Rushing Stream Preserve Old Growth- WNY

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Erik Danielsen
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Rushing Stream Preserve Old Growth- WNY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:21 am

Today brought some beautiful weather so I got together with a new dendrophile friend from Jamestown (Chris Merchant) and headed up to the Rushing Stream Preserve, way down in a far corner of Forestville, NY. I've actually cycled and driven past the site dozens of times for work, but Chris had the impression that it might be the same site as an entry he found on an old growth list for a small lot in Forestville with no other details except that it was privately owned- and it is, by the Audubon Society, but is open to the public. The information available on Rushing Stream online is sparse and not always very exciting; one old scanned-in brochure I dug up mentioned "possibly the largest cherry tree in the region," and another old description also mentioned "old growth cherry," but a more recent description just mentioned "mature specimens of hemlock, sugar maple, beech, birch..." No mention of Cherry. The current description on the Society's own website doesn't even mention trees at all.

That's a shame, because there are somegreat trees at Rushing Stream. The highlights: several large black cherry including a real multi-stemmed monster, an excellent showing in large old hemlocks, some very old-looking shagbark, and some impressive maples. We made some simple girth measurements and took a lot of photos. Afterwards we visited the well-known grove in Lilydale, which is pretty hard to beat for tree height, but for a sense of primeval intactness Rushing Stream is a hidden gem and I know which I'm more eager to return to as spring progresses. Not sure if the site is primary old growth, but more likely secondary; the complete lack of white pine and red oak suggests that available timber of these two species may have been removed long ago, leaving the hemlocks and other mixed hardwoods to dominate.

Some measurements:
-The big Black Cherry (we took to calling it Bruce) had a large limb preventing a good 4.5' girth measurement, so we measured at 1'9" (it branched pretty low) for a girth of 15'. Then I got on top of the limb to measure 12'2" at 10'. I'll do the figuring on that in a little bit but the really impressive thing about this tree was the combined mass and presence of its multiple stems, with the presence of the two equally large stems now lying on the ground to spur the imagination. Left the impression that total volume was definitely greater than any of the big single-stems at Lilydale.
-The big Sugar Maple had a weird hollow on one side with woody detritus protruding (pictures attached) so it probably shouldn't be regarded as a terribly precise measurement. That said, a respectable 14'11" CBH.
-The other big Maple (neither of us can tell leafless red from silver yet) came in at 14'2" CBH.

Anyways, pictures! Many of them open in a higher resolution if you click on them. First the Black Cherries:
"Bruce Almighty" as we first approached him
"Bruce Almighty" as we first approached him
Another angle. I walked up the fallen trunk on the left to do the second measurement.
Another angle. I walked up the fallen trunk on the left to do the second measurement.
Another angle.
Another angle.
The other fallen trunk, displaying wonderful twisted grain
The other fallen trunk, displaying wonderful twisted grain
A very old-looking cherry
A very old-looking cherry
Bark closeup
Bark closeup
This great leaning Cherry still reached up into the canopy
This great leaning Cherry still reached up into the canopy
Looking up the length of the leaner
Looking up the length of the leaner
A tall, solid single trunk on the slope of the stream bank
A tall, solid single trunk on the slope of the stream bank
Fascinating root mound on another large black cherry
Fascinating root mound on another large black cherry
Another view of the tree with the root mound
Another view of the tree with the root mound
The main trunk on this large Cherry is long gone, must have been a pretty big tree once upon a time.
The main trunk on this large Cherry is long gone, must have been a pretty big tree once upon a time.
The view looking up the remaining trunk, which is pretty respectable itself.
The view looking up the remaining trunk, which is pretty respectable itself.
This post is getting a little long and picture-heavy so I'll split into a second.
Last edited by Erik Danielsen on Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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bbeduhn
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Re: Rushing Stream Preserve Old Growth- WNY

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:28 am

Erik,
Fantastic, gnarled cherries. Even the multi-stemmed shows age with its twistiness. I think you nailed it as a high graded old growth. Multitrunks are usually second growth but they could be the result of a big blowdown or other natuaral disturbance. The leaning tower of cherry is most impressive! You seem to be quite experienced at measuring girth.
Brian

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Rushing Stream Preserve Old Growth- WNY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:17 am

Brian, this is actually my first time measuring girth in any serious way! I did read everything I could find on the topic in the NTS reference section.

