Green Lakes State Park, New York

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#1)  Green Lakes State Park, New York

Postby Jess Riddle » Sun Dec 27, 2015 3:59 pm

NTS,

Tom Howard has reported on significant trees at Green Lakes State Park several times, and NTS has measured trees there as far back as Bob Leverett’s visit in 2002.  I wanted to provide a little more background information of the park, because the site is by far the most significant big tree location we know of in central New York, and the area is generally fascinating.

The park sits on the interface between the Lake Ontario Lake Plain and the Alleghany Plateau.  As the last ice age ebbed, the edge of the ice sheet parked at what would become Green Lakes, and a waterfall estimated at four times the size of Niagara bored into the soft limestone.  The ice sheet then pulled pack a few hundred yards and repeated that process.  Those plunge-pools are now Green Lake and Round Lake.  The waterfall left them exceptional deep for their size, and surrounding steep slopes shelter them from the wind.  Consequently, the lake waters do not mix during the spring in the spring and fall as most lakes do, but rather remain stratified.  These rare bodies of water are known as meromictic lakes.  Their stratification leads to unusual chemistry and bacteria growth, and they have been studied for clues to the causes of ancient mass extinctions.

Before the lakes attracted scientists, they attracted vacationers.  A resort was set up in the 1800’s, which is of interest to us, because it led to preservation of the surrounding forests.  The resort has since morphed into a modern state park complete with public beach and swimming area, hiking trails, and golf course, but some of the original forest survives. The extent of old-growth is debated. The steep slopes around Round Lake are a minimum.  Hundreds of additional acres on gentler terrain contain old trees, canopy gaps and coarse woody debris.

Most of that old forest is classic northern hardwoods.  Sugar maple dominates and beech are never far away.  American basswood, hemlock, white ash, and northern red oak fill out the canopy, especially on the steep slopes by Round Lake.  Areas of shallow soils allow hophornbeam to fill the midstory, but sugar maple and beech saplings make up most of the understory.  Most of those saplings germinated decades ago though.  Each year sugar maple seedlings carpet the forest floor, and within months the forest floor is gray and deer are wandering around with stomachs full of maple leaves.  Ferns, including nutrient demanding species like glade fern, pop up among the maple seedlings.  Steeper areas still present spectacular spring wildflower displays with large white trillium, wake-robin trillium, cut-leaf toothwort, large bellflower, and many others.

               
                       
IMG_7457.JPG
                       
Large bellflower
               
               

               
                       
IMG_7447.JPG
                       
Jack-in-the-pulpit
               
               

The most memorable forests at Green Lakes may be those not dominated by sugar maple.  On the shores of the lakes, pure stands of northern white cedar form two dense and dark groves. The star of the forest though is an even aged stand of tuliptrees, the tuliptree catherdral.  While the analogy is hackneyed, gothic church architecture is a much better match for this stand than most collections of big trees.  Tuliptrees rise straighter and more cylindrical than the sugar maple, beech, and cottonwoods that dominated most other stands in the region.  Many of the columns are over three feet in diameter, and they stand on a flat floor inclined only gently.  They also rise higher than any other forest in the region.  While other stands in the area, even on good sites, produce only scattered trees over 100 feet, the tuliptrees consistently arch over 120’, some over 140’.

               
                       
IMG_7581.JPG
                       
Green Lake with white cedar grove on the far shore
               
               

               
                       
IMG_7471.JPG
                       
Tuliptree cathedral
               
               

On May 1st, 2011, Tom and Jack Howard and I enjoyed the spring wildflowers and measured trees throughout the park.   Some of these trees have been mentioned in Toms previous reports about the site.

