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Edisto Nature Trail (ENT) 4-11-2010

ENTS,

It has been family tradition for many years to spend at least a week at Edisto Beach, SC every year. Thus, it has been an annual agonizing event to pass by the well-labeled Edisto Nature Trail near Jacksonboro, SC on the way there and back every year. The last trip in April we had some extra time and decide to stop by and pay it a visit ENTS style. OMG!!! This place rocks! (It also has the acronym of ENT!)

http://www.sctrails.net/trails/ALLTRAILS/NRT/EdistoNature.html

The site is historic for several reasons as a quick Google search will show. I could sum it up as a “mini-Congaree” and as such is deserving of further ENTS attention. As I have reported in past trip reports, spruce pine (Pinus glabra) has been high on my list of interests and a target of my measuring gear. Well, Edisto Nature Trail has ‘em! Spruce pine is now among my all-time FAVORITE species!

The site is very diverse and has enough age to contain some impressive specimens. Older relic bald cypress can be found as well as large cherrybark (Quercus pagoda) and swamp chestnut (Q. michauxii) oaks. It is also labeled (at times incorrectly) with regard to trees and shrubs. Species mix is very similar to Congaree with the addition of spruce pine, pumpkin ash (Fraxinus profunda) and really, really impressive long-leaf pine (Pinus palustris). Loblolly pine does not approach the size of those at Congaree but 12’ X 130’+ trees can be found. I have no doubt loblolly will reach 140’ at ENT. Longleaf will exceed 120’ and will be a focus of the next trip.

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I did not spend time on the pines other than spruce pine since we were getting pressed for time. Regardless, I did measure some more under-measured species and found a state record spruce pine (yeah!)

Green hawthorn
6.7” X 37.8’

Southern bayberry
3.0” X 27.3’
4.8” X 29.4’ ENTS height record?

Spruce pine
34.4” X 97.9’ X 62’ ABS 67.5’ long spread
34.1” X 91.3’
28.8” X 109.3’
28.7” X 113.9’
35.0” X 115.8’ X 55’ ABS SC State Record

Pumpkin ash
10.2” X 63.2’ X 12’ ABS
16.1” X 72.5’ X 21’ ABS
22.5” X 74.2’ X 17’ ABS
First big one.jpg
34.4" X 97.8' spruce pine

Giant tall one.jpg
35.0" X 115.8' "giant "spruce pine

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Me at the base of 34.4" spruce pine

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Typical pumpkin ash
Will Blozan
by Will Blozan
Sun May 09, 2010 12:49 pm
 
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Edisto Beach State Park 4-9-2010

A recent family trip to the South Carolina coast gave me a chance for more tree hunting at Edisto Beach State Park on Edisto Island, SC. I have reported a few times from the island and on this trip I focused on more obscure and under-represented species in the ENTS max list. Trees are quite short on the coastal side of the island so no really tall trees, but the diversity is amazing. It was really cool to see red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) blooming among a mix of live oak (Quercus virginiana), water oak (Q. nigra), loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), black cherry (Prunus serotina), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and southern red cedar (Juniperus silicicola).

The shrub layer was thick and diverse; dominated by yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), red bay (Persea borbonia), swamp titi (Cyrilla racemiflora), southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera), sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), and an occasional devil-wood (Osmanthus americanus) or red buckeye. In fact, I measured the swamp titi not even knowing what it was. The park is absolutely devoid of interpretive information regarding the trees and shrubs. I had to key it out later. I have no idea what the numbers represent but it’s a start I guess…

I must relay that the ambrosia beetle carrying the laurel wilt fungus is rampant on the island. The laurel family falls victim to this assemblage of nasties; every single sassafras was dead and ~60% of the redbay were already dead.

http://www.fl-dof.com/forest_management/fh_insects_redbay_ambrosiabeetle.html
Here are the measurements:

Southern red cedar 21.6” X 73.1’ ENTS height record?
16.8” X 67.2’

Yaupon holly 2.35” X 28.0’
` 3.5” X 32.9’ X 12’ ABS SC State Record?

Swamp titi 4.7” X 31.8’ X 18’ ABS
6.4” X 44.1’ X 18’ ABS
5.3” X 44.7’ X 17’ ABS ENTS height record?
5.75” X 37.5’ X 13’ ABS
6.1” X 44.4’ X 16’ ABS

Sorry, no photos this trip.

Will Blozan
by Will Blozan
Sun May 09, 2010 11:37 am
 
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Re: Edisto Nature Trail (ENT) 4-11-2010

Bob and James,

Spruce pine is a wetland tree of the deep south, but uncommon. Based on what I have seen of the species I strongly suspect it will have a form factor exceeding that of loblolly pine. Their slow-tapered trunk and heavy branches rack up wood volume quickly. When viewed with small people they are especially impressive!
IMG_4109.JPG
I can't get over the purple "black cherry" bark that so easily distinguishes this species from all else. The lack of this species in Congaree is curious; perfect habitat seems to abound.

Will
by Will Blozan
Sun May 09, 2010 9:38 pm
 
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Re: Richland County Pine climb, Congaree National Park

Mike,

Yes, CONG has a full LiDAR dataset, and I saw a printed map of the entire park with canopy height represented by different colors. For the most part the canopy across the park is 110-130ish with the hot spots along the Kingsnake and Oak Ridge areas as we would expect based on past ENTS surveys. There were some extraodinarily high hits along the river but they turned out to be tupelo swamps with reflected water errors (?). The data need to be groundtruthed and some hot spots explored.

Here is a shot from the Richland County Pine looking south towards the bluffs of the Congaree River. The canopy is mostly cypress and tupelo but does overlook some of the Oak Ridge area.
View over gum swamp and bluffs by river.jpg
Will
by Will Blozan
Sat Jun 19, 2010 1:49 pm
 
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Richland County Pine climb, Congaree National Park

ENTS,

During what may possibly be one of the best paid jobs ever I was able to climb the amazingly large and old “Richland County Pine” in Congaree National Park. This past April, I was hired as a scout by Aperture Films, Ltd. for a film that will be shown in the visitor center. The specific film scene in mind is a helicopter flight over the canopy of the park that includes a shot with climbers in the tops of the trees.
Richland County Pine stitch.jpg
Another highlight of the film will be the ENTS research in the park, and the current script calls for scenes of ENTS measuring, climbing and mapping the giants of the park. These scenes will be filmed in July of this year.

So, basically I was paid to climb two trees and find out if I could stand with my head above the crown so as to be visible from the air. Needless to say I happily obliged. Obviously the natural choice would be the emergent and stout loblolly pines. So I choose as my targets the Richland County Pine which is the 16’ cbh behemoth near Weston Lake on the low boardwalk and of course, the reigning National Champion “Riddle Pine”. We found success on both accounts. Aaron Noblet of Aaron’s Tree Specialists joined me as an assistant and photographer. This was his first big tree climb experience.
Aaron ascending trunk.jpg
Shadow.jpg
Aaron in main fork.jpg
Weston Lake.jpg
Tippy top.jpg
Will main trunk.jpg
After the Richland County Pine we climbed the National Champion "Riddle Pine" the next day. This was the subject of the 2009 crown mapping done during the ENTS event. I found this extraordinary tree to have grown 0.8 feet in height since last tape drop. It is now 169.5 feet tall! In contrast, the Richland County Pine had less than 2 inches of new terminal growth.
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I’ll let the photos tell the story but we had two glorious, rewarding days. The bottomline- ENTS is making inroads to major exposure. This job is the direct result of the 2009 Congaree Research Permit and our previous favorable performance with regard to interpreting the park’s resources. Thanks to all who have been involved with the projects there and making ENTS a respected and trusted group in the eyes of the National Park Service.

Will Blozan
by Will Blozan
Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:04 pm
 
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Boogerman Pine update and other news from Catalochee

ENTS,

Today I took a trip to see five trees and remeasure and check for winter storm damage.

