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First Post - Darian Copiz

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dc
by Darian Copiz
Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:57 pm
 
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A job nearly completed

ENTS

This past week witnessed a blitz of tree measuring from yours truly. I was determined to fulfill a self-appointed mission. On Monday and Tuesday, Monica and I stayed at Cabin #6 in Mohawk Trail State Forest, which allowed me to complete my goal of relocated and measuring all 150-foot white pines in the Pocumtuck Grove of Mohawk Trail State Forest as part of the greater mission of confirming all 150s in Mohawk. After each visit to the Pocumtuck Grove, I kept thinking I had completed the mission, but then doubts would set in. Why? Because the tightly packed grove is a bear to measure. It tests every measuring skill that I have developed over the years and points to gaps in our tree measuring methodology where trees grow very close together. Most trees in tight clumps don't get measured.

On Monday, I started out looking at the Pocumtuck Grove basically through the same eyes, i.e. to say with the same set of mental filters operating. This means that I had conditioned myself to see the trees in the Pocumtucks through past mental imprints that reinforced for me which I thought were the tallest. However, on this visit something moved me to climb a hill and examine the grove from an entirely new perspective and at a significantly greater distance. From my new position, I could not see the bases of the trees, but I could see some of the crowns better. One tree stood out. It appeared much taller than my perception of it from the road below. It wasn't a new tree, just a new perspective. I went down to the tree and put an orange marker on it at 6.7 feet above its base. I then went back to my distant perch and shot to the crown and the orange marker. After doing the calculations and adding 6.7 feet, I got a little over 157 feet. Wow! This was 5 feet above my last measurement. I then realized that from my closer perches, I simply was missing the tops of some of the trees.

To shorten the story about my long and labored effort that lasted the rest of the day, I eventually confirmed eight more 150s! I felt simultaneously elated and embarrassed and the tallest tree in the grove turned out to be a 158.6 feet. How could old Dbhguru have missed eight of the sixteen 150s for so long? That will be the subject of future emails, but it happened. I confess.

Well, after a wild Monday, on Tuesday I set about measuring pines across the road and uphill, trees that I had assumed to be in the high 130s to low 140s, because of a couple of measurements of trees near the edge of the road and some untested assumptions. Before I was finished, I had confirmed trees to the heights of 152.9, 148.1, 145.0, and 143.8 feet. Here again, I had been applying a faulty mental filter and had to find a way to see the stand through new eyes. It is close to a Zen thing, I guess. So, by Tuesday's end, i had confirmed 9 new 150s in mohawk, bring the count to 104. Was I finished? Nope.

Yesterday Monica and I returned to Mohawk and I settled the question about a former 150 in the Cherokee-Choctaw Grove. It is officially a former 150, i.e. o longer part of the club. That brings the total number of 150s in Mohawk to 103, prior to the growing season. Actually, I have one last tree to visit - the Oneida Pine. It has been part of the 150-Club for years, but I haven't remeasured it. So, if it fails, the number will be 102. Either 103 or 102, it is a much higher number than I had been projecting. I had thought we would go into this growing season with at most 95 pines in the 150-Club. I expect that we'll exit this growing season with 112 150s. Maybe more.

So, the pre-growing season’s confirmation of the 150s for Mohawk is complete. I can now contemplate the meaning of the concentrated effort. I have lots of thoughts on the matter, most not very profound. But perhaps a few merit consideration by not only my fellow Ents, but DCR, Massachusetts environmental groups, State friends groups, and others.

