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Hiking through History by Teresa Burton

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Lizard Lake Nature Trail
Map of Trails (resolution 1540x942x96dpi - 70,029 bytes)

Round Trip 1.5 km/o.93 miles - Allow 35 Minutes

Located at the Lizard Lake campground and swim recreation site, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. The trail heads are but a short distance both east and west of the campground off of the mainline. From here, the trail circles around the lake through second growth forest of mainly cedar and hemlock. This area was train logged by Cathels and Sorenson in 1927-28, just prior to the peak of their operation.

The trail follows along a rather irregular path obstructed by blowdowns and fallen decaying logs. However, it is not difficult to hike, and the trail is well marked. Its future is in the hands of the Ministry of Forest recreation programs.

The obstructions along the trail are not so much a hindrance if we look at the important role they play in the life cycle of the forest. In this young forest, trees are competing intensely with each other for light, nutrients, water, soil and space. Through suppression, many trees will die slowly and drop to the forest floor to become further decayed. These grounded dead trees known as "nurse logs" provide excellent mediums for new growth. Their water absorbing qualities and nutrient pathways provide habitat for mycelium fungi that will grow miles of gossamer threads along the log and forest floor. Coming into contact with plant roots or seeds, they will continue to grow to envelope this host plant. In a symbiotic relationship, they act as extensions of the host plant's root system, feeding water and nutrients to it. Many plants of the forest depend of this fungus/root association and many other plants that do not require this partnership grow far better with the fungi than without it.

There are many varieties of mycelium and most will bloom in different seasons. These blooms or 'fruiting bodies' are more commonly known as mushrooms, truffles or fungi.

When the trees of the forest begin to mature and reach greater sizes, death by suppression become less likely. At this stage, it is more common for a tree to die from root diseases, blowdowns or damage. Damage to trees cause open wounds which create entrance ways for decay organisms or fungi. The fungi, through extraction of essential oils, will attract wood boring beetles and hand-and-hand they will continue to break down the structure of the living trees. Presence of the insects will trigger feeding by woodpeckers and other wood boring birds. In the trees slow process of death and decomposition, parts of the tree will begin to fall and the wood will weaken and become soft. What remains standing of the dead tree is called a 'snag', and it is near this stage that cavity-nesting birds such as woodpeckers, sapsuckers and flickers will begin to excavate for their residences.

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