"Boogerman Pine"
I (thankfully) found this tree relatively unscathed by the heavy winter snows. I saw no top damage, and by comparing photos of the top to previous trips the high point is still intact. There was definitely some branch loss in the upper crown and below by he's hangin' in there! Unfortunately the neighboring Q-tip Pine (165') is now dead; snapped at about 130'. The Q-tip Pine was the oldest known eastern white pine in the Smokies at 355 years via core sample. The lush understory growth spawned by the hemlock deaths obscured a clear shot for remeasuring The Boog. I will have to wait until winter...

"Boogerman Hemlock"
This fine, treated tree just ~50 feet from "The Boog" was last measured to 159.8', and I was hopeful that it would be a sole representative of the 160 Club by now. Well, it is now about 9 feet tall; snapped and fallen across the trail. Rough ring count was ~270 years.

"Hoglen Pine"
This white pine showed no storm damage and I was hopeful it would be 180' by now. Not quite; 178.3'

"Winding Stair chestnut"
A nice American chestnut which held the Smokies hieght record at 75' has now fallen victim to the blight. Ugh.

"Winding Stair Loner"
One of the finest hemlocks discovered in the Tsuga Search Project, this 158+ honker was poised to reach 160' and as of last measurement was among the tallest LIVING eastern hemlocks left on earth. However, in spite of three doses of insecticide this tree was found dead on arrival today. ^(*#@^*@ adelgids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Will
by Will Blozan
Sat Aug 07, 2010 6:42 pm
 
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Winterthur Gardens ENTS foray 9-10-2010

Winterthur Gardens measuring trip 9/10/2010

On September 10th I met up with Scott Wade and George Fieo at Winterthur Gardens in Delaware for the first ENTS foray at the site. Scott had previous work experience at the site but since it was pre-ENTS no measurements were taken.

http://qa.winterthur.org/

Winterthur has been on my tree hunting radar for nearly 15 years. Back in the late nineties I was in email communication with someone there concerning a tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) measured to be 187’ tall. This tree was claimed among other things as the tallest tree in the east, etc… Of course, I was into the SINE method of height measuring and since the tree was measured via tape drag and clinometer I was not convinced it was that tall. The late Colby Rucker comments on this tree in his “Great Eastern Trees Past and Present” compilation. This tree was the primary focus of the trip and the first tree we visited.

A had begun my journey to Winterthur from NC at 2:30 in the morning, and arrived (quite groggy) on site by 11:30 am via a flight to Philadelphia. Scott and George arrived shortly thereafter and we inquired about tree locations. The attendant staff was excited and very helpful and hooked us up with the staff arborist who knew of the tall tree’s location. We also learned of the “William Penn Tree” a tree thought to date into the late 1600’s. This was also a tuliptree which will be discussed later.

We walked the trail from the visitor’s center to the grounds of the main mansion. The trail passed through a very impressive tuliptree and black oak (Quercus velutina) grove that we would later return to measure. The vast mansion lawn was dotted with venerable specimens of enormous tuliptree and other species both native and exotic. The “big tree” was obvious. We met up with the arborist who quickly proclaimed it to be the tallest tree on the property. Scott was aware of a climber who crudely tape dropped the tree several years ago and found it to be ~150’ tall. Straight-up laser shots did not reveal a height close to 187’.

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While Scott and the arborist talked I scanned the crown and found a solid laser hit to the highest twig. Under perfect conditions the 76.6” dbh (20’1”) tree was measured to 150.7 feet. Keep in mind this was after many, many years of growth from the initial 187’ measurement. This tree illustrates that the tangent method in unqualified hands just does not work. No significant crown damage was observed. Certainly, 150 feet is impressive for an open-grown tree and made us wonder what may lie out there in the acres and acres of old woodlands…

Meanwhile George was scouting other giants and a nearby tuliptree measured 74.1” dbh (19’5” cbh) and 141.6’ tall. I noted a nice American holly (Ilex opaca) and measured it for James Parton; 24” dbh X 67.6’ tall. Gorgeous, stately tree! We passed by many large specimens both native and exotic to proceed to other areas to make best use of our short time.

We proceeded to the Pinetum area to measure the state champion Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). It also was easy to find and was an impressive 63.4” dbh (16’7” cbh) X 105.9’. I noted some fine tiger-tail spruce (Picea torano); the largest was 32.6” dbh X 83.2’ tall. This species is the alternate host for hemlock woolly adelgid in Japan. The pinetum had old specimens of Sawara false-cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera), some of which formed little forests around them from layered branches.

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We wanted to focus the bulk of our time in the woodlands. One main goal was “Chandlers Woods”, a preserved forested site since the late 1800’s. On the way to one of the adjacent woodland areas we stopped to admire the huge sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) at “Sycamore Hill”. This large tree is just getting started as a giant and with ample room to grow will likely get very, very large. It is already over 19’ cbh and about 130’ wide.

IMG_5052.jpg

The first forested tract we surveyed was on the south bank of the small creek running through the property. We immediately took note of very mature woods and large trees. Tuliptree dominated most of the areas at the site but impressive northern red oak (Quercus rubra v. rubra), white oak (Quercus alba), and pignut hickory (Carya glabra) were mixed it. American beech (Fagus sylvatica) was also locally abundant and as you will see later reached impressive heights.

Scott and I had a copy of the Champion Trees of Delaware and routinely consulted the list as we found impressive specimens. Winterthur has a large number of state records and we tried to find them or larger ones. We found it was easier finding larger ones. The first new champ I found was a black birch (Betula lenta) the previous champ was a mere 115 points and one literally hanging over the entrance road was 86.4” cbh X 90’ tall X 44’ spread for 187 points. We scouted the rest of this small tract and found the larger tuliptrees were routinely ~140’. We speculated that a rich, sheltered site would produce some tall trees!

We crossed a field and entered another tract by a barn. I spotted a tall hickory crown from the field and easily found the tree. It was a real pain to measure but was not less than 8’2.5” cbh X 130’ tall. This tree set the benchmark for the species which as it turned out was not the tallest or largest we would find. Scott surveyed along a creek while George and I stayed up on the slope. I measured a huge American beech to 38.5” dbh (10’1” cbh) X 130.7’ tall. Scott exclaimed he had found a tall pignut so we joined him below. With a base sighting through the brush we measured the 8’ cbh tree to 144’! This tree was also a (temporary) new state record for the species with ~250 points (current champ 244 points).

IMG_5058.jpg

The tall hickory was just the start of the “grove of glory”. A steep ravine on both sides of the small creek harbored the mother lode of towering tuliptree and beech. Straight-up laser shots indicated trees over 150’ grew in this small grove. We excitedly began searching out the tallest trees. The full set of leaves did not help matters but we were able to find solid shots from high up the slope. A skinny beech 27.1” dbh caught my eye and upon finding a window to the top found it to be 138.2 feet tall! This is the tallest beech I have ever measured and among the tallest known to ENTS. Scott and George measured a 157.2’ tuliptree which set a temporary height record for the day.

I proceeded up stream and just before the grove ended in a field I spotted a huge tuliptree. This wishbone-shaped tree soared above the surrounding beeches and lasered out to 162.3’! Not only was it tall but a whopping 67.6” dbh (17’8” cbh). Long spread was 110’- not bad for forest grown! This same grove also had impressive white oak, the largest and tallest being 12’3” cbh X 132.1’ tall. George measured a 122.7‘ sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). Several other beeches exceeded 120’ overtopped by numerous tall tuliptrees.

IMG_5061.jpg

We lamented the fact that the rest of the ravine was cleared for a field as the topography would have supported some massive trees. We continued up a road into a small forested area that had a large pignut hickory 38.4” (10’1” cbh) X 135’ X 65’. This 272 pointer tree crushes the current state champion by 28 points! This area was one of the few that supported a relatively intact herb layer and a thick layer of duff. Most the Winterthur forests were earthworm-induced wastelands full of bare soil and exotic plants.

