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Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area Plants

The general forest type is mixed-oak with mixed-mesophytic pockets. This is divided into an upland community on the plateau and a ravine community. The upland vegetation types range from Red maple-dominated stands on poorly-drained flats to Virginia pine-dominated stands on dry ridges and cliff edges. On the broad flats and gentle slopes are the mixed oaks with hickory. Ravine communities are generally dominated by more mesic species-Beech, Sugar Maple, and Yellow Birch-with oaks on the middle and lower slopes. Hemlock is prominent in the narrow gorges and along streams. River birch and Sycamore typify the floodplains. A wide variety of specialized habitats exists on the floodplains, in protected coves and ravines, on moist north-facing slopes, and on the sandstone caprock with dry, shallow soils.

The rugged topography and moist, moderate climate combine to produce a great variety of microclimatic influences due to slope, orientation, and exposure. Because of logging in the early-to-mid-20th century, most of the forest areas are 2nd or 3rd growth. As a result, mature forests and groves of particular scenic interest are rare. Due to inaccessibility, several small areas containing impressive examples of 2nd growth floodplain, mixed-mesic, and hemlock forests still exist, mostly in the more northern coves of the National Area.

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Maine ocean islands provide the only nesting sites for Atlantic puffins in the United States. Eastern Egg Rock in the midcoast region, Seal Island and Matinicus Rock at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, and Machias Seal Island and Petit Manan Island off the downeast coast provide habitat for more than 4,000 puffins each summer.