Zoar Valley North Rim (ZNR) Old Growth

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#1)  Zoar Valley North Rim (ZNR) Old Growth

Postby Erik Danielsen » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:25 pm

In the main Zoar Valley Update thread, I noted last year that while the collection of upland old-growth stands on the canyon's northern rim have been overshadowed by the unparalleled canopy found within the gorge, they would otherwise qualify as an impressive tree site on their own.
               
                       
DSC_3341.jpg
                       
The modeled Basswood
               
               

Now here in early 2018, I've been thinking about what sites might be worth comparing to Leolyn Grove- particularly in terms of tree volume across species. Relatively flat sites with a similar ecology (Hemlock-Northern Hardwoods) would make the most informative comparisons- not Zoar's alluvial terraces full of sycamore and tulip and just a scattering of hemlock, in other words. I suspect parts of Green Lakes and Smith Woods would make excellent candidates, but they're a bit of a drive- if Elijah has time to do some volume profiling there, I'm sure we could start putting together some really interesting data. For now, Long Point State Park and Zoar's North Rim Upland Old Growth (ZNR, henceforth, to save me typing) strike me as the best candidates nearby. Other stands of upland old-growth in the Zoar MUA may join it in this thread in the future. Friday 2/9/18 I drove up to the Vail Rd. parking lot and strapped on my snowshoes to start scouting it out.
               
                       
DSC_3446.jpg
                       
Radula complanata, a nice little moss appearing on many of the trees here.
               
               

The forecast suggested the snowfall would just be intermittent- instead it snowed all day. I concentrated on finding a good sampling of large trees in the westernmost section, initial height measurements (snow in the air only sometimes permitted good hits, so all heights should be seen as “not less than”), initial tapewraps (also conservative as once the 2' of snowpack is gone, many midslope points are likely to be revised downwards), and some upper-trunk diameters with the reticle to start getting a sense of what volume trees on site might turn up.

The numbers from this scouting trip:

Tuliptree
142' / 11.05'cbh / rough volume 770 ft3
135.5' / 10.82'cbh / rough volume 770 ft3 if methodology is consistent, likely larger in reality (see below)
White Ash
131' / 10.14'cbh / rough volume 490 ft3
124' / 9.54'cbh / rough volume 410 ft3
Eastern Hemlock
125.5' / 6.74'cbh
124.5' / 7.08'cbh
121.5' / 7.51'cbh
121.5' / 6.86'cbh
120' / 6.46'cbh
Sugar Maple
121.5' / 7.95'cbh
118' / 7.97'cbh
115' / 9.45'cbh / rough volume 390 ft3
112' / 7.64'cbh
Black Cherry
119.5' / 7.48'cbh
118' / 10.14'cbh / rough volume 485 ft3
Red Maple
116.5' / 6.56'cbh
110.5' / 8.22'cbh
Basswood
116.5' / 7.45'cbh
111.5' / 8.15'cbh / rough volume 340 ft3
American Beech
112.5' / 6.6'cbh

The results so far are very promising. My quick walkthrough last year, just measuring one tulip and suggesting the rest of the canopy was “well under 120” sold it a bit short. In comparing with Leolyn, the density of large trunks is much lower, and it does look like this site may have seen some selective harvest further back in time. Both are dominated by sugar maple, with clusters of tall hemlocks, and frequent but intermittent white ash and red maple. Leolyn has white pine emergents and more big cherry- ZNR has tulip and more large basswood. Both have red oak and hickory (bitternut, at ZNR) scattered mainly around the edges of the main climax stands. Beech has had it rough in both. ZNR is also much larger and consists of a couple sub-stands cut by wetlands and small ravines.

I should note that the actual canyon rim, while parts are old growth, has a unique and much more diverse species mix and a pretty different ecology and are not included in the “ZNR” for these purposes. The upland forest is the focus here.

Tulip is clearly the high-volume tree here. The two measured have relatively different forms, but nearly identical roughly modeled volumes. Both split out into a multi-leader crown. For the shorter tulip I just used a simple paraboloid projection from the highest trunk diameter to the top, but for the tallest tulip I worked up the two main leaders to almost 80' up, projected tops from there, and added them all together. The resulting crown volume was almost double what a simple paraboloid projection from the highest main trunk diameter produced.