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We took a break for a quick lunch before exploring Chandlers Woods and looking for the William Penn Tree. An old road bed traversed the site which was rolling hills and small ravines dominated by tuliptree and red oak. This area maintained the tall tulip super-canopy but mixed in were thrifty red oak on the upland areas and a more diverse mix in the lower coves.

Not long after starting up the trail we encountered the massive “William Penn” tuliptree. This beast was by far the largest tree seen (by volume) and had classic old-growth characteristics. It reminded me of the giants back home in NC- and it would be a tree of note even in the Smokies. The untapered stem was 17’5” cbh and rose to a craggy top 156.3’ high. I estimate with limb/branch volume this tree would easily reach 2,000 cubic feet. It may indeed date back far enough to have been alive during the life of William Penn (1644-1718). It is possible this tree was the tree listed as 187’- the girth matches up with the current DE listing.

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The Beast.jpg

Up the trail the red oaks were very impressive and held their own with the dominant tuliptrees. Many exceed 120’ tall and we located a number over 130’. We all set our eyes on three separate trees in the same grove and all were close to 140’. Scott nailed the first 140 footer with a tree 7’8.5” cbh X 140.4’. My 28.6” dbh tree reached 140.7’. Unfortunately Scott had to leave at this point but George and I continued down slope into a small cove. Here, red oak was the most impressive species and many towered to over 125’.

We meandered across the gentle slopes and began a hunt for species to fill out the Rucker Index. The site was so dominated by tuliptree and also not very diverse so finding tall representatives proved difficult. However we did pick up a few new species but did not find any taller specimens of species already measured. George found a nice black walnut 18.8” X 103.7’ and white ash 18.5” X 118.2’ while I picked up a scarlet oak 37.3” X 122.6’ and blackgum 32.2” X 121.6’. It turns out the Rucker is composed of an unusual species mix but understates the impressiveness of the average canopy.

We did come across a tree neither of us recognized. It was not a native species and was spreading around like an invasive. I did some internet searching and have settled on Korean Evodia (Evodia daniellii). It is a nice looking tree but may be a nasty invasive as well.

IMG_5074.jpg

George and I made a point to traverse every forest we could get to. All were unique in some way or another and reflected past disturbance or management. The last area to see was the famous Azalea Gardens near the Visitor Center. This highly manicured woodland was again dominated by towering tuliptree and nice red and black oaks. Black oaks neared 130’ and tuliptree held a continuous 140’+ canopy. A mulched trail wound its way through the knoll and allowed easy access to see the whole stand. It was weird for me to see huge, forest grown trees pruned of all deadwood and the artificial look added a surreal feeling to the garden. What a job that would be though, to prune 140-150’ tuliptrees!

The last tree I measured was the first I spotted in the morning. It was an impressive black oak that looked to be 130-ish. I measured it from a bridge and yep, 130.6’. It was a remnant fork of a double tree over 4.5 feet in diameter.

So, finally the site has been given an ENTS overview. A winter trip would probably yield taller trees and heights of individuals measured in this first round (I gathered GPS coordinates for virtually all trees measured). There is still one tract as yet unexplored, and MANY (exotic) state champs to be measured and submitted. More to see!!!

Rucker 10 index
Tuliptree 162.3
Pignut 144.0
N. red oak 140.7
A. beech 138.2
White oak 132.1
Black oak 130.6
Sweetgum 122.7
Scarlet oak122.6
Blackgum 121.6
White ash 118.2
Rucker 10 133.3

Will Blozan
George Fieo
Scott Wade IMG_5047.jpg
by Will Blozan
Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:25 am
 
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Aperture Films Congaree Filming Project July 2010

Crown scene 1.jpg Aperture Films Congaree Project July 16-18 2010

ENTS,

I thought I would post some images and narrative of the three day event this summer. The filming was a direct result of the scouting trip I posted on last May. The finalist chosen for the project was the “Riddle Pine” loblolly champion. This tree has been the focus of many ENTS trips and climbs. It is currently both the tallest and largest specimen of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) known to exist. The full-tree mapping of this tree in February 2009 resulted in the tree having the following dimensions:

Branch volume 12.4 m3 (437 ft3)
Segment volume 4.5 m3 (159 ft3)
Main trunk volume 39.0 m3 (1,378 ft3)

Whole tree volume 55.9 m3 (1,973 ft3)

Max height 51.4 m (168.7 ft)
DBH 148.9 cm (4.89 ft)

One of the criteria for selecting this tree was the need to get above the crown and be seen from a helicopter as it circled over and around the tree. The multiple tops and stout structure enabled this to happen. Also, as an added bonus there was another large loblolly pine nearby to facilitate filming in the forest canopy.

We came prepared for four climbers aloft and had plenty of rigging gear and thousands of feet of rope. NPS staff was on hand as were several PA’s (personal assistants) to help carry gear. When we arrived the weather had “cooled” into the mid-upper nineties. The aerial team was Jason Childs (ENTS mapping veteran), Mike Riley (rigging assistant), Max Well (cinematographer), and me.
The crew.jpg
We arrived around noon the first day and the rest of the day was spent rigging the two trees for the shots. We filmed the initial rigging (slingshot rope set) and ascent of the tree. These shots were done over and over from slightly different angles and lighting. Max was on hand to help orient the ropes and also to learn how to climb. Max had NEVER been in a tree before! Fortunately Max had trust in us and no profound fear of heights so he caught on quickly. His comfort level in the tree was unbelievable and as you will see later he was not afraid to try some crazy stuff!
Max and Mike.jpg
Mike in top.jpg
Mike and Max adjacent tree stitch 1.jpg
We left the tree rigged for the next day. Day two was to be forest canopy shots and filming of the climbers from the adjacent tree. Max and Mike headed up the neighboring pine to film Jason and me ascending and measuring the Riddle Pine. Again, these shots were repeated over and over and we began to get quite sore. The heat took its toll as well but we were able to get some relief in the shade of the trunk and a breeze, although itself nearly 100 degrees, felt a bit better than nothing. We were pleasantly surprised that there were essentially no mosquitos to contend with.
Mid trunk with Jason and long limb system.jpg
Jason top of Riddle.jpg
As Jason and I progressed up the tree Max was not able to see us anymore. He suggested getting into the tree we were in to film us from within the crown. The easiest way to get him over without him climbing down and up again was to set up a traverse from the neighboring pine to the Riddle Pine. This involved setting a tight line between the trees and Max sliding over while suspended on a pulley. We debated over the time element and safety and decided we could do it faster than if he descended out of the other tree and climbed up into the Riddle Pine. We were already over 120’ up and moving his gear and repositioning would take some time. Max was surprisingly open to the traverse idea- a feat even seasoned climbers would be apprehensive about!

We had a static line already in the tree that was used for the initial ascent. It was anchored to the Riddle Pine, through a fork in the neighboring pine and from there went to the ground. It was the single-line ascent into the neighboring pine. All we needed to do was reposition it and anchor both ends into the Riddle Pine so we could remove it without needing to return to the other tree.

