Documenting Unknown Stands of Ancient Cross Timbers
Working with landowners throughout the Cross Timbers belt within Oklahoma, we have recorded good examples of this habitat. We have characterized the forest using vegetation transects and aged the trees using tree core samples.
Not many ancient trees are left in Oklahoma. In the 1880s, sawmills were established in the forests of the eastern mountains. The sturdy and gnarly trees of the cross timbers were not considered commercially viable, but were used locally by settlers for fuel and building materials. The cross timbers is a transitional woodland, between the grasslands and the eastern deciduous forest. Trees on the open flats were first to fall to the ax and saw. As the cutting of trees in the cross timbers pushed back to steeper ridges and rockier hillsides, more trees were left uncut. On these less accessible, locations we now find the remnants of the ancient cross timbers forest.