I routinely tout the superlatives of MTSF to officials of DCR, forestry professionals, environmental groups, state friends groups, personal friends, and the people in the groups that I lead on interpretive walks. Others have come to expect to hear tree numbers pitched and re-pitched by me. Those who know me best, recognize that the engineer side of my brain is compulsive about accuracy. I loathe approximations, rounded numbers, etc. – i.e. the vacuous reporter approach to numeric information that substitutes a general term like “hundreds” for a precise reporting of say a number like 110. I regard it as a way of trivializing the importance of accuracy. In some vague way it purports to convey that broad generalizations carry meaning, weight, and perspective that precision obscures. In my humble opinion that is pure hogwash. For example, one may state that the Alps are thousands of feet high. That conveys some information, but “thousands” can mean two thousand as easily as it can mean fourteen or fifteen thousand. In terms of mountain wisdom, there is an enormous difference between two thousand and fifteen thousand in terms of geology, climate, amount of oxygen, plant and animal communities, visual impact, etc. Well, enough from the soapbox.

I’m never quite sure how the numbers I present are received by DCR officials, except those whom I know well, but I can say the higher up the ladder I go, the more nondescript the response I expect. The uppers seem confused on how to react to the information they are receiving, as in: is he telling me the truth; why haven’t my people told me that; is there any significance to what he is saying; should I care; can this information embarrass me? There have been exceptions, but they are that - exceptions.

The value placed on and an understanding of the information I pass to DCR recipients says much about bureaucracies and how they work, about organizational hierarchies, and about personal priorities, sensitivities, interests, and visionary talents. So far, Massachusetts DCR officials have conflicting scores on how sagely they deal with the numeric information on Mohawk’s trees that they’ve received through their filtered channels or directly from me. I still have hope that DCR, as an organization, can come to fully embrace the meaning of Mohawk Trail State Forest. I know that some within the recreational arm do. One person, my friend Tim Zelazo is fully as appreciative of Mohawk’s treasures as I am and determined to see justice done. I think there are others on the recreational side who are equally impressed, but most on the resource side (the Bureau of Forestry) are clueless.

Exactly what is the significance of Mohawk Trail State Forest? If challenged to explain in depth why the 6,500-acre property is special, can I make a convincing case? Well, let’s see. To begin with, Mohawk Trail State Forest is located in one of the Bay State’s most scenic regions. The region is relatively unpopulated by Massachusetts standards and consequently can be consider a wildland. That gives Mohawk a good send off. But what makes a forest special: big well formed trees; champion trees; outstanding statistical measures; species diversity; rare species; strong genetic populations; lack of invasive species; old growth; aesthetic combinations of forest features, such as a mix of meadow and forest, stately trees, picturesque rocks, waterfalls; limpid pools, etc.; scenic vistas; historical features; cultural value; Native American connections; solitude and lack of trash and other eyesores left by careless hikers and campers?

Mohawk has all the above attributes. In addition, it exhibits some of them in abundance and near the top of the comparison list for not only Massachusetts, but for New England, and in a few cases, the entire Northeast. And as a last attribute, Mohawk represents the most concentrated expression of raw white pine power that I know of in New England. The great whites rule, reminding us of the pre-colonial New England. There are many picture perfect pines in mohawk that impact the visitor individually and as gestalts. And the statistics confirm Mohawks preeminence. Its count of 103 white pines exceeding 150 feet is second in the Northeast. This statistic alone makes Mohawk exceptional. So, the case for Mohawk is so easy to make that it can be safely declared to be the Forest icon of Massachusetts - without fear of exaggeration.

Are there negatives in Mohawk? Yes, there are a few. The proximity of Route #2 introduces some noise pollution. The campground along the Cold River can introduce congestion, but only in the area of the campground. There is an old dump that needs to be cleaned up near the confluence of the Cold and Deerfield Rivers. But these negatives do not reduce the overall value of Mohawk.

I will conclude with some images from this past week.

The first image is of Monica standing among the Council Pines within the Pocumtuck Grove. The shiny spots at the base of the trees are our identification tags. The pines you see are 140-footers.

of MonicaInThe CouncilPines.jpg

The next image shows rocks and forest in an area that Monica and I think of sacred space. The image is on Thumper Mountain, the little mountain with the big heart.