We tossed the rope across the void and tightened it up as much as possible. It was anchored at about 135 feet in the neighboring pine and terminated at around 120 feet in the Riddle Pine. While I was holding the rope tight as Jason anchored it, I was braced against a stout branch. Meanwhile, a gust of wind swayed the two trees and the tension on the rope I was tenaciously holding cracked one of my ribs. It was an awful sound- and bad timing. As a seasoned arborist well-acquainted with injury, I caught my breath and continued on.
Max on traverse.jpg
Max did great on the traverse. Not wanting to waste the opportunity for a shot he combined his slide down the rope (controlled by Mike) with a closing in shot of me ascending the trunk from below into the frame. I did this twice (remember my rib) and when satisfied Mike came over.
Max on big limb.jpg
We were all in the same tree now and we all ascended to the very top. Here we set up multiple shots at 155’ up. Max filmed Jason and me measuring the tree for volume and using the compass and other dendromorphometry devices. The tree swayed in the breeze and the weather was quite pleasant as we watched a huge thunderhead appear from out of nowhere. It was passing close enough to see and hear the lightening but it did not come over the tree. We were on alert and prepared for a fast exit from the tree.
All made it over.jpg
Max has a great eye for shots and wanted to get a shot of the entire tree from a close perspective. He wanted to pan the tree from where it emerged from the understory trees all the way up to the 155’ mark where we were situated. We did not have the ability to haul him up in a controlled, smooth manner. However, since the camera was digital he could loop the footage backwards. We figured the shot would take about 4 hours to rig and complete so we radioed in the idea to the director. He gave us the go ahead and we set about rigging the shot. Since the tree leaned in two different directions from where he wanted to drop down we had to set the rope out on a pair of stout branches. We also had to rig it in such a way that he would not rotate and would generally be close to the trunk to be able to film it from close by.

Jason and I used a weighted rope to plumb the trajectory and found a suitable path. This required the pulleys to be set about 12’ out from the main trunk. Two branches looked like they would work well and he installed three pulleys, one on each branch and another on the main trunk. We had 300’ of static line; 200 feet or more would be used simply to drop Max down on a 2:1 system. Max would be suspended on a free pulley between the two branches. One end was terminated at about 160’ on the trunk. The trailing end of the rope wound its way through both branch pulleys and back through the one on the main trunk. The free end of the rope was run through a figure 8 device to control the descent.
Rigging the drop.jpg
Max was a bit more apprehensive of this move as it entailed getting 12 feet out the branches to the pulley and then disconnect from his main line after clipping in the pulley- all with over 150’ of space below him. He persevered and the system worked great. The first run had a good bit of chatter in the top pulley which was held still on the second try. The three of us were able to easily pull Max back up with ascenders for the second shot.
Max dropping for trunk shot.jpg
That was the end of the epic second day. The next morning was the helicopter aerials. We arrived on site and were in the tree early. I was to be perched in the top of the tree with my head and torso above the foliage. Thankfully it was a calm day but the sun blazed intensely. I was in radio contact with the pilot and although he had GPS coordinates for the tree he did not know which one it was exactly. I saw and heard the helicopter coming and radioed adjustments to his course as he closed in. I had a bright yellow shirt on and he found me with no problem.
Helicopter approach.jpg
He made a few circles around the tree and scanned for the best angle. He had a remote video feed to the director on the ground at another location. The first few passes were overview shots of the surrounding forest and me in the tree. He next radioed that he would be coming in closer. I held on tight as the prop wash was a real concern. I had myself reverse-cantilevered on two tie-in points. I was held in position by the pressure of me pushing up against the ropes below me. Compounding this tentative perch was the need for me to rotate so as to keep facing the helicopter as it circled around.

The director wanted me to “look natural” so I took compass bearings to different points (I had to look like I was doing something useful, not just hanging on for dear life!). Jason was lower in the tree “taking notes”. A few passes later I was asked to standby for the next shot. This was the scary one! The pilot’s voice on the radio said something like, “Will, we need you to be really secure for this one. We are going to pass directly over you and don’t want to blow you out of the tree. Find something sturdy and hold on!” Off radio I muttered, Holy @^#%! The helicopter came in below my level in the Riddle Pine, skimming above the surrounding 120’ swamp canopy and then rose abruptly up and directly over me. Man, that prop wash was crazy! The tree shook and all available gripping surfaces were utilized to hang on. Of course, this shot was done repeatedly and my comfort level gradually increased. At least the wind was cooling… Mike got some great video from lower in the tree of the helicopter passing over the tree.
Overhead!.jpg
The aerials took several hours of repeated shots as the sun angle changed. Between takes I would drop down and we would get some more shots in the tree. I was dead-tired and sore and after a combined 24 hours in this tree was glad to head home for some rest. However, I still had another hour or so of voice-over work to do. Should have done that before three days in the tree!

Needless to say I am anxious to see the footage and see the visitor center film when completed. I am truly honored that the ENTS work in Congaree National Park will be showcased for all visitors to see. The film is expected to have a 10 year residence time. I wonder what will be next? How do you top that!!!

Will
by Will Blozan
Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:40 pm
 
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Jacksonboro, SC slash pines and more spruce pines

ENTS,

As promised in April of this year I returned last week to the Edisto Nature Trail to measure the tall-looking long-leaf pines I saw last time. Well, I returned and alas, no long-leaf pines (LOTS of really hungry mosquitos though!). Opps! They were in fact slash pine (Pinus elliotii). Curiously, none of them were in fruit but some old cones could be found and the long needles and red bark was distictive. As time went on my search image was refined enough so I could easily separate them from the loblolly pine growing among them. I'll note that, assuming the same ages were present, the slash pine were equally as tall as the loblolly but a mere 1/4 to 1/3 the volume of the loblolly.
IMG_5501001.jpg
The slash pines were in a readily defined small area of an old field and perhaps 50-60 years old. Most were small in diameter (<18 inches) but well-formed and holding their own with the competing loblolly and sweetgum. Generally they were 115' but I was able to locate three over 120'. The two tallest were:

DBH Height
22.2" X 124.9'
24.6" X 126.2'
Slash pine 1001.jpg
These may be new ENTS height records.

On the way to Edisto Beach where my family was staying for a few days I spotted some nice-looking spruce pines along southbound US 17 just north of Jacksonboro. After several missed U-turns I found a place to park and access the grove. WOW! They were larger than I thought and I ended up breaking my previous SC State Champion find at the Edisto Nature Trail last April. I measured the two largest trees.

DBH Height Spread
32.2" X 111.2'
39.0" X 117.0' X 46' New State Champ!
Spruce pine US17S 32.2 dbh X 111.2 feet 2001.jpg
IMG_5521001.jpg
Man, I love pines!

Will Blozan
by Will Blozan
Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:14 pm
 
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Big Creek/Mouse Creek and vicinity *NEW RECORDS*

ENTS,

I spent this glorious day in Big Creek to check on some trees I had not seen for many years. Specifically I targeted the 150+ northern red oak on Mouse Creek (Smokies height record) and a spot Josh Kelly sent to me with a high LiDAR hit. On the way up the Big Creek Trail I stopped to measure a chestnut oak that has always taunted me as being tall but I was never there with leaves off since I spotted it. It did not disappoint- 38.3" DBH X 143.1' tall. I believe this surpasses the Cataloochee height record that was last measured at 141.9'.
IMG_5649001.jpg
Big Creek was WAY to big to safely cross so I had to pass the mouth of Mouse Creek which terminates in a nice waterfall. I went up trail to a bridge and bushwhacked back down to the creek. The red oak was easy to find as it was still in full leaf as opposed to most of the other trees. I explored the crown and found a high point nested in the multiple options. In March 2005 I measured it to 151.4 feet. Today I got it to 153.3'. The girth has slightly increased from 41.7" to 42.2".
Tall red 2001.jpg
I also remeasured a tuliptree that was last lasered to over 174'. I could only get 172.6' today. Not bad though. Surrounding tulips were over 160' and I headed up stream to see what I could find. Nothing to report, just nice regrowth from the clearing done just before the park was established. Well, actually one tree caught my eye that I think Jess Riddle measured in 2005. It was an American elm 32.3" DBH X 129.8'. This, I am pretty sure, is a new park height record.

I headed back down Mouse Creek and hopped the nasty ridge to the east to get into an unnamed cove with the high LiDAR hit. The going was rough but I did get to traverse the upper flanks before dropping down. Much of the cove was a shrub-entangled tallus field with hardly any trees. Some nice, large yellowwood were in full, heavy fruit though- don't get to see them much. I quickly tired of stumbling through this crap and went down towards the GPS LiDAR waypoint.

