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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: 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: 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

--
by gnmcmartin
Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:29 pm
 
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Re: Managing for biodiversity

Ents:

Thinking about what I said about our not having gone beyond the vision that Aldo Leopold expressed over 62 years ago, I want to revise my remark. I would say that as a society concerned with the environment, as far as that is true, we have yet to catch up and make good use of his insights. Much of what he outlined can still serve as a beacon to lead us to where we need to go.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:46 pm
 
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Prevention of fungal rot in trees

ENTS:

Many trees are seriously weakened and have their lives shortened by fungal rots entering the trunk. These fungal rots often enter where the bark has been knocked off the trunk and/or where there have been large pruning cuts. I have found that these fungal rot diseases are easily preventable with the use of a special liquid copper fungicide.

I have been using for about 25 years mixtures of “copper salts of fatty rosin acids.” These used to be available in two popular brands of liquid copper fungicide--one by Dragon, and another by Bonide. Unfortunately these have both been discontinued and replaced by new formulas. But one company I know of is still producing something similar: SePRO offers something called “Camelot.” There may be others.

Here is my informal data: About 25 years ago when I bought an addition to my timberland with plantations of pine and spruce. In areas where there were white pine, a good number of them had forks in the trunk fairly low down. These commonly split apart, so where I could, I cut one side off, leaving rather large ugly wounds. Some of these were 10 inches or more long and six or more inches wide. Without treatment, most of these had fungal infections in two years, and in four or five years would have obvious rot with softening/disintegration of the wood.

But those treated with liquid copper fungicide--and re-treated every year or two--have shown no sign of any rot or softening of the wood for as much as 25 years. Most of the cuts I made have been covered over by new wood by now, but a few are still open.

I applied the fungicide mixed with some water--maybe 3 parts water to one part fungicide--with a paintbrush. Concentrations of the essential ingredients vary and I did not attempt to standardize my applications.

This fungicide will not kill entrenched fungal infections, and will not work if the wound to the trunk goes down to the ground. It will not work in hollow trees. It has some mild toxicity to sapwood, so should not be over applied and/or allowed to pool in depressions. It is a surface treatment only.

After I had success with the pine trees, I used it on a variety of other kinds of trees, including hardwoods. It has been successful in all cases.

Also, over time I realized that this fungicide worked to prevent bacterial rots as well as fungal rots. The wood on the surface of the cuts I made is as fresh and hard as they day they were cut after as much as 25 years.

I tried one or two other fungicides, including Captan. These did not work. Bordeaux mixture contains copper, but my experiments with it did not work.

Any questions?

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:38 pm
 
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Re: Prevention of fungal rot in trees

James:

You are right on both counts--it would have prevented the rot, and yes, it is difficult to apply and re-apply to places high up, and often impractical. I have applied it with sprayers to fairly high places. The spray is hard to direct accurately, so much is wasted that way, but rather than take any risk climbing a tree unnecessarily, I have sprayed. But in a few cases, I have climbed. Also, of the two brands I used (as I said before, now discontinued) the one by Bonide gummed up the sprayer fairly quickly. The one by Dragon worked much better in a sprayer, but after each session, the sprayer would have to be thoroughly cleaned. These companies now offer a liquid copper fungicide whose active ingredient is something called "copper soap." I don't clearly understand what this is or whether it would work. It might be worth a try. But I would order the Camelot brand instead. Last time I checked it was offered only in Gallon sizes, which is awkward--it would take a long, long time to use that much, but may be worth getting some nevertheless. I still have a good supply of the old Dragon formula in one pint bottles. I don't know how Camelot would perform in a sprayer.

But as for repeat applications--I am not sure just what is needed. I have not done the kind of careful experiments with controls to determine exactly what amount of re-application is needed. I do know that after having treated several dozens of trees, I sometimes missed a few for a re-application, and noticed that one or two may have become infected.

Many pruning cuts never become infected, at least not for several years. Some of these may become covered over by new wood relatively quickly--maybe in 5 to 7 years. One application may be enough to delay and effectively prevent infection in those cases. Only a small percent of small pruning cuts--three inches or less--become infected, depending on the kind of tree and how fast it grows. But around my house, I treat those anyway--why take any risk?

Also, of course, sometimes trees can "wall off" the fungus for some period of time. So even if a pruning cut becomes infected, the tree may survive a long time. But as a timber cutter I have cut through many, many trees/logs, and it is my experience that the "walling off" ability of trees is limited, and often breaks down over time, especially where the entry point is large.

Let me add that this treatment works best on pruning cuts where it is applied "across the grain." Where the bark has been knocked off tree trunks and the wood grain is smooth and has not been cut across, it doesn't soak in or adhere so well, and more frequent applications may be best, depending on the type of wood.

