maple (chromosome number 2n= 56; fruits about twice
the size of most red maples; young leaves white-fuzzy underneath) in
flower January 8 at the Tennessee Tech campus (this tree had started
February 1 in 2006 and as of February 8, 2008, had begun opening
flowers). Some ordinary red maples (hexaploid, 2n=78 or octoploid,
2n=104) had begun to open flowers at TTU by February 1, and many red
maples here had started by March 2. The silver maple on Poplar Grove
road that I check annually was in full bloom February 24-28, quite
late; it had open flowers January 29, 2006, and was in full bloom
February 3, 2006 and February 15, 2005.
Silver maples fruited heavily in 2007, often to the extent of slowing
leafing out, as did elms. (American Elms especially) and many red
maples. My experience over 30 years in Tennessee has been that this
pattern is correlated with April freezes. If, on the contrary, elms
and maples have few or no fruits, April freezes would be absent; elms
and silver maple flower annually, and a lack of fruits indicates
freezes when in bloom (February-early March). Several Drummond maples
at TTU had ripened fruits before the freeze, but red maples east of
Monterey had their fruits frozen in late March, trees that bloom early
came into full flower, often a week or two early and we had glorious
show before the freeze ended it. Redbuds had begun flowering by March
20 in west Putnam County (earlier in Nashville), March 26 near
Monterey; they had finished blooming west of Cookeville before April!
Flowering dogwoods, even on the Cumberland Plateau, had begun to bloom
late in March; paulownia had begun April 1 in Cookeville, black locust
and crossvine by April 3 in middle Tennessee!!
I saw my earliest ever pink daisy fleabanes on March 28 at Barnes
Hollow (east of Cookeville). Oaks, hickories, walnuts, apples,
cherries, peaches, pears, all came into bloom - and most of these froze
with the great Easter weekend freezeout, as did all of Hector Black's
blueberries in Jackson County. On Good Friday (April 6), frost hit as
an Arctic cold front came in and ravaged the vegetation; night
temperatures fell to about 20 degrees in Nashville and colder in low
outlying valleys. Most of the new foliage turned shades of tan, rust,
sepia, or charcoal; some of this, on oaks notably, was still hanging on
trees in July. Some evergreens were hard hit; boxwoods and euonymus
(both exotics) looked like they had toppings of whipped cream, fading
to butterscotch. All new growth on hollies blackened; many yews in
Monterey had major injury, looking largely rusty in July. Southern
magnolias, on the other hand, came through nicely (they leaf out
late). Our hillsides looked like they had been scorched by fire,
especially in areas with tulip "poplars" or hickories (ugly charcoal
blobs for weeks). This was the worst spring freeze I can remember.
Most of our native sugar and red maples stayed green through the freeze
and began to grow again in late April; but the sugar maple's young
fruits were frozen. Boxelder foliage mostly froze (they can stand
light frosts). Wild cherry trees, and most fruit trees, had foliage
that remained unfrozen. A few oaks on warm sites kept their leaves,
many on the plateau, which normally come out late anyway, were not much
bothered. The Plateau oaks began leafing out in late April, with the
height of the "pastel-pink" tints around April 25 - May 2; some white
oaks had an acorn crop in the fall! Some walnut trees also had nuts.
The Eastertime freezes were an extreme of the "dogwood winter" pattern
normal enough in Tennessee. (All dogwood flowers and much foliage was
frozen in Putnam County, at least on the Plateau; dogwoods can stand
some frost). Over millennia, the natural selective processes of
weather extremes have eliminated unfit individuals from the various
gene pools, so native flora should not be seriously bothered; exotics
are another matter.
Recovery was often slow, but by the end of May most trees had
considerable new foliage, except for various exotics such as Japanese
maples. Hackberry trees normally have two flushes of foliage when they
bloom, the earlier flush with the flowers. In early April in Nashville
(before freezes) I observed young fruits among the new leaves. Most
hackberries were defoliated by the freezes, losing their fruit crop.
On April 24, I finally saw a few new leaves on one Nashville hackberry
tree; by May 2 there was much more green foliage on the hackberries,
also on white ashes and many others.
After the freezes came mostly dry to droughty weather, although July on
the Plateau had near normal rainfall. Most amphibians had a very poor
breeding season if they bred in the spring; water levels fell over two
feet in some of my permanent ponds on the Plateau, but I still had
enough water in them to water my plants. I did lose my mulberries,
from cambium injury likely in part.
As if to compensate for the injury from the spring freezes, the fall
foliage on and near the Cumberland Plateau was sumptuous, peaking again
in early November even on the Plateau. I spent hours on my place east
of Monterey "soaking up" the colors. White oaks were often shades of
purple, or ruby-red in some areas. The hickories, so blighted-looking
in the spring, were a glorious golden yellow. Scarlet oaks and
sourwoods were more vividly colored than usual.
Cumberland Group Sierra Club