I could see the tall trees but a chasm loomed between me and them; the topo map did not reflect the landslide that gutted the cove and sent it into Big Creek years ago. Up and around I went again. I honed in on the waypoint but was distracted by a slender but tallish mountain silverbell (Halesia monticola). Two solid laser shots put this tree at a new eastern record height of 138.6!!! If you don't know the species you probably won't appreciate it but let me tell you- it was the find of the day!
138.6 ft silverbell001.jpg
I found the tree with the LiDAR hit. Nestled among lesser 160+ footers was a nice tuliptree in full autumn color- 36.5" DBH X 171.3'. LiDAR had it at 174'- not too bad considering how steep the slope was under the tree. This site is yet another in Big Creek that supports tuliptrees over 170'.
171.3 ft tuliptree001.jpg
I made my way back to Big Creek and not far from the bridge I spotted a yellow birch 18.6" X 105.3'- probably in the top five recorded heights for the species.

Will Blozan
by Will Blozan
Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:37 pm
 
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Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park 11/26/2010

ENTS,

Darian Copiz and I met early to measure some trees along the C&O Canal in Maryland. The park contains a long swath of Potomac River floodplain forest and adjacent slopes often of great age. The drive to the parking lot offered views over American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) dominated forest between the canal and the river.
Box elder potomac001.jpg
We went upstream from the lock house in pursuit of the Maryland State Champion Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii). We meandered through the forest marveling at the density of the sycamore flats and impressive shumard oak cohorts. Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis), black walnut (Juglans nigra), box-elder (Acer negundo), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), and an occasional elm (Ulmus sp.) also shared the canopy. We saw lone examples of chinquapin oak (Quercus muhlenbergii) and burr oak (Quercus macrocarpa). Paw-paw (Asimina triloba) and thick exotics populated the understory and native and exotic lianas draped whatever could be climbed.
IMG_5831001.jpg
We measured a few really nice Shumard oaks. One 56” DBH beast had the entire center ripped out yet the remaining side branch still reached 130’. We continued upstream for a bit but were pressed for time to meet up with Gaines McMartin at another site. We hurried downstream to find the champion tree. On the way we measured a nice 17’8” CBH sycamore that was a decent 126.8 feet tall.
IMG_5837001.jpg
We spotted a huge crown in the distance by the river and headed over. Well, it was the “champ” but not even remotely worthy. It was two trees growing side-by-side measured as one. Lame. At least the 123' height was dead-on.
IMG_5838001.jpg
This National Park has a TON to offer and this is just the beginning of lots and lots of searching. My childhood home was near the park and I spent many, many days riding my bike and exploring the forest. I vividly recall huge trees along the Potomac River, which may be one of the unmeasured hot spots of the Mid-Atlantic region.

Species Diameter Height
Shumard 56" 130.0'
Shumard 54" 129.8'
Shumard 43.9" 130.6'
Hackberry N/A 99.6'
Sycamore 67.5" 126.8'

Will Blozan
Darian Copiz
by Will Blozan
Sat Dec 04, 2010 9:15 pm
 
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Glover Park/Archbold section, Rock Creek Park, Washington DC

ENTS,

Gaines McMartin has been discussing this park with me for nearly a year now. Darian Copiz had previously visited the park but had not seen some of the areas we were to traverse. We finally all met up and we gave it a good ENTS-ing.

This section of Rock Creek Park is fairly old and has mature forest dominated by tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), various oaks, hickories, ash, and American beech (Fagus grandifolia). The lower slopes and stream corridors are dominated by American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), and occasional cottonwood (Populus deltoides), bitternut (Carya cordiformis), and elm (Ulmus sp.). Numerous and noxious exotics were common throughout and did not give the forest a very natural feel.

We entered the park from a side street and immediately encountered a stand of fine oak and tuliptree on a gentle ridge. The tuliptrees were already 140-ish and promised a good site. I measured one of Gaines’s favorite trees first; a gorgeous northern red oak (Quercus rubra var. rubra) packed in with competing tuliptree. It was a respectable 46” diameter and stood 137.3’ tall. Next to it was a black oak (Quercus velutina) that proved equally impressive at 33.1” X 134.4 feet tall.
IMG_5840001.jpg
Gaines led us to the “hot spot”; a grove of tuliptrees in a small draw. Sure enough, he hit it dead on as we would not find taller trees anywhere else in the park. This small cove had at least three trees over 150 feet. The tallest, as eyed by Gaines years ago was measured this trip to 155.3’. Two oaks in the vicinity were impressive; a white oak (Quercus alba) 123.7’ and a chestnut oak (Quercus montana) 134.3’. Also in the grove was an American beech 123.9’ tall.

We crossed a small ridge and proceeded upstream on the west side exploring all potential superlatives as we went. I spotted another black oak that stood 139’ tall- the tallest oak we would find all day. 130-140’ sycamores rimmed the base of the slopes and mixed with white (Fraxinus americana) and green ash. Darian and I both spotted nice pignut hickories (Carya glabra) nearly 130’ tall and more northern red oaks around 130’.

Further upstream the southern slopes were dominated by impressive oaks and more tuliptrees just at or under 150’. I crossed the stream and explored the sycamore dominated forest and scored a 145.6 footer among numerous 130’+ trees. We exhausted the upper reaches of the park but not without a few more nice trees. Darian measured an impressive southern red oak (Quercus falcata) at 115.1’ and I measured a large northern red oak at 56.3” X 126.6’.

We headed down the east side to the lower part of the park where I had spotted a black walnut that begged to be measured. It turned out to be 124.3’ tall and grew in the mid-story of tall tuliptrees. Gaines pointed out the fallen remains of a huge tuliptree that was felled after it died perhaps from a lightning strike. It was probably around 17’ girth in its prime and looked to be a tall one. It far surpassed the size of any tree we saw all day.

As it turns out, the Glover/Archbold Park has a Rucker Index just 0.7 points shy of the famous Belt Woods Natural Area not too far away in Maryland (RI 135.3)- the forest icon of the Mid-Atlantic region. Actually, when all trees we ENTS have measured in Rock Creek Park are combined it surpasses Belt Woods with a composite index of 135.6 (Add tuliptree 162.5’ and white oak 125.9’). Are people blind to the forest prowess of the urban Washington DC area? The potential is amazing!

Trees measured this trip:
N. red oak 56.3” X 126.6’
N. red oak 43.1” X 135’
N. red oak 46” X 137.3’
Black oak 33.1” X 134.4’
Black oak 31.1” X 139.0’
S. red oak 39.8” X 115.1’
White oak 35.8” X 122.6’
White oak 25.1” X 123.7’
Chestnut oak 35.7” X 134.3’
Sycamore 38.6” X 140.1’
Sycamore 29.9” X 145.6’
Beech 30.8” X 117.1’
Beech 26.9” X 123.9’
Black walnut 33.1” X 124.3’
White ash 28.5” X 118.4’
Green ash 30.9” X 133.2’
Pignut 29.3” X 129.1’
Pignut 31.1” X 129.7’
Tuliptree 39.1” X 152.4’
Tuliptree 33.5” X 153.5’
Tuliptree 32.8” X 155.3’

Rucker 10 134.6
Tuliptree 155.3
Sycamore 145.6
Black oak 139.0
N. red oak 137.3
Chestnut oak 134.3
Green ash 133.2
Pignut 129.7
Black walnut 124.3
Beech 123.9
White oak 123.9

Will Blozan
Darian Copiz
Gaines McMartin
by Will Blozan
Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:31 pm
 
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Turkey Run Park 11/26/2010

ENTS,

After the fantastic measuring trip at Glover/Archbold Park in Washington DC, Darian and I had some daylight left to explore some new areas. Gaines had already headed home and we decided to return to Turkey Run Park across the Potomac River in Virginia. This park, part of the Potomac Heritage Trail, has steep bluffs along the river with narrow patches of sheltered floodplain forests. Darian had started to measure some trees in there but he wanted to show me the sheltered groves and interesting topography. The abrupt drop to the river exposed rock outcrops, small waterfalls and cliffs. And of course, such topography often shelters tall trees.