But after a year or more without treatment, there is a chance that some fungus has entered the tree, and if that has happened, any beneficial effect is limited. If the wood has softened, I would expect the chance of any benefit to be nil or very small. I usually wait until the wood on any cut, or otherwise exposed wood, has dried out somewhat, but applying it within about 6 months is best.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:04 pm
 
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Buying and managing timberland for pleasure and profit

ENTS:

I have written about my timberland quite a bit in this and the old forum. If anyone would be interested, I could give some information/pointers about how someone could do what I have done. Instead of, or in addition to investing in stocks and bonds, etc. in a retirement account, one could invest in timberland. I did some calculations of the value of my timberland about 5 years ago--at the height of the market for hardwood logs--and found that over the 30 years I had owned the land the return on my investment was something like 13% annually, compounded. That beats just about everything else I am aware of. I can't promise that my returns would be easy to match--I had some special factors working-- but that is the upside of what could be possible.

But the real kicker is the enjoyment of the activity of working in the woods. Owning timberland as I have, has been an experience. Psychologists have determined that the most important thing that leads to happiness is having good experiences rather than owning things--"making memories."

Well, If anyone is interested I could begin to give some guidelines for what to look for in timberland, and then what the opportunities/problems with management might be. The most important thing to understand is that not all timber is the same. One stand of timber can have value potential 10 times that of another. The kind of trees growing on the site is crucial, and their quality. Low grade oak logs can bring only 20 cents a board foot, while high grade oak logs can bring $1.00 to $1.50. The best quality cherry logs can sell for $6.00 or more per foot. Large very high quality cherry logs can be worth $3,000 or more each. Some stands of timber can be worth $10,000 or more per acre, and exceptional acres can approach $30,000. Black walnut may be more valuable than cherry.

So one can make good money, and at the same time practice "environmentally friendly" forestry--at least better than most other owners might practice. And you can enhance the beauty of the forest.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:55 pm
 
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Re: Early Spring, Western PA

Ed and ENTS:

I took these pics of spring colors last week. These two focus on red maples, which I think are my spring favorites.

This first is a view from my timberland.

DSC00350_edited-1-copy-2.gif

This pic was taken along the highway north of Elkins, WV

DSC00349_edited-1-copy.gif

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:18 pm
 
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Re: Buying and managing timberland for pleasure and profit

Ents:

Oops, for the last installment, I forgot an important factor: some "physical" land features. Avoid steep land--it is difficult to work on very steep land--a grade of 15% or more. It is difficult to run a tractor on such land and there are other difficulties with felling and logging. Land with relatively small portions of hillsides is OK, and such features can add to its beauty. Steep areas 300 feet wide can be logged from above and below without difficulty with a good winch.

In addition, avoid land that has very many large rocks that could make skidding logs difficult, etc. Very, very large rocks scatttered about could offer some inconvenience at times, but they can be a beautiful feature of the land. Very wet land is difficult also, and if your land is classed as a wetland, logging may be restricted or prohibited. But having portions in wetland and/or wetland forest can be a very positive feature also. My timberland has lots of wetlands. I have beaver, muskrat, 3 species of ducks, geese, heron, and beauty at different times of the year that could make the angels weep.

Remember the topic here--the "pleasure" part.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:03 am
 
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The Rothkugel Plantation, April 15, 2010

Rothkugel Report:

Last week I drove down into WV to look at the two Norway spruce sites I had talked about in the old Google Group forum. Will, and someone else--sorry, I forgot--expressed some interest. I wanted to check out the sites to see if I was really off base about my feeling they had something noteworthy.

Well, I have some very bad news and some moderately bad news. The very bad news is that the Norway spruce stand near Glady, WV has been cut down. This is bad news for two reasons. This was the finest NS stand I had seen anywhere--by far. I had thought there might be something over 145’ tall. The strain of spruce on this site was a bit unusual. The growth aspect of the trees, including a weeping characteristic, was outstanding. And the cones--often the best indicator of NS trees from different provenances--were quite distinctive. I have been searching out NS stands for years and the cones from this stand were like nothing else I had seen. The stand should have been preserved as a seed orchard.

OK, now for the moderately bad news--the Rothkugel was a mild disappointment. There are no 145 footers there. Because I had focused my trip that day on the stand near Glady, my being most excited about the prospects there, my decision to drive down to the Rothkugel was made late, so my time was limited.

The Rothkugel is the oldest plantation of NS I know of in the US. It was planted in 1907, and was part of a reforestation project by Max Rothkugel, who was an associate of Gifford Pinchot. In 1907 the plantings consisted of black locust, European larch, and Norway spruce. The area had previously been logged and burned.

