The Cape Research Natural Area

Addison and Rutland
Green Mountain
Soils of colluvial origin have formed in the area due to the steep slopes, and these soils support a rich mesic northern hardwood forest. This area is dominated by yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and red spruce (Picea rubens) larger than 24 in (62 cm) in diameter. There are no other known undisturbed examples of this community type in Vermont. Hairy Wood-mint (Blephila hirsuta), a Vermont threatened species, is locally common along beaver meadows. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolia) is on the Vermont watch list and infrequently found in the area.

Ecological Information

Physical and Climatic Conditions

Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA:
The nearest weather station is an automated station at Chittenden, Vermont which has been collecting precipitation data for 45 years. The Chittenden station is approximately 5 miles (8 km) south-southeast of the RNA at approximately 1100 feet (335 m) elevation. The next closest station is an automated station in Rutland, Vermont, which has been collecting climatic data (primarily temperature and precipitation) for 75 years. The Rutland station is approximately 10 miles ( 16 km) south of the RNA at approximately 600 feet (183 m) elevation. The next closest weather station is located in Burlington, Vermont, which has been collecting a full range of climatic data for over 100 years. The Burlington station is approximately 48 miles (77 km) north-northwest of the RNA at approximately 340 feet (104 m) elevation. Data from these stations can be obtained by calling the Northeastern Regional Climate Center in Ithaca, New York, at 607-255-1751.
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) :
Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year, averaging 38 inches (96.5 cm). Mean annual runoff is 25 inches (63.5 cm), leaving l3 inches (33 cm) for evapotranspiration. Annual snowfall ranges from 55 inches to 65 inches (140-165 cm).
Maximum and minimum temperatures:
Average daily maximum for July is near 80 ºF (27 ºC) with daily minimum around 50 ºF (10 ºC). One to two weeks of frigid (-20 ºF to -30 ºF, -29 ºC to -34 ºC) occur in December or January.
Elevation ranges from 1590 feet (485m) to 2635 feet (803m) atop The Cape.
Geology and Soils:
The northern hardwood community of The Cape grows on Wisconsin till of variable depth. Bedrock outcrops include Cambrian metamorphic rock of the Camel's Hump group and perhaps a small amount of Forestdale marble. Soils fall mostly in the Rawsonville series (Typic Haplorthods), with lesser amounts of Amenia soils (Aquic Eutrochrept). Both of these soils tend to be stony and colluvial, with a moderately high nutrient status. In the northwestern corner of the RNA, Tunbridge soils, also Typic Haplorthods, have a thinner Bh horizon and lower nutrient status than the Rawsonville soils.
Aquatic Features:
Baker Brook is a first-order, high-gradient, cold water stream dominated by boulder-rubble and gravel substrate. It flows through a flat narrow valley to Furnace Brook, Otter Creek, and ultimately Lake Champlain.

Ecological Classification & Inventory

Green, Taconic, Berkshire Mountain Section (M212C)
Northern Green Mountain (M212Ca)
Landtype Association(s):
LTA 1, West-side of the northern Green Mountains
ELT 2d, Very shallow, steep, and rocky soils derived from subglacial material, 138 acres.
ELT 103b, Basal till soils from subglacial deposition, 59 acres.
ELT 105b, Coarse ablational till washed during glacial melt, 64 acres.
Plant Communities:
The southern two-thirds of the RNA can be considered a rich deciduous northern hardwood forest. The northern third is dominated by red spruce and yellow birch. Stands adjacent to Beaver Brook include mixed hardwoods, swamp hardwoods, shrub swamps and beaver meadows.
SAF Cover Types (list acres) Kuchler Types (list acres):
25 Sugar maple-beech-yellow birch (269) 108 No. Hardwood-Spruce (269)

Complete Plant List 1995 | Complete Plant List 1989

Common Shrub Species
Hobble-bush (Viburnum alnifolium), red-berried elder (Sambucus pubens).
Common Herbaceous Species:
Bland sweet cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii), silvery glade-fern (Athyrium thelypteroides), aster (Aster acuminatus), yellow jewelweed (Impatiens pallida), fancy wood-fern (Dryopteris intermedia), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), eastern waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum), wild leek (Allium tricoccum), northern wood-sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), nettle (Laportea canadensis).
Common Mammal Species
Black bear (Ursus americanus), north American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus).
Common Bird Species
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus), red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus), black-throated blue warbler (Dendroica caerulescens), black-throated green warbler (Dendroica virens), wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina).

Related link: Tionesta Scenic Area Trailhead

Related Reports and Publications

Burbank, Diane Harlow. 1993. Establishment Record for The Cape Research Natural Area within the Green Mountain National Forest, Addison and Rutland Counties, Vermont. 65 pp.

Cogbill, Charles V. 1995. A checklist of vascular plants at The Cape Research Natural Area, Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont. Unpublished report.
17 p.

Rimmer, Chris. 1990. Vermont forest bird monitoring program; 1990 summary. Unpublished report. 5 p.

Last Modified: August 19, 2021