EVALUATION OF THE GOAT ISLAND COMPLEX, NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK
2. North Slope
The north slope begins at Stedman's Bluff - the high ground overlooking Luna Island, which is dealt with in the section on crest vegetation. Due to the frequent engineering and maintenance activities at the bluff, there is a heavy infusion of weedy taxa - although the native community here is an interesting mixture with Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) in good quantity. The only station remaining for Fragrant Sumach (Rhus aromatica), one of the less common Sumachs in our area, has been recently discovered here.
At the eastern extremity of the north slope lie the remains of the Spring, an old swampy area and a dolomite promontory densely infested with Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), which has been made a grove here, Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana), and of Lilac (Syringa vulgaris). The slope peters out before the vehicular or eastern bridge to the mainland.
Slumping presently occurs on these slopes which seem wetter than the corresponding southern slope. Part of this may be due to natural seepage occurring in the north slope, such as the famous Spring, and not obviously on the south (although there are culverts there), part may be due to the fact the slope is north facing and hence more in the shade and out of the direction of the prevailing wind. On the geologic map of Kindle and Taylor (1913), the soil type here is referred to as a boulder-clay, indicating finer sediment fractions than elsewhere on Goat Island and consequently poorer drainage. Mucky portions are especially evident between the west and east bridges. Placement of "stepping stones" may be the way to treat this area, rather than attempts to change the drainage and dry out the soil and otherwise making an artificial environment here. Sections might benefit from a surface dressing in conformity with early retaining wall structures still evident, and which effectively mimic natural limestone bedding planes.
Corresponding primarily to the reduced sunlight here, the abundance of herbaceous and shrub vegetation is markedly less than elsewhere in the Goat Island complex. Occasionally, perhaps where some sunlight gets through, such as on the river margin away from the slope, occur significant woodland populations of Laciniate Toothwort (Dentaria laciniata). A severe infestation of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria officinalis) occurs on the slopes, and there are frequent representations of weedy taxa.
In the disturbed slope sections by Luna Island along the river's edge toward the west end occur many Elms (Ulmus), many of which were dead or dying. A number of these were young Slippery Elm (U. rubra), a species tending to colonize disturbed river margins, such as in the relatively recent ballast area at the east end. Some American Elm (Ulmus americana) occur as well.
Large (mature) trees, such as a fourty-six inch diameter Sugar Maple, are presently pitched forward into the river due to slope instability, and are dying. Also unlike the shore of Goat Island to the south, the river is close to the base of the slope and there are a few minor areas of erosion because of it. Some areas of dolomite shelving are not from erosion, but from natural lowering of the river levels during the pre-Reservation history of the Niagara River (Kindle & Taylor, 1913).
Here and there are instances of attempts to restrain slumping by retaining walls built according to the plan of the flooring of the Spring "composed of ledges of natural rock, laid in sand" (15 Ann Rep Comm, 1899), which duplicates natural rock strata.
On October 21, 1865, George Clinton recorded in his journal "commencing at the end of the Bridge, explored the bank all the way down to opposite the middle of the island [i.e. Goat Island] above Luna Island." He was looking for the moss Anomodon viticulosus which his friend Leo Lesquereux had reported finding there (see section on Clinton's journal). Clinton "found no rock till I got there - a ridge of the bank, & there, quite close to the bank, was a large rock, in the earth on top of which was" the moss he wanted.
In 1907 "a new trail has been constructed along the water's edge on Goat Island from the entrance to Luna Island Bridge by which many beautiful views heretofore inaccessible are thrown open to the public" (24 Ann Rep Comm, 1908).
The native trees here are diverse and of good size. Except for the loss of the conifers, the woods, judging from old photographs when the trail was constructed, appears relatively undisturbed. The large cut timber visible in the photographs may be the result of disposing of blowdowns in the forest above the slope. There should have been sufficient protection from high winter winds in the forests along the north slope otherwise.
There appears to be several Chipmunk populations here, and people with fishing rods were observed. Fishing in the American channel may have a long tradition, for the new trail built along the north slope in 1905 to the Spring was called the "Fisherman Trail" (Scott & Scott, 1983) and seems to have been favored over the Canadian channel.
* Acer platanoides NORWAY MAPLE.
Acer saccharum SUGAR MAPLE.
Acer saccharinum SILVER MAPLE.
Fagus grandifolia BEECH. Many suckers circle this old tree, one of the few remaining on the island.
Fraxinus americana - pennsylvanica ASH. Abundant throughout [obs. 1988].
Juglans nigra BLACK WALNUT. On slopes, 1988.
Morus alba WHITE MULBERRY.
Ostrya virginiana HOP-HORNBEAM [IRONWOOD].
Populus deltoides COTTONWOOD.
* Prunus cf. avium SWEET CHERRY. Of immense size.
Prunus serotina BLACK CHERRY. Occasional, on slopes.