The stand now is a mixture of hardwoods, mostly oak, maple, and cherry, Norway spruce, and a few scattered larch. There are many more hardwoods on the site than spruce, but in a few places the spruce are growing close together in groves. The Norway spruce and larch are generally taller than the hardwoods.

I measured 8 Norway spruce trees, but later I realized I had to throw one out. I tried to select good ones to measure, but my choices were made largely based on which trees I could relatively easily find good sightlines for. I walked though a good portion of the stand and did not get the impression that there were any trees that were likely to be significantly taller that I didn’t measure.

Here are the heights: 112, 114, 128, 125, 124, 123.5, 132.4. I had originally calculated the 132.4 as 141.4, but am convinced I made a transcription error and I feel confident that I have found that error and corrected it. So the tallest tree I found is the 132.4. I had very good sightlines for this tree.

For a couple of the others I did not get a sight at the tippy top. In those cases I walked further away to get some estimate of how much of the top I may have missed, and at most I think 3 to 5 feet. I did not adjust my numbers based on that kind of “guesstimation.” If I were to describe the stand and the heights of the best trees, I could say conservatively 125’. I had expected average of about 140. I believe there are a few 130 feet plus. I would be surprised if someone did new measurements and could find something 140 plus, but I can’t absolutely rule that out.

In general the NS trees on this site are not especially attractive--the strain does not seem to be near the best I have seen. But they are the oldest plantation of NS I know of in the USA. I do not know the provenance of these trees, but I have not tried to research that. There may be a record of the seed source somewhere.

I did not measure any of the larch trees, but my guess is that they are generally 5 to 10 feet shorter than the spruce.

I should, or some other ENT should go back to the Rothkugel to get better and more complete data. There is a group in WV--I think it is called the WV Forest Heritage Area (AFHA)--which has been doing a survey of the plantation and its trees. I have contacted them and told them about us and our interest. I had a response inviting me to their next field day to work in the area. I sent a follow-up e-mail and have not heard back. I was told they have been mapping the trees and measuring diameters, but there were no plans to measure heights. Here is a link to an AFHA newsletter explaining their project and the basic history of the site.

http://www.appalachianforest.us/newsletters/Vol.7%20No.1.pdf

It would be good to have a lot more of the trees measured and their locations recorded, including not only the spruce and larch, but also at least a representative sample of the hardwoods. This could involve a lot of work. I may not get back to the site this year, and in any case could use some help. All I was able to establish is a general idea of the height of the tallest Norway spruce trees.

As a side note, let me say that I was in the woods measuring trees for only a few minutes when I could understand so very clearly why the ENTS method of measuring, “sine top, sine base,” makes perfect sense and is the only method that should be used, except maybe in some special cases. It is funny how the method that was generally used before we had good rangefinders, has persisted. It can lead to frequent, and to me, obvious overestimations of tree height.

Here are a few pics that can give you some idea of the appearance of the trees there.

This first gives a general view with a couple of nice spruce

DSC00345-copy.gif

These next two focus on nice spruce trees:

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DSC00344_edited-1-copy.gif

This last one is looking upward focusing on one of the nicer larch trees:

DSC00341_edited-1-copy.gif


--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:14 pm
 
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Re: Back to Mohawk

Bob:

I am as big a fan of white pine as anyone--maybe even you! I need to come to see Mowhawk. And Cook, etc. Tuliptree was my favorite when I was a young boy and for many years after. It is still at the very top of my list, along with white oak, eastern hemlock and white pine. And, of course Norway spruce. But for me white pines have an aura about them that is very, very special

As for the massiveness of white pine. I need to search for a picture I have of some virgin white pine, I think in Wisconsin. I tucked it away "safe" between the pages of a large format book, but I have not been able to find it. If I do I will use MACRO and send it to you all. It was part of an advertisement for the Waussau Insurance Co. many years ago. It showed, if I remember rightly, a horseman between five or so gigantic white pines. Now one might ask, were these really eastern white pines? Well, I have been a lover of this species all my life--even as a young boy when tuliptree was my absolute favorite--and for the life of me the bark on these trees looks like white pine.

I have lots of planted white pines on my timberland and for me they are beautiful. I got out my new measuring equipment last week and my tallest are 95 feet and nicely straight. I have some pruned up to over 40 feet!

Oh, last week when you were at Montpelier, I wanted to come down there and "scare you up." But my wife had another appointment. We are going tomorrow--any advice on where I should go to see the best trees there? Or are they all in one place that I can't miss, so to speak?

