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Introduction - Tom Howard

Hello, ENTS,

I'm signing back in from central NY. Study of and preservation of the historic old growth oak groves and other forests of the Syracuse area hopefully will continue. Maybe sometime this year ENTS can return to the old growth forest of Green Lakes to survey the super-tall (144 ft. + Tuliptrees there.

From 4/20-4/29 my brother and I will be traveling in eastern Massachusetts and we'll be in Concord 4/20-4/21. I saw pictures and data about the 130 ft. White Pine in Hapgood Wright Forest near Concord - that tree is awesome! Is it easily accessible? My brother and I will be visiting Walden Pond - do you know of tall trees there? We'll also be spending a few days in Salem and plan to visit Island Grove in Abington where the White Pine grove there has connections to the Abolition movement before the Civil War.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:01 am
 
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Matthies Grove 4/28/2010

ENTS,

I recently got back from a beautiful trip to MA, RI, CT. CT is a lovely state with rolling forest-covered hills with a great many oaks in bloom.
I'm enclosing a report on the magically beautiful Matthies Grove of White Pines:


Matthies Grove, People’s State Forest near Pleasant Valley, CT 4/28/2010


On this day Jack Howard and I visited this magical site along the Farmington River on a cold windy day which enhanced the grandeur of these towering White Pines with the trees rocking back and forth in the wind. We were led to this site by The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast by Bruce Kershner and Robert Leverett. The grove, which is at least 95% White Pine (with Red Oak, Hemlock, Black Birch, Beech, Striped Maple as associates) is in a beautiful natural setting along the river with hardwood forest covering the hills on the other side of the river. The White Pines of Matthies Grove are the tallest trees we saw on the trip to New England. Tree heights measured:
White Pine slender young-looking 121 ft. measured from river bank
White Pine near above 107 ft.
3-trunked White Pine, old-looking 121 ft.
White Pine with big trunk 123 ft.
White Pine, 35” dbh 129 ft. + I couldn’t get a clear sight at the topmost twigs as the canopy where this tree grows is quite dense.
White Pine 34.7” dbh by picnic table, 2 ascending limbs to 107 ft., shorter than the White Pines around it (near the 129+ ft. tree).
Slender White Pine 118 ft., another slender White Pine (with fishing sign)118 ft.
White Pine with huge bird nest (osprey nest?) 23.5” dbh, 120 ft. +.
White Pine near just above 28.7” dbh 126 ft.
Slender White Pine near river 120 ft.
White Pine to left of tall group (as seen from parking lot) 124 ft.
I also measured 2 White Pines side by side at 35.5” dbh, 32.5” dbh – canopy there too dense to measure height.
I counted 120 rings on an old White Pine stump with 13” radius.
These White Pines seem to be about 150-180 years old, and the grove is wondrously fragrant, easily the most beautiful forest we saw on our trip.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat May 08, 2010 2:07 pm
 
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Newport 4/27/4/28/2010

ENTS,

I recently got back to North Syracuse from my trip to MA, RI, CT.
What follows is my report on Newport RI:


Newport RI 4/27-4/28/2010


After leaving Salem MA and stopping at Island Grove Park in Abington MA, Jack Howard and I went to Newport RI, a very interesting place, an old city with many historic houses, and to the south of a somewhat rundown downtown, beautiful parks with huge spreading ornamental trees, including red-leafed Japanese Maples at least 40 ft. tall, and Japanese Cherries in full glorious bloom with masses of pink flowers. Even larger were great numbers of gigantic spreading European Beeches at least 4 ft. or more dbh, and huge Horsechestnuts in bloom. Touro Park is a remarkably beautiful place with these big ornamental trees, including what could be a Corktree over 3 ft. dbh and just coming into leaf. The memorial to Commodore Perry who opened Japan to the West in 1853-1854 (erected 1868) is nearly surrounded by magnificent low gnarled pink Japanese Cherries in bloom.
Touro Park is dominated by what could be North America’s most mysterious structure (and the reason why we went to Newport) the famous Newport Tower which some believe to be a 17th century stone mill, but it does not look 17th century.
It has a rough-hewn medieval look and is composed of what look like jumbled field and seashore stones. In the 19th century it was believed to be built by Vikings from the 12th century or so, and we felt that the building has a religious look, with what look like niches for statues of saints. It is a small building, only 25 ft. high, but a wonderful mystery. It sure looks medieval. Near Touro Park also is America’s oldest public library, the Redwood Library of 1747, a fantastic place with portraits by Gilbert Stuart, and shelves filled with 18th century books.

There are more large trees, especially huge European Beeches and other ornamentals in the big lawns of the Gilded Age mansions farther south in Newport, including along the Cliffwalk (wondrous views of ocean and mansions) where we saw a mostly prostrate old gnarled River Birch with rugged trunk about 2 ft. in diameter joined to an Ash on Salve Regina College campus (campus of large lawns and trees in what used to be mansions).

Most trees in Newport are low and spreading; the tallest tree I measured is a Tuliptree near Touro Park at 92.5 ft.

Most natural forests around Newport are low and stunted; at the edge of a typical brushy forest I measured a battered White Oak to 47.5 ft. tall.

After leaving Newport we crossed Jamestown Island, a quiet place of low stunted Red Maple, Black Gum, Eastern Red Cedar.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat May 08, 2010 2:02 pm
 
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Essex County, MA Trip 4/23-4/27/2010

ENTS,

I recently got back to North Syracuse from a wonderful trip to MA, RI, CT. Robert Henry loaned my his Nikon 550 Laser Rangefinder so I got some good height measurements in the beautiful stands of White Pine that cover so much of MA and CT and so little of central NY; I already had my "D" tape to help in measurements. I'm enclosing reports on Concord MA, Essex County MA, and Island Grove Park in Abington MA.


Essex Co. MA 4/23-4/27/2010


On 4/23 Jack Howard and I went from Concord to Danvers MA on MA 62, a beautiful drive through neighborhoods in a forest mostly of White Pine and Red Oak. In Danvers we visited the Rebecca Nurse Homestead which has a beautiful grove of what look like 120-year-old White Pines (not very tall but lovely) over the Nurse family plot. We next visited the most famous tree in Danvers, the Endicott Pear Tree, the oldest European tree in the Western Hemisphere. This tree is the last remnant of the orchard planted by Massachusetts Governor John Endecott about 1630 – Endecott brought the tree over from England around that time. There is a display about it in the new Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care on Endicott St. in a typical area of strip malls, stores, etc. The tree is behind the parking lot of the property of the OSRAM/Sylvania plant. It is not a large tree, no more than about 15 ft. tall but really gnarled and in bloom with subtly fragrant white flowers. The Endicott Pear Tree has a fence around it (it has suffered from vandalism) and has Yew shrubs and 2 taller Scots Pines around it.

After leaving this wondrous old tree (the oldest tree we’d see on the trip) we went to Salem where we stayed till 4/27. Salem and its long fascinating history are familiar territory for me as I lived there over 7 years in the 1980s. Salem is one of America’s best walking cities with wonderful museums, historic sites, gardens, big spreading trees on every street, and even a tall ship, a replica of the 1797 East Indiaman Friendship docked at 18th century Derby Wharf in Salem Maritime National Historic Site. It was a perfect time to be there with flowering trees, Cherries and so forth in bloom. Some species in Salem are European Linden, Sycamore Maple (many nice ones in and near Salem Common), Silver Maple, Pin Oak, Red Oak, Gingko, Dawn Redwood, Austrian Pine, and other ornamentals. The 17th century Charter St. Burying Ground (contains grave of Richard More of the Mayflower died 1692, Col. John Hathorne – Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ancestor and Judge of the Witchcraft Court – died 1717) has some large spreading English Oaks (one 38.4” dbh), a big Corktree, and a big Ash. Next to this cemetery, the Witch Trial Memorial, dedicated to the Witchcraft Trial victims of 1692, is shaded by medium-sized Black Locust trees, as the victims were said to have been hanged from a Black Locust tree (no longer standing) in Gallows Hill Park on the west side of Salem. At the House of 7 Gables shading Hawthorne’s birthplace (1750 house moved to this beautiful garden site in 1958) is a huge spreading American Elm, and there is another giant American Elm on Forrester St. near Salem Common. The House of 7 Gables (built 1668) has a huge but possibly dying Horsechestnut next to it – this tree is now 49 ft. tall. Most trees in Salem are quite low; the tallest tree I saw there is an 87 ft. Tuliptree on Broad St.

On 4/26 Jack and I drove to Gloucester and Rockport on Cape Ann. From Beverly just north of Salem we took MA 127, a beautiful scenic route through White Pine, Red Oak, and White Oak forests near the sea. None of the trees seem really tall.

The old cemetery at Manchester-by-the Sea is filled with a grove of rough-barked White Pines that seem to be a little over 100 years old. From Gloucester to Rockport the forest is mostly Red Oak and White Oak stunted and gnarled by sea winds and salt spray to under 40 ft. tall. Some gnarled Pitch Pines mix in with the Oaks.
Rockport has no exceptional trees but has glorious ocean views, art galleries, etc. – a fascinating place.

After leaving Rockport we drove around the town of Magnolia looking for the isolated stands of Sweetbay Magnolia which have been documented to exist in this part of Essex Co. and nowhere else in New England. On MA 127 we saw a parking lot for the Cape Ann Discovery Center and, after some searching, parked there. This turned out to Ravenswood Park, a 600-acre property of the Trustees of Reservations in Gloucester; this park contains the northernmost natural habitat for Sweetbay Magnolia in the world, and we took the Magnolia Swamp Trail through a beautiful old 2nd growth forest dominated by fragrant rough-barked White Pine and Red Oak. The trees are easily over 100 years old and the Pines are forest-grown and look tall but proximity to the ocean may stunt their growth.
The tallest tree I measured there is a White Pine 90.5 ft. tall. Dense canopy and spring growth made height measurements difficult. A typical White Pine, possibly over 80 ft. tall, was 27.1” dbh. Much of the trail is hilly with understory of Rhododendron and some Mountain Laurel, but the most interesting and magical parts of this walk are the boardwalks through the deep mysterious Great Magnolia Swamp with tall-looking (but certainly not over 80 ft.) White Pine, shorter Red Maple, Yellow Birch, Black Gum; some of the White Pines look like trees out of Tolkien with massive roots reaching out to grab any soil possible above the water – the swamp would fit in The Lord of the Rings. We saw a Viburnum (Hobblebush?) in bloom with big leaves and big white flowers. In the swamp we saw a mysterious shrub with alternate twigs that could be Sweetbay Magnolia but this shrub was just starting to leaf out and I’m not a shrub expert. Part of the swamp is fenced off; the fenced off area corresponds with the Magnolia Stand on the trail map but some Magnolias may exist outside this fenced area. Near the fenced area I measured one of the largest White Pines at 31.1” dbh and 87.5 ft. tall at the edge of the swamp.
In the swamp I measured a White Pine to 68.5 ft. and another White Pine near MA 127 to 83 ft. – these are among the tallest trees at Ravenswood Park. We also found some large Hemlocks near the swamp and I counted 155 rings on a 10” radius cross-section of a fallen tree with trunk snapped off about 15 ft. above base. Some of the Hemlocks looked sickly – is HWA there? Other trees we saw are Paper Birch, Black Birch, Beech, Pitch Pine, Striped Maple, Sassafras, Black Oak, White Oak. We also saw Wintergreen, Starflower, and Wild Sarsaparilla.


Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat May 08, 2010 2:06 pm
 
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Concord, MA Trip 4/20-4/23/2010

ENTS,

I recently got back to North Syracuse from a wonderful trip to MA, RI, CT. Robert Henry loaned my his Nikon 550 Laser Rangefinder so I got some good height measurements in the beautiful stands of White Pine that cover so much of MA and CT and so little of central NY; I already had my "D" tape to help in measurements. I'm enclosing reports on Concord MA, Essex County MA, and Island Grove Park in Abington MA.

Concord MA Apr. 2010

Jack Howard and I visited Concord, MA 4/20-4/23. It is an idyllic place with a great deal of history and many beautiful trees. I used laser rangefinder to measure many trees.

We first stopped at the Old North Bridge section of the Minute Man National Historical Park, the site of the Battle of Concord of 4/19/1775 that began the American Revolution and of the Old Manse, the c.1770 house where Nathaniel Hawthorne lived from 1842-1845. This is a nice setting by the Concord River with Silver Maples plentiful by the river; trees measured include:
Sugar Maple 87.5 ft.
1 of 2 big (est. 4 ft.+ dbh) Swamp White Oaks by river 85 ft.
smaller White Oak in yard 66 ft.
tallest Black Locust in grove 84 ft.

On the other side of Old North Bridge near NPS Visitor Center Pin Oak 65.5 ft.
(one of the taller trees).
huge multi-trunked White Pine (with 100 rings on 18” radius stump of one of the trunks) 93.5 ft. tall, tallest tree seen at site.

We also visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, and the Alcotts are buried – a beautiful site with many White Pines and lower Red Oaks, including old-looking Red Oak, 34” dbh, 65.5 ft. tall.
I counted 65 rings on a 4” radius Red Oak stump near Emerson’s tomb.
White Pines and Black Locusts stand over Thoreau’s grave; one of the White Pines is 74.5 ft. tall.
Average White Pine in this section of the cemetery which is called Author’s Ridge:
24.1” dbh, 88 ft. tall.
In the section of the cemetery nearer the center of town (on MA 62) there are 2 much larger White Pines, 1 42” dbh and about 80 ft. tall, and the other with similar diameter and 108 ft. tall.
On Belknap St. in Concord is a large open-grown White Pine that may have been planted by Thoreau in 1844 (when I was last in Concord in 1980 I seem to remember a plaque saying this tree was planted by Thoreau then – it stood in field next to what used to be Thoreau Lyceum but today modern houses occupy the site and the tree is on private property); it is 71 ft. tall and at least 40” or more dbh.

Jack and I visited the enchantingly beautiful Hapgood Wright Town Forest – we searched for the 130.5 ft. White Pine found by ENTS a week or so before but we didn’t find it although we did see a tall White Pine in a distant swampy area. We walked around aptly named Fairyland Pond, through a forest dominated by White Pine and Oak (some big Red Oaks) with some Sugar Maple, Pitch Pine, Paper Birch, Red Maple in swampy areas. I counted 123 rings on a 6” radius Oak stump. Most of the White Pines are over 2 ft. dbh., and one Pitch Pine is 14” dbh. We also saw Rhododendrons in swamps. Some heights measured:
White Pine 114 ft.
White Pine 115 ft. tallest tree measured in Concord area
White Pine 107 ft.
White Pine 95.5 ft.
White Pine 94 ft.
White Pine in hollow away from pond hard to measure 108 ft. +
Dense understory and canopy made measuring heights difficult, and the easiest measurements were taken across Fairyland Pond – the 114 ft. and 115 ft. pines were measured across the pond. Part of Hapgood Wright Town Forest was called Fairyland as early as the times of Thoreau and Emerson; in the 1850s Ellen Emerson referred to “the tall pines in Fairyland” (quoted in W. Barksdale Maynard, Walden Pond: A History, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2004,p.136). The Pines we saw could be over 150 years old and seem to be older than they look.

We next explored Walden Pond State Reservation, one of the environmental movement’s most sacred sites, and a popular pine-scented lake, with a replica of Thoreau’s cabin near the parking lot, shop, and beach (the beach was completely underwater due to March’s record floods and the trail along the lakeshore was closed due to flooding). White Pines that seem to be 100-150 or more years old dominate the forest along with Red Oaks (these White Pines do not look much over 100 years old but Maynard’s book shows photos of tall White Pines by Walden Pond from 1868, 1918, and other early years – the sandy soil of Walden Woods seems to slow tree growth); there are also Pitch Pines and Red Maples. We walked on a number of upland trails to the site of Thoreau’s cabin. Some trees measured:
Pitch Pine 77.5 ft tall.
White Pine across trail 90 ft tall.
White Pine with trail sign, one of biggest trees seen 31.1” dbh, 107 ft. tall.
Big White Pine in hollow near Thoreau cabin site 107 ft. tall.
Oak stump near Thoreau cabin site 13” radius, 116 rings.
2 White Pines by beach, 92 ft., 88 ft. tall.
The site of Thoreau’s Bean Field is occupied by a 2nd growth forest of White Pine, Pitch Pine, and Red Oak. A typical Pitch Pine there is 53.5 ft. tall.

The oldest parts of Hapgood Wright Town Forest and Walden Pond State Reservation could be considered secondary old growth because of continuous forest condition for nearly 200 years or more with White Pines and possibly other trees over 150 years old.

We also visited Beaver Brook Reservation in Belmont west of Boston, the site of the famous Waverley Oaks (see separate report), various sites in Essex Co. (including Danvers, Salem, Gloucester, Rockport – see separate report on Essex. Co.), Newport RI (see separate report), Matthies Grove CT (see separate report) and then into the Berkshires before returning to North Syracuse NY. We saw a very tall White Pine on
U.S. 7 in Sheffield MA across from Episcopalian Church – I measured this Pine at 124 ft., tallest tree measured in MA on this trip.

MA is a beautiful state with vast forests and fragrant groves of rough-barked White Pines everywhere.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat May 08, 2010 2:05 pm
 
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Island Grove Park in Abington MA. Trip 4/27/2010

ENTS,

I recently got back to North Syracuse from a wonderful trip to MA, RI, CT. Robert Henry loaned my his Nikon 550 Laser Rangefinder so I got some good height measurements in the beautiful stands of White Pine that cover so much of MA and CT and so little of central NY; I already had my "D" tape to help in measurements. I'm enclosing reports on Concord MA, Essex County MA, and Island Grove Park in Abington MA.

Island Grove Park, Abington, MA 4/27/2010

On this day Jack Howard and I visited this beautiful idyllic park in Abington east of Brockton MA. I first heard of Island Grove from the 1919 book Historic Trees of Massachusetts in which this grove of White Pines is prominently featured, and the pines looked taller in 1919 than today. Island Grove was an important meeting place for Abolitionists before the Civil War. The grove is entered by crossing a bridge across a small lake and through an arch dedicated to Abington’s Civil War veterans. It is a peaceful place and we heard many birds singing among the fragrant pines. The White Pines are quite large with rough bark even on the smallest trees. Typical White Pines were 21.4” dbh, 24.9” dbh, 20.6” dbh. I counted 110 rings on an old White Pine stump on 10” intact radius with a hollow center 2” radius.
These White Pines seem to be about 150 years old so they should be descendants of the trees that shaded the Abolitionists. The pines are not very tall, with average height seeming to be 70-80 ft. – the tallest White Pine I measured is 93 ft. tall (in upper areas across pond).
I measured other White Pines at 82.5 ft (in lower grove near pond)., 83.5 ft. (south of bridge), 70.5 ft. (in lower grove), 80 ft. (north of bridge – seems to be tallest north of bridge). The largest White Pine and the only partly open grown one is at the end of the lower grove by the pond – 35.8” dbh.
Other trees include Red Oak, Black Gum (several along water’s edge), planted Red Pine. One of the tallest Black Gums is 69 ft. tall.


Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat May 08, 2010 2:08 pm
 
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New York State Thruway Parking Area - west of exit 33

ENTS,

I'm enclosing updated reports on a few central NY sites including Beaver Lake Nature Center, Green Lakes State Park, Wizard of Oz Oak Grove and other North Syracuse sites, and a parking area on the NYS Thruway in Madison Co. that my brother and I visited on our way back from southern New England:


New York State Thruway Parking Area Westbound Lane, west of Exit 33 (in Madison Co., NY) 4/29/2010


On our way back from New England Jack Howard and I stopped at this small site of impressive trees which seems to be a remnant of old Hardwood Wetland Forest. It is mainly a small grove of impressive forest-grown Silver Maples averaging over 30” dbh.
Trees measured:
Silver Maple 36.8” dbh
Silver Maple 32.8” dbh
Silver Maple 34.4” dbh
Silver Maple 31.4” dbh 94.5 ft. tall
Silver Maple 30.9” dbh 110 ft. tall – tallest tree seen; dense canopies made height measurement difficult on some of these trees and there are certainly others over 100 ft. tall.
Silver Maple by fence 37.1” dbh, 87 ft. tall, top blown off some time ago
Silver Maple behind fence 99 ft. tall
Silver Maple behind fence 100 ft. tall
White Ash 35.1” dbh 99.5 ft. tall
There is also some American Elm.
The biggest tree on the site is an open-grown Swamp White Oak at the western end of the parking area : 52.2” dbh, 81 ft. tall.
These trees are easily over 100 years old and are the largest trees we saw on our trip to New England, ironically right here in central NY.


Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat May 08, 2010 2:27 pm
 
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North Syracuse, NY Update Apr. – May 2010

ENTS,

I'm enclosing updated reports on a few central NY sites including Beaver Lake Nature Center, Green Lakes State Park, Wizard of Oz Oak Grove and other North Syracuse sites, and a parking area on the NYS Thruway in Madison Co. that my brother and I visited on our way back from southern New England:


North Syracuse, NY Update Apr. – May 2010

Measurements with Robert Henry’s Nikon 550 Laser Rangefinder:

4/17/2010: most likely Onondaga Co. champion Black Gum in private lawn on Single Dr.: (this tree is in a neighborhood carved out of part of the Wizard of Oz Memorial Oak Grove in the 1970s when the grove totaled over 30-50 acres; this tree which has balding bark far up trunk and is est. 30” dbh, is surrounded by old Oaks about 90 ft. + tall) 82 ft. tall.

