Mount Saint Helens | Goat Marsh RNA
The Goat Marsh Research Natural Area was identified for its mountain wetland communities, xeric lodgepole pine forests, and noble fir forests associated with an active Cascade volcano.
Allison humored me with a picture next to the trees—but all she could think about was getting down on her knees to photograph the amazing understory in bloom.
The natural area includes some of the finest examples of Abies procera forests. Here, stem biomass and basal area exceeds that of all other forests in the world with the exception of those in our back yard—the redwood groves of the North Coast1.
Standing on the pyroclastic flows on the south slope of Mount Saint Helens.
Life on the edge: the forest on the left has slowly died since it was buried in a pyroclastic flow in 1980.
Depauperate lodgepole (Pinus contorta) pine forest occupying the more ancient pyroclastic flows reflect the inhospitable nature of the substrante on which they grow. Diversity increases as depth of substrate and moisture availability increase1. Other specimens that eke out an existence here include western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), noble fir (Abies procera), western white pine (Pinus monticola), and Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). These stands reminded us of home as well.
1. Franklin, Jerry. Wilberg, Curt. 1979. Goat Marsh Research Natural Area.
(check out this document to see the pre-eruption pictures that are included, this alone is worth your time.)
-U.S. Forest Service website for the Goat Marsh Research Natural Area