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:58 am
 
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Hemlocks on the Rocks!

ENTS:

One of my favorite places on my timberland is a section with large rocks and lots of hemlocks growing on and between them. Here are some good examples:

DSC00327-copy.gif

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This next one is actually a red spruce:

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These next two pics are looking up at some of the nice hemlocks in this area:

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DSC00337_edited-1-copy.gif

Finally, while I am at it here, this last pic is of me sitting next to another hemlock growing on a rock, but this is from another area of my timberland:

DSC00313_edited-1.gif

--Gaines

..
by gnmcmartin
Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:27 pm
 
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Re: FFVP Report

Don and ENTS:

I had thought about expressing my views on this topic earlier, but maybe now is a good time. Let me get up on my soap box here and perhaps reinforce the way you very probably have approached this issue.

As you all know, I was a university professor (of English) most of my working life. University faculties have a long tradition of “self-governance.” Faculties have meetings, are organized into committees, and enter into negotiations with university administrations about a variety of issues, including pay, work load, staffing, evaluation, etc. I learned a bit about how to approach difficult issues and negotiations with ultimate decision makers. Very often I served as chair of the faculty welfare committee, and also the faculty evaluation committee, and did so both very early in my career as well as very late.

Number one principle, as you were careful to observe Don, is to be realistic about what is possible. But principle #2 may be even more important--listen to the views of the other party and make sure you understand them. Show that you understand by really engaging them and show that you understand in a sympathetic way by doing some elaboration of the views yourself, and by asking interested questions. I mean really, really do this with your heart in it. After that, you can begin to work on explaining your views and discuss the conflicts between the two. But continue to show that you understand the position of your “opponent” and the difficulties he/she may face.

At my university at one point the Provost and the English Department were at odds about a crucial staffing issue. Everyone said that she was completely impossible to work with. At the beginning of the my first meeting with her I expressed my interest in the difficulties she was facing with the budget and the demands from other departments, etc. After she understood that I really understood the position she was in, we had a very good working relationship. I won’t say we got everything we wanted/felt we needed, but that was the beginning of a real give and take and both sides benefited. I am convinced that after the new “atmosphere” was created, we got all that was really possible.

There was another example of how this method worked regarding the faculty salary structure. The faculty and the university president were at odds on this for years, and the faculty pay scale was stuck and full of imbalances. Neither side was really talking to the other. After the faculty, essentially at my urging and with me as chief negotiator, finally began to understand the president’s position and agreed to some basic methodology that should not have been difficult for the faculty to accept, all issues were resolved and an new faculty salary system and a new faculty evaluation system were created, and at last report--I have been retired for 8 years now, but I keep in touch--all parties remain happy.

If you can really, really show that you understand the views of the person you are negotiating with, and show that you understand the difficulties he faces in his position, then, and only then, is there any chance that you will get a sympathetic ear and find out what might be possible to achieve.

Now here is a third piece of advice about this. At times it is simply not possible to have good discussions, no matter how you approach things. The person you want to negotiate with is simply not “open.” He is under too much pressure at the time and/or his mind is simply stuck, tense, or whatever. Don’t get into an argument. Back off, go away, look for another time. In military terms, there are simply situations/battle fields, or whatever, that are not appropriate. If the situation is not right for making good progress, the more time spent on that battle field, the more damage may be done. Retreat ASAP and look for a better time and place in the future.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:42 am
 
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Notable white oak tree at Carter Hall, VA, April 25, 2010

Noteworthy white oak tree (Quercus alba) at Carter Hall, Millwood VA, April 25, 2010

This tree is notable for its trunk diameter, but much more noteworthy because of its overall form and spread. This white oak has a form that seems more typical of live oak (Quercus virginiana).

Here are the dimensions:

20’ 6” CBH (76.5” DBH)

Height 75’

Spread: I did not attempt to calculate an average or to make an accurate plot, but I measured the length of several of its large branches. These were in 70.5’, 70.5’, 67.5’, 55.5’, 71.5’, there was one very long branch I couldn’t measure because it extended over a wall and over adjacent private property. This branch appeared to be longer than the others. The maximum spread was probably in excess of 147’.

The diameter of the lowest branch about three feet from the trunk was 30" Several other branches appeared larger.

The tree appeared to be growing on a limestone outcrop, portions of which were visible above the soil around the tree. The property of Carter Hall includes a number of large open-grown white oak trees, of which about 6 or 8 are over 60” DBH. This tree was different from all the others in its wide spread relative to its height.