Continuing, here are some of the Hemlocks. Nothing as big as in Lilydale, but solid and beautiful to see.
IMGP1156.JPG
This may have been the biggest one at Rushing Stream
This may have been the biggest one at Rushing Stream
The same big hemlock
The same big hemlock
These two near the edge of the preserve had an interesting connected root system
These two near the edge of the preserve had an interesting connected root system
Then there were the Maples. Plenty of solid examples on the site but these were the highlights:
This is the big sugar maple, also near the edge of the preserve. The transition to farm fields is abrupt and there was farm debris here and there.
This is the big sugar maple, also near the edge of the preserve. The transition to farm fields is abrupt and there was farm debris here and there.
The sugar maple's backside, showing the gap that complicated measurement.
The sugar maple's backside, showing the gap that complicated measurement.
The big (silver or red) maple we measured
The big (silver or red) maple we measured
Another good-sized maple with an interesting lean
Another good-sized maple with an interesting lean
That's it for the big trees, but ancient-looking and aesthetically appealing trees were abundant. Just a few:
This nice Ash displays how high thick moss grew up the trees, which I understand often indicates age
This nice Ash displays how high thick moss grew up the trees, which I understand often indicates age
Very old-looking bark on a yellow birch
Very old-looking bark on a yellow birch
Triple-stemmed Shagbark, only one stem still living
Triple-stemmed Shagbark, only one stem still living
Bark view. I'm only used to young shagbark so these looked very old to me.
Bark view. I'm only used to young shagbark so these looked very old to me.
Many exposed root systems... good to see lots of Hemlock regeneration in the understory, suggesting minimal deer disturbance. That's one of the sad things about the lilydale grove, the only regrowth is beech. Could use some exclosures.
Many exposed root systems... good to see lots of Hemlock regeneration in the understory, suggesting minimal deer disturbance. That's one of the sad things about the lilydale grove, the only regrowth is beech. Could use some exclosures.
Fungi visible were abundant and diverse. I've never seen so much Hemlock Varnish Shelf in one place. I look forward to multiple return visits over the course of the season. Lots of ferns, too.
Fungi visible were abundant and diverse. I've never seen so much Hemlock Varnish Shelf in one place. I look forward to multiple return visits over the course of the season. Lots of ferns, too.

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bbeduhn
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Re: Rushing Stream Preserve Old Growth- WNY

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:57 am

Erik,
You definitely did your homework. The maple looks more like red but I can't tell for sure. It appears to be more upland, which would make it more likely a red. The big sugar looks like an open grown single stem but it's difficult to tell. The shagbark looks a little suspicious. Any chance it was a very shaggy red maple? The triple trunk habit is unusual for a hickory. The hemlocks have frequent low, big branches. The area was disturbed while they were mature. One looks like a full sized tree, reminiscent of old redwoods and sequoias. I hope Lilydale is preserved like Rushing Stream.
Brian

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Rushing Stream Preserve Old Growth- WNY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:26 am

Yeah, the big sugar maple is on a narrow strip of steep slope between the preserve border and the stream, where there are a number of mature trees surrounded by much smaller growth. That was probably relatively open and managed for hunting before the Audubon society bought the site (1986 I believe), with the smaller growth having popped up since then.

I'm quite sure that was shagbark (there were a few others as single trunks and adjacent maple was obvious in its differences). The base showed that it was three that had sprouted very close together rather than a single trunk that split, sorry if my description was confusing. I'll confirm after leafout but I'm pretty sure on that one. I think I'm going to write the Audubon to see about getting a little more history on the site.

The Lilydale grove really could use some help. It's admirable that the community is so committed to "leaving it alone" and keeping it as "natural" as possible, but the unfortunate fact is that the deer and invasive understory plants are not nearly as considerate. Chris and I were discussing that since the mid-2000s there seems to have been a dropoff in old-growth work being done in our corner of WNY, so we hope to get some stuff going this year. There's this fascinating small patch of old-growth on the sand dunes at Bennet Beach in Angola that's 1 of only two sites in existence where Eastern Hemlock grows on sand dunes that we're particularly concerned about. I hope to visit and do some photodocumenting soon.

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Will Blozan
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Re: Rushing Stream Preserve Old Growth- WNY

Post by Will Blozan » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:38 pm

Cool trees! I would suspect the "old cherry" and "triple shagbark" are both red maple. I agree with Brian- looks to be an old but highly disturbed woodland.

Will

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Rushing Stream Preserve Old Growth- WNY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:12 pm

Well, Chris and I have already had to sort ourselves out regarding certain poplars, black willows, cottonwoods and tuliptrees, so it probably is the case that the two of us should wait until after leafout to get terribly enthusiastic about declaring trees identified. It's fun to think it's an old shagbark, at the least!

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