Tuliptree Wells Ave. West 97.5 ft. tallest tree in neighborhood
Sassafras north side Sandra Lane (in narrow belt of 2nd growth woods) 85.5 ft. tall, should be tallest Sassafras in central NY.

4/30/2010: large gnarled old White Oak, at least 4 ft.+ dbh, on Rt. 11 north of what used to be Goldberg’s Furniture Store 61 ft. tall, open-grown with big spread, tree est. 220 years old.

5/2/2010: Wizard of Oz Memorial Oak Grove update:
Large (over 30” dbh) Red Oak east of Shakespeare White Oak 93 ft. tall
White Oak west side trail in SW part of grove 23.7” dbh 96 ft. tall buttress base
Gandhi Red Oak 41.5” dbh at least 87 ft. tall Leafout in grove made measurements difficult.
Big Red Oak west edge (over 30” dbh) 89 ft. tall
Red Oak west edge north side spur trail 35.5” dbh 87 ft. tall
Red Oak west edge by spur trail farther north 34.9” dbh 94 ft. tall
Slender White Oak in brushy area south of Gandhi Red Oak 94 ft. tall
Matilda Joslyn Gage White Oak 32.8” dbh best shot from SE to 105 ft. height; even higher crown obscured by tree in field of view. The Gage White Oak should be at least 107 ft. tall, one of the grove’s tallest White Oaks.
Red Maple NE side trail in northern part of Forest Cathedral 16.1” dbh 92 ft. tall.
Big White Oak next to this Red Maple and next to 98 ft. Mandela Red Maple 92 ft. tall.
2 White Oaks south end Forest Cathedral 90-93 ft. tall.
White Oak south edge 85 ft. tall
The area that used to be part of the grove includes a hedgerow of large mostly Black Oaks between North Syracuse Junior High School field an Single Dr.; one of these big partly open-grown Oaks is 82.5 ft. tall.

North Syracuse Cemetery South Bay Rd. section rows of gnarled Sassafras between the cemetery and Lincoln Rd. backyards – I measured a typical Sassafras to 57.5 ft. tall, and the tallest Sassafras to 73 ft. in front of an 82.5 ft. Red Maple. To the north of this beautiful “Sassafras Hedgerow” is the glorious old growth North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat May 08, 2010 2:25 pm
 
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Green Lakes State Park, Onondaga Co., NY 4/30/2010

ENTS,

I'm enclosing updated reports on a few central NY sites including Beaver Lake Nature Center, Green Lakes State Park, Wizard of Oz Oak Grove and other North Syracuse sites, and a parking area on the NYS Thruway in Madison Co. that my brother and I visited on our way back from southern New England:


Green Lakes State Park, Onondaga Co., NY 4/30/2010


On this date Jack Howard and I went to Green Lakes State Park to confirm the height of the tall White Pine at the south end of Green Lake. In Kershner and Leverrett, The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast (2004), this tree is said to be 130 ft. tall. That height was measured by clinometer independently of Bruce Kershner who wrote the central NY section of the book. In 2003 Howard Stoner measured a tree at this site (which I believe to be the Pine as in the same document he said he measured the Pine and one other tree – he only gave the height of one tree and the height of the Pine was in question at that time) at 110 ft. tall. This Pine is the most prominent tree on the shore of Green Lake, and stands alone with no other Pines near it. On 4/30/2010 I used the Nikon 550 Laser Rangefinder and the best shot I got showed a top 120 ft. tall, so the dimensions of this largest White Pine in Onondaga County are 34” dbh and 120 ft. tall.

The old growth forest between Green Lake and Round Lake has several tall old Basswoods and other hardwoods; the dense leafing out canopy made height measurements difficult but I got the following:
Double-trunked Basswood 96 ft.
Single-trunked Basswood 97ft.+
Tuliptree on slope above these Basswoods: 112 ft.+

Southeast shore Green Lake:
Tuliptree 31.7” dbh 94 ft. tallest tree on SE shore.
Smaller Tuliptree on slope above, 93 ft. tall.

Green Lakes has notable old growth groves of White Cedars along shores; these trees are 200 or more years old, but under 40 ft. tall. The largest White Cedars seem to be around Deadman’s Point with one of the bigger ones 21.5” dbh.

We did not have time to go to central NY’s tallest forest, the magnificent old growth Tuliptree Cathedral southwest of Round Lake where Tuliptrees tower over 144 ft. tall as measured by Bob Leverrett in 2002. Green Lakes is a perfect site for a thorough ENTS survey.


Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat May 08, 2010 2:24 pm
 
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Beaver Lake Nature Center, Onondaga Co., NY 4/18/2010

ENTS,

I'm enclosing updated reports on a few central NY sites including Beaver Lake Nature Center, Green Lakes State Park, Wizard of Oz Oak Grove and other North Syracuse sites, and a parking area on the NYS Thruway in Madison Co. that my brother and I visited on our way back from southern New England:

Beaver Lake Nature Center, Onondaga Co., NY 4/18/2010


On this date Jack Howard and I visited Beaver Lake Nature Center in Lysander not far from where I live. We brought Robert Henry’s laser rangefinder (Nikon Forestry 550) and confirmed the exceptional heights measured by Jess Riddle in Nov. 2009.

Trees measured include in conifer plantation near Visitor Center:
White Pine 102 ft. with Virginia Creeper vine to top
Scots Pine 105 ft. – tallest I’ve ever seen of that species!
Norway Spruce 103 ft.
Norway Spruce 101 ft.
Norway Spruce 98 ft.
Black Cherry 97 ft.
White Ash across trail 92 ft.
None of these trees seem to be over 80 years old – exceptional heights for a harsh climate like central NY!

The following trees were measured near the Sugar Bush, in a small area that Jess Riddle identified as an extremely tall stand of Black Cherry:
Black Cherry 28” dbh 118 ft. big forking crown
Black Cherry 29.2” dbh 117 ft. by trail
Black Cherry 116 ft.
Tuliptree 118 ft. by trail, wide crown
Black Cherry 18.5” dbh 114 ft. by trail
Black Cherry 108 ft.+ small crooked trunk
Black Cherry 112 ft. small trunk, in hollow
Black Cherry 119 ft. bigger trunk, in hollow
Black Cherry 108 ft., slender, in hollow
Sugar Maple 114 ft.
These Black Cherries seem to be about 120 years old or a little more.

We also visited the beautiful old Beech grove near the lake, and measured the tallest tree in that section, a Tuliptree 29.7” dbh and 110 ft. tall.
Beech away from trail and in brushy area away from lake 107 ft. tall.
Beech by trail, 33” dbh, typical of big ones, not very tall.
Beech with big Grapevine 92 ft. tall.
Slender Beech near lake 99 ft. tall.

On trail near Visitor Center big battered White Oak (that used to have sign saying tree dated from 1839) 47.6” dbh, 70 ft. tall, open-grown form.

Hemlock Hollow Trail:
Red Oak stump 13” radius 100 rings
Red Oak in same area about 3 ft. dbh, 92.5 ft. tall.
Red Oak same area 43.4” dbh , 77 ft. tall.

also Hemlock Hollow Trail: White Pine toward lake 108 ft. tall.
same area: Tuliptree closer to lake 95 ft. tall.
Sycamore near Visitor Center: 90 ft. tall.


Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat May 08, 2010 2:23 pm
 
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Beaver Brook Reservation Belmont

Following is my report on Beaver Brook Reservation in Belmont, the site of the famous Waverley Oaks:

Beaver Brook Reservation, Belmont MA 4/21/2010


On this date Jack Howard and I visited this lovely park in the suburbs of Boston. It is not so well known today but in the late 19th century was the site of one of the most famous groves in America, the Waverley Oaks. The effort to preserve the Waverley Oaks led to the creation of the worldwide land trust movement. The best analysis of the Waverley Oaks was an editorial in the Feb. 19, 1890 Garden and Forest by Charles S. Sargent, founding director of the Arnold Arboretum. According to Sargent, the grove consisted of 22 White Oaks, 1 Swamp White Oak, 1 Elm mostly occupying “the slopes of a terminal moraine.” Sargent estimated that these open-grown Oaks were 400 – 500 years old, and he measured the Oaks at between 13 ft. and 17 ft. 3in. circumference 3.5 ft. above the ground. The editorial was accompanied by an excellent photograph showing masses of incredibly gnarled old Oaks on a knoll.
Sargent ended his editorial by saying “The establishment of a small public park at this place… would protect the trees from the dangers which now threaten them, and would make a valuable and interesting public resort within walking or driving distance of the homes of a very large number of people.” This statement would be influential, and Beaver Brook Reservation was established in 1893. The grove did not survive much longer as it looks like the trees were loved to death. All the great old Oaks on the knoll are long gone, but one of the Waverley Oaks, isolated from the rest of the grove, survives today.

I first heard of the Waverley Oaks in the book Trees of Worcester by Arabella H. Tucker (Worcester MA: Putnam, Davis, and Co., 1894) in which she refers to them as “a group of twenty-three white oaks, called the Waverley Oaks, that are certainly aborigines… Although larger single trees are known elsewhere, this is considered the most remarkable group of trees in eastern America. It was the opinion of Agassiz that the smallest of them was more than a thousand years old, but more conservative estimates reduce that by half.” (pp. 65-66). According to Sarah A. Stone in an article I found on the Internet from Historic Leaves, Vol. 5 Apr. 1906-Jan. 1907, Lowell [most likely James Russell Lowell] counted 750 rings on the stump of one of the Waverley Oaks that was cut down in 1845.

In the 19th century the Waverley Oaks inspired advanced environmental thinking. An article in The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XL (Sept. 1877, pp. 319-326), for example:
“I believe we must yet have an arboreal prophet, a preacher of tree-worship in a modern and Christian and poetic sense. The great appreciator of the Waverley Oaks is still to come. When he has done his work, in some future generation may be seen free man growing up amid free nature… When trees have their rights, man will be nobler and his welfare more secure”(p. 326).

There is an attempt to recognize the legacy of the Waverley Oaks today with a new Waverley Trail that is referenced in “Honoring the roots of the land trust movement: New trail recalls once-proud stand of Waverley oaks” by Kathleen Burge, Boston Globe, June 11, 2009.

When Jack and I visited the site in a pleasant tree-filled neighborhood of Belmont, we parked near the last surviving Waverley Oak, in a low wet area, near Beaver Brook. It is a healthy tree, an awesomely gnarled, really ancient White Oak 49.4” dbh and 50 ft. tall with a much greater spread than height. A branch stump slighter over my head had at least 250 or more rings, indicating that this tree is possibly about 350 years old. All the other trees at Beaver Brook Reservation are much younger, and Jack and I visited the knoll on which the core of the ancient grove stood over 100 years ago. There are some big Sycamores, Red Oaks, White Ashes, and other trees in the area, and some smaller White Oaks. The largest tree on the knoll is a White Oak 38.6” dbh and 63 ft. tall, no doubt a direct descendant of the Waverley Oaks, a tree that was young and small in the heyday of the ancient giants.


Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat May 08, 2010 9:03 pm
 
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Albany Pine Bush 4/29/2010

ENTS,

On our way back from southern New England on 4/29, my brother and I explored a small part of the fascinating and ecologically significant Albany Pine Bush. My report on this visit follows:

Albany Pine Bush, near Albany NY 4/29/2010

Jack Howard and I explored part of this fascinating place on our way back from southern New England. We tried to find the center of the Pine Bush but Google directed us to an area near the edge of the Pine Bush called Rapp Barren. We stopped there first, and walked on a trail through forest of mostly young White Pine, Quaking Aspen, Red Maple, Red Oak, Black Oak, Black Cherry, Gray Birch with many older looking gnarled Pitch Pines. The weather was sunny, cool, and very windy, and the wind through the stiff needles of the Pitch Pines made a musical sound, a sharper sound than the wind through White Pines. This area is remote from the Pine Bush Discovery Center, and we noticed plenty of litter, especially cigarette butts, a disconcerting thing to see in a fire-dependent ecosystem in a dry spell – fires in places like this that are close to populated areas should be controlled, but the excessive smoking that seems so prevalent in upstate NY and the carelessness of so many smokers could cause an unplanned and devastating fire; the litter was so bad that we could see plastic bags, etc. flying on the wind through the clear sky over 100 ft. above our heads. The litter so prevalent in NY State is upsetting to see especially after traveling through the much cleaner forests of MA and CT. Despite all this, Rapp Barren is a beautiful place and the Pitch Pines are much larger than we would later see in the more open Karner Barrens. White Pine seedlings are abundant in Rapp Barren.

Some heights in Rapp Barren:
Pitch Pine 60.5 ft.
Pitch Pine 64 ft. tallest tree measured in Albany Pine Bush
Pitch Pine by trail 17.6” dbh
Pitch Pine 20.8” dbh, 54 ft. tall, old and gnarled
Pitch Pine by trail 16.6” dbh – charred bark, recently burned in group of non-burned Pitch Pines
Pitch Pine 56.5 ft.

We drove on several roads through the Pine Bush, and with some difficulty we found the new Albany Pine Bush Visitor Center on NY 155 north of the Thruway. It is a large building with many excellent exhibits about this rare and endangered ecosystem. We picked up a good trail map and took the Blue Trail through Karner Barrens East which is right next to the Visitor Center. This is classic pine barren country, an open landscape of sand dunes, sand hills covered with Scrub Oak under 5 ft. tall with scattered groves of rugged old-looking gnarled fantastically picturesque Pitch Pines. It is a magical place especially on a windy day like this with the Pitch Pines making their sharp music to the wind; the sun shone bright silver off the needles of the Pitch Pines, and the wind blew sand into our teeth. Because this trail is so close to the Visitor Center there was very little litter. Karner Barrens had a magical sunny Pine fragrance, much like the fragrance of sunny groves of the very much larger Ponderosa Pine in the West. Pitch Pines are dominant here but we also saw small groups of low Staghorn Sumach, Black Cherry, Gray Birch, Pin Cherry, Sassafras (near the parking lot), Cottonwood. Here and there young-looking Red Oaks rival the Pitch Pines for height. None of these trees are tall, and the Laser Rangefinder confirmed that the taller looking Pitch Pines are much shorter than they look. The following are heights of the more prominent Pitch Pines that often could be clearly seen from a long way away:
49.5 ft. (2nd tallest seen, near parking lot)
41 ft., 46 ft., 40.5 ft., 40 ft., 37.5 ft., 47.5 ft., 47 ft., 38.5 ft.
55.5 ft. – tallest seen in Karner Barrens East
45 ft. near parking lot near end of trail.
A typical small Pitch Pine was measured at 9.4” dbh. We did not get many diameter measurements because most of the Pines grow in dense brush and we did not want to take a chance at Lyme Disease which is very common in this part of NY. We saw 2 Deer. We also saw Pitch Pines very much alive standing above the charred ground from a prescribed fire which a sign said burned July 15, 2009.

It is hard to say how old the oldest Pitch Pines are; rings on stumps and cross-sections of some small trees and branches near the trail are quite wide, and the oldest trees are probably not much over 100 years old – they probably don’t live a lot longer than that in this harsh dry sandy environment, but the ecosystem itself is thousands of years old, and the Albany Pine Bush has been known since colonial times. The Blue Trail is an especially good introduction to this site, and from the “overlook” on this trail, one of the highest points in the Pine Bush, we had glorious views of hills and mountains nearby and far away, including the Berkshires in MA and the even farther off Catskills.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sun May 09, 2010 1:39 pm
 
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North Syracuse Cemetery Sugar Maples

5/23/2010 – Old part North Syracuse Cemetery – on this hot humid day I used “D” tape to measure the big Sugar Maples near the old stone building by Rt.11; this group of 5 Sugar Maples is the only significant group of trees along Rt. 11, which is otherwise a car-choked sun-blasted waste. North Syracuse’s 2 beautiful old oak groves are well away from Rt. 11. The 5 Sugar Maples are the crowning glory of the old part of the North Syracuse Cemetery (the old growth North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove is behind the newer part of the cemetery east of South Bay Rd; the old part of the cemetery is between Rt. 11 and South Bay Rd). These Sugar Maples are beautiful trees, partly open-grown with shaggy bark; they seem to have been planted after the Civil War (one of this group that blew down in 1998 had 130 rings on the stump, or date of 1868). 4 of them form a row from west to east, and the 5th tree is south of the others. They are all healthy, and the shade they throw in our endlessly hot summers is wondrous. All these Maples have single trunks. Here are the stats (since I didn’t have the laser rangefinder, dbh only is given, west to east:
1 NW corner 42.8”
2 31.9”
3 39.4” (possibly tallest of group, measured to 89 ft. Nov. 2009)
4 NE 35.9”
5 SE (behind old stone building) 30.7”

I measured the 2 largest Norway Spruces in the old part of the cemetery:
double-trunked by main road 38.6” dbh
low-branched single trunked SE 39.8” dbh

I also walked along the hedgerow that forms the south edge of the old cemetery. It is a narrow tangle of 2nd growth forest with Black Cherry, Sassafras, Boxedler, Scots Pine, small American Elm, small Mulberry, Norway Maple, Tuliptree, Butternut, at least 3 rugged old battered open-grown Sugar Maples that seem to be over 150 years old (due to fence and dense tangles, I could not measure these trees), 1 battered old Red Maple over 3 ft. dbh (largest diameter for Red Maple that I have seen here) with low crown.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sun May 23, 2010 3:01 pm
 
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Sackets Harbor, NY

ENTS,

On Sun. 5/30 Robert Henry, his family, and I went to Sackets Harbor, a beautiful historic town on the northeast shore of Lake Ontario in Jefferson County 8 miles west of Watertown. Sackets Harbor was the most important military post in the United States in the War of 1812, the center of naval shipbuilding as the US was engaged in a naval arms race with Great Britain on Lake Ontario, against the British base in Kingston, Upper Canada (now Ontario) less than 40 miles away. By 1815 the largest warships in the world were being built at KIngston and Sackets Harbor, the up to 112 gun ship of the line St. Lawrence at Kingston, and the 120 gun ship of the line New Orleans at Sackets Harbor - the war ended before the New Orleans could be finished. These ships used vast amounts of oak and white pine (for masts) timber. By 1815 over 12,000 military personnel were in Sackets Harbor, including over 1200 men who worked in the shipyards. Because of this and the heavy agricultural development of the fertile lowlands of nothern NY very little old growth is lest - I know of no old growth sites in this entire region, and the non-Adirondack areas of northern NY as far as I know have never been thoroughly explored by ENTS. Most trees seen on this outing to Sackets Harbor are low, none over 100 ft., and just about all the forest we saw is rather young second growth.

Sackets Harbor itself is a major historic site, with as many as 25 houses still standing that were there in 1813; it is a great destination, has excellent historic museums and displays. It is a charming small town with a New England feel.
Sackets Harbor is the site of one of the major battles of the War of 1812, the British attack of May 29, 1813, a bloody and inconclusive battle with the British being repulsed before they could destroy a US warship being built.
Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site commemorates the battle, and the site of the bloodiest fighting is occupied by a beautiful grove of Silver Maples planted from 1905-1913 around a monument dedicated to the fallen in the battle by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1913 in a cool breezy area with a glorious view of Lake Ontario. These Silver Maples are quite large; I measured a typical one at 28.5" dbh, the largest at 36.5" dbh. These trees are less than 90 ft. tall. In the village of Sackets Harbor I measured an open-grown Silver Maple near the Seaway Trail Discovery Center (in the Union Hotel built in 1817) at 33.3" dbh.

The largest trees in Sackets Harbor are Cottonwoods, and some of these are truly gigantic. After leaving the main part of the village, we explored Madison Barracks, the largest Army Base in the northern US in the 19th century; many of the buildings there are now used as apartments, and have been nicely restored, in a parklike setting with many trees. The largest tree we saw is a truly immense Cottonwood near the a tower built in 1892. This is a single-trunked tree that I measured at an incredible 77.5" dbh!!! (20.3 ft. cbh) - this is one tall trunk with lower limbs cut off years ago; the lowest branch seems to be about 40+ ft. above the ground, and the tree seems to be at least 90 ft. tall (we didn't have laser rangefinder with us, didn't think we'd see any tall trees), and branch spread looks to be over 40 ft. The bark of the Cottonwood is rough with big upraised plates. It's hard to say how old this tree is; it was possibly planted by the Army in the mid 19th century - it is easily one of the largest Cottonwoods I've ever seen, and one of the largest trees I've ever seen in NY! In the same area is Officer's Row, brick housing for officers from 1900-1905 or so, pleasantly shaded by large open-grown Sugar Maples that should date from the time these buildings were built.

After we left Sackets Harbor, we continued south on NY3 to the site of the Battle of Sandy Creek at a state boat launch site on South Sandy Creek in Jefferson Co. a few miles north of the Oswego Co. line. We were there at the anniversary of the battle of May 30, 1814 where the Americans ambushed a British force, killing or capturing the entire force. It is a calm peaceful place, with a dense 2nd growth forest dominated by Boxedler with larger Black Willow, some Butternut, with many Grapevines climbing the trees. There is a gravel path that goes along the creek; otherwise the dense herbaceous growth would make the site difficult to travel through - one of these herbs, a tall coarse plant with huge compound leaves and big bulb-like structures on top that open into large heads of fine white flowers, looks like a science fiction alien plant - I think it could be the extremely toxic invasive Giant Hogweed - so we stayed on the trail.
The area farther from the stream is a vast open marsh that was there in 1814, and was described in 1760 in a survey by French Captain Pierre Pouchot. The Sandy Creek site has a strange spiritual feeling, a sense of the tragic deaths of 1814, and even more as it has been said by Pouchot to be near the Iroquois Garden of Eden, where the first humans were said to have entered the world; it seems to be a Native American sacred site.