Here is a series of pictures of this tree:

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Here is a picture of one of the other fine white oaks at Carter Hall. This tree was 59" DBH and 94' tall:

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--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:30 pm
 
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Re: Notable white oak tree at Carter Hall, VA, April 25, 201

ENTS:

I neglected to describe just where on the Carter Hall estate the tree is. As you enter the front gate, keep to the left and drive towards the administration building--you will be heading basically north. As the dirve turns to the left (east) after a couple hundred yards or so, the tree is right there to the right of the drive. Described another way, the tree is about 100 yards or so west of the administration building parking lot.


The Carter Hall estate, a famous historical location in VA, is now the property of Project Hope. I am not sure what kind of regular access the public now has. If anyone wants to see the estate/grounds, and this tree, it may be a good idea to call ahead. I had access last weekend because one of the houses on the property--not the Carter Hall mansion itself--was open for the Clarke County house and garden tour.

It just so happens that the great White oak tree at Carter Hall is right across the road (VA route 255) From the nice white oak tree I featured in a previous post on the old Google Groups site--the one in front of the Millwood Episcopal Church. I need to re-measure this tree--I have reason to think I made some errors when I measured it previously. I will post my pic again here:

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Quite a coincidence to have these two great trees growing essentially right next to each other. They are the two finest White oaks I have yet seen in VA. And they are growing with such different forms.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:49 am
 
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Exotic Landscape Trees At Montpelier

ENTS:

During my unfortunately too brief visit to Montpelier recently I did have time to take a few pics of some of the trees planted around the mansion. Here is a selection; First, for Will Blozan especially, who has expressed some love for this species, are three pics of Picea orientalis ("Oriental spruce").

This first is a nicely shaped tree:

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The next two pics are of another Oriental spruce from different sides. This tree is forked about 1/3rd up, and then one side forks again:

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The next two pics are for Larry (and everyone, of course). Probably the nicest of the exotics on the property were the Deodar cedars. Here are two nice examples, but I don't have pics of the best ones:

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There were also a number of cedar of Lebanon, but because the foliage on these was very thin--they seemed to have dropped most of their needles--I didn't take any pics of them. I have to agree with Larry that Deodar cedars are gorgeous trees. And I have heard one report that they are very tough and adaptable, and specifically have considerable drought resistance. They may be the best--or one of the best--exotic conifers for Virginia.

Next is a pic of a Nordmann fir:

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The structure of the top of this tree is interesting--it divides and "bushes out." There are nice Nordmanns growing at the VA Arboretum here near Winchester, but these don't bush out at the top. They are a bit younger, however.

I have some planted on my property here and at my timberland. They are doing well. The best fir at the VA Arboretum is A. holophylla, which grows with complete vigor and lushness, as if native. Fir trees are not planted nearly enough here in VA. I have about 8 different species growing here at my place in VA.

Another interesting fir at Montpelier is "Spanish fir,'" A. pinsapo. This tree was very unphotogenic and was not in a good position for a pic. But it was very vigorous and had a rather large trunk--maybe 30" in diameter. A. pinsapo is a very unusual looking fir with short and very thick, stiff, gray-green needles, looking almost cactus-like.

As for Norway spruce--there is nothing remarkable at Montpelier. There are a couple of fairly nice ones, one of which has a featured position next to the visitor center.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:04 am
 
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Re: Meditations in Cabin #6

Bob, Ed, and ENTS:

I must chime in on the topic of whether greater knowledfge/experience, etc. increases appreciation or whether is removes some of the beautiful "mystery" of things.

I am very, very strongly with the former experience--the more I experience something and the more I study it, the deeper the mystery and the greater the appreciation. The two things I love most in this world, are music and trees. Let me talk a bit about music. First, by music, I refer mostly to classical music, which I love expecially because of its harmonic richness and extensive development of thematic and harmonic relationships. My mind can never quite grasp all of this richness, and works I discovered many, many years ago astound me more and more as my musical experience deepens. I would love to sit people down to listen to some of the most profound pieces of music I know and talk about this music and my feelings about it. But, unless I can find someone with a level of experience with music comparable to my own, I know it is difficult. Many of the beauties/mysteries I find in this music took me many years to begin to uncover--I can't expect to share this with someone who has heard little music that has real harmonic and thematic complexity. And many people simply don't have the ear for it, just as many peoploe have one degree or another of color blindness.