SacredSpace.jpg

The third image shows Monica and my grandson Devin in the Council Pines. I'm starting Devin out young.

MonicaAndDevinInCouncilGrove.jpg

The last image looks up into the crown of one of the 160-footers - the John Brown tree. I have shown this image before, but wanted to conclude with an image that speaks to the scale of the Mohawk forest. Enjoy.

JohnBrownsCrown.jpg

Bob
by dbhguru
Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:28 pm
 
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Re: Rocky River floodplain forest

Bob-

I hope we can hook up in June--there are several sites within 30 minutes of the Ohio Turnpike that are worth visiting.

I returned to the Rocky River floodplain today, with oldest son Mitch; found some more species at good size and larger individuals of species previously reported, which brings the R.I. to 120' plus---not bad for a level site in northern Ohio. The tallest/largest tree measured today was a tulip at 136' by 14' 2''. It's a very rich woods with a lot of understory, especially spicebush, which get up to 20' , and Ohio buckeye, to about 65'. There are still more areas to explore and it's close-by, so Ill add to the site report as I can. list.jpg Tulip-tree 136' Tulip-tree 136 x 14- 2.jpg Tulip-tree top Tulip-tree 136 x 14- 2 top.jpg Mitch by 119.5' bur oak Mitch by bur oak.jpg

Steve
by Steve Galehouse
Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:13 pm
 
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Re: Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

ENTS,

10 is the attachment limit but I need to add the location jpg to those spruces.

JP
by James Parton
Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:30 pm
 
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Photo Panorama of Boogerman Trail

Here's a panorama I stitched together from a summer hike the first time I went to find (unsuccessfully) the Sag Branch poplar:

Image
by jamesrobertsmith
Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:29 pm
 
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Seiberling Nature Realm, Summit County Ohio

ENTS-

Today I quickly and briefly visited this park, which was once part of the F. A. Seiberling (Goodyear Tire and Rubber founder) Estate. The park has a very nice interpretive nature center as well as some cultivated grounds, but most of the park is natural forest. The park is contiguous and continuous with Sand Run Metropark, about which Randy Brown and I reported last Fall. The weather was exceptional--in the low 80's and sunny.

As usual in my area, topography determines tree height. I found a nice tulip-tree on top of a ridge at 136.5' x 11' 8''----this is about the best any species in the area will do on high or level ground. A short distance away, starting at the bottom of a deep ravine, another tulip reached 153.7', at what appeared to be a smaller cbh. Farther on down the ravine, a hemlock measured to 140.4'---this is the tallest hemlock in the the northern part of Ohio to my knowledge.

Later when I returned home I examined maps and aerial photos, and I think the 140.4' hemlock is actually on Sand Run Park land, which would push the R.I. for that park to 134'+.
136,5' tulip Tulip 136.jpg 136.5 tulip top Tulip 136 top.jpg
153.7 tulip(center in distance) Tulip 153.jpg
140.4 hemlock Hemlock 140.jpg

Steve
by Steve Galehouse
Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:54 pm
 
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Re: Seiberling Nature Realm, Summit County Ohio

Ed-
The shape-shifters have settled for the evening.
Steve
by Steve Galehouse
Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:25 pm
 
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Re: most impressive live oak

Gary, One Live Oak just couldn't be the most impressive, there all that way to me. Here are some of my favorite Live Oaks. I have so many these are just a few of them. Larry
by Larry Tucei
Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:57 pm
 
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Re: most impressive live oak

Larry,

You should visit the Georgia and National Champion Live Oak at Waycross, Ware County. It seems to be huge, cbh 35 ft, height 77 ft and average crown spread 155 ft, with 536 American Forest points. See http://www.gfc.state.ga.us/ForestManagement/ChampionTree.cfm
and
http://www.gfc.state.ga.us/ChampionTrees/View.cfm?ID=1426

On other photos it seems to have several trunks, but still worthwhile to see and probably one of the largest of all Live Oaks.