We saw very few White Pines on this trip, most of the pines (if there ever were many) having been cut long ago for shipbuilding and other purposes (Not far to the south is a Secondary Old Growth - trees to 150 years old - White Pine grove at the Boat Launch at Selkirk Shores State Park which Jack Howard and I visited Apr. 2009 - I hope to survey that site with laser rangefinder soon but the trees don't seem to be over 100 ft. tall). In more open areas of Jefferson Co. where the soil is more rocky, small stunted Eastern Red Cedars are common. This whole area has harsh snowy winters.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Mon May 31, 2010 9:57 am
 
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Thickson's Woods, Whitby ON

ENTS,

I was in Toronto from 6/18-6/21 and my brother Jack Howard and I visited some interesting sites including a place called Thickson's Woods. What follows is a report about this site:

Thickson’s Woods, Whitby Ont.

According to The Waterfront Trail and Greenway Mapbook Thickson’s Woods “is last remnant of old-growth white pines on the north shore of Lake Ontario.”

This site is not included in the new book Ontario’s Old Growth Forests by Michael Henry and Peter Quinby.

Thickson’s Woods covers a little over 16 acres near Whitby about 30 miles east of Toronto. In 1983 the property owner cut 66 large old White Pines. This caused consternation in the environmental community and the newly formed Thickson’s Woods Land Trust purchased the site and has preserved this important forest for posterity.

On Sun. 6/20/2010 Jack Howard and I visited this site and the pines were magnificent but at first the trees did not seem exceptionally large. It is a surprising place. At the entrance of the main trail at the Waterfront Trail, is a sign proclaiming Thickson’s Woods as a sanctuary for the last Royal Navy Mast Pines. At the entrance is a large open grown Hop Hornbeam, and when the first pines appear, spearing above the low hardwood canopy, they seem small and not terribly old. The forest winds along the edge of a marsh and the White Pines tower above low hardwoods in scattered battered wind swept groups.

As trails wind farther west through the gently rolling terrain, along the edge of the marsh and deeper into the forest, the rugged old White Pines get bigger and bigger, taller and taller, and around every bend there are bigger and bigger pines. There are easily over 100 large rough-barked White Pines in this stand and all the pines pierce the sky high above their much lower hardwood companions. The pines are easily over 100 feet tall, and the Thickson’s Woods Land Trust’s claim that the pines reach 35 metres in height (115 ft.) looks accurate. We did no height measurements as I did not have the laser rangefinder with me.

Species seen:

Dominant: White Pine

Associate: Hop Hornbeam, Paper Birch, Yellow Birch, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Mountain Maple, Black Cherry, Butternut, Cottonwood, White Poplar, Beech, Hemlock, Ash, Black Willow, Boxelder, Grapevine

Trees measured with “D” tape:
White Pine 21.2” dbh
White Pine 24.7” dbh in nice group of 3
White Pine 16.4” dbh
White Pine 34.2” dbh
White Pine 25.2” dbh near boardwalk near White Poplar in sunny marsh
White Pine 32.4” dbh
White Pine 32.5” dbh
White Pine 30.9” dbh
White Pine 35.2” dbh White Pine seedling at base
White Pine 32.8” dbh

These last 5 trees were measured in the western part of the grove where massed ranks of tall White Pines rise to high wind swept glory.

There is some White Pine reproduction, and the air is permeated with the fragrance of White Pine, which gives the place a sense of tranquility. The White Pines seem to be about 150-180 years old, but there are old decayed stumps of pines much larger than the largest pines today. Some of these stumps are over 40” across, and were probably cut in 1983 – these larger pines were possibly over 200 years old when they were cut. We saw little pit and mound topography. We saw some big Yellow Birches that look old, and near houses by the western edge of the forest, a large old Grapevine climbs a Yellow Birch. One of the most remarkable tree fusions I’ve ever seen is a big tall straight White Pine with a smaller bending Black Cherry coming out of the same root, with the trunks of the 2 trees of these 2 species blended together for some distance above the ground.

The only age data we got was 60 rings on an 8” radius cross-section of a fallen Cottonwood.

Near the end of our visit we came upon a small grove of old Sugar Maple with several trees with rough old shaggy bark. The largest Sugar Maple is 35.5” dbh with trunk dividing into 3 ascending limbs well above breast height.

Thickson’s Woods fits the definition of Secondary Old Growth from Bruce Kershner and Robert Leverett’s The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast, and the White Pines have similar size (to 35” dbh) and age (est. 150-180 years) of Secondary Old Growth White Pine sites we saw in MA and CT in Apr. 2010 (MA sites – Ravenswood Park, Gloucester; Hapgood Wright Town Forest, Concord; Walden Pond State Reservation; Island Grove Park, Abington; CT – Matthies Grove), and the Boat Launch grove in Selkirk Shores State Park, NY at the eastern end of Lake Ontario.

Ave. dbh of White Pine measured at Thickson’s Woods 10 trees - 28.6”
Ave. dbh of last 5 White Pines measured on this site in western big tree area 32.8”

Thickson’s Woods is an important birding site and we saw a Downy Woodpecker there. The Thickson’s Woods Land Trust website has good information about the trees and birds. Blackburnian and Pine Warblers have been found in the tops of the pines.

My brother and I plan to go back to Thickson’s Woods in the fall when we have clearer visibility into the tops of the pines.


Tom Howard
6/23/2010
by tomhoward
Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:17 pm
 
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Toronto sites

ENTS,

Here is my other report on Toronto:

Toronto, Ontario Sites 6/19-6/20/2010


On Sat. 6/19/2010 Jack Howard and I visited the Ontario Science Centre, one of the best science museums with many interactive exhibits on many aspects of Science, including space science (with a Moon rock brought back by Apollo astronauts, and a piece of a meteorite blasted off Mars), environmental science, etc., and a neat traveling exhibit (on a temporary visit to the Science Museum) that recreates the world of Harry Potter. One of the environmental exhibits creates a small area of tropical rainforest in a large warm humid greenhouse; there are several species of tropical trees and vines, including Kapok trees that reach to a ceiling that seems to be at least 60 ft. tall.

The Ontario Science Centre is in a splendid natural setting built into the side of a forested ravine in the eastern part of Toronto. From the main entrance you walk on an indoor walkway across the canopy of 2nd growth hardwood forest with much Sugar Maple. Then to get to exhibits you take an escalator down several levels through a steep forest dominated by large Black Locust. One part of this forest on a shelf in the ravine is open to the public; it is called the Reason for Hope Garden, part of Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program. There are some big Weeping Willows near a Chinese style garden pavilion and there is some forest with Beech and Hemlock and one large forest grown White Pine, with rough bark high up into crown, and with a big trunk about 40” dbh (estimate as I did not have my “D” tape with me); this is the most impressive tree at the Ontario Science Centre – this White Pine should easily be over 150 years old. In the same area I counted 60 rings on a 6” radius cross-section of a Black Locust log.

On Sun. 6/20 Jack and I explored Queens Park right in the center of Toronto near the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The ROM and the city of Toronto have a program called Trees for Toronto whose purpose is to plant and identify existing trees in Queens Park. Over 40 tree species are identified with plaques on their trunks. The largest trees are huge old open grown Red Oaks and White Oaks; these oaks, some of which are over 200 years old, are remnants of an Old Growth Oak Savanna. I measured several trees with “D” tape:

Red Oak 57.1” dbh hollow low branches
Red Oak 62.7” dbh (16.4’ cbh)
Red Oak 62.3” dbh huge buttress roots, massive craggy limbs
Red Oak 61.9” dbh east end of park

White Oak 46.9” dbh
White Oak 52.9” dbh (13.9’ cbh)
White Oak 46.2” dbh lightning scars
White Oak 37.8” dbh taller trunk than most

All other trees were planted and include:

Pin Oak 45.6” dbh young-looking crown

Butternut 33.8” dbh
Kentucky Coffeetree 23.6” dbh
Blueleaf Birch 17.9” dbh native to Maritime Provinces, northern New England, usually much smaller

Other trees seen include Cornelian Cherry ( a Dogwood from Europe), European Linden (in fragrant bloom), European Ash (common in park), Catalpa, Gingko,
big Sycamore Maple, several big Silver Maples, London Plane Tree.

One of the big Red Oaks fell recently leaving a huge rotten stump. This tree apparently was younger than some of the other big oaks. I counted only 50 wide rings outside the rotten center. Last year I counted 170 rings on an oak stump in Queens Park.


Tom Howard
6/24/2010
by tomhoward
Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:18 pm
 
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Fort Ontario Cottonwoods

ENTS,

The large Cottonwoods at Fort Ontario in Oswego, NY on Lake Ontario are historically significant trees that have stood as silent witnesses to this military post's 20th century history; these are the trees that shaded the refugees who lived at the fort from 1944-1946 (the only refugee camp in the USA in World War II). Despite this history and despite the fact that these Cottonwoods have healthy crowns and despite the fact that the cash-strapped NY State Parks can't even afford to cut the grass, most,if not all of these trees are to be cut down because of a fear that they or their limbs might fall on somebody.

I'm enclosing a report about a recent visit Robert Henry and I made to these awesome trees:

Fort Ontario Cottonwoods Oswego, NY


The large Cottonwoods at Fort Ontario were mostly planted by the U.S. Army about 1904 when the Fort Ontario Military Reservation was re-modeled. All of these trees are outside the historic walls of old Fort Ontario.

On 6/27/2010 Robert Henry and I examined several of these trees with laser rangefinder and “D” tape (for measuring diameter at breast height or dbh).

First we looked at the group of trees running north to south from Fort Ontario’s old walls:
(First figure given is height in feet).

Cottonwood near southwest corner of this group 91.5 44.2” dbh
From this tree the line of Cottonwoods goes east past red brick storage buildings built from 1903-1905 (one of these buildings is the Oswego Civic Arts Center).