Considering that this still failed to account for additional branching outside those two main trunks and that this tree was relatively narrow-crowned, it does suggest that the other tulip's full volume with a better-represented crown may be quite a bit higher, and that the projections I've been using as a convenience until now may be generally underestimating hardwood crown volumes by quite a bit. More detailed modeling of individual hardwood crowns will be needed to get a better sense of appropriate estimation techniques. In the meantime I'll keep my techniques consistent so that meaningful comparisons can be made, with the understanding that if advances increase the modeled volumes of crowns at one site, they'll do the same applied to another (if similar).

Playing with the numbers from the two tulips a little, calculating a crown for the shorter tulip proportionally equivalent to the crown on the taller tulip gives that tree a total volume of about 815 cubes, or adjusting further for the fact that the taller tulip has two main crown leaders while the shorter tulip has three gives us about 975 cubes. We're getting pretty loose with the numbers by that point, given that the three leaders on the shorter tree are most likely not all individually equal in volume to the two leaders in the taller tree, but it's likely that combined (one being a lot larger than the other two, which are still fairly large) they contain more wood than the taller tree's two nearly-equal leaders, so we're probably looking at a realistic figure somewhere between those two estimates, somewhere around 900ft3. The main trunk tapers much less than the taller tulip (2.98'd at 56'h vs 2.62'd at 47.5'h), so I think this is realistic in spite of the slightly lesser dbh, factoring in the larger crown.

With careful modeling I think it's very possible that a tuliptree in the ZNR could exceed 1000ft3 and will definitely exceed any single tree at Leolyn, and this should boost the RVI, though probably not enough to match Leolyn's combination of high-volume white pines, black cherries, hemlocks, and perhaps red oak, and higher overall volumes for the lower-volume species. The Skinny Dip Giant and Knife-Edge Terrace Tulip are the trees I expect to present the highest total volumes for zoar valley tulips, but perhaps an upland tree (as some of them have heavier crown architecture than the taller canyon-bottom trees) will surprise me.

Heading back I traced a wet area with some much larger Red Maples, so there should be some good stems to model there. It's possible a specimen in this upland could even wind up in the overall Zoar RHI20- it may be the only species with a realistic shot at maxing out higher up top than down on the terraces. Hemlocks may top out at similar heights to Leolyn here, but are generally much smaller in diameter. I doubt any of them will even match the smallest hemlock I've modeled at Leolyn. Cherry also tends to be smaller in diameter, with the one I modeled a bit of a standout. There was at least one basswood that may be quite a bit larger than the modeled representative. Ash is really the only canopy species common to both sites that's consistently more impressive in the ZNR. Sugar Maple has potential, though. There are so many! Northern Red Oak and Bitternut Hickory escaped me on this occasion. There are still plenty of trees to examine in this stand, plus the other two stands, in which I know I've seen more impressive red oak, beech, and cherry, and the total species diversity is likely to exceed Leolyn. With a preliminary RHI8 of 123.13 that's only going to rise, and an early RVI5 of 495 (strictly using the consistent-methodology estimates for now), this is an exciting site to work on.
Last edited by Erik Danielsen on Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#2)  Re: Zoar Valley North Rim (ZNR) Old Growth

Postby dbhguru » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:46 pm

Erik,

  Indeed, it is not only an exciting site for you to work on, but us to read about. Excellent report. It will be interesting to see how far north we can model tuliptrees to over 1000 cubes.

  You've inspired me to model a big tulip in Northampton on property owned by Smith College. Its girth is slightly over 13 feet, but its height is only about 132 feet unless I've failed to find its absolute top. It has got lots of fairly large limbs. One outcome of the modeling will be the ratio of crown volume to main trunk volume.

Bob
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#3)  Re: Zoar Valley North Rim (ZNR) Old Growth

Postby Erik Danielsen » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:05 pm

Bob, I just looked back at Will's modeling of the Fork Ridge Tulip. The 600ft3 or so crown as carefully modeled on that tree is interesting to contemplate- it's enormous, of course, but not necessarily that much larger than the crowns of large tulips with shorter trunks elsewhere, as opposed to the massive crowns of the tulips he modeled into the 4000 cube class. For the crowns of more northerly large tulips with heavy limb architecture occupying a similar vertical stretch above the main trunk to approach that figure seems realistic. The tulip crown I've modeled most closely (the 142' tree) comes to ~370 ft3 over a 94.5' vertical space, in what amounts to a probably conservative value, and is not as heavy in limb architecture as some. I can even think of some large tulips I've met whose crown volumes might realistically exceed their main trunks.
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#4)  Re: Zoar Valley North Rim (ZNR) Old Growth