Jeroen Philippona
by Jeroen Philippona
Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:41 pm
 
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White Pine portrait

This is an eastern Massachusetts white pine that I visited recently. It's not particularly outstanding in height or CBH but it is a gem in its piece of woods.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4037/4465650727_5e79822b54_b.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2752/4465653019_b86e876e0b_b.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2726/4465661239_b356ff7acc_b.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2796/4465658465_95562d05b8_b.jpg

The entire photo set

Andrew Joslin
Jamaica Plain, MA
by AndrewJoslin
Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:31 pm
 
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Savanna and forest images at Taliesin

Hello ENTSer's,

I am happy to announce that a collection of my old growth forest and savanna images will be on display at the Taliesin Visitor's Center in Spring Green Wisconsin June 6th through the end of July.

Taliesin was the home of Frank Lloyd Wright from 1911 until his death in 1959. It served as the summer quarters for the Taliesin Fellowship, a guild of architects responsible for such revolutionary buildings as Fallingwater in south central Pennsylvania, The Soloman Guggenheim Museum in NewYork and Racine Wisconsin's Johnson Wax Building.

Soon the Chicago Botanic Gardens will be co-ordinating the distribution of my exhibit celebrating Eastern Old Growth to public institutions willing to show them.

You all are welcome to join my family and i at the opening June 6th...road trip, anybody?
by mileslowry
Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:52 pm
 
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Tecumseh Composite

ENTS,

This is a test to see how the new BBS handles images. The image is a composite photo stitched with Adobe Photoshop. Original size of all the images was 211M and this is a 511kb reduced and compressed image. I didn't trim the edges to remind folks it was from many images.

Gary
by Gary Beluzo
Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:46 pm
 
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Shale detail

shale detail.jpg
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by Steve Galehouse
Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:26 pm
 
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Dyson Trees

ENTS,

Check this out.

A Dyson tree is a hypothetical genetically-engineered plant, (perhaps resembling a tree) capable of growing in a comet, suggested by the physicist Freeman Dyson. He suggested that such plants could produce a breathable atmosphere within hollow spaces in the comet (or even within the plants themselves) utilising solar energy and cometary materials, thus providing self-sustaining habitats for humanity in the outer solar system.

A Dyson tree might consist of a few main trunk structures growing out from a comet nucleus, flowering into branches and leaves that intertwine, forming a spherical structure possibly dozens of kilometers across.

From Wikipedia.


Some have suggested that Dyson trees could be remotely naturally occurring. Trees in space. What a thought.

I read two books by Donald Moffitt which features Dyson Trees called " Space Poplars " which humans used as interstellar spacecraft. They were propelled by reflective outer leaves acting as solar cells. A bussard ramjet was also used. The books were quite good though remembering the details is difficult. It has been years since I have read them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Genesis_Quest

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Genesis

Also, there was " Lifeforce " a movie which came out back in the mid 80s featured a race of vampire-like humanoids who resided in a Dyson Tree which humans find in Halley's Comet. The treelike spacecraft visits earth and the aliens wreck havoc on London before leaving. The spacecraft appeared as a large tree with exposed roots, trunk and a gothic umbrella-like canopy which was used to collect life-energy stole by the space vampires from human victims and uploaded to the tree-ship. The umbrella may at times also have been the ships propulsion. A solar sail. But it could also be folded up and the ship could be seen to move when the umbrella was folded indicating another unknown propulsion system besides the umbrella. The movie had a low budget B movieish feel but I liked it. I liked the concept and the " Space Girl " played by Mathilda May was very beautiful.