For me, trees are a kind of visual music, involving complex perceptions of space, form, and color. The more time I have spent in the forest, the more I see and the more beauty reveals itself. Every tree grows differently with different patterns, colors, textures. As for the scientific "explanations" and analyses, it is, in a way the same. Nothing is ever really explained--all that happens when the growth processes, or whatever, of trees is "explained," is that the mystery moves to a deeper level and its aspects are multiplied. The more I experience and learn about music and trees, the more the beauty and the mystery deepens. You young folks out there: growing old is no fun in most ways, but as you grow older and learn and experience more, your appreciatiion will deepen in ways you will ultimately never be able to explain or completely grasp.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Sat May 08, 2010 1:21 pm
 
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Re: Buying and managing timberland for pleasure and profit

Bob:

You raise the most important and critical issues. First, I wish I were more familiar with what is going on in Massachusetts, both on the public and private forests. There may be, and probably are, some important differences in the opportunities there from what I have seen in MD--I would be hesitant to enter any debate and/or try to offer solutions for an area that I don't really know very much about. I wish I had some time and could come up there and see what is going on--look at some timberlands. Maybe you and/or Joe could show me around a bit.

As for the subsidies--I do support them and I do think they may be necessary. In my initial discussion here I highlighted the tax relief the forestry programs in MD offer. My very long-term investment in time and money in my timberland would at times have been very difficult without the tax breaks. And, although I didn't mention it in my discussion, at two points I took advantage of federal FIP (Forestry Incentives Program) funds. These were in fact very modest--over a period of 11 years or so they totaled something less that $1,500. But they offered not only motivation, but also a schedule that really helped me get the work done at a time when it was a sacrifice to find the time.

Let me offer a little defense of the tax breaks available for forestry programs. First, forest land doesn’t place a burden on roads and other services comparable to other land uses. Second, good forest management helps produce jobs for the community, and as the timber is sold, it provides more jobs in the mills, and the profits are also taxed. In addition, the larger and more general community benefits from the improved wildlife habitat, the more generally increased biodiversity, water quality, etc., etc. I believe in tax incentives for “behaviors” that benefit the economy and the overall community. I am not sure I would characterize these incentives as “massive,” however.

Whether they are absolutely necessary, I really can’t say. For me they have been very important. But I am not sure how forest land is taxed in MA. In MD it is very, very high. The land is supposed to be valued at “fair market value,” and much of the land in my area brings high prices for “recreational” purposes. In fact, one of my parcels would be taxed at a rate much higher than it could be sold for. These taxes can be a killer. Farmland--land actually under cultivation--receives similar tax breaks. My forestry activities I would insist are “farming.”

Moving on to another issue: if I were not able to do virtually all the work myself, I would not have been able to make the investment I did. I had the time, but I certainly would not have had the money to get the work done by anyone else. Unless, of course, I sold pulpwood, and suffered the damage and other constraints that would have involved. I don’t want to say tht something similar to what I have done would not be possible without an owner doing the kind of physical labor I have done, but it could be more difficult and require some very, very careful and tough oversight

I am being very honest and realistic as I say these things.

In addition, the very, very high rate of return that I have potentially achieved (at the moment, timber prices are way, way down), are in large measure due to the bonanza created by the growth of veneer quality cherry logs. This is something I never anticipated when I bought the timberland. Veneer cherry is not something that grows everywhere--in fact, it grows primarily in a fairly narrow band, north to south in the mountains from north/central PA down through parts of far western MD and maybe to some extent in adjacent WV. The veneer buyer I have dealt with says that my particular parcel produces exceptional quality veneer logs (form, grain, and color) and he is eager to come see anything I have to offer. Many nearby parcels don’t produce the kinds of logs my land does. My management has something to do with this, but it is also soil, the local climate, and some other factors.

But all that being said, I do think that the kind of long-term goals I have to produce the highest quality logs possible, do in the long run make timber growing much more profitable than most people realize. But I have one more confession to make--I really bought this timberland because I love trees and the forest, and a major incentive for my focusing on the long term is that love. I can postpone any "big" harvest much longer this way. My motives have not been strictly financial. And if they were more importantly financial, I probably should have sold the whole thing about 5 years ago. I think I could have gotten $2,000,000, maybe a bit more. One man made an initial unsolicited offer of $1,000,000 without doing any real evaluation of exactly what I had. I said I had no interest in selling and no interest at that time in hearing any other offers.

Anyway, I would not have posted this topic and given all the encouragement for buying and managing timberland if I did not really believe it is really potentially very profitable for a broad range of forestlands. I said my return has been something close to 13% compounded annually, based on prices available about 5 years ago before the recession. For more usual kinds of timberland, a realistic figure might be close to 5% with the kinds of tax relief I have had. And this 5% over the long term would be inflation protected.

We don’t “do” pine here in MD, but I understand that in MA good white pine stands can produce prodigious volumes (one forester up there told me of stands with 50,000 BF or more per acre), and thus can be very valuable. I know nothing about grading white pine logs, but I would imagine good clear old growth log must bring a price much, much higher per foot than logs from 50 year old trees. Can you tell me anything about this, Joe?

