Zoar Valley Update

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#21)  Re: Zoar Valley Update

Postby ElijahW » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:06 pm

NTS,

On Monday, 11/28, I walked the edge of Zoar's North Rim and descended to the terrace on the north side of the confluence.  This terrace has been reported on lightly in years' past by Tom Diggins, and contains one of Zoar's most interesting trees, a very old American elm.  Besides the Elm, this terrace contains a number of older Sugar Maples and other northern hardwoods, as well as a couple of relatively young Chestnut oaks at the base of the slope.  A medium-sized American chestnut producing burrs grows about halfway up the slope.

This summer, I checked on the Elm during a period of low water, and it showed no sign of disease or crown die-back, which was quite a relief.  This tree is magnificent to behold in its summer glory, but also impossible to measure accurately due to the closed canopy.  On Monday I spent a while with the Elm and its measurements are the following:

Height:  125'2"
CBH:  10'1"
Average Crown Spread:  100' (Average of 10 spokes)

Some pictures of the Elm:
               
                       
DSC00840.JPG
                                       
               

               
                       
DSC00839.JPG
                                       
               

               
                       
DSC00838.JPG
                                       
               

               
                       
DSC00837.JPG
                       
Marker is 61" above ground level
               
               

               
                       
DSC00835.JPG
                                       
               


I'm 33 years old and have seen a few American elms that are large and a few that appear old, but none has made an impression on me like this one.

A few additional amateur shots from the North Rim:
               
                       
DSC00841.JPG
                                       
               

               
                       
DSC00842.JPG
                                       
               

               
                       
DSC00843.JPG
                                       
               

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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#22)  Re: Zoar Valley Update

Postby djluthringer » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:35 am

Elijah,

Great job on all the work you've done on updating the Zoar Valley stats.  It truly is a very special place not only for New York state, but the entire Northeastern U.S.  The diversity for that  hardwood forest's height is spectacular.  It's had a lot of exploration by various Ents over the years, but we've never seen it all.  You've picked up Zoar Valley's torch for the rest of us that started the initial work there, that by far the work of Dr. Tom Diggins.

I have many fond memories of Zoar Valley, one that centered around Skinny Dip Flats when I was out measuring trees with my wife.  You're probably too young to remember this, but if you were to hear Ray Steven's old song, The Streak, you'd catch my drift.  While measuring trees and telling my wife about the local "wildlife" that frequents this particular area, sure enough, several fat nude guys came strolling up the path.  I yelled out, "DON'T LOOK ETHYL!"  but it was too late...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtzoUu7w-YM

Dale
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#23)  Re: Zoar Valley Update

Postby Erik Danielsen » Tue Dec 06, 2016 10:30 am

Saturday and Sunday 11/26-27 Elijah and I made our way to the canyon's epicenters of tall tree growth, as revisited and expanded on by Elijah last year in this topic's original post, in pursuit of new growth and new trees that might finally allow us to realize that holy grail of a RHI10 over 140 for a northeastern site.

Arriving at the Point Peter parking lot Saturday morning we descended to Valentine Flats and headed downstream to the sycamores standing just below the Point Peter lookout. No new trees of exceptional height appeared, and the 3 I recorded were a Tuliptree at 142.5'/6.6'cbh and two Sycamores at 142.8'/6.8'cbh and 134.7'/6.1'cbh. The water level of the Cattaraugus precluded any possibility of crossing to terraces across the stream, so from there we hiked down the bank of the south branch to the terrace with the exceptional cottonwood, referenced in Elijah's original post as "East Side of South Branch." There I remeasured the stems of the tallest doubletrunked Sycamore, and Elijah thoroughly remeasured the big Cottonwood. Unfortunately this tree seems to be losing parts of its crown, but the tallest top appears to be intact. Together we explored additional new trees growing higher up on the slope leading down to the terrace, which yielded some new tallest specimens for various species and a new Tulip to add to the 150' club. Some older-looking bitternut hickories on the flat were also measured, and some ratty-looking white pines were taller than they looked.
               
                       
bodies (14 of 16).jpg
                       
The two-trunked Sycamore with Elijah at the base.
               
               

               
                       
bodies (15 of 16).jpg
                       
Maidenhair Fern still green!
               
               

               
                       
bodies (16 of 16).jpg
                       
The big Cottonwood looms over everything else as Elijah gathers spokes for the average crown spread.
               
