A Pine Plantation in the Pink Beds.

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James Parton
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A Pine Plantation in the Pink Beds.

Post by James Parton » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:02 pm

ENTS, especially Gaines.

Last Saturday, Sept 25th after Sarah, Mom and I visited a spruce grove up near Black Balsam Mountain we rode down hwy 276 and then onto Yellow Gap Rd just above the Cradle of Forestry. Back in my younger days my family frequented Yellow Gap. We hiked,fished, picniced and camped there. Dad spent a lot of time hunting here too. Yellow Gap rd joins North Mills River Rd at the North Mills River Campground on the other side.

This area brought back a lot of memories for mom too. Heading down the road I was looking for a pine plantation that I remembered from many years back. It is on the right before reaching South Mills River Rd, which takes you to Wolf Ford. I got memories there too. Of fishing and getting drunk!

I can remember the plantation when it was very young. It's White Pines were planted, according to mom's memory around 1975. She said she could remember them when they were knee high. I can remember walking through them when they were about head high, as a teenager. I also remember dad and I looking for deer sign among the pines when scouting out for hunting one year. This was in the late 1970s. Back then the neatly planted pines were in a green pasture with a neat wood fence in front. The estimated size of the grove is probably 4-5 acres.

A couple of years ago my sister Becky and I rode by the plantation on Yellow Gap and noticed how much the pines have grown over the years. Saturday I got to get a closer look. The old wood fence is now gone.

Parking in front of the grove I noticed a trail ran right down the center of it. The trees are tall and slim. I would have guessed some were close to 100 feet tall! The grass which once surrounded them is gone. Replaced with moss and a few understory plants. It is pretty open under the pines. The place brought back memories for both Mom and I. But it is amazing how time has changed the grove. While the majority of the trees look alive and well, we noticed some have died and a few others look a bit unhealthy. I took the time to measure a couple of the pines. The stand was all planted at once so I would expect all the trees to be of similar size and height. I notice some difference. Some are certainly greater in girth than others. The two White Pines measured turned out to be 4 feet in girth and 78.6 feet tall and 4' 4" in girth and 85.0 feet tall. That seems pretty good for trees that are 35 years old. But White Pine are indeed fast growers.

One thing is for sure. Since these trees have been planted, the USFS has provided little care for them. They have grown under only Mother Nature's care.

Grove Coordinates ( Google Earth )
35 22' 48.48"N 82 45' 10.09"W

James
Attachments
Mom and Sarah in the pines.JPG
Me Measuring a pine.JPG
Pink Beds Pine Plantation.JPG
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
Bardic Mentor
New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: A Pine Plantation in the Pink Beds.

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:08 pm

Very similar to the many pine plantations I used to hike with my dad in south Georgia when I was a kid. Different type of pine, of course, but the geometry is the same.

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gnmcmartin
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Re: A Pine Plantation in the Pink Beds.

Post by gnmcmartin » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:53 am

James:

Do you think this grove is slated for a pulpwood harvest? Or do you think it will be preserved?

Just a few things you may or may not know about the development of stands like this:

First, over time a great many of the trees will die--this is natural. As the slower growing ones become too crowded and/or overtopped, they will die. Some others may die for other reasons. Basically, over time the stand will thin itself--the stronger trees will assert dominance. In 50 to 75 years, there will be far fewer trees here, but the dominant pines will be impressive. How tall/large they will get depends on the growing site and the genetic strain of the trees and their adaptability to the site. But if the tallest are now 85 feet tall after 35 years, both the strain and the site must be pretty good.

As for tending the grove--ultimately no tending is really needed. But having a forester or a person who knows a bit about white pine growth go through and do some thinning, the growth can be enhanced. Over the long term, thinning simply to reduce the density and to give the better trees more growing space is really not needed. That kind of treatment can enhance diameter growth a bit, but in the long, long run--200 years or so, the best trees will assert dominance on their own and there will be a very impressive stand of white pine.

But these is one kind of "thinning" that can have long term benefits--that is to remove misshapen and diseased trees. Sometimes trees infected with white pine blister rust can live for a long time and grow vigorously. But they will die eventually--there is no way yet found to save an infected tree. I have even done my own experiments. What should be done is when an infected tree is crowding too closely and/or supressing a healthier tree, it should be removed. Of course infected trees should be removed to reduce the spread of the disease, but older trees seldom get new infections.

Also, if a tree is forked and liable to split, or otherwise misshapen, and crowding other trees too much, it should be removed.

If some minimal tending is done of this kind, after 200 years there may be just a few more really magnificent trees in the stand.

But, remember any of you out there, if you cut any pines in a stand, be sure to treat the stumps to prevent annosus root rot disease. I sprinkle borax on them, but there are some other treatments that are effective.

Pruning can enhance the appearance of a white pine plantation, and improve the log quality, but for the long term health and development of the trees it makes little or no difference.

--Gaines

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James Parton
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Re: A Pine Plantation in the Pink Beds.

Post by James Parton » Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:52 am

Gaines,

I have no idea whether this grove is slated for harvest. The area has been logged in many places within my lifetime. My father gathered leftover wood from logging operations back in the early 1980's here for firewood.

Thanks for a very detailed lesson on the management of pine plantations. You would make a fine teacher!

Now if I could only find the fountain of youth so I could live long enough to see those pines at 200 years.

James
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
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New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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gnmcmartin
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Re: A Pine Plantation in the Pink Beds.

Post by gnmcmartin » Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:10 pm

James:

If you live for another 50 years, give or take a few, you will be amazed at how much these trees will have grown. I am 71. When I first saw the plantations on my own land they were like those in the grove you have shown at the time you first saw them. Many were sheared for Christmas trees and were 6 feet tall. I was 33 years old at the time. OK, I am now 71--my father lived to be 98, and had good vigor up to past 95. I am a bit of a health nut--I do special exercises when I am not otherwise doing physical work, including a bit of weight lifting. I don't eat anything that is not healthful, etc., etc. I have no specific life length expectations, but I could well be vigorous past 100, and by that time my timber stands, including the pine and spruce plantations, will have grown enough to be something quite impressive. ENTS people won't come to measure, but they will be somthing to see nevertheless.

Maybe you could talk to someone in your local forest service--this grove is on public land, right?--and express your love for this grove and express your interest in having it preserved. And point out what I have told you--that it will develop just fine on its own, so they don't have to spend any time or money on tending it. Many foresters don't understand this. If anyone wants an expert to confirm what I have said, Professor Edwin White, Dean of Research at SUNY Syracuse Department of Environmental Science and Forestry, will do so.

--Gaines

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James Parton
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Re: A Pine Plantation in the Pink Beds.

Post by James Parton » Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:18 pm

Gaines,

I was somewhere between 10 and 14 when I saw this grove for the first time. I am now 46 as my birthday is today. This grove has grown impressively since the 1970s and I could only imagine it in another 50 years. The trees might reach 130 feet tall by that time.

But ENTS have measured our groves. You certainly have measured yours and I the Pink Beds Grove. That has came to pass.

Thanks for the advice on preserving the pine grove. I will have to figure out how to go about contacting the USFS concerning this grove.

James
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
Bardic Mentor
New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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