(UNDATED) – Portions of two Indiana parks are getting a special designation because of a rare tree species.
Areas in Brown County State Park and Yellowwood State Forest will be considered high conservation value forest areas in an effort to preserve the yellowwood tree population, The Herald Times reported.
The Forest Stewardship Council’s certification is a way to ensure that 591 acres (239 hectares) where the trees are growing are managed so they remain part of the landscape, said Mike Spalding, resource specialist with Monroe-Monroe and Yellowwood state forests.
Civilian Conservation Corps workers in Brown County State Park first discovered the trees in 1933. Forester T.E. Shaw and Charles Deam, Indiana’s first state forester, verified and documented the discovery.
One theory was the yellowwood trees were brought north by Kentucky settlers, but that was proven false when the trees were analyzed. The results showed the trees were genetically distinct and had been in the area for thousands of years.
The high conservation value designation means management now will be driven by the yellowwood trees, said Allen Pursell, director of forest conservation for Indiana with The Nature Conservancy. “Protection and conservation of the yellowwood trees will take priority,” he added.
Spalding doesn’t know how many yellowwood trees are currently growing in Brown County State Park, but he estimated there are less than 1,000 in the forest.
Pursell speculates that caring for today’s yellowwood trees might expand their hold in Indiana by providing habitat where the trees can flourish.
“It’s a different way of how one approaches forest management,” Pursell said. “But it’s a special place and it has something unique there.”