Prunus virginiana CHOKECHERRY. Abundant.
Quercus prinoides var. acuminata YELLOW OAK. On slopes, 1988.
* Salix cf. alba-fragilis WHITE or CRACK WILLOW. By Luna Island.
Tilia americana BASSWOOD. On slopes, 1988.
Ulmus americana AMERICAN ELM. Young, by river margin, several dead and dying, 1988.
Ulmus rubra SLIPPERY ELM. Young, by river margin, several dead and dying, 1988.
Cornus alternifolia ALTERNATE-LEAVED DOGWOOD. Slope east of pedestrian bridge, abundant in places, young [obs. 1988].
* Cornus sanguinea BLOODTWIG DOGWOOD (see species catalogue). Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
* Forsythia suspensa FORSYTHIA. Planting by pedestrian bridge entrance, 1988.
* Ligustrum vulgare PRIVET. Established at slope base [obs. 1988].
Lindera benzoin SPICEBUSH. The largest thicket of this species in
the Reservation. Appears to tolerate moist shade well, slope east
of pedestrian bridge, water's edge [obs. 1988].
* Lonicera tartarica TARTARIAN HONEYSUCKLE. East of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
Parthenocissus vitacea DISCLESS VIRGINIA CREEPER. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
* Rhamnus cathartica BUCKTHORN. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
Rhus aromatica FRAGRANT SUMACH. Slope overlooking Luna Island.
Rhus typhina STAGHORN SUMACH. Thicket occurs top of slope by vehicular bridge [obs. 1988].
Ribes americanum WILD BLACK CURRANT. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
* Ribes cf.sativum RED CURRANT.] No resinous glands, slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
Rubus odoratus PURPLE-FLOWERING RASPBERRY. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988]. This might be a good shrub to reestablish along here.
Sambucus canadensis ELDERBERRY. Frequent on slopes overlooking Luna Island [obs. 1988].
Sambucus pubens. RED-BERRIED ELDER. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
Symphoricarpos albus [var.?] SNOWBERRY. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
* Syringa vulgaris LILAC. Area of the Spring (see below) [obs. 1988].
* Viburnum opulus var. opulus GUELDER ROSE. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
* Viburnum lantana WAYFARING TREE. Established in the cove by the old spring and spreading in various places at the slope base, especially east of the pedestrian bridge, 1988.
Vitis riparia FROST GRAPE. East of pedestrian bridge, up to the canopy [obs. 1988].
* Acanthopanax sieboldtianus ACANTHOPANAX. Planted on the crest [obs. 1988].
Achillea millefolium COMMON YARROW. East of pedestrian bridge, base of slope [obs. 1988].
* Alliaria officinalis GARLIC MUSTARD. Throughout, an infestation [obs. 1988].
Allium canadense WILD GARLIC. Open area near vehicular bridge [obs. 1988].
* Arctium sp. BURDOCK. All along open paths [obs. 1988].
* Barbarea vulgaris WINTER CRESS. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988]. Possibility of becoming an infestation.
* Cichorium intybus CHICORY. Slope crest by lawn margin [obs. 1988].
* Daucus carota QUEEN ANNE'S LACE. Along path, open west end, and slope crest, lawn margin [obs. 1988]
Dentaria laciniata CUT-LEAVED TOOTHWORT. Slope east of pedestrian bridge, by bridge abutment [obs. 1988].
*Eranthis hyemalis (L.) Salisb., WINTER ACONITE Slope facing Luna Island just east of Luna Island bridge, near the water's edge; appears to have been planted.
Erythronium americanum YELLOW ADDER'S TONGUE. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
Fragaria sp. STRAWBERRY. Open area toward vehicular bridge [obs. 1988].
* Lotus corniculatus BIRD-FOOT TREFOIL. Slope crest, lawn margin [obs. 1988].
Phytolacca americana POKEWEED. Moist slopes west end [obs. 1988].
* Poa cf. nemoralis Occasionally abundant [obs. 1988].
* Rumex crispus CURLED DOCK. Pathside, moist slope base [obs. 1988].
Sanguinaria canadensis BLOODROOT. Small population of a few plants, on the slope [obs. 1988].
Smilacina stellata STAR FLOWERED FALSE SOLOMON'S SEAL. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
* Solanum carolinense HORSE-NETTLE. In a row along path facing Luna Island, 1988.
* Solanum dulcamara BITTER NIGHT-SHADE. [obs. 1988].
Solidago canadensis CANADA GOLDENROD. Throughout [obs. 1988].
Solidago flexicaulis ZIGZAG GOLDENROD. Slope surface east of pedestrian bridge [obs.1988].
* Sonchus oleraceus SOW THISTLE.
* Taraxacum officinale DANDELION. Throughout along path edges [obs. 1988].
* Tussilago farfara COLT'S FOOT. Weedy area by bluffs overlooking Luna Island, 1988.