James Parton
by James Parton
Fri Apr 02, 2010 5:08 pm
 
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Re: Valuing Forests

Ed:

Are there any books published that try to take a more or less comprehensive view of the value of forests? I have in an informal way come across various articles/comments about this, but I have not seen anything that attempts to take a large general view. Maybe there is a reason for that (apart from my own lack of any attempt to research the issue)--the subject can be immensely complicated. I suppose there is a way of dealing with the overall subject without struggling too much with trying to find some systematic way to "value" forests. Probably each "kind" of value would have a completely different kind of metric, but that doesn't necessarily mean things can't be "brought together."

Maybe one of the themes of any book on the subject could be just how varied bothe the values themselves, and how they could be measured really are.

As you can see from my paragraph above, I find the whole topic a bit overwhelming.

But, I think it is very important. If no reasonably comprehensive attempt has been made, maybe you, with the help of all us ENTS members, could do something. What you have done to me seems like a preliminary outline. I would think that a large book could be done on this subject. Are you contemplating the possibility that you could take on such a project?

I am sure there is a lot of data out there in some specific areas, and a lot of general commentary. I have not had time yet to follow the links you have posted, but I am sure that is just a start. I would guess that a first step would be to complie a bibliography. Has anyone done anything in that line?

Anyway, I think that we as a society should have a better understanding of the value of forests. The issue is so complicated because it involves not only different kinds of forests, but also different kinds of values and different ways of measuring those values. Sorting this out and developing some coherent approach to me seems like a daunting challenge. I think it would be impossible to cover "all the bases," so to speak, but it may be possible to produce something that is both coherent and reasonably comprehensive.

For more detailed discussion from us ENTS members, perhaps the issue could be broken up into the separate categories for more specific discussion. What categories--different kins of forests? Different kinds of values? Some of both? I think so far discussion may have been limited because the whole topic is so overwhelming. We recently had some discussion of aesthetics--the principles, perhaps, but not of the "value."

My post here shows just how overwhelmed I feel. But I think the topic is very, very important. Or should i say "extremely" important.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:59 pm
 
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Re: Valuing Forests

Ed and ENTS:

The most simple division I can think of would be between forests that are especially rare and/or have some special characteristics, and the more ordinary "everyday" forests. I am as concerned about the latter as the former, especially in locations where such forests have all but disappeared. This may not be a useful division, but somehow it is where my thinking begins.

I am not sure how possible or important it would be to try to place a metric on the special forests, but if we can do that, we might have one end of a scale. Some of these have been given some very, very high valuations, such as redwood parks, etc. The value given to them is not only in the original cost of acquisition, but also management/preservation. iI we are thinking in dollars, values can be computed with compound interest.

One of the things that occurs to me is the recognition given to endangered species. I think with trees one example is the Torrey Pine Reserve. I am not sure how much this rare pine species had to do with the establishment of this reserve, but it may have had an important role. The land in this area is about as valuable as any anywhere, so the value placed on this reserve, of which the pine forest is the centerpiece, is certainly extreme. But, when the reserve was established, the land values may not have been so high.

Apart from trees, specifically, some very high valuations have been placed on some other kinds of endangered species. Maybe there should be some analogy with very rare and "endangered" forest ecosystems. Granting Gary's "autopoietic" forest definition for the argument here, any such forest should certainly rank with endangered species as something important enough to preserve, even if the cost were very, very high, as it has been for the preservation of some endangered species. The idea with endangered species is that if we don't preserve them now, they are lost forever. Although there may not be, in the same easy to understand way, some basic genetic material that would be lost if these forests were destroyed or seriously compromised (although there may be in some more subtle sense), these "pristine" forest ecosystems may be equally irreplaceable. "Priceless."

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:37 pm
 
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Re: Valuing Forests

hi Ed,

Very nice. Another value to be listed is 'scientific value', especially for old-growth forests. That value has grown tree-mendously for me over the last 15 yrs. The things old forest can inform us about is massive. Their scientific value cannot be understated.

Here is the first page of a nice paper outlining some of these values. If anyone would like a copy, please email me.

neil
by Neil
Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:20 am
 
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Re: Valuing Forests

I suggest that this is a very difficult subject but very profound and is worthy of persuing.