Next we studied a row of recently cut Cottonwood stumps in southwest part of group north of the first tree measured:
First stump 125 rings 40” radius this tree planted about 1884
Second stump 96 rings 28” radius this tree planted about 1913
Third stump 94 rings 19” radius this tree planted about 1915

Cottonwood at beginning of group going east towards Arts Center 96
Cottonwood in group south of fort 43.8” dbh
Cottonwood nearest fort 101 50.7” dbh
Cottonwood just south of above 98.5
Cottonwood just south of above 107 55.5” dbh (14.5 ft. cbh)
Cottonwood just south of above 99.5
Cottonwood in same group 2 ascending limbs 107 51.5” dbh

Next we looked at Fort Ontario Cemetery which has some truly huge Cottonwoods, all of which were planted after the Cemetery was moved to this site in 1903-1904.
Tallest Cottonwood in Cemetery in southwest part, a huge tree with big crown and surprisingly tall 118 ft. tall! 53.9” dbh (14.1 ft. cbh)
Just east of this tree a Cottonwood stump 84 rings, 48” radius.
We measured 2 4 ft. dbh+ Cottonwoods in north part of Cemetery to 105 ft. tall, 106 ft. tall, and 2 Cottonwoods near east edge of Cemetery to 78.5 ft. and 86 ft. tall.

On E. 9th St. east of Fort Ontario there used to be 2 huge Cottonwoods over 5 ft. dbh – one of these trees has fallen and I counted 95 rings on a 20” radius cross-section 15 ft. above base, indicating an estimated age of over 120 years. The surviving Cottonwood is 95.5 ft. tall.

On a hill southeast of Fort Ontario is a huge prominent Cottonwood that in 2007 was proclaimed the Oswego Co. champion. This tree on N. Division St. we measured at 99.5 ft. tall; it has a much larger trunk than the Cottonwoods at Fort Ontario (2007 official measurement – 90.4” dbh or 284” (23.7 ft. cbh) around massive single trunk – ref. Oswego Palladium Times 9/19/2007).


Tom Howard
6/28/2010
by tomhoward
Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:05 pm
 
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Wizard of Oz Oak Grove Update - Poe Black Oak has fallen

ENTS,

Here is an update on the historic old growth Wizard of Oz Oak Grove in North Syracuse. The largest Black Oak in Onondaga County, the Poe Tree, has recently fallen.

Wizard of Oz Memorial Oak Grove, North Syracuse, NY 7/1/2010


On this date Robert Henry and I visited the Wizard of Oz Oak Grove. There have been several changes. We were alerted to something going on by a letter received at the North Syracuse Village Hall about a homeowner on Single Dr. on the grove’s north side cutting trees in the part of the grove behind his house. Bob and I confirmed that this property owner has cut trees for at least 50 ft. into the grove; this property owner has done a great deal of damage to the northern part of the grove behind his house and the constant cutting has alarmed many people who live near the grove; these concerned citizens are aware of the historic value of the grove as the most likely original inspiration for the Great Forest of Oz.

There have been other changes as well. One of the 3 trunks of the dead Jackie Robinson Black Oak that fell across the trail a few years ago has been cut away so the trail is restored; I counted 130 rings on an 8.5” radius cross-section of this trunk about 10 ft. above the base giving the tree an estimated age of about 140 years, older than expected from coring (another trunk of this tree was cored in 1998 and found to be about 125 years old).

But the biggest change was in the northwest part of the grove as the giant Poe Black Oak, the largest Black Oak in Onondaga County (50.4” dbh, 98 ft. tall) has fallen! The tree was almost completely hollow with nearly no intact wood near the base – near the base of the tree I was only able to count 15 rings in 5” intact radius cross-section; all the rest of this large cross-section was rotten and hollow. About 40 ft. from the base I counted 63 rings on a 12” radius intact cross-section with the large center hollow and rotten; fungi are already growing inside this cross-section. The Poe Black Oak seems to have fallen in a recent windstorm and a huge shattered stump has been left behind.

We next went through the awesome Forest Cathedral which is entirely intact and at the height of its glory, a high green sunlit canopy like a mighty roof, utterly ethereal with many White Oaks and Red Maples up to 108 ft. tall. A long dead White Oak snag that fell across the trail at the south end of the Cathedral has been cut through so the trail has been restored there; I counted 112 rings on a 9” radius cross-section about 12 ft. above the base.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:52 pm
 
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Marcellus Maple

ENTS,

In the Syracuse Post-Standard of 7/3/2010, there is an article "Prize tree faces ax in Marcellus: It's stood for 175 years. It's healthy, but it's in the way of street project" by Dick Case. Marcellus is southwest of Syracuse, and I have not been there in many years; I was not aware of this tree until I read the paper yesterday. According to the article, the tree is a Black Maple and "is believed to be the largest black maple tree in New York state". It's possible. The tree is said to be 95 ft. tall with 131" girth (10.9 ft. cbh, 41.7" dbh). Black Maple is a rare tree in this area, and this particular tree is most likely to be cut down as it is "in the way of a street improvement project" so the village has decided it has to be cut down. That happens all too often around here, and it seems that in much of central NY people in charge have an animosity toward trees, and a fear of trees. An arborist cited in the article says the tree should be saved but he also says the village of Marcellus has taken down all the other trees that he recommended for preservation.

The article (and the online link to syracuse.com, the newspaper's website, has a magnificent picture of the tree and it does look large, and could possibly be 175 years old but the 95 ft. height looks unlikely; the tree looks at most 75 ft. tall, but it could still be a state champion. I have a copy of the latest NY champion list (Jan. 2010) and it looks like most trees are improperly measured with many of them impossibly large. I'm sure this is familiar to ENTS. The girth of the Marcellus Black Maple looks reasonable; the state champion it may exceed in size is in LIvingston County, has girth of 117", height of 106 ft., spread of 48 ft for 235 AF points. I don't know if that is accurate or not. But some trees are impossible like the Red Maple in Madison County, a tree about which I have never been able to get information, even though it is in central NY - this tree has cbh of 255" (21.2 ft!), height of 135 ft!, spread of 108 ft! with 417 AF Points! ( The tallest accurately measured Red Maple I know of in NY is 119.1 ft. tall in Zoar Valley). These figures seem utterly impossible for Red Maple at this latitude; most likely the tree has several trunks, and the 135 ft. height was most likely done with a clinometer that can vastly exaggerate the height of open-grown trees - a spread of 108 ft. indicates open grown form and even that is probably exaggerated. Even wilder (when it comes to spread is the state champion American Beech (135.6" cbh, 126 ft. tall, spread 292 ft! or 280 AF points - that's what the state list says but the actual AF points are 334.6) in Erie County.

Even if it is accurately measured or not, hopefully some way will be found to preserve the Black Maple in Marcellus.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:53 am
 
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Northern New York Sites

ENTS,

Northern New York Sites 7/17-7/19/2010

From 7/17-7/19 Jack Howard and I visited Ogdensburg in St. Lawrence County, NY on the St. Lawrence River to watch the big re-enactment of the last major battle of the French and Indian War in the interior of North America; this battle was fought in the Ogdensburg area in Aug. 1760. The 11,000 British won an overwhelming victory over about 300 French defenders. I had Robert Henry’s laser rangefinder so I could get some tree heights. The re-enactment took place at Lighthouse Point in Ogdensburg which is the original site of the French Fort de la Presentation (1749-1760); this site is mostly open with rather low Black Willow, Cottonwood, and Quaking Aspen. Ogdensburg is a special place to us as I was born there and my brother grew up there. There are many Victorian era houses with shady porches and big trees, especially Cottonwoods and Silver Maples along the streets.

The following are the sites in which we got the greatest amount of information:

The first site visited 7/17 is a parking area on NY 12 in the 1000 Islands; this site overlooking the St. Lawrence River and rocky islands clad with White Pines is mostly a grove of rough-barked wind swept White Pines; I got the following heights from these White Pines:
63.5 ft., 63.5 ft., 60.5 ft., 71.5 ft., 74 ft., 76.5 ft., 57.5 ft. 73.5 ft.

In Ogdensburg on 7/17 we examined some big trees in a park near Hepburn Hospital – these are possibly the first big trees I ever saw in childhood. The largest trees are 3 huge open grown Bur Oaks that seem to be well over 150 years old. Trees measured:
Bur Oak 43.7” dbh, 72.5 ft. tall
Bur Oak 44.7” dbh (11.7 ft. cbh), 75 ft. tall
Bur Oak 42.5” dbh, 79 ft. tall
Sugar Maple 34.4” dbh, 81 ft. tall – this seems to be the tallest tree; there are several other Sugar Maples about this size in the park.

On 7/19 Jack and I visited Morristown the next town south (upriver) on the St. Lawrence River and stumbled upon the best tree site we’ve ever seen in the Ogdensburg area – Morristown’s Greenwood Cemetery. This is an old cemetery with graves to as early as 1819, and this whole small cemetery is filled with a grove of huge fragrant rough barked White Pines. White Pines measured:
Dbh Height

36.9”
41.7” 85 ft.
90 ft.
103 ft.
44.4”(11.6 ft. cbh) 105 ft. 2 ascending stems well above dbh, one broken off – largest tree on site
98 ft.
35.3” 103 ft.
84.5 ft. by edge – 2 ascending stems
90 ft.
35.1” 104 ft. next to 105 ft. tree
98 ft.
94.5 ft.
There is also a large (about 2 ft. dbh) low battered White Cedar in Greenwood Cemetery. These magnificent White Pines, which give the cemetery an air of peace, should easily be 150- over 180 years old. The White Pines in the center of the cemetery are so close together that they are difficult to measure, and it is awesome to look straight up into their lofty crowns; there could be other White Pines over 100 ft. tall in this center group. Morristown has many other large White Pines, and also large Sugar Maples and Red Oaks.

We next went to Sackets Harbor and measured heights there - see update to Sackets Harbor post.

After we left Sackets Harbor on 7/19 we went to the Boat Launch Pine Grove at Selkirk Shores State Park in Oswego County which is the subject of a further report.

Tom Howard
7/21/2010
by tomhoward
Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:48 pm
 
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Selkirk Shores State Park

ENTS,

Selkirk Shores State Park, Oswego County, NY Heights 7/19/2010

On our way back from Ogdensburg on Mon. 7/19 Jack Howard and I visited Selkirk Shores State Park on the east shore of Lake Ontario. Our first stop was the Secondary Old Growth Boat Launch Pine Grove, a fragrant grove of tall White Pines from 27”-over 34” dbh that we last visited 4/25/2009. This time we had Robert Henry’s Nikon Forestry 550 Laser Rangefinder with us and the beautiful pines turned out to be taller than expected. The first tree measured was a large mostly open grown White Pine near the parking lot and I was surprised by a height of 91.5 ft.

The White Pines in the grove are forest grown and taller. I measured the following trees:
White Pine double-crown 107 ft.
White Pine by road to parking lot 100 ft.
White Pine near above 99.5 ft.
White Pine 95.5 ft.
White Pine 90 ft.
White Pine by dirt road center of grove 110 ft.
White Pine by dirt road center of grove 104 ft.
White Pine by dirt road center of grove 105 ft.
White Pine near parking lot 97.5 ft.
White Pine near parking lot 98.5 ft.
slender White Pine near center grove 112 ft.
White Pine near above 102 ft.