* Vinca minor PERIWINKLE. Dense growth established by the pedestrian bridge, choking out native Toothwort here ( Dentaria laciniata ) [obs. 1988].
NORTH SLOPE LICHENS
Note that most of these species are growing on rock, from construction (retaining walls) and the native bedrock exposed at the base of the slopes.
Arthonia lapadicola. North side on slope near water just E of Luna Is. bridge, on rock, Harris 22855 (NY) NEW TO NEW YORK STATE.
Bacidia sp. North side, on flat rock partially in water, Harris 22839 (NY).
Bacidia sp. North side, at base of Populus, Harris 22831, Harris 22841
Bacidia granosa. North side, on bank near water, on rock, Harris 22837 (NY); north side, on rock, Harris 16297 (NY).
Buellia punctata. North side near Luna Island bridge, at 1 m on Robinia, Harris 22835 (NY); near Luna Island bridge, at base of Robinia, Harris 22850 (NY).
Caloplaca feracissima. North side, retaining wall at river's edge, Harris 22856 (NY); north side, on rock, Harris 16299 (NY).
Endocarpon pusillum. North side, on rock, Harris 22832 (NY).
Lecanora dispersa. North side, retaining wall at river's edge, on rock, Harris 22860 (NY).
Lepraria finkii. North side, at base of Betula, Harris 22819 (NY); north side, at base of Tilia, at river's edge, Harris 22821 (NY); north side near pedestrian bridge, on rock, Harris 22825 (NY); north side, at base of dead Ulmus, Harris 22829 (NY); north side, on rock, Harris 16305 (NY).
Mycobilimbia sabuletorum. North side, rock at river's edge, Harris 22845 (NY); north side, on rock, Harris 16302 (NY), Harris 16312 (NY).
Parmelia sulcata. North side, on Fraxinus at river's edge, Harris 22834 (NY).
Verrucaria muralis. North side, near water, on rock, Harris 22824 (NY); north side, small rocks in clay bank, Harris 22849 (NY); north side, on rock, Harris 16036 (NY), Harris 16303 (NY).
Verrucaria sp. North side, on small rock in clay bank, woodland taxon, Harris 22838 (NY); Harris 22846 (NY); Harris 22848 (NY).
Verrucaria sp. North side, near Luna bridge, near water, Harris 22830 (NY).
Verrucaria sp. North side, near Luna bridge, near water, Harris 22823 (NY).
NORTH SLOPE FUNGI
It appears that the cool, shaded stations in this area, with their old wood, support a diversity of fungus species - more than elsewhere in the Reservation. Perhaps it is along this slope that Clinton found specimens that he sent to Charles Peck (see section on fungi). Old growth areas should be protected in the Reservation because these "plants" may not naturally establish themselves again once destroyed.
Bisporella citrina. North slope, on rotten log, 1 Nov 1988, Buck 16294 (BUF, NY).
Coprinus comatus SHAGGY MANE. North side, wooded slope, Eckel Nov. 1, 1988.
Coryne dubia. North slope, on rotten log, 1 Nov 1988, Buck 16288 (NY).
Flammulina velutipes WINTER MUSHROOM. North slope, on tree trunk, 1 Nov 1988, Buck 16310 (BUF, NY); stump, Eckel with R. Zander, Nov. 1, 1988 (BUF).
Ganoderma applanatum. North slope, on dead tree, 1 Nov 1988, Buck 16314 (BUF, NY).
Gibellula pulchra. North slope, on dead spider, 1 Nov. 1988, Buck 16307 (NY).
Lecanidion atratum. North slope, on rotten log, 1 Nov. 1988, Buck 16290 (BUF, NY).
Marasmius sp. Moist, rich soil by culvert in wood, north end of the island, east of the pedestrian bridge, Eckel w. R. Zander.
Pleurotus ostreatus. Stump north slope, Eckel w. R. Zander Nov. 1, 1988 (BUF).
Polyporus squamosus. Stump. Slope east of pedestrian bridge [obs. 1988].
Ustulina deusta. North slope, on dead tree, 1 Nov. 1988, Buck 16296 (NY).
NORTH SLOPE BRYOPHYTES
Amblystegium serpens. (Three collections.)
Amblystegium tenax. On brickwork, west end, north slope.
Barbula unguiculata fo. apiculata. On brickwork, west end, north slope.
Brachythecium rutabulum. Wooded slope, west of vehicular bridge.
Bryum lisae var. cuspidatum.
Bryum pseudotriquetrum. Moist protected cove just west of the vehicular bridge, in dolomite strata in seepage, 1988.
Fissidens grandifrons. Moist protected cove just west of the vehicular bridge, in dolomite strata in seepage, 1988.
Fissidens taxifolius. Throughout beneath shrubs, 1988.
Orthotrichum anomalum. (Two collections.)
Orthotrichum pumium. Base of Maple.
Orthotrichum pusillum. Base of Maple.