When we think of the value of something, it's usually in the context of "value to us"- so we can think of the ways forests are valuable to humans and to the "health" of the ecosystem, stability of the climate, useful to our economy, etc.... and all of those are relevent to us- because if the ecosystem and climate are messed up it will hurt us.

But, if we weren't here- forests would still have value- value as an expression of the cosmic creative forces which relentlessly seem to try everything- everthing that can potentially be and given eternity and infinity, probably everything imaginable will occur- not for us- not as value to us- but for "higher purposes"- and by this I don't mean "spiritual values" which are also for us.

For me any discussion of values leads inevitably to metaphysical considerations.

What's it really mean to "have values"?? Until we can see the meaning of value beyond what it means to humans, we aren't thinking deep enough- once we can do that, we can have a better understanding of what values should mean to us.

Whatever.
Joe
by Joe
Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:49 am
 
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Re: Valuing Forests

Joe, I think "value" is inherently a human construct. I think that humans attribute some sort of value to things they care about, but otherwise, they just are . We use the concept to figure out how we deal with things. The closest you can get to separating us from the word is the term " intrinsic value ", though the definition linked there still seems to indicate that value is in relation to us. I think it's fine that things just "are" without us placing a value on them. There's a vast universe (infinite universes?) out there that we're totally ignorant of, and the fact we're not looking at it/them doesn't matter. That I think they're awesome or whatever doesn't really matter either, except to me. If you and I both think that, then it matters to us. That belief we share has it's own value, the one we place on it. Does some gas planet millions of light-years away that sits hidden from our eyes behind some nebula have value?

Is this getting too meta and sillysophical? If so, I apologize.
by mdavie
Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:15 pm
 
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Re: Valuing Forests

Ed,

I second Gaines' suggestion that the topic be broken up...I considered replying to your post, and I have some ideas which I think would be contributive, but the sheer size and breadth of the post overwhelms me as well. Perhaps long or comprehensive posts need to be "essays" that can be posted elsewhere or at least be identified as such in a category "Essays" or some other appropriate tag.

Gary
by Gary Beluzo
Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:34 am
 
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The Final Chapter

ENTS


Today my friend District Manager Tim Zelazo and I met at MTSF to complete the inventorying of the 150s. I needed to remeasure the Oneida Pine to insure it hadn't lost any crown. If so, we would have 103 confirmed 150s in MTSF. It hadn't lost an inch. At 152.5 feet, it has crown to spare.

On the way to the Oneida Pine, I showed Tim Magic Maple. He liked the tree a lot. An image of Tim and Magic Maple follows.

TimAndMagicMaple.jpg


Threading our way through rock formations, we approached an area of old hemlocks. The following image is of the passage through.

PathwayDown.jpg

The next image show Tim next to a 10.1-ft around, 121.3-ft tall, 250-year old hemlock. Way cool.

OGHemlockAndTim.jpg

The final image shows a 103.9-ft tall yellow birch I measured. Not bloody bad.

YellowBirch104.jpg

Oh yes, we found another 150-ft white pine near the end of the historic 1700s Shunpike route. It becomes the Robert Campanile Pine. It is 9.3-ft around and 150.5 ft tall. That, folks, is number 104 confirmed. Mohawk rules. There are 9 trees that could grow into 150s by the end of this growing season, which would put MTSF #1 in the Northeast. Blue paint at the base of the Campanile Pine reminded us of a planned timber sale that was halted when MTSF became part of the 9th forest reserve. I felt immense satisfaction. This tree and one higher on the ridge named Lonesome Pine, also a 150, were to be part of a softwood timber sale. However, I was allowed to draw the boundaries of Reserve #9, which includes the cluster of north end pines. It would have been tragic to have lost them.