The floodplain was composed of newly deposited material and older relic outwashes and terraces. Consequently the forest was a mix of ages and composition but was very rich and diverse. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) was unusually abundant and rich site species such as spicebush (Lindera benzoin), paw-paw (Asimina triloba), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), American basswood (Tilia americana), black walnut (Juglans nigra), and red elm (Ulmus rubra) were present. I’m sure the herb layer is likewise diverse and indicative of rich soils. Some ID work could be done on the sugar maples as they may be black maple (Acer nigrum) though a bit out of the conventional range of the species. Strongly three-lobed leaves and more furrowed bark were present and they just didn’t look “quite right” to me for standard sugar maple.

The light was fading fast so we had to work quickly. We focused along the trail with brief excursions up slopes and small coves to measure potential tall trees. It quickly became apparent that this site and similar ones in the vicinity will produce some tall trees. Even the understory trees were impressive with paw-paw reaching near record heights over 50’ (One could be a State Champion).

Most of our attention was spent on one small, sheltered cove on an older terrace at the base of the steep slopes. The forest was dominated by sycamore, ash, and walnut on the floodplain and tuliptree, oaks, hickories, and sugar maple on the slopes. In the remaining light we had we hit four sycamores in this small area over 145’. I kept telling Darian there would be a 150 footer and sure enough, we found it. A slender tree packed in with others of similar height (146+) reached 150’ even.
Sunset Potomac VA001.jpg
Our short time here hints at the potential high Rucker Index. Virginia is sadly underrepresented in the work of ENTS and continued work along the Potomac and its tributaries will give a good idea of what the area can support. Perhaps Darian can add his prior measurements to the list below for an initial Rucker Index. We ran out of light on the way back but we had passed a ~130’ green ash and the tuliptrees were not even looked at.

Paw-paw 6.0” X 50.9’
Paw-paw 6.5” X 52.1’
Paw-paw 4.9” X 54.3’
A. basswood 21.8” X 124.5’
Pignut 26.1” X 138.7’
Bitternut 29.9” X 132.6’
Black walnut 31.8” X 127.2’
A. sycamore (twin) 145.6’
A. sycamore 32.8” X 146.4’
A. sycamore 27.3” X 145.9’
A. sycamore 34.6” X 150.0’

Rucker 5 134.5

Will Blozan
Darian Copiz
by Will Blozan
Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:27 pm
 
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VA State Champion Northern Red Oak 11/28/2010

ENTS,

On my way back from a family visit last week I made time to stop and see the Virginia State Champion northern red oak near Manassas, Virginia. The tree is in Bull Run Park and scores a whopping 422 big tree points. Here is a link to the tree: http://www.cnr.vt.edu/4H/BIGTREE/bigtree_detail.cfm?AutofieldforPrimaryKey=978
Whole tree shumardo001.jpg
However, a few issues arose when I got to the tree.

1) It was not a tree but a partial fusion of two separate trees
Twin base001.jpg
2) It was 123.9 feet tall, not 148 feet as stated
View up both trunks001.jpg
3) It was not a northern red oak
Classic shumard leaves001.jpg
This fluted double tree grows in a floodplain forest and is in fact, a shumard oak (Quercus shumardii).

Will Blozan
by Will Blozan
Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:26 pm
 
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Keepers of the Trees gift idea!

ENTS,

For those of you looking for that perfect, last minute ENTS gift this holiday season I still have copies of "Keepers of the Trees" by Ann Linnea. This book features stories of folks around the US working with trees in various ways and features two chapters on ENTS members! There is a chapter on my work with big eastern trees and the hemlocks and Dr. Robert Van Pelts canopy work out west. I know you can get it for less on Amazon but hey, you can have your own signed copy sent to you for $25.00! What could be better for your tree loving friends and family?

Email me off the BBS to reserve your copy!

tree_hunter@bellsouth.net

Happy Holidays!

Will
by Will Blozan
Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:48 pm
 
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Dusty lens DUH!!! moment...

ENTS,

I have a Canon PowerShot A640 digital camera- old school but a tough beast that has served me very well. Anyway, in my sequoia climbs in 2009 bark dust found it's way into the inner lenses and stayed there. The dust was not too noticable in photos but in video mode it would scatter light and disrupt the scene badly. One big chunk did do some distortion and was bothersome when it was visible in an image.

Anyway, I Googled the problem and found a post that suggested turning on a vacuum cleaner and opening and closing/zooming the camera lens several times in the hose. Man, two seconds later that little relic of the tallest sequoia was GONE!

I feel like I have a new camera!

Will
by Will Blozan
Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:54 pm
 
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Re: Any details on this tree?

James,

I can't open the link either but if it is the Ohio tree then here is the trip report and photos from 2008.

http://www.nativetreesociety.org/fieldtrips/ohio/greattrees/great_trees_of_ohio.htm

It is not a blight survivor and it is not old. It simply has isolation on it's side.

Will
by Will Blozan
Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:30 pm
 
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Radio interview on hemlocks, Smokies

http://fsrn.org/audio/extended-web-only-version-smokey-mountains-forests-infested-invasive-insects/7901

I was interviewed in December for this story on hemlock woolly adelgids, the impact on the smokies, and management success.

Will Blozan
by Will Blozan
Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:20 pm
 
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New NC height record Norway Spruce?

ENTS,

This weekend I went to a grove of Norway Spruce Jess Riddle mentioned a while back, south of Canton, NC. Most of the dense groves were posted so I did not venture in but I did measure multiple 120'+ trees along the road. The tallest was a nice specimen 26.9" DBH X 133.4 feet tall. I saw some others in a packed grove with white pine that I may have to cross the line for...
Tall spruce.jpg
The trees were in scattered groves around Lake Logan on Highway 215. I will seek permission to explore the other groves in the hopes of finding a taller tree. Most of the "good stuff" is owned by an Episcopalian group, for which I have a potential mutual contact.

Will
by Will Blozan
Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:45 pm
 
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Laurel Branch Leviathan hemlock video

ENTS,

I just stumbled across this video of Tennessee's largest hemlock (now dead). Enjoy! What a tragic loss... the 2008 National Champion and 1,585 cubic feet of trunk volume.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JfGXA3MCKw&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JfGXA3MCKw&feature=related


Will
by Will Blozan
Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:58 pm
 
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Wisteria inquiry

Hey ENTS,

I have a question about wisteria that hopefully Neil Pederson or Bruce Allen can help with.

I recently cut a wisteria vine that was strangling a client's tree. The client stated it had been in the tree as long as he could remember- perhaps dating to the 1950's. To me, the vine did not look that old- and based on its size and what that species is capable of- it appeared much younger.
IMG_6128001.jpg
Upon examination of the vine it initially looked like it was around six years old based on an unusual (and discontinuos) purple spiral that suggested growth rings. However, I shaved it down and looked at what appeared to be growth rings that were concentric and what I would expect a ring to look like.
IMG_6131001.jpg
IMG_6133001.jpg
I counted these rings and came up with 145! What am I looking at here? The supporting tree was no where near 145 years old nor do I believe the vine was that old either. Nor do I think this vine is six years old- I have known the vine that long and encouraged the owner to cut it then. He didn't because it was a "family" legacy planted by his father.

????

Will
by Will Blozan
Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:56 pm
 
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Re: New User in Asheville

Brian,

There certainly are some fine red oaks on McKee but I bet the one you are thinking of is on Double Gap Branch. Here are some photos:
Double Gap red oak champion001.jpg
IMG_0426001.jpg
IMG_0428001.jpg
Jess Riddle and I measured the bulk of the tree with monocular and came up with 1,480 cubic feet. This does not include the large branches and the entire tree would probably be around 1,700 cubic feet. Impessive as it is it is still far less than the big tulips and not much bigger than the largest hemlock. It's all in how the wood is distributed and the rate of taper. Red oak has no where near the columnar form of tuliptree and hemlock.

