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New book traces environmental history of local old growth forest

smith woods coverAuthors of this new book include Horticulture Section professor Marvin Pritts. Join Pritts and the other authors for a book launch at the Ulysses Philomathic Library in Trumansburg, N.Y., April 26 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Book ordering information.

Smith Woods: The Environmental History of an Old Growth Forest Remnant in Central New York State
Warren D. Allmon, Marvin P. Pritts, Peter L. Marks, Blake P. Epstein, David A. Bullis, and Kurt A. Jordan

Reviewed by Prof. Donald A. Rakow

Driving west along New York State Route 96, it would be easy to miss the old growth forest fragment known as Smith Woods just before entering the Village of Trumansburg.  That would be understandable since the woods holds neither the majesty of the great California redwood forests nor the extent of national parks like Yosemite.

It is, in fact, the rather diminutive nature of Smith Woods that has allowed the authors of this manual to offer a thoroughgoing treatment of the site’s geological history, forest development, early indigenous settlement, and recent ecological transition.  The result is a text that is as readable as it is enlightening.

Eschewing both a purely scientific and a simple layman’s approach, the authors use both text and extensive illustrations to delineate how physical, biological and anthropomorphic forces have shaped this site and made it into the habitat it is today.  The reader is left with a much clearer understanding of how such processes take place, along with a great appreciation for this very special place.

The authors represent a wide range of disciplines: lead author Warren Allmon is the director of the Paleontological Research Institute and professor in the Cornell Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Marvin Pritts is a professor of horticulture in the Cornell School of Integrative Plant Science; Peter Marks is an emeritus professor in the Cornell Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; and Kurt Johnson is a professor in the Cornell Department of Anthropology.  Blake Epstein is a student at the Ranney School in Tinton Falls, NJ and David Bullis is a graduate student at the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.

 

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