               

East Side of the South Branch

Sycamore
153'/8.4'cbh (double, with the following tree)
151.8'/7.9'cbh (fused at the base with above tree)
143.1'/8'cbh
Bitternut Hickory
128.1'/8.2'cbh
121.5'/9.3'cbh
116.4'
Eastern Cottonwood
140'/14.7'cbh 75' Average Crown Spread
Eastern Hemlock
130.8'/8'cbh
120.6'/7.3'cbh
Tuliptree
152.4/10.9'cbh
147.6'/9.5'cbh
Black Cherry
125.5'/8.6'cbh
Northern Red Oak
117.3'/9.4'cbh
White Pine
124'/7.6'cbh
Cucumber Magnolia
110.3'

From there we drove around to the Vail Road parking lot to descend from the north rim to Knife Edge Terrace, hoping to relocate the previous tallest sugar maple and check around for other trees, including the tall black walnut Elijah had measured from across the stream last year. From the edge of the terrace Elijah was able to get a good view of the tallest Sycamore in the canyon across the river, now 157.7' (listed later with that terrace).
               
                       
15272161_10153929665276583_6213353468603575142_o.jpg
                       
The trail looking down the Knife-Edge Ridge into the canyon.
               
               

Knife-Edge Terrace

Sugar Maple
124.2'/6.3'cbh
120.9'/8.9'cbh
Tuliptree
145'/11.3'cbh
142.2'/9.7'cbh
Basswood
123.6'/8.5'cbh
Black Walnut
122'/9.6'cbh
Northern Red Oak
119.4'/10.6'cbh
Chestnut Oak
96'/5.7'cbh

The following day we drove to the end of the other portion of old Forty Road to park there, in order to descend from the south rim of the main branch to Skinny Dip Terrace and hopefully the next terrace west of it. The uplands above the canyon have an interesting mix of postdisturbance forests, with some areas appearing likely to have seen selective and possibly intensive harvesting, and other sections likely cleared and grazed, all in various states of regrowth. Descending to Skinny Dip terrace, we focused our efforts on remeasuring some of the known tallest trees. From a point looking up from the slope I was able to identify a new top on the tallest Tuliptree, raising the height of NYS's tallest known tree by about a foot. A few of the slippery elms were dead and down, but those still standing were remeasured.
               
                       
15271926_10153929664966583_7646990287108922125_o.jpg
                       
The tallest Tuliptree!
               
               

               
                       
15178158_10153929663681583_4761335801634672452_n.jpg
                       
The new highest twig of the tallest tree is circled here in red.
               
               

               
                       
15272325_10153929665401583_3431812777019741100_o.jpg
                       
The former champion Black Walnut lies prostrate across this frame, and its mostly-intact form still measures 134' from tip to base.
               
               

Skinny Dip Terrace

Tuliptree
158.9'/11'cbh
Bitternut Hickory
144.6'/4.6'cbh
135.5'/5.3'cbh
Northern Red Oak
143.3'/6.8'cbh
American Basswood
130.3'/6.6'cbh
Slippery Elm
118.5'/4.4'cbh
117.5'/5.5'cbh
115'

After climbing back up we were glad to find that there was indeed a viable route to descend to the next terrace west of Skinny Dip. Here, again, is the canyon's tallest sycamore, and a new tall white ash benefited the Rucker Index. Also very interesting were a single large Green Ash and two Black Ash- one a standing snag, the other a somewhat smaller young tree.
               
                       
15272021_10153929664201583_495797899777535213_o.jpg
                       
The 157.7' Sycamore.
               
               

Next terrace west of Skinny Dip

Sycamore
157.7'/8.7'cbh
White Ash
139.1'/5.8'cbh
137.3' (2 trunks; under-measured last year at 139.0')
Green Ash
101.5'/5.7'cbh
Black Ash
66.8'/1'cbh

One of the most exciting finds of the day, though, was from the rim of the gorge as we walked between our ascent from Skinny dip to the descent point for the next terrace west- rooted far below on a steep slope was a beautiful white pine raising its slender crown over the deepest part of the gorge. Elijah took the height and I did my best to get the diameter at cbh using a vortex reticle scope. Also on the uplands in this section were some very nice hophornbeams and a large multistem serviceberry.
               
                       
15235388_10153929664171583_5912538120159516562_o.jpg
                       
The precarious perch of the tall White Pine.
               
               

               
                       
15235863_10153929665106583_507315929071311291_o.jpg
                       
The large multistem Serviceberry.
               