Here is a shot of the 21 footer on Shanty Branch, also in Cataloochee. It has nearly the exact same dimensions as the Double Gap oak but tapers much faster as is considerably smaller in volume.
IMG_0387001.jpg
Even more tapered is this giant on Rock Creek in Cosby, TN. It to is over 20' CBH but tapers into an ordinary large oak rather quickly. I do hope to find some shots of the huge tree on Porters Creek. It will smoke the other three in volume by a good margin.
IMG_0780001.jpg
I hope this helps!

Will
by Will Blozan
Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:35 pm
 
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Fork Ridge Tuliptree- new eastern height record!!!

Fork Ridge Tuliptree climb

All the variables needed for the climb of the tall tuliptree Ian Breckheimer located last May finally came into place. An NPS research permit, good weather, and competent arborists convened last week for the initial ascent and modeling of the super-tree. The expedition members were Josh Kelly, Hugh Irwin, Michael Davie, Mike Riley, Nich Maidment, Aaron Knoblet, Ana Poirier, and I. I should note that this group consisted of a collaborative effort of FIVE tree care companies! Ian Breckheimer and his father Steve, whom found the tree, also joined us later in the day.

The hike in was around four miles (6.7 km). We set up a base camp and decided to go ahead and haul the climbing gear in to the tree, verify the height, and if time permitted, rig it with ropes for the next day of measuring. We decided to access the location of the tree from an adjacent ridge, opting for a descent to the site rather than a potential nasty bushwhack up a steep slope with heavy packs. This added a good bit more hiking but left the unknowns to a minimum. Unfortunately, Ana lost a boot during the first stream crossing and she and Josh stayed back to try to locate it.

All I had to go on was a GPS point that Josh gave me. He was not in the climbing group that went up for the rigging so we entered unknown territory. The slope was ridiculously steep and the effort to stay upright was compounded by the weight of the gear. In a semi-controlled slide we dropped off the ridge and down into a steep, rich cove. The transition from dry ridge top to lush, tall cove forest was abrupt. We scouted ahead and spotted what we thought may be the tree. Nope; farther down we went. We did not know what to expect- except we knew it was a large tree.

Michael Davie and I were leading the group and at the same time we saw “the tree”. This time, it was obvious! It was also a lot bigger than I imagined, especially in the crown. Just to be sure we roughly measured the height. Various expletives echoed in the steep cove as both Mike and I measured the height of the tree to over 190 feet (58 m). Yep, we found it!
Whole tree from upslope HI001.jpg
Tall canopy HI001.jpg
The rest of the group tumbled down and we assessed the tree. I was most worried about rigging it and climbing among the large amount of deadwood present. Josh Kelly had thought the lowest branch was around 85 feet (26 m). Well, the first fork was closer to ~102 feet (31 m); the second at ~115 feet (35 m). Neither was suitable in the slightest for rigging the tree; they were too tight and too large to scramble over even if we could get a line set there. Also, potential pitches between the upper branches were few and far between. I explored with the laser scope and found the only available spot for an ascension rope. It was solidly 160 feet (49 m) above the base. This height is beyond any human capacity to hand-throw and out of the reasonable range of conventional rigging devices such as slingshots.
Canopy gnarlage HI001.jpg
Fortunately, I anticipated this being the case and with the help of my son, Aven, built a pneumatic throw-weight launcher. This device uses compressed air from a bike pump to propel a 12 ounce throw-weight with a thin line attached to it. The bag with thin trailing line is launched into the tree, over a suitable branch, and then a climbing line is attached and pulled through. This allows us to ascend up the rope, not the tree itself. Traditionally, at least in eastern trees, a pole-mounted slingshot is used. But we needed something easier to carry, more predictable and capable of greater range. Our collapsible device had launched the throw-weight and line 300 feet (91 m) vertically in testing. Now it was time for the real test.

I located a spot with a clean shot to the intended branch fork. As most arborists familiar with tall tree climbing know, the first shot is always a “calibration shot” and often results in a deployment tangle nightmare of throwline. I had full intention of a blown shot, so while the others were getting out their cameras to film the “real shot”, I opened the valve. Much to everyone’s surprise the bag sailed cleanly through the intended fork and clear out the other side of the tree! With a bit of finagling with some minor tangles the tree was rigged. A single shot rigged the tallest tree yet climbed in the eastern US!
Whole tree southeast WB001.jpg
We only had 300 feet (91 m) of static rope so we had to anchor one end upslope to allow the other end to reach the ground for climbing. With my rigging fear in the past, we had time to climb the tree and return to camp before dark. I was the only one who went up, and I did an initial inspection and tried to come up with a plan for the next day. Shortly before I ascended Ian and Steve joined us. Ana and Josh also had just arrived after an unsuccessful attempt to find her wayward boot. She hiked in Josh’s way-too-big sandals stuffed with socks and duct-taped to her feet.

The hanging rope illustrated how the tree slightly but significantly leaned and also how offset the top was. I was not sure which top was the tallest but we were definitely rigged on the correct leader. The tree forked into three main tops. All of these were stout and alive with new leaves just emerging.

I ascended the rope and watched the trunk taper a bit and then remain virtually unchanged for over 80 feet (24 m). The bark was thick and indicative of an old tree. The first limb fork was huge since the trunk was still nearly four feet thick. Epiphytic birches were present in the debris of the closely squeezed fork. No rope would ever have fit in there without locking up. Same for the next fork, which was the top of the main trunk. This point was 115.5 feet (35.2 m) above the base and 46.5” (1.18 m) diameter.
Will ascend IB001.jpg
Above the last fork the three main tops spiraled and spread apart. There were virtually no more straight sections as the tops wound their way upwards. Huge pieces of deadwood teetered and shook as I climbed into the crown. I left the ascension rope and switched to a double-rope climbing technique. At 175 feet (53.3 m) I stopped climbing higher and scouted the tops. The lead I had climbed was not the tallest point but within a foot or two. I decided I could reach the tallest point with a pole the next day for the tape drop. I set my line, descended to the other rope and rappelled down to the ground. We also identified and set the midslope position with pins. The tree was ready!

We left the gear hung in the trees and dropped down the cove to check out the stream crossing as a possible better option for the return the next day. It was a far better option, and much quicker.

The next morning was cold but clear and we were relatively unencumbered by heavy gear. Five climbers went up for the volume modeling; Mike, Nich, Ana, Michael and I. I was the primary data recorder while the others traversed the crown and relayed the measurements. I had full intention of doing the 3D crown mapping this day but soon became overwhelmed with the complexity of the tree and the logistics of doing it without a survey laser. It was all but impossible in the amount of time we had.
Five aloft HI001.jpg
Five climbers AK001.jpg
Nich on far lead001.jpg
The focus thus changed to a tape drop and volume modeling of the entire tree. I climbed up near the top and with a 17 foot (5.2 m) pole was able to isolate and measure the highest twig. The highest point was not over anything solid- and originated on a twisted part of the main central lead. With a clinometer I transferred the measurement to the other lead that Mike Riley was on so we could drop the tape from there and have it as close to the trunk as possible. The tape was dropped and Josh was on the ground and “zeroed” it on the midslope tack.
Mike Davie in top001.jpg
Nich at top of main001.jpg
Mike Riley Ana Poirier in top001.jpg
We were anxious to know how tall the tree actually was. The “Boogerman Pine” at 188.9 feet (57.6 m) was the number to beat. The pine has had the reign as the tallest eastern tree since 1995. Well, the Boogerman has been surpassed. The tape drop of the great tuliptree was 191.9 feet (58.5 m)! This is the first tuliptree ever accurately measured to exceed 190 feet (57.9 m) and it now stands as the tallest native broadleaf tree known in all of temperate North America- surpassing a black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) in Olympic National Park by over 10 feet (3 m)!
P1010751001.jpg
We went about the volume modeling for the rest of the day. It actually didn’t take all that long since there were not too many pieces to measure. Not having to monument them in three dimensions really did speed things up.
Will and Mike trunk wraps AK001.jpg
Basal measurements HI001.jpg
Climbing party HI001.jpg
Back at camp, Josh and I were speculating on the volume of the tree. I estimated ~2,600 cubic feet (73.6 m3) when it was thought to be 187 feet (57 m) tall. After the tape drop we both thought it may be closer to 3,000 cubic feet (85 m3). Admittedly, that is a lot of wood for a moderate sized tree. However, some of the hemlocks Jess Riddle and I had modeled for the Tsuga Search Project were surprisingly large for the relatively small basal dimensions. This is because although rather slender, they were very tall trees and had really long, slow-tapered trunks. Ditto on this tree- and our suspicions were correct.