Most of these White Pines are in a more open part of the grove closer to the parking lot. The trees deeper in the grove across a dirt road through the center of the grove appear to be even taller but the dense canopy and a large number of people using the cabins at the end of the dirt road made us decide to put off measuring these trees till fall.

We next went to the Bluff Picnic Area in the Day Use Area, a shady area cooled by breezes off Lake Ontario and dominated by large hardwoods, mostly Red Oaks and Sugar Maples with some White Ash. Most of these trees are forest grown old growth trees and the Day Use Area is next to the dense old growth grove that is the only known original old growth forest in Oswego County. Lateness of the day and the density of the canopy prevented us from measuring any trees in the old growth forest. The largest tree in the Bluff Picnic Area is a forest grown single-trunked Red Oak 54.7” dbh (14.3 ft. cbh) that I measured to 90 ft. tall (I thought it could be taller but winds off Lake Ontario should stunt heights); most trees in this area are under 90 ft. tall. This huge Red Oak is probably over 200 years old and has a spiral grain trunk. I measured a Sugar Maple to 91.5 ft. tall.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:06 pm
 
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North Syracuse Update 7/31/2010

ENTS,

7/31/2010 – more measurements with laser rangefinder in North Syracuse:
Blue Spruce across Rt. 11 from Main St. School old tree 58.5 ft.
Norway Spruce in row between Fergerson Funeral Home and old cemetery 73.5 ft.

I measured heights of a small group of Norway Spruces by an old (1914) abandoned shoe shop at dead end of 100 block of Church St. just west of South Bay Rd.; these trees are at the base of a small hill and the tallest tree is upslope on hill – I measured it at 88 ft.(basal shot at base of tree on slope). It is easily the tallest tree in the group, and is possibly the tallest Norway Spruce in North Syracuse. Others in group:
Norway Spruce east lower on slope 72.5 ft.
Norway Spruce to east at bottom of hill 75 ft.
Big Silver Maple by North Syracuse Community Center (southwest side intersection of South Bay Rd. and Centerville Place 80 ft.
Cottonwood east of South Bay Rd., north side 200 block of Church St. 70 ft.

I also measured a few trees from Centerville Park on the east side of South Bay Rd. (Centerville Park is an old gravel pit so trees are upslope). A row of slender White Pines atop the south slope of Centerville Park turned out to be surprisingly tall; both trees measured were measured from base of tree on slope (from base of tree atop slope to topmost twig); the tallest was 93 ft. (and it can be prominently seen from a considerable distance – it doesn’t look that tall close up), and the shorter 80.5 ft.

Big Silver Maple on north side of Wells Ave. E. east of South Bay Rd. 86.5 ft. – this tree is one of the few survivors of rows of Silver Maples that lined the street and were most likely planted when Wells Ave. E. was laid out about 1915; nearly all the other Silver Maples were cut down after the big storm of 9/7/1998 (the storm did not damage most of these trees but a paranoia of trees near streets set in and people here are still frightened of trees – hence this formerly lovely tree-shaded street has an ugly sunblasted look).

New part of cemetery east of South Bay Rd. open-grown White Pine near South Bay Rd. 31” dbh 54 ft.

I walked to the edge of the North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove, into an open area south of the grove and I got a better angle to the top of the White Pine in the 2nd growth that I measured 7/25 at 78.5 ft.; today I got 86 ft. on that tree. Just to the south of this tree is another White Pine in the 2nd growth that I also measured at 86 ft. From this same open area I measured some of the trees at the west part of the old growth North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove:
White Oak #6 (7/25 70 ft.) today 81 ft.- better shot at crown
Black Gum #5 (7/25 64 ft.) today 71.5 ft. – better shot at crown
White Oak #10 (over 3 ft. dbh, big crown, est. 175 years old) est. 98 ft., shot into brush near base
Red Maple #8 (over 32” dbh) est. 90 ft., shot into brush near base
Slender Red Oak edge of 2nd growth south of Cemetery Oak Grove 74 ft.
Young White Pine north side new part of cemetery 73 ft.
Numbers on the trees in and near the Cemetery Oak Grove refer to the brochure Robert Henry and I developed in 1999 about the grove.

In old cemetery between Rt. 11 and South Bay Rd.:
3-trunked tree that I believe is an Atlantic White Cedar 37.5 ft.
Sugar Maple south edge of cemetery behind Wells Ave. E. houses to east 91 ft.
Bigger Sugar Maple along south edge to west 78 ft.
I also did more measuring in the beautiful grove of 5 Sugar Maples in the old cemetery near Rt. 11 and by the old stone building – I did dbh measurements of these trees 5/23/2010.
Sugar Maple #4 35.9” dbh 86 ft.
Sugar Maple #5 30.7” dbh 87 ft.
And I re-measured the tallest tree in the group, Sugar Maple #3 (39.4” dbh) and I got a better shot at the top than I did 7/25; today I shot from the southeast of the tree from where I could clearly see the top and got 102 ft. – it is much taller than its neighbors and this is the tallest tree measured today.
All 5 of these Sugar Maples were planted between 1865 and 1870 and were possibly planted as Civil War memorials; there used to be more than 5 Sugar Maples but one blew down 9/7/1998 (and I got 130 rings on its stump) and at least 1 or 2 others were removed after that.

Tallest of 2 big Purple-leaf Beeches (over 3 ft. dbh) on Fergerson property east of Rt. 11 and north of Fergerson Funeral Home 76 ft. (tree to north)

Big Silver Maple in lawn of old (built about 1913) house north of 210 S. Main St. 87 ft. (Main St. is U.S. Rt. 11).

I did some measuring at the edge of the dense 2nd growth forest to west of North Syracuse Baptist Church (west of Rt . 11 and between Wells Ave. W. and Sandra Lane) – all heights are estimates as basal shots were into brush:
big Silver Maple to north 92 ft.
White Pine to north 91 ft.; White Pine to south 83.5 ft.
Norway Spruce in grove 86.5 ft.


Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sun Aug 01, 2010 11:22 am
 
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Wizard of Oz Oak Grove

ENTS,

Today I made some more measurements in the Wizard of Oz Oak Grove. Dense leafed out brush makes measurements difficult as in most cases basal shots have to go into brush near the base of the tree rather than to the actual base of the tree, but I was able to still get some good measurements:
White Oak on west side of trail north of dead Disney Black Oak 97.5 ft.
Tubman Black Oak, which was measured at 80.4 ft. last year, is taller than that – the best shot I got today from just outside the grove into brush near the base is 87 ft. but the tree seems to be at least 90 ft. tall.
Another good shot from base to top White Oak about 20”+ dbh at south end of Forest Cathedral southwest side of trail 103 ft.

I also made some attempts at the grove’s largest tree, the Baum Red Oak (47.7” dbh) – from the only point where the tree’s topmost twig is visible I could only shoot into brush (mostly Black Cherry saplings) about 50 ft. in front of the base of the tree so the height should not be 100% accurate - my highest shot gave me a height of 111 ft., which is higher than the 108 ft. measured under better conditions last November; I think the tree is actually between 108 and 109 ft. tall as it is growing fast, and 108 ft. remains its official height (until a more accurate re-measuring after leaf fall).

I got a good shot from base to highest point of the John Lennon White Oak (which so far at least is the grove’s tallest White Oak) and confirmed a height of 109 ft.; last year’s height for this tree was 108 ft.

Red Maple just behind 101 ft. Red Oak #22 at south edge of grove, 107 ft. to highest twig, estimated shot as basal shot was into brush in front of tree – this tree is 107 ft. or even taller. Both this tree and Red Oak#22 are prominently seen from the busy corner of Rt. 11 and Taft Rd.

The tallest trees in North Syracuse are in the Wizard of Oz Oak Grove; currently the tallest tree is a 110 ft. Red Maple, but the Baum Red Oak (108 ft., possibly 111 ft.), Gage White Oak (105 to over 107 ft.), Lennon White Oak (at least 109 ft.), and the Red Maple near Red Oak#22 (107 ft. or more) are the other candidates for that title.

The 109 ft. of Lennon White Oak makes a revision of the grove’s Rucker Height Index necessary. Here is the revised Rucker 10

cbh height

Red Maple 4.8 110
White Oak 7.9 109
Red Oak 12.5 108
Black Cherry 5.7 96.5
Black Gum 5.2 94.5
Black Oak 9.5 94
White Pine 8.2 85
Beech 5.3 84
Sassafras 4.7 75.5
Yellow Birch 3.7 56

Rucker 10 (20100821) 91.25

Rucker 5:

Red Maple 4.8 110
White Oak 7.9 109
Red Oak 12.5 108
Black Cherry 5.7 96.5
Black Gum 5.2 94.5

Rucker 5(20100821) 103.6

The new height for the Lennon White Oak also leads to a revision of the grove’s historic Rucker Height Index:

Revised Historic Rucker 10:

Red Maple 4.8 110
White Oak 7.9 109
Red Oak 12.5 108
Black Cherry 2.9 100
Black Oak 13.2 98
Black Gum 5.2 94.5
White Pine 8.2 85
Beech 5.3 84
Sassafras 4.7 75.5
Yellow Birch 3.7 56

Historic Rucker 10 92

Revised Historic Rucker 5:

Red Maple 4.8 110
White Oak 7.9 109
Red Oak 12.5 108
Black Cherry 2.9 100
Black Oak 13.2 98

Historic Rucker 5 105

Despite over development, congested car choked suburbs, and so on, the Syracuse area has plenty to offer for the ENTS. The 2 North Syracuse Oak Groves, are, as far as I know (and I have done extensive research on this subject), the only lowland old growth oak forests in upstate NY; all other old growth oak forests in upstate NY are upland or ravine sites.

Green Lakes State Park is a unique site with 2 rare meromictic lakes and over 1000 acres of mostly Sugar Maple old growth; the section called the Tuliptree Cathedral is the tallest forest in central NY with Tuliptrees at least 145 ft. and possibly 150 ft. tall (no ENT has measured these trees since Bob Leverett was there in 2002) – these should be the world’s tallest Tuliptrees for so far north (Zoar Valley which has Tuliptrees to 156 ft. tall is farther south).