Postby dbhguru » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:54 pm

Erik,

  I decided to model a segment of a conspicuous limb on a tuliptree in the back using the reticle and the limb  modeling method previously posted. Please see the attachment. The tree is 128 feet tall and 7.2 feet in girth at breast height. The trunk volume is about 220 cubes. The volume of the limb segment modeled is 3.5 cubes. The volume of the entire limb is about 5 cubes. There is another limb of maybe the same volume and a number of smaller ones with 2 to 3 cubes per limb. If I use the modeled segment as a guide, I think I could account for close to 30 cubes in all the limbs. Assuming this is close, the ratio of limb volume to trunk volume is 0.136. As the tree gets older and the limbs bulk up, the ratio of limb to trunk volume will likely increase, perhaps reaching 15 or 16%. But this tulip is hemmed in by oaks on all sides. Trees with more growing space probably develop much higher ratios of limb volume to trunk volume. we would certainly expect that.

  It would be instructive to model a fully open grown tulip with large extended limbs to get a feel for how the ratio changes. Some of us have speculated about these ratios, but the amount of labor required to model a big hardwood has heretofore been too daunting, and the returns just haven't been there. Erik, you may be leading the way toward a more serious treatment of volumes.

Bob
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LimbVol-Diagonal Reticle Method2(TT Limb).xlsx
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#5)  Re: Zoar Valley North Rim (ZNR) Old Growth

Postby ElijahW » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:18 pm

Erik,

It’s great to see additional exceptional trees outside the canyon.  The south rim seems to have quite a different species mix (lots of Cucumber Magnolia & Bigtooth Aspen) than the north rim, although both have plenty of Tulips.  

Smith Woods has several large Black birch and a couple nice hemlocks, but the Tulips are generally tall and thin, with small crowns.  Green Lakes has some Tulips that would make good volume candidates, as well as a Hemlock or two and a few basswoods.

I can’t make any promises, but I may give some of these trees a try.  I’m waiting on a new tripod now, so it’ll be a couple weeks, at least.

Keep up the good work,

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: Zoar Valley North Rim (ZNR) Old Growth

Postby Erik Danielsen » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:42 pm

Elijah, black birch volume numbers would be really cool. I saw a number at zoar today, but they're all relatively young and small. I did have a chance to remeasure the tallest sycamore from across the creek today- handheld since I couldn't find the head for my tripod, but I couldn't get a read off the very top twigs- it hit 159.98' so getting a good solid measurement it could be over 160 already. It does look like there's a lot of new growth on the top leader.

Bob, interesting to examine a younger tulip like that. The situation with older tulips, of course, gets to be more like you're taking the upper trunk (as many split into multiple leaders around 50-70' up) and multiplying it 3 or 4 times, in addition to whatever ratio of limb volume as in your example would apply to each of those large leaders. I worked on two tulips today, one of which was the knife-edge terrace giant. I started in a bit on the math for some of the leaders in the crown before dinner. I'll post more when I get done, but it looks like there's a lot of wood up there. Probably as much as a couple of your backyard tulip!
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#7)  Re: Zoar Valley North Rim (ZNR) Old Growth

Postby ElijahW » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:50 pm

Erik,

160’ for that Sycamore would be a significant milestone.  I figured it would take at least a couple more years.  

You’ll find a third 11’+ Tulip on the South Branch, on the terrace below Forty Rd.  Last I knew it was just over 150’ tall, but that was two years ago.  The volume for this tree I would expect to be between that of the Skinny Dip and Knife Edge tulips.  

Elijah
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#8)  Re: Zoar Valley North Rim (ZNR) Old Growth

Postby Erik Danielsen » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:32 pm

Elijah, was that on the east side or west side of the stream? I haven't explored any of the east side yet.

Hopefully tonight I'll have time to update this thread along with the main zoar valley thread. Some good stuff from the last two days.
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#9)  Re: Zoar Valley North Rim (ZNR) Old Growth

Postby ElijahW » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:12 am

Erik,

The tulip’s on the east side, and easy to get to. Just follow the abandoned Forty Rd. downhill from the dead end.  Though most of the terrace is second growth, it’s my favorite spot in the canyon.  You’ll get into older stuff in the steeper parts and around the waterfall. Happy hunting,

Elijah
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