Table 1: Sampled tree lengths, volume and relative distribution
Tree summary
Length (ft ) Length (m) Volume (ft3) Volume (m3) Percent
Main trunk 115.5 (35.1) 2,015.8 (57.1) 70.9%
Segments 438.32 (133.6) 791.3 (22.4) 27.8%
Branches 573 (174.7) 37.1 (1.1) 1.3%
Tree totals 1126.82 (343.5) 2,844.2 (80.6)

At 2,844 cubic feet (80.6 m3) this is not a small tree. It is likely larger than most other “big ones” of much shorter height. The large size of this moderate tree has us rethinking the size of some of the other big tuliptrees we know of but have heretofore not thought seriously about. Since they are short or have a short main trunk with a large crown we have regarded them as being smaller than a larger trunked tree. Curiously, the main trunk volume of this tree rivals the volume of some of the modeled giants with considerably larger diameters but shorter trunks. This, coupled with the relatively small crown of this tree still having nearly 800 cubic feet of wood has got our attention!

In addition to the climb, tape drop, and volume modeling completed by the climbers, Hugh, Ian and Josh worked on a .2 hectare (.5 acre) circular plot of the woody stems surrounding the target tree. The exceptional growing potential of the site is further demonstrated by the results of the plot which included the heights of the surrounding trees. Including the target tree, there are nine Liriodendron in the plot, all over 31” dbh. Two of the trees adjacent to the target tree are over 170’ tall (see table 2) – both tuliptree. There has been some discussion about this, but this plot certainly has eye popping above ground biomass. Whether old-growth stands such as this have higher biomass than second growth stands is a worthy topic of future research.

Table 2: Dominant and Co-dominant Trees in plot
Species DBH Height (feet)
Liriodendron tulipifera 49.15 (114.7 cm) 172.7 (52.6 m)
Liriodendron tulipifera 48.2 (122.4 cm) 172 (52.4 m)
Liriodendron tulipifera 54 (137.2 cm) N/A
Liriodendron tulipifera 41.7 (105.9 cm) 157.4 (48 m)
Liriodendron tulipifera 47.8 (121.4 cm) 167.5 (51.1 m)
Liriodendron tulipifera 42.8 (108.7 cm) N/A
Liriodendron tulipifera 55.5 (141 cm) 149.1 (45.5 m)
Liriodendron tulipifera 31.7 (80.5 cm) N/A
Liriodendron tulipifera 67.8 (172.2 cm) 191.9 (target tree 58.5 m)
Betula lenta 23.3 (59.2 cm) N/A
Tsuga canadensis 31.1 (79 cm) N/A
Fraxinus americana 34.2 (86.9 cm) 140+ (42.7 m)

It appears the crown volume of these trees is considerable and adds up to some serious volume. The “Greenbrier Giant” in Tennessee comes to mind immediately. This is a fat, stumpy tree but it has an immense crown. Another big tree in Deep Creek that we took some time to measure may fall into this category. This giant is 21’1” CBH (6.4 m) and 179 feet (54.6 m) tall. It has a rather short trunk but what a crown! This tree could very well rival the huge 4,013 cubic foot (113.6 m3) Sag Branch Tuliptree that has the current reign as the largest tuliptree known.
Giant tree JK001.jpg
These superlative titles of height and volume may soon pass to trees yet to be discovered within a new study just initiated by ENTS. This three year study of superlative tuliptree in the Smokies (NC side only) is a permitted study. Locations of the trees cannot be given on publically accessible sites such as the ENTS BBS. However, all ENTS are encouraged to participate in this project and assist in the field efforts.

Thus, the climb of the Fork Ridge Tuliptree is the beginning of a new understanding of the species. It is also the tip of the iceberg- as it is quite likely that we have not found the tallest one yet. LiDAR strongly suggests taller trees may out there. They are remote and it will take some serious effort to document them all.

The National Park Service plans to submit a press release next week about this tree and the work of ENTS. This should get some great exposure for the park and the resources it protects, as well as the important work we ENTS are doing in the eastern forests.

Submitted by Will Blozan (with special thanks to Ian and Josh) on behalf of the ENTS LiDAR and NPS Tuliptree study crew
by Will Blozan
Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:00 pm
 
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F3 tornado damage in western Smokies

ENTS,

Last weekend I was part of the annual Smoky Mountain Wildflower Pilgrimage. I did two trips, this one not with the event, and one I'll post on later.

In need of a break I went solo to the western Smokies to check on some trees I had not seen in 13 years. I'll post on the ones I relocated in yet another post but for now I will relate some photos of the incredible tornado damage sustained the previous Wednesday, April 27th.
Straight-line wind damage perhaps001.jpg
I arrived at the ranger station which had signs up indicating the Abrams Creek Trail was closed due to storm damage. No problem, I decided to do a loop hike up Cooper Road to Hatcher Mountain and back down along Little Bottoms Trail. None were posted as being closed so I headed out (clockwise) to explore new territory and some potential tall white pine sites on Hatcher Mountain.
Hatcher Mountain damage001.jpg
Boy, was I in for a surprise! About 1/2 mile in on the Hatcher Mountain Trail I began to see numerous downed trees. Since I was already six miles in to my 11 mile loop I was not inclined to return the way I came. I figured it couldn't be TOO bad... so I crawled along and hoped for the best. My optimisim was soon squashed as the trail was no longer navigable and the entire FOREST was laying on the ground. I had my GPS so I had an idea of where to go and I did catch glimpses of the trail or previously cut logs.
Flattened old-growth pine forest001.jpg
Flattened old-growth pine forest 2001.jpg
Lone white pine survivor001.jpg
Clearly define swath on Hatcher Mountain001.jpg
It soon became clear after ~one mile that I was paralleling a tornado swath and NOT passing across it. I was super tired, hot, and a bit alarmed at the many miles to go to get back. Trees were down in every direction and no path seemed better than another. I decided to stay on the trail when I could but lost it completely once I reached the junction with Little Bottoms Trail. At this point the trail was obliterated from fallen trees and massive rootballs torn out of the ground. Trees were still creaking and cracking and the smell of death was in the air. Trees were not the only victims in the carnage zone.
Abrams Creek Trail001.jpg
Abrams Creek Trail 2001.jpg
Fortunately I found the campsite on Abrams Creek which was just about 200 feet from the edge of the swath. From there back I welcomed the open trail. I did not measure anything noteworthy since all the large/tall trees were down. Bummer.

Will

This is the first trip with my new camera (Panasonic FX700) and unfortunately the subject was a bit gruesome. I did take some full HD video of the carnage which is pretty impressive.
by Will Blozan
Sat May 07, 2011 9:25 pm
 
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Re: Fork Ridge Tuliptree- new eastern height record!!!

ENTS,

Check out this video from Aaron- it really gives an idea of how large the tree is!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SXr9OfCsWM

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SXr9OfCsWM[/youtube]

Will
by Will Blozan
Mon May 09, 2011 12:02 pm
 
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