East Branch Swamp Natural Area, PA   Ernie Ostuno
  Jul 25, 2004 03:27 PDT 

East Branch Swamp Natural Area is located in the Sproul State Forest in
Clinton County, PA, just off of PA route 144 south of the town of
Renovo. I visited it on 10/16/99. This area is in an elevated marsh and
once consisted of several acres of old growth hemlocks. However, most of
the trees were flattened by the Moshannon Forest tornado of May 31,
1985. This tornado was part of the same outbreak that produced the
tornado that knocked down about 800 acres of old growth forest at the
Tionesta Scenic/Research Area.

About half a dozen large hemlocks survived the tornado. With many of
their branches torn off, they appear as standing snags, but are in fact
still alive. These trees are difficult to reach as they are located in a
wetlands/bog, more than a hundred feet from the trail that traverses the
northern part of the natural area. It is also difficult exploring off
the trail due to the many fallen trees.

One large hemlock (dbh 43 inches) can be found at the southeast corner
of the natural area with all its branches intact. It is near an area
that was cut: about a dozen old stumps, bleached light gray with their
roots exposed, are evident close to East Branch Run, the stream that
flows east to west, bisecting the natural area. A very interesting thing
to note is that no trees are regenerating in the cutover area, while
large numbers of young hemlock, white pine and hardwoods are growing in
the tornado-damaged area.

I think this area is included in the proposed Sproul State Forest Old
Growth Area:



East Branch Swamp Natural Area, Sproul State Forest. There are a few large hemlocks that survived the 1985 tornado. This is  probably the largest and occurs in the SE part of the natural area, just south of East Branch Run. Photo taken October 1999.
This is along the Chuck KeiperTrail on the northern edge of the natural area. Note the roots from the windthrown hemlock at the right edge of the photo.
eastbranch002.jpg (81048 bytes) Despite this area being an elevated marsh, the  loggers were able to harvest a few trees. These sun-bleached stumps are probably more than a hundred years old. Note how the forest has not been able to regenerate here, and also note the young white pine in the  distance where the 1985 tornado passed through.