Cubler Payne Forest
The Prothonotary Birding Trail guides visitors on a quiet, gentle, stroll through the Cubler Payne Forest along the picturesque Nassawango Creek. There are two distinct forest cover types: upland hardwood and pine; and bottomland cypress and gum. These forest types correspond to the elevation gradient on the property, which is considerable for the local area. Large oaks (white and red) are common on the uplands, as are tulip poplars and sweet gums. The bottomland forest is dominated by bald cypress (near its northern range here) with their characteristic knees sticking above the forest floor; black gum and red maple are also common. The Cubler Payne Forest totals 55 acres. Most of the forest has been cut at least once since European settlers arrived, but portions, including the Prothonotary Birding Trail are being restored and protected from logging by The Nature Conservancy as future old growth. Increment cores were collected in 2014 to determine the ages of selected trees along the trail, including, shortleaf pine 144 years, black oak 147 years, white oak 105 years, water oak 98 years and bald cypress 181 years. The forest is part of an Audubon Important Birding Area, and neotropical migratory birds such as the Prothonotary Warbler were monitored here for many years. This site is also regionally significant as the northern range limit of two lichen species (Arthonia cinnabarina, Schismatomma rappii), recently discovered by scientists at the New York Botanical Garden. The Cubler Payne Forest is part of The Nature Conservancy's Nassawango Creek Preserve which protects over 10,000 acres of swamp and upland forest along both sides of Nassawango Creek.