               
                       
GreenLakesMeasurements.JPG
                                       
               

As impressive as the big tuliptrees and sugar maples are, I think the hophornbeam are just as significant.  I’ve never seen another site with so many large or tall ones
               
                       
IMG_7474.JPG
                       
The largest hemlock at Green Lakes State Park
               
               

               
                       
IMG_7442.JPG
                       
A truly massive hophornbeam, 6’2” cbh by 70.8’ tall
               
               

Jess

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#2)  Re: Green Lakes State Park, New York

Postby ElijahW » Mon Dec 28, 2015 10:43 am

Jess,

Thanks for the report.  Tom has told me about this trip several times, as well as the outing he participated in with Bob Leverett and the defunct NY old growth survey team.  The hophornbeams stood out to me, as well, though I've only measured one.  The same goes for yellow birch.  If the bitternut hickory is the same tree I measured to just over 140' earlier this year, it's put on just over a foot per year.  The Zoar Valley bitternut, currently 144'+, put on about 8' in 12 years, for comparison.  That's pretty cool, to me at least.  Thanks also for the excellent flower pictures.  I'm trying to pay more attention to the smaller plants in the forests around me, but it's been a steep learning curve so far.

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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#3)  Re: Green Lakes State Park, New York

Postby Will Blozan » Mon Dec 28, 2015 12:14 pm

Jess,

Awesome! As I scanned your list the hornbeams jumped out to me as well. I went to a conference in Vermont and the site had numerous 5-6 foot cbh hornbeams with immense mass (for the species). I was not into measuring at the time, unfortunately.

That butt-nut doesn't suck either...

Will
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#4)  Re: Green Lakes State Park, New York

Postby tomhoward » Wed Dec 30, 2015 5:43 pm

Jess,

Thank you very much for posting the account of our outstanding outing to Green Lakes on May 1, 2011. Green Lakes still has the tallest trees in central NY with Tuliptrees to 148 ft. tall, Bitternut Hickory 140 ft. tall.

Tom Howard
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#5)  Re: Green Lakes State Park, New York

Postby ElijahW » Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:32 am

NTS,

I explored some new areas at Green Lakes this weekend and remeasured some trees, and am fairly confident that the best spots for tall trees have been covered.  Below is a summary of what Green Lakes has to offer, as of today.

Tuliptree Cathedral
Tuliptree
150.5 x 10'8" (new top, previously 147.7')
148.5' x 9'6"
145.2' x 12'1"
145.0' x 9'3"
143.1' x 10'9"
143.0' x 10'5"
142.2' x 11'7"
141.6' x 12'8"
141.1' x 11'0"
140.5' x 10'9"
Bitternut hickory
141.8' x 5'0" (previously 140.1'; not sure if new top or 1 year's growth)
American beech
125.8' x 6'0" (new top)
Sugar maple
124.8' x 7'10"
124.2' x 9'0"
Red maple
115.2' x 6'5" (previously 113')
110.7' x 8'6"
Northern red oak
114.5' x 7'1"
Butternut
112.8' x 5'4"

Slopes above Round Lake
Tuliptree
145.4'
Eastern hemlock
126.9' x 9'0"
Northern red oak
119.8' x 14'6" (previously 114')
Common hackberry
101.2'
Northern white cedar
80.5'
78.5'
Southwest of Tuliptree Cathedral across power line right of way
Eastern hemlock
133.5' x 7'10" (previously 133.1')
132.0' x 9'0" (previously 132.3', top leader bent over)
131.8' x 9'6"
130.5' x 7'2"
126.8' x 8'8"
American basswood
132.1' x 7'10"
127.5' x 9'1"
White ash
131.1' x 10'6" (previously 130')
Sugar maple
124.5' x 9'0"

Current Rucker 10 Height Index:  129.9'
Tuliptree                    150.5'
Bitternut hickory        141.8'
Eastern hemlock         133.5'
American basswood    132.1'
White ash                   131.1'
American beech          125.8'
Sugar maple                124.8'
Eastern white pine      121.2'
Northern red oak         119.8'
Black cherry                118.9'

Park-wide, another one or two tuliptrees over 150' are likely, and probably at least one more hemlock reaches 130'.  The tallest basswood and hemlock are NY height records, and the butternut is in a dead heat with one growing in Washington Grove, Rochester.  I spent a lot of time trying to find a sugar maple over 125', but did not.  Tall sugar maples at this latitude seem to require advanced age, and the tallest at Green Lakes probably just aren't old enough.  One thing becoming clear to me, after several measuring visits over the past couple of years, is that this forest is growing, and ought to remain exceptional for a long time.

