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1830's Forest Map

Hello ENTS -
I'm attaching a photo of a map I ran across in a history of my hometown, Conway Massachusetts. The book covers the years 1767-1967 and deals mostly with human history. But much of that bears directly upon the the flora and fauna of the area. The map is a depiction of the town showing rivers, streams, hills, and "trees" as stated in the legend (you'll have to take my word for it as the copy in the book is almost illegible). At this point in Mass history (1830) about 80% of the western Mass landscape was cleared, much of that as pasture land for Merino sheep. What little forest remained in this landscape would have been very noticeable, and to my mind, would have been prominent landmarks in the mind of a map-maker. They may have been added merely for decoration, but the fact that a special legend was created and noting the locations of these forests - along rivers and along the sides of hills suggests that the trees depicted on the map were in fact mature forests left intact in 1830 because they were unsuitable for pasture or crop land - either inaccesible terrain or reserved as wood lots.

Sort of a treasure map for mature secondary growth forests! This map applies to my earlier e-mail in that the patch of woods described there falls within the map boundaries. I haven't figured out if this area is one of the tree-marked areas on the map yet but it certainly bears further investigation. The map has only a feature by feature correspondence with a modern topographic map, the interrelation of features is somehow distorted by the map making technology of the time. But certainly worth a trip to the local historical society to check out the original.(sorry for the poor copy here)

by jeffk
Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:42 pm
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Winslow Homer

A nice watercolor painted by Winslow Homer in 1892 titled "Old Settlers".
Homer spent quite a few summers in the Adirondacks hunting and fishing (and painting). Looking at his paintings of the Adirondacks one gets a feel for the heavy logging activity which must have been occurring at the time (some showing entire mountainsides clear-cut). Apparently he wanted to make a statement about the true settlers of this wilderness. (note no human beings are depicted!)
The original is in the MFA in Boston.
by jeffk
Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:50 pm
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Re: Winslow Homer

That is nice Steve - they both evoke the feel of the "great northern forest" in my mind.

Here's another by Homer, the Adirondacks again, titled "Old Friends", 1894, in the Worcester Mass. Art Museum - needs no explanation
by jeffk
Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:20 am
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Large Pines, CT

Hello Ents -
Two weeks ago was hiking the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut between Sharon and Cornwall Bridge. I was immediately struck by the preponderance of chestnut oak, black oak(?) with witch hazel, low bush blueberry, sheep laurel and some type of grass in the understory. That's as it should be - I believe this neck of the woods is firmly planted in the southern New England oak forest which these species are indicative of. I'm from western Mass. and am used to seeing hemlock, maple, beech,yellow and black birch which were almost totally absent at least on the ridge tops which the AT inevitably seeks out - it was nice to see an ecosystem which I had only read about previously.

The real reason for this post is to make Ents aware a few large White Pines and at least one Hemlock located along the AT where it crosses Rt 4 just west of CornwallBridge. Right here -



It's hard to imagine these trees escaped notice, but figured I'd post the info anyway. Here's a photo of the base -



My hiking pole is 3-1/2 feet long which puts the diameter at roughly the same. I'd estimate height at 100' plus -


Might be worth measuring properly if they haven't been documented already.

by jeffk
Wed May 30, 2012 10:02 pm
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Pawtuckaway S.F., NH

Hi Ents -
Hiked through the Pawtuckaway S.P. with the Worcester Chapter of the AMC this weekend. For the most part it looks as if it was logged in the last 50-60 years - many double and triple trunked oaks and most trees well under 2ft in diameter. Two areas caught my eye however, the first, in "the Boulders", contained some white pines that are getting to substantial size. I measured one during our lunch break - there were 5-6 of similar size in the immediate area.

I used an inclinometer and Nikon 440 range finder to get the measurements. Since I'm not real experienced with the 440, I also took a straight-line ground measurement from the sight point. Although they should have trigged out fairly closely, I got a range of 120-130ft for height. Circumference of 8 ft giving 2.5ft diameter. I trust the the 130ft number from the ground measurement since the rangefinder line of sight was not clear.