A couple weeks ago, Robert Henry, his family, and I traveled along the south shore of Lake Ontario from Sodus Point to Fort Niagara; we were looking for tall trees but in that whole area we did not see any trees over 89 ft. tall - the tallest trees seen were a Cottonwood at Sodus Point at 89 ft. and White Pine in Krull Park in Olcott Beach at 89 ft. Robert Henry and I visited Four Mile Creek State Park (we had to get permission from the office there as Four Mile Creek is a campground and only campers and their guests are allowed to go there) which Bruce Kershner said is an old growth oak grove on the Lake Ontario shore. This oak grove is hilly (not a lowland as we expected) and is secondary old growth at best as the trees are rather small and 75 ft. tall at most; dominant trees are White Oak, Red Oak, Black Oak as in the North Syracuse groves but they are far less impressive than in North Syracuse. In the short amount of time we had at Four Mile Creek, we measured Red Oak and White Oak to 70 ft. tall and the largest tree we saw was a Black Oak 32" dbh. White Pines are extremely rare along the shore from Sodus Point to Fort Niagara. Despite the lack of impressive trees, this is a beautiful trip and Fort Niagara is a historic treasure with the oldest buildings in the Great Lakes region in both USA and Canada (oldest Fort Niagara's French Castle built by the French in 1726) and the Toronto skyline can be clearly seen from Fort Niagara as the lake is only 27 miles wide at that point.

It looks like the tallest tree on the Lake Ontario shore in NY could be the 118 ft. Cottonwood in the Fort Ontario Cemetery in Oswego, and the tallest forest on the NY lake Ontario shore could be the Pine Grove at the Boat Launch in Selkirk Shores State Park, where White Pines are at least 112 ft. tall. I don't know of anyone else who is measuring trees with a laser rangefinder in this region this year.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:19 pm
 
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Re: Wizard of Oz Oak Grove

9/5/2010 - I got more heights in the Wizard of Oz Oak Grove and revised some previous measurements:
Red Maple NW part of grove southeast of Tubman Black Oak 21.5” dbh, 97 ft. tall

From the interior of the grove, I got several good shots at the topmost branches of the Tubman Black Oak and this tree turns out to be much taller than previously measured (previous measurements missed the top); the Harriet Tubman Black Oak turns out to be 102 ft. tall!, the tallest Black Oak ever measured in the Wizard of Oz Oak Grove. I re-measured the tree’s dbh at 37.6” (9.8 ft. cbh), which indicates rapid growth. Tubman is now the largest Black Oak in the grove. The Tubman Black Oak is hollow and is possibly no more than 140 years old – Red Oaks and Black Oaks in the grove turn out to be younger than they look, and White Oaks and Red Maples are often older than they look.

Red Oak west edge south of Tubman Black Oak 36.1” dbh, at least 94 ft. tall (tentative, as top is hard to see in wide crown)

Re-measurement of Martin Luther King, Jr. Black Oak, till today listed as the grove’s largest Black Oak after the fall of the Poe Tree – 36.9” dbh (9.7 ft. dbh), 100 ft. tall.
The MLK Black Oak is about 140 years old, age based on extrapolation from core sample.

John Muir White Oak, the grove’s largest White Oak, 38.3” dbh (10 ft. cbh), tentatively 100 ft. tall, actual top hard to find in this tree’s broad crown. The Muir Tree is one of the younger White Oaks, being about 145 years old, age based on complete core.

In Forest Cathedral small Red Maple west of White Oak #4 93.5 ft. tall
Slender (under 20” dbh) White Oak west side trail north part of Forest Cathedral 100 ft. tall, bark very bald, pole-size Sugar Maple next to it, one of the grove’s few Sugar Maples

Southern part of grove west of trail exit big double-trunked Red Oak 92 ft. tall

The 102 ft. height of the Tubman Black Oak makes a revision of the grove’s Rucker Height Index necessary. Here is the revised Rucker 10:


cbh height

Red Maple 4.8 110
White Oak 7.9 109
Red Oak 12.5 108
Black Oak 9.8 102
Black Cherry 5.7 96.5
Black Gum 5.2 94.5
White Pine 8.2 85
Beech 5.3 84
Sassafras 4.7 75.5
Yellow Birch 3.7 56

Rucker 10 (20100905) 92.05

Rucker 5:

Red Maple 4.8 110
White Oak 7.9 109
Red Oak 12.5 108
Black Oak 9.8 102
Black Cherry 5.7 96.5

Rucker 5 (20100905) 105.1

The new height for the Tubman Black Oak also leads to a revision of the grove’s historic Rucker Height Index:

Revised Historic Rucker 10:

Red Maple 4.8 110
White Oak 7.9 109
Red Oak 12.5 108
Black Oak 9.8 102
Black Cherry 2.9 100
Black Gum 5.2 94.5
White Pine 8.2 85
Beech 5.3 84
Sassafras 4.7 75.5
Yellow Birch 3.7 56

Historic Rucker 10 92.4

Revised Historic Rucker 5:

Red Maple 4.8 110
White Oak 7.9 109
Red Oak 12.5 108
Black Oak 9.8 102
Black Cherry 2.9 100

Historic Rucker 5 105.8

The 9.8 ft. girth of the Tubman Black Oak and the 10 ft. girth of the Muir White Oak lead to a revised current Rucker Girth Index but does not challenge the historic 13.2 ft. girth of the Poe Black Oak, but the new girth of the Muir White Oak does raise the Historic Rucker Girth Index.

Rucker Girth Index:

Girth (ft.)

Red Oak 12.5
White Oak 10
Black Oak 9.8
Red Maple 9.2
White Pine 8.2
Black Cherry 6.5
Beech 5.3
Black Gum 5.2
Sassafras 4.7
Yellow Birch 3.7

Rucker Girth Index (20100905) 7.51

Historic Rucker Girth Index:

Red Oak 14.8 (tree fell 1998)
Black Oak 13.2 (tree fell 2010)
White Oak 10
Red Maple 9.2
White Pine 8.2
Black Cherry 6.5
Beech 5.3
Black Gum 5.2
Sassafras 4.7
Yellow Birch 3.7

Historic Rucker Girth Index 8.08

Even though I have been studying this little grove (about 7 acres total of which about 6 acres are old growth) I’ve been finding new and surprising things on each visit. This grove, the most likely inspiration for the Great Forest of Oz, is slow in giving up its secrets. On a cool windy day like this is a magical place.


Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:40 pm
 
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Holland Patent Cemetery, NY

ENTS,

Holland Patent Cemetery, Holland Patent, Oneida County, NY

Jack Howard and I made 2 visits to this idyllic old cemetery which has been in operation since about 1791. What follows is the report from the first visit on 9/11/2005:

In the midst of this cemetery is the largest White Pine yet seen in central NY, a mostly open-grown tree with a huge trunk supporting 5 great ascending limbs – it’s the largest White Pine I’ve yet seen in NY. The tree (in 2005) has a dbh of 57” or cbh of 14.9 ft. The lowest branches are about 20 ft. up and I looked at the stump of one of these branches and estimated about 80 rather wide rings – this could give the tree an age of 200-250 years. Even the smallest branches have rough bark which on White Pine is a sign of aging. We were awed by this great pine; in fact, I have only seen 2 White Pines larger than this in my entire life –
a tree on Vermont Rt. 313 (southwest part of state) in 1974 over 6 ft. dbh and with a plaque saying it was the model for the VT State Seal of 1798; the tree had fallen before 1978
a White Pine on Rt. 213 on the central Maine coast which we measured at 15’3” cbh in Aug. 1970; another great White Pine measured in Aug. 1970 on old U.S. 1 near Nobleboro, ME had cbh of 14’5” – all these immense New England pines were open-grown.
The Holland Patent White Pine appeared to be 85-90 ft. tall – I paced its shadow (in early afternoon sun) to 93 paces, so I assumed it was under 100 ft. tall. As will be seen, I vastly underestimated the tree’s height.

Some old gravestones (dated back to 1802 or earlier):
1 to right of great Pine – Mary E. Easland d. Oct. 24, 1844 – age 11 yrs., 3 months
2 Samuel Church d. Nov. 30, 1842 age 83 yrs., 5 months, “A Patriot of the Revolution”
3 Joseph Holstead DAR monument 1903 d. Feb. 13, 1845 age 86 yrs.
4 Simeon Willard Soldier of Revolution d. 124 age 80 yrs.
5 Pascal C. I. De Angelis age 75 yrs. d. Sept. 8, 1839 Rev. War soldier DAR, “Thanks be to God who giveth the victory through Lord Jesus Christ”
6 Marie Le Moyne de Fayole 1739-1802
7 Charles Le Moyne De Angelis 1815? – 1903?
8 “In memory of Mr. John Woodbridge who was killed by the fall of a Tree – May 10, 1804 Age 22 (?) We mourn the sudden swift remorse from each & all enjoyment here when Christ commands we must obey without a mourmour or a. tear” (“s” looks like “f”)
9 Seth Johnson of City of NY Merchant b. Middleton CT Nov. 28, 1767 died while on a visit to this place Dec. 8, 1802
10 Amos L. Hubbard age 12 d. Nov. 8, 1806
11 Mary Conde D. Apr. 29, 1806 11 yrs. old
12 Roderick Hopkins d. Nov. 3, 1841 age 84 yrs. “He was a Soldier of Christ and Patriot of the Revolution”
Also measured thorny Honeylocust 39” dbh (10.2 ft. cbh)


In the Local History and Genealogy Dept. of the Onondaga County Public Library in Syracuse, NY where I work is a book on Holland Patent and an old undated picture (looks like before 1900) shows the great White Pine as a large tree.

Jack and I next visited Holland Patent Cemetery 9/25/2010 and this time I had the Forestry 550 Laser Rangefinder with me. The great White Pine was still standing but had declined in health considerably since 2005. It is still a glorious sight but it has suffered storm damage with bark peeling on some limbs, and there is a lot of damage to the base with big scars and many woodpecker holes; the huge trunk sounds hollow. I measured the trunk at 57.5” dbh (15.1 ft. cbh). The height of the pine surprised me as I got 116 ft. for the highest twig, far higher than I imagined in 2005.
I also measured a large European Larch high on the cemetery’s hill at 90 ft. tall.
A grove of trees on a steep hill at the back of the cemetery surprised me as they did not look very tall. I measured a White Pine at the left edge (facing hill from cemetery) at 103 ft. tall, and 2 other not so tall-looking White Pines to the right turned out to be even taller with one farther right 117 ft. tall, and to the right of this pine, a White Pine with 2 ascending leaders (looking like 2 trees) 120 ft. and 124 ft. tall left to right – this is the tallest tree I’ve measured in NY so far, and the tallest White Pine I’ve seen in central NY. I looked at the tallest tree closely and saw that its rough-barked trunk is easily over 40” dbh. This hillside is a small secondary old growth grove dominated by tall White Pine and smaller Sugar Maple, Black Cherry.
2 European Larches just behind the tallest White Pines were 109 ft. and 106 ft.

Trees measured:
great White Pine 116 ft. 15.1 ft. cbh
European Larch 90 ft.
On hillside:
White Pine 103 ft.
White Pine 117 ft.
White Pine 124 ft.
European Larch 109 ft.
European Larch 106 ft.

Tom Howard 10/9/2010
by tomhoward
Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:34 pm
 
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