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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#6)  Re: Green Lakes State Park, New York

Postby dbhguru » Sun Jan 24, 2016 9:53 am

Elijah,

 Congratulations!  The NY A-Team has elevated Green Lake's tall tree status well beyond what we thought it offered back when I visited it with my friend the late Bruce Kershner. Green Lake's 129.9 RHI s especially significant because of the latitude. At 43.05 degrees, the Green Lake site is #1 at 43 degrees of higher. Quite frankly, I did not believe we could reach such a high RHI that far north. The best I've done in New Hampshire is around 117, and that site has New Hampshire's tallest tree, a 166.2-foot white pine. Green Lake exceeds Monroe State Forest by at least 5 points. Monroe lies at latitude 42.72 degrees. Just south of Monroe is the incomparable MTSF with a current RHI of about 134, down from am all time high of 136.1.

 From yours, Tom's, and Erik's exceptional finds, 2016 could be New York's turn to capture the spotlight. Elijah, it is time that you joined Erik to become the second National Cadre member from NY. Just let us know when.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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#7)  Re: Green Lakes State Park, New York

Postby Erik Danielsen » Sun Jan 24, 2016 10:12 am

Awesome measurements, is this the first 150' measured from central NY?
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#8)  Re: Green Lakes State Park, New York

Postby ElijahW » Sun Jan 24, 2016 1:36 pm

Bob,

With just a couple of slightly taller trees, either by natural growth or new discovery, Green Lakes' Rucker Index will reach 130'.  Due to its latitude (and perhaps early selective logging) the canopy is less diverse than a location like Zoar Valley.  I believe, however, that Green Lakes is a better site for tuliptree growth.  In five years, I would expect Green Lakes to contain more 150' tulips than Zoar.  At present, the area we've referred to as the "Tuliptree Cathedral" contains at least ten tulips over 140', with 10-15 trees not recently measured.  My speculation is that this area contains about 15 tulips over 140' and two or three just over 150'.  What the site has going for it is what appears to be pretty good soil with minimal disturbance, plenty of moisture, and protection from wind on three sides.  

The biggest challenge at Green Lakes, aside from avoiding ticks, is locating tree tops.  I have a solution in mind not involving climbing, but it may take a while to implement.  I dont' know what it looks like from your and others' perspectives to keep reading about increasing heights on the same trees due to finding higher tops, but to me, it's very frustrating.  Conifers, with the exception of some oddball pines, are very easy to locate tops on while hardwoods are a pain in the backside.  As far as the cadre goes, my main hangups are the math involved and the time commitment.  The math I can work through, but my free time is limited.  I'm open to starting the apprenticeship process, and I'll let you know when I'm ready to begin.  

Erik,

Yes, this is our first 150' tree, hopefully one of many to come.  Unfortunately, tuliptree is the only species close to that mark.  Historically, white pine may have also topped 150' here, but that's probably it.  To our immediate south, in the Finger Lakes region, hemlock and perhaps white ash and hickory probably weren't far off.

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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#9)  Re: Green Lakes State Park, New York

Postby Jess Riddle » Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:11 pm

Elijah,

Great to see an update from Green Lakes.  That is such an impressive site, especially compared to the surrounding area.  The American basswood is now the second tallest we have on record anywhere.

Jess
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#10)  Re: Green Lakes State Park, New York

Postby ElijahW » Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:44 pm

Thanks, Jess.  The basswood grows on a slope facing south-southwest, and looks to be in good health.  I spotted it a couple of years ago from a distance and assumed it to be an ash, but never got close to it and for some reason didn't bother to measure it.  The Tuliptree Cathedral looks like the obvious tall-tree spot, but across the powerline cut is just as, if not more, interesting to me, as the canopy is more diverse and the terrain is more rugged.

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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