Bob
by dbhguru
Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:18 pm
 
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Re: Managing for biodiversity

Bob:

I am very, very sorry that there has to be this obviously stupid use of the term “biodiversity” for dishonest purposes. My general reaction is that if there has to be some “cover” for timber cutting, there probably shouldn’t be any. If people think there has to be some cover, but the timber cutting is fully justified, then it should be justified on its own terms.

But to be “fair and balanced” here, I used the term “probably” because there may be some instances where some limited clear cutting can enhance the habitat for some kinds of wildlife. A number of years ago the managers of Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. began a program of mowing--at intervals--some relatively small patches to provide habitat for some species of birds and other animals

Whether any clear cutting actually increases biodiversity on a broader and deeper scale, as you suggest, is doubtful. Certainly fostering a huge deer population seems to be detrimental to biodiversity in general. I simply don’t know enough to argue strongly on other biodiversity issues related to smaller and relatively infrequent clear cut timber harvests. In any case, very large clear cuts in some areas, such as the one noted in earlier discussions, on the watershed in MA, would be hard to defend on the basis of enhancing biodiversity.

Of course there has also been research proving that allowing forests to grow into “old growth” forests enhances the environment for various plant and animal species and increases biodiversity. I can’t imagine any arguments against that practice.

Well, leaving that issue aside for now, to be perfectly honest, and appropriately humble, what I have been doing with my own forestland is really nothing innovative. All the things I have been doing have been well researched and proven beneficial--in the long run.

And it is this phrase “in the long run” that is the problem. The main impediment to having more commercial timberlands managed as mine is, is the drive for short term financial gain. A second, and I agree, a very important impediment, is landowner ignorance.

But much of what I am doing is “often” recommended by the project foresters in MD who develop and monitor the forestry programs. I say “often” recommended because these project foresters are well aware of the limits they face when a landowner needs money and looks to his timberland as a source. And they are also well aware of the needs of loggers to make a good profit on their logging operations. This latter concern is, for example, behind much of the pulpwood gathering that almost always goes along with a timber harvest, and/or a TSI treatment. This pulpwood gathering is a net loss to the forest and the environment for a number of reasons.

The state of MD has also included a very, very powerful incentive for landowners to participate in these forest management programs--a real estate tax reduction that is absolutely huge.

The foresters in MD really have to serve as a kind of middlemen between the timber harvesters and their needs/interests, those of the landowners, and the protection/enhancement of the environment. I can’t say I have a real basis for being too critical of how they do their job--most are very environmentally conscious and wish they could have more influence on that side of things.

I would like to see stricter rules written into law about the management of timberlands, whether public or private. But I can understand how many in this country, with our political traditions, would see this as a kind of unjustified “confiscation” of private property. We have written into law some extremely strict rules concerning wetlands. This has been done because the health of these wetlands affects us all. In a similar vein, in one way or another, what is done on all our forest lands affects us all also. I am a huge believer in the importance of “community” values, but in this regard I am probably near one end on a scale of how people would balance those values with “individual rights.”

But to get back to specifics here, the MD forest service from time to time organizes meetings/seminars, or whatever the right term is, to introduce and discuss issues related to long term management of timberlands, including issues such as wildlife, water quality and erosion control, species diversity and management of insect and disease infestations, etc, etc. The approach to “wildlife” in these sessions I am sure is very, very narrow, but may not in all cases be a negative. One program in MD is the “Coverts” program, designed to enhance habitat for grouse. While this is very narrowly focused, in itself it is not a negative, and is not used as an excuse argument for generally destructive practices.

One additional thing that MD has done is to have a program of certification for loggers. This program teaches not only logging safety, but also practices that protect the environment. If a logger wants to work harvesting timber on state lands, he must have this certification. Then before any logging begins, the rules are laid out, and a bond has to be posted, and the work is carefully monitored. I can’t say that this process is directly focused on biodiversity as such, but that is certainly a by-product of some of the requirements. What is included in this, compared to what I am doing, is admittedly limited, but I think useful.