Regardless of the numbers, these trees are reaching for the sky!

The second site was on a north facing slope near the peak of North Mountain. The trees were almost exclusively hemlock. They certainly looked old; same gnarly lower limbs and deeply furrowed bark I've seen on much larger hemlocks. I'd estimate height at 60-80 ft and diameter 1-1.5 ft. Also did not have time to check off-trail, so there may be larger examples out of sight. The terrain is steep and rocky so it may have been spared the loggers craft for some time.


Regards, JK
by jeffk
Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:03 pm
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Swift River Reservation


Hiked through Swift Reservation (adjacent to the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA) this weekend and measured a couple of white pines and a Hemlock. These trees stood out from those in the vicinty; the hemlock was a solo specimen, however the white pines were in a stand containing at least 4 more of similar size:
The first white pine measured 120' in height and 10'-10" in circumference (3.5' dia).

The second white pine measured 107' in height and 10'-7" in circumference (3.4' dia)

The hemlock measured 97' in height with circumference of 9'-6" (3.0' dia)

That is one stout tree!

These trees were all in fairly wet areas - the white pines next to a stream and the hemlock on flat ground between nearby slopes. Perhaps this accounts for the seemingly large girth relative to height?

Jeff K.
by jeffk
Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:01 pm
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More Hemlocks

Hi Ents -
Been meaning to post this for a while and was inspired to complete it after reading Bobs post concerning treatment of wooly adelgid in MTSF.

First a slight diversion. It's going to get down to -20F along the VT/Mass border tonight which means good news for those Hemlocks in MTSF. I've heard a one time temp of -15F is enough to start killing the adelgid although according the following paper -30 to -35F is needed to eradicate them. Hopefully the effect is cumulative; we've had a string of nighttime temps in the single digits this past month.

[i]"Role of winter temperature and climate change on the survival and future range expansion of the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) in eastern North America"[/i]
Annie Paradis & Joe Elkinton & Katharine Hayhoe & John Buonaccorsi

The subject of my post is a stand of Hemlocks I first noticed hiking the M&M trail through the Mt Tom Range. These trees are on the north face of Mt Nonotuck - they seemed out of the the ordinary so I went back to take measurements. I'm new to tree measurement, but I am using the guidelines described on the site; using a Nikon 440, Sunnto inclinometer, and a severely nearsighted eyeball. I'd estimate a measurement error of +/-5ft based on some sightline difficulties.

The first tree measured 115ft and 8'-4" in circumference (in photo center)-


The second; 131ft and 9'-4" in circumference. A nice tree!


The third: 126.5' and ? circumference -
(not sure what happened there - something about The Brewery and a band by the name of "Banish Misfortune", I think)


Definitely worth going back to get more accurate measurements.

Up the trail about a 1/4 mile there's a stand of younger diseased hemlocks -


Sorry for the poor photo. It looked as if the trees died back starting with the upper branches. Adelgid damage?

Our friends at the DCR cut one of the snags back to clear the trail -


That's about 100 growth rings where my pencil point is. Approximately 130-150 year old tree, then?

Just a nice view of the upslope community on basalt talus and a view of the Connecticut River -

by jeffk
Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:05 pm
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Monument Mt Chestnuts


I recently hiked Monument Mountain Reservation just north of Gt. Barrington, MA; an interesting hike in terms of flora and geology. On the west side of this quartzite ridge I noticed a good many small American Chestnuts of the usual shrub-size, but also a number of 2-3" diameter trees 20-30' (?) high; all dead. Also came across a 2-1/2ft circumference (9.5"DBH) tree. I calculated the height at 52' using inclinometer and Nikon 440 - photo attached. The tree appeared to be only a few years gone (many smaller twigs extant). Robust sprouting from the base of the trunk.

Has anyone explored off-trail to the west of the Reservation? - satellite views show unbroken forest for the better part of a mile ...

by jeffk
Sun Jul 05, 2015 8:27 pm
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