               

Uplands Above the Confluence

White Pine
135.5'/
Hophornbeam
76'/3.1'cbh
68'/3.5'cbh
67.2'/2.2'cbh
Chestnut Oak
90.5'
Serviceberry
52.5'/2.8'cbh     thickest stem measured 3.7'cbh

That White Pine turned out to be key to the triumph of November 2016's efforts: Zoar Valley's RHI10 now stands at 141.0. The RHI20 is at 129.7, and would definitely exceed 130 with just a little bit more as well.

Rucker Height Index:

Tuliptree 158.9
American sycamore 157.7
Bitternut hickory 144.6
Northern red oak 143.3
Eastern cottonwood 140.0
White ash 139.1
Eastern white pine 135.3
Eastern hemlock 130.8
American basswood 130.7
Sugar maple 130.2

Average Top Ten: 141.0

Black cherry 126.0
Black walnut 125.4
American elm 125.2
American beech 122.6
Red maple 120.6
Shagbark hickory 120.3
Slippery elm 119.0 (South branch tree-last year's measurement)
Bigtooth aspen 113.2
Cucumber magnolia 110.3
Green ash 101.5

Average Top Twenty: 129.7
               
                       
15272047_10153929665161583_7473581219192197233_o.jpg
                       
Gorge-ous light seen from the terrace to the west of Skinny Dip.
               
               

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#24)  Re: Zoar Valley Update

Postby ElijahW » Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:29 pm

Dale, NTS,

Thank you.  Living much closer to Zoar, Erik has put in a lot of work the past couple of years.  He definitely out-paced me in our two days together.  

Other than the canyon rims and some of the slope area, we made no ventures into new territory on this visit.  Before I figured I'd explored about 1/3 of Zoar's forest area, but now I'd say it's more like 20%.  I made a crude map using Google earth to show what progress we've made so far, but I'm having difficulty uploading it, so I'll give a rough description of what's left to look at.  The Main branch has been covered around the first bend west of Point Peter to Knife Edge terrace, plus Erik has looked at some forest upstream from there.  Roughly half of the Main branch remains unexplored beyond what Tom Diggins researched about a decade ago, including the forested slopes and rim.  The South branch has been explored about a mile upstream from the confluence; this is just terraces, lower slopes, and none of the rims.  Beyond the abandoned bridge on what was Forty Rd., as far as I know, the rims and slopes have never been carefully looked at and the terraces have seen no measuring since Diggins.  Supposedly much of the South branch is privately held, as well, making access difficult.  

The discovery of a tall White pine makes me pretty certain that others exist like it, and the same goes for Erik's slope-dwelling 130'+ Hemlock.  I do not think Zoar holds a taller Tulip, Sycamore, Bitternut, Red oak, or Cottonwood, but the rest of the top ten is vulnerable.  A taller White ash, White pine, and Hemlock is very likely.  I believe the Skinny Dip Tulip is continuing to grow, albeit at a slow rate, and still would not be surprised if a Sycamore catches it eventually.  The tallest Skinny Dip Red oak I believe is a foot or two taller than I could measure with the laser, and should be a threat to exceed 150' in the next decade or so, if that's possible.  We'll have to wait and see.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks
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#25)  Re: Zoar Valley Update

Postby ElijahW » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:23 pm

Dale, NTS,

I managed to upload my crude map image:
               
                       
Zoar2.jpg
                       
Areas circled in Blue I've explored; areas circled in Yellow I've not
               
               

               
                       
Zoar3.jpg
                       
Zoar Place Map
               
               


Elijah
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#26)  Re: Zoar Valley Update

Postby ElijahW » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:39 pm

Ents,

Last Sunday (4/2), I spent the afternoon at Zoar.  My mission was to get a better measurement on the tallest Skinny Dip terrace Red oak.  Last fall with Erik, I was able to locate the topmost limb, but I had difficulty hitting the highest twig with my laser.  I found a clear window on this trip, and got a good hit on the tippy-top.  The oak now stands an even 145', with a circumference of 6'10".  I also spent some time with the tallest Bitternut, and sussed it out to 145'10" (CBH 4'6").