As I explained in one of my earlier posts here, I bought the land as an investment with my love of trees and the forest as at least an equal consideration. There are some other timberland owners like me, but they are a rather small percentage. Right now I am not sure what more we could do to get more timberland owners/managers to do the things I do. The state of MD has come a long way in what it does in this regard, but the overall effect is still somewhat limited.

In addition, my management of my forestland is rather unusual in that I have done something like 98% of the work myself. The combination of my environmental interests and forestry expertise, with the ability to do the actual physical work myself, is rather unusual. Nothing I have done or wanted to do has been impacted by immediate financial constraints, or an inability to find someone to do the work carefully.

Well, forgive my rambling a bit here. Maybe I can give your suggestion about the contribution I could make to this issue some thought, and we could discuss further what form it could take. In any case, I would need some help to fill in some significant gaps in my knowledge of many aspects of this issue.

One of the problems is the incredible complexity of life in a forest.
And much of this life is not easily seen--not only are small salamanders not something that the average person walking in the woods is aware of or thinks about protecting, but the number of life forms living on the surface of the soil and/or in the soil is incredible. When it comes to the importance of these, I am way out of my depth. In general I know that running heavy equipment over the ground destroys much of this life--the damage done is not just “soil compaction” as such. And the removal of “biomass” whether for pulpwood or other uses has far reaching negative effects on biodiversity in the forest. I believe there is a “bottom-up” importance of this aspect of biodiversity that is a foundation for much of the more obvious aspects of forest life that people are more likely to be aware of.

My forest management practices have had some real influence on my neighbors, most of whom 30 years ago thought I was a bit “strange.” Now I am known locally, with some respect, as “the professor.” They know my woods and can see first hand how things have turned out. And they also know the value of the timber. If I could get 10 people to take a tour of my forestland with me, I would guess that at least five would come out with some new ideas about how to manage their woodlands. About 5 years ago my neighbor, after gentle urging from me for years, has fenced his cattle out of his woodland.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:13 pm
 
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Re: Tall European trees

Kouta,

About ten years ago I visited the Heiligen Hallen Forest. It is a small reserve, the beeches are tall but alas at that time I did not have any measuring equipment. I tried to get an impression of the hight by comparing the tree from a distance with a person standing under it. In that way the beeches seemed to be up to 40 m tall, not much taller. In May I am planning to make a short holiday to the Elbe region near Hitzacker and Wittenberge but I also like to go to the Müritz lake region. Both for birdwatching combined with visiting old trees and forests. Perhaps I can also visit the Heiligen Hallen then. I think it will not be difficult to go into the Heiligen Hallen to measure te trees, although it is not allowed. They are just afraid some tourist is hit by a falling branche or tree. You should just try to go there yourself, I don't think there are always people looking for anyone visiting the forest.

Jeroen
by Jeroen Philippona
Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:59 pm
 
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Re: Managing for biodiversity

Ed:

Yes, the hunting/game wildlife interests have dominated the discussions for far too long. The only time any broader view of life in the forest/biodiversity gets any kind of hearing is when an endangered species is identified. From time to time there is some recognition of the impact of environmental practices on non-endangered bird populations, but that is about as far as it goes. I am as frustrated as you are and as are many other ENTS members. Gradually we are broadening out understanding, but progress is slow. I recently re-read Aldo Leopold, which, by the way, my mother bought for me as a birthday gift in 1949. My copy, with a dust jacket in good condition, is, I think the first printing of the first edition. Well, that aside, I don't think we, at least the larger "WE" as a culture, have progressed beyond his understanding of over 62 years ago. Depressing!

--Gaines

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by gnmcmartin
Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:29 pm
 
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NYBG Rock Garden Rocks!

These beautiful things are popping out of the ground at the NYBG Rock Garden!

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by Jenny
Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:35 pm
 
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