Finally, there may be something we could learn from forestry in other countries. I think I read somewhere that in Germany, hardwood harvest rotations are something like 200 or 250 years. I believe there are people at SAF who know a bit about what goes on in other countries. I may get on the phone and see if I can find out something and get some good references. Maybe a simple on-line search could turn up something

Well, I want to explore this topic further with you and anyone else who might be interested. I will also give some thought to what I might be able to present, and will begin to take my camera with me anytime I go into my woods and see what I can capture that might be of interest. I can at least take pictures of the kinds of high quality trees that are partly the result of my efforts--some of them are very, very pretty. Perhaps I could take my camera into some other woodlands and see what I can find. And I could do some more precise calculations of volume/quality/value increases for trees over time.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Sun May 23, 2010 9:12 pm
 
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Thoughts on Art and Photography

James:

Yes, my ideas are sometimes like those of an artist. I don't want to make any claims for being able to achieve any art, as such, but in a way, trees and a forest could be like a canvas, or a set of natural materials that an artist could work with. Some theories of art include the idea that the artist doesn't assume complete control, but that he allows for the "powers" inherent the materials he uses to express themselves, even to the extent that they can affect form as well as textures. One of the most exciting and totally moving experiences I have ever had with art, was visiting the new East Building of the National Gallery of Art for their opening exibition. One room had nothing in it but very large Jackson Pollock "drip/splash" Paintings. Litrerally when I walked into that room paintings, or shortly afterward when I had a bit of time to absorb the environment I was in, my hair stood on end. It was almost like I had been suddenly taken outdoors and was in some very unusual kind of forest. If you know Pollock's paintings from the period when he splashed/dripped painting on the canvas, there is a freedom and "openness" or something--I can't describe it--in the paintings. Looking at those paintings I felt as if a cool wind from a forest was blowing through the canvas and paint right into my soul. Pollock painted them by engaging in a kind of spontaneous dance over the canvas with the paint--very athletic. He carefullly selected the mix of paints and their consistency, etc. But after his "dance" began, and the paint was put into motion, all carefrul control ended, and the fresh air of nature started blowing/flowing through. I visited that room a number of times before the exibition closed, often spending an hour or more with those paintings each time.

Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:01 am
 
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Re: A Pine Plantation in the Pink Beds.

James:

Do you think this grove is slated for a pulpwood harvest? Or do you think it will be preserved?

Just a few things you may or may not know about the development of stands like this:

First, over time a great many of the trees will die--this is natural. As the slower growing ones become too crowded and/or overtopped, they will die. Some others may die for other reasons. Basically, over time the stand will thin itself--the stronger trees will assert dominance. In 50 to 75 years, there will be far fewer trees here, but the dominant pines will be impressive. How tall/large they will get depends on the growing site and the genetic strain of the trees and their adaptability to the site. But if the tallest are now 85 feet tall after 35 years, both the strain and the site must be pretty good.

As for tending the grove--ultimately no tending is really needed. But having a forester or a person who knows a bit about white pine growth go through and do some thinning, the growth can be enhanced. Over the long term, thinning simply to reduce the density and to give the better trees more growing space is really not needed. That kind of treatment can enhance diameter growth a bit, but in the long, long run--200 years or so, the best trees will assert dominance on their own and there will be a very impressive stand of white pine.

But these is one kind of "thinning" that can have long term benefits--that is to remove misshapen and diseased trees. Sometimes trees infected with white pine blister rust can live for a long time and grow vigorously. But they will die eventually--there is no way yet found to save an infected tree. I have even done my own experiments. What should be done is when an infected tree is crowding too closely and/or supressing a healthier tree, it should be removed. Of course infected trees should be removed to reduce the spread of the disease, but older trees seldom get new infections.

Also, if a tree is forked and liable to split, or otherwise misshapen, and crowding other trees too much, it should be removed.

If some minimal tending is done of this kind, after 200 years there may be just a few more really magnificent trees in the stand.

But, remember any of you out there, if you cut any pines in a stand, be sure to treat the stumps to prevent annosus root rot disease. I sprinkle borax on them, but there are some other treatments that are effective.

Pruning can enhance the appearance of a white pine plantation, and improve the log quality, but for the long term health and development of the trees it makes little or no difference.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:53 am
 
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Re: Looking back over 2010

ENTS:

As a novice tree measurer, I have learned that this work not only takes a bit of instruction/training/practice, but it is really, really hard work. I did my best to assist Will and Darian last week in Glover park, but I managed to contribute virtually nothing. Now I do have a back problem that makes my looking up into tree crowns difficult for any extended period of time. Of course, I am 71 years old, but I am still vigorous enough to work almost a full day in the woods logging (felling trees and lugging cable up and down hills, etc), which is certainly hard physical work. But this tree measuring business is just about as tough as anything I have attempted. I was absolutely stunned watching Will and Darian go about their work. While I was struggling to find a good top and measure one tree, Will was off and out of sight, having measured I don't know how many trees before I was done with one.