The Rucker 5 Index for Skinny Dip terrace now stands at 146.9':

Tuliptree 158.9
Sycamore 147.9 (2015)
Bitternut hickory 145.8
Northern red oak 145.0
White ash 137.3 (2015)

Zoar's Rucker 10:

Tuliptree 158.9
Sycamore 157.7
Bitternut hickory 145.8
Northern red oak 145.0
Eastern cottonwood 140.0
White ash 139.1
Eastern White Pine 135.3
Eastern hemlock 130.8
American basswood 130.7
Sugar maple 130.2

Average: 141.3

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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#27)  Re: Zoar Valley Update

Postby Erik Danielsen » Sun Apr 09, 2017 12:24 am

Awesome, congratulations! I know it isn't quite the case, but this makes it feel as though 150' is within spitting distance for both trees. And why not? Even if NY is behind the other northeastern states for 160'+ trees (so far), I'd bet putting up the greatest species diversity of 150' trees for northeastern states is very possible. I'm more and more sure that previously-unaccessed north-facing slopes will turn up significantly taller white pines for Zoar too...
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#28)  Re: Zoar Valley Update

Postby dbhguru » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:58 am

Erik,

  I think you are spot on. NY has many, many elusive big/tall trees left to find and measure, and I have no doubt some will be 160-foot white pines. The reason, PA and MASS are first and second in the 160 department in the  Northeast is because we have spent so very much time looking in these two states. Interestingly, most of the 160s in Massachusetts have reached the 160-height threshold in the last 10 to 15 years. By contrast, most of PA's currently documented 160s are in Cook Forest's old growth acreage. I 'd bet there are a few 160s as younger trees left to be found in the Quaker State. There's no reason to believe that New York would be that much different from PA or Massachusetts.

 We have a different forest environment today to explore than what appeared to be the case 20 years ago when the number of truly tall trees, both hardwoods and conifers appeared pretty limited in the Northeast, and we saw little opportunity of that number growing. Jack Sobon and I had our 140-Club, that later became our 150-Club. We weren't aware that the 140s were becoming 150s. I think we were influenced by popular ideas of rates of pine growth.

  Years ago, Cook Forest, Zoar Valley, and Mohawk Trail State Forest stood first as the tall tree sites in the Northeast. All had RHI's above 136. Initially, Zoar was #1, Cook #2, and Mohawk #3. Cook took over as #1 for a time, and now it is back to Zoar of the three. But George Fieo has came along and burst our collective bubble with his super sites in southeastern PA, and now Elijah has raised the Rucker Index in Zoar to 141.3, showing us that it hasn't maxed out, as I thought it had.

 I've even witnessed the emergence of a tall forest in Monica's own back yard. I'm presently updating my measurements for Broad Brook before canopy visibility is lost. As of yesterday, I had measured 7 trees to over 130 feet or over in height within a radius of 175 feet of a center point established down the behind the house. Many more are over 110 feet. Here is the club of big performers.

Species           height

WP                 138.4
WP                 132.7
WP                 131.7
WP                 131.6
TT                 131.4
WP                 130.2
TT                 130.0
TT                 128.0
WP                 127.5
TT                 125.6
WP                 124.5
TT                 120.1
WP                 119.5
NRO               118.1
NRO               113.2
WA                 111.5
NRO                110.7

   If I expand the radius a few more feet of my plot, more white pines in the 120s will join the list. However, this is a recent achievement. When Monica had her house built in 1979, her and adjacent properties had a much shorter forest. There is nothing unique about the Broad Brook corridor. There must be plenty of white pine-dominated sites in MA with 130s that we haven't located - far more than I had imagined and the number will continue to expand if the trees are not cut.

   Getting the word out about what our forests have grown back to be has become a Holy Grail mission for me, and undertaken for a reason. There is coalition at work that is promoting shrubs and briar patches as "healthy" forests. By calling their shrub lands  early successional forest, and promoting its wildlife value (very specific wildlife), the actual objective of the rapid turnover is purely for short term economic gain. That objective is masked by the language they use. Trees in these early successional places are allowed to gain the size of boring, spindly little poles, only to be whacked again. Thoreau would be howling!

Bob
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Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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#29)  Re: Zoar Valley Update

Postby ElijahW » Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:19 pm

Erik, Bob,

Since their initial measurement in 2003, the Skinny Dip tulip has grown approximately 35 inches, or 2.5 inches per year.  The super-Sycamore on the next terrace upstream has grown approximately 44 inches, or just over 3 inches per year.  The Bitternut and the Red oak, growing in the shadow of the tallest tulip, have put on 118 and at least 132 inches, respectively, in the same time period.  When will these trees cease their upward climb?  Who knows for sure, but my guess is in the next few years their growth will slow dramatically as they gain access to more sunlight.  I do think both trees have a realistic chance at reaching 150', provided they remain healthy and free from injury.  

As far as tall White pines are concerned in Zoar, I haven't found any more yet, but the search will continue.  Chances for much better hemlock heights are high, as well.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks
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