Maybe I should have posted this as a response to his recent reports, but I was absolutely stunned at the amount of work Will and Darian were able to do in what seemed to me an incredibly small amount of time. These guys are amazing.

Well, I am not sure I can count myself as having joined the ranks of ENTS tree measurers. Part of the problem is lack of time, the next part is that tree measurers, at least those like Will and Darian, are a special breed with great talent and stamina. Yes, we need to recruit more, but I can clearly understand why they are difficult to recruit.

Oh, in addition, I was also impressed by Will and Darian's ability to find trees of different species. I am a fair to middling tree identifier, but Will and Darian did an amazing job in finding the ten species to fill out the Rucker 10. I spent a lot of time in those woods, and at least one of the species they found I never knew was there. Wow!!

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:46 pm
 
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Re: Woodland Restoration

Folks:

Here are some pictures of the trees and vines at Blandy. The first two are of a nice white oak before "treatment."

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Here is a picture after treatment. You can see my tools laying over the cut vine sections. This tree took me about an hour--I wanted to create a clear gap that would take a bit of time for the new sprouts to bridge, and which would make it easy to identify and cut them.

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Next are a couple of pictures of a tree that presented an easier situation--basically one vine going up instead of the many, many small ones in addition to the larger ones on the first tree I pictured above.

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Now here is a tree with the ivy. I have cut it off up to as high as I could easily reach. the "stick" leaning up against the trunk is a section of the vine, showing how thick they can be. I must have removed over two dozen vines from this trunk.

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Finally, here is a picture of what may be my favorite of the white oaks. I posted a picture of this once before--it has nearly perfect form, is about 120 feet tall, and is free of vines, except for poison ivy, which I am prohibited from cutting, it being native.

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If you look in the background of these pictures, you can see more of the general problem, but not how the bittersweet is choking the forest floor, especially in the openings where there is more overhead light.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:33 pm
 
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Re: New member introduction

Fred:

In my opinion, your "illustrations" bridge a gap and become artwork. Wonderful! I would love to see more.

--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Fri Feb 11, 2011 9:01 pm
 
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pictures of some trees at my timberland

ENTS:

Consider this an appendix to the topic I posted some time ago on buying and managing timberland for peleausre and profit, and to my contributions to Joe's topic on forest economics.

In those topics I talked about the nice black cherry trees growing on my timberland. Here is one of the better ones. See the axe (yellow) for scale:

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Here is the same tree looking up the trunk. Black cherry trees of this quality grow on the Allegheny Pleateau in parts of PA, MD and WV. This tree is about 100 feet tall, and 32" DBH.

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Next is a picture of a very nice double trunked cherry tree. The left hand side is over 30" DBH and is probably top, top veneer quality, but the quality of veneer cannot be verified until the tree is cut and the color and grain evaluated. Anyway, the picture does not do justice to the exceptional beauty of this tree(s). If was difficult to get a good picture because of crowding foliage.

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This next picture is a clump of cherry trees that originated as stump sprouts when the stand was logged in the 1930's. Cherry trees of stump sprout origin are almost always fine trees. Rot does not enter from the stump into the sprouted trees. In addition, it is possible to cut (leaving a 3' stump) or girdle one or more of the trees in a clump like this, without having a risk of rot entering the adjacent trees. Note the dead stem to the left that I girdled about 30 years ago. The trees in this clump are about 110 feet tall and each is of probable veneer quality.

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I am especially fond of forest grown sugar maple trees. There are some very nice ones gfrowing on my timberland. They have benefited from TSI (timber stand improvement) thinning. This one is 100 feet tall and about 32" DBH.

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Here is another, not so large, but beautifully straight with a well-balanced crown:

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Also on my timberland are nice stands of tuliptree--nothing like those Will has found. They average about 110 feet tall, but grow in cathedral-like stands of well formed trees. My favorite, however, is a group I call "The Organ Pipes."

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Finally, the road into my timberland with the rhododendron in bloom. The trees in this picture are poor compared to those in the pictures above. They are here growing on a Dekalb Channery Loam with a SW exposure, a marginal class III site. The trees in the other pictures are growing on Gilpin Channery Loam, good class II sites.

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--Gaines
by gnmcmartin
Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:42 pm
 
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