LiDAR search of Oregon's old growth reveals tallest pines

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M.W.Taylor
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LiDAR search of Oregon's old growth reveals tallest pines

Post by M.W.Taylor » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:18 pm

Update: The tallest LiDAR hit is most likely abies procera (noble fir) and not sugar pine.



I recently processed a few old growth fragments in Oregon with shocking results.

There are entire canopies of montane forests in Oregon that are over 250' that are mostly sugar pine with a few douglas fir, aibes procera and abies magnfica/procera hybrids, Incense cedar and ponderosa are in the understory. See attached. The tallest are noble fir and sugar pines. I have not seen any montane pine forests in California even close to such uniform tallness on any LiDAR search.

These areas are gently sloped and very wet. I can count more than a dozen trees in the 260' class and at least 3 over 270'.

Not sure when I can get up there to verify. These areas are remote and hard to get to.

The central Sierras has at least one sugar pine LiDAR hit that stands between 273'-274'. Is this a limit to height ? Probably not. I am pretty certain Oregon had 300'+ sugar pines. Maybe there is still one out there somewhere ?
Attachments
manual inspection of point cloud gets similar results to software estimate
manual inspection of point cloud gets similar results to software estimate
White is 250'- The entire canopy of the 273' grove is over 250' with most trees 260' class. Most are sugar pines.
White is 250'- The entire canopy of the 273' grove is over 250' with most trees 260' class. Most are sugar pines.
White is 250' with tallest in this grove is 274'. It is a sugar pine
White is 250' with tallest in this grove is 274'. It is a sugar pine
White is 250' with tallest in this grove is 273'. It is a sugar pine
White is 250' with tallest in this grove is 273'. It is a sugar pine
White is 250' with tallest in this grove is 268'- It is a sugar pine
White is 250' with tallest in this grove is 268'- It is a sugar pine
white is 250'. Tallest in this grove is 266'
white is 250'. Tallest in this grove is 266'
Last edited by M.W.Taylor on Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:24 am, edited 4 times in total.

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mdvaden
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Re: LiDAR search of Oregon's old growth reveals tallest pine

Post by mdvaden » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:48 pm

M.W.Taylor wrote:I recently processed a few old growth fragments in Oregon with shocking results.

There are entire canopies of montane forests in Oregon that are over 250' that are mostly sugar pine with a few douglas fir. Incense cedar and ponderosa are in the understory. See attached. The tallest are sugar pines. I have not seen any montane pine forests in California even close to such uniform tallness on any LiDAR search.
Aside from maybe knowing that the areas are mostly white pines, what in the LiDAR data sets apart one species from another, to tell that certain trees or patches may be Douglas fir or incense cedar? I'm only familiar with about some of it related to height, but don't understand the part about differentiating species.
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Re: LiDAR search of Oregon's old growth reveals tallest pine

Post by Matt Markworth » Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:39 am

Michael,

Wow, awesome trees and awesome point cloud analysis/images.

Any idea if the old-growth fragments have any official protections? This kind of evidence should justify a high conservation value if not already protected.

Matt

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Re: LiDAR search of Oregon's old growth reveals tallest pine

Post by M.W.Taylor » Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:04 pm

Mario, The species identification is fairly straight forward. See attached example from Google Earth.

As a general rule, the sugar pines have branches with a pointed end, the douglas fir have split end branches and the ponderosa are smooth like ice cream cones. You can usually see the round pom-pom like candles of the ponderosa in the Google Earth image, if it is high resolution (post 2012).

The older and bigger the tree, the more pronounced these differences become. With sugar pine, the horizontal branches become irregular and asymmetrical with age, which is an additional identification factor.

The color of the ponderosa tends to be bright green while the sugar pine tends to be more glaucous than the douglas fir. The incense cedar usually very bright green. I recommend scrolling through the timeline of GE to find the image with the best color.

The Jeffrey is very hard to tell from the ponderosa on GE but they do tend to have a more airy crown and are duller green to blue-green in color (glaucous)

The point cloud also helps to tell what species it is. From the side view the sugar pine typically has long sweeping branches that are up turned at the end while the douglas fir has a more conical, Christmas tree like profile. The ponderosa looks nice and smooth, again like an ice cream cone.


mdvaden wrote:
M.W.Taylor wrote:I recently processed a few old growth fragments in Oregon with shocking results.

There are entire canopies of montane forests in Oregon that are over 250' that are mostly sugar pine with a few douglas fir. Incense cedar and ponderosa are in the understory. See attached. The tallest are sugar pines. I have not seen any montane pine forests in California even close to such uniform tallness on any LiDAR search.
Aside from maybe knowing that the areas are mostly white pines, what in the LiDAR data sets apart one species from another, to tell that certain trees or patches may be Douglas fir or incense cedar? I'm only familiar with about some of it related to height, but don't understand the part about differentiating species.
Attachments
example of different species in a montane forest as seen from Google Earth
example of different species in a montane forest as seen from Google Earth
Last edited by M.W.Taylor on Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: LiDAR search of Oregon's old growth reveals tallest pine

Post by M.W.Taylor » Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:09 pm

These trees are in the national forest and not open to logging as far as I know. It is one of the typical fragments that loggers left due to be inaccessible and/or being 150' from a stream.


Matt Markworth wrote:Michael,

Wow, awesome trees and awesome point cloud analysis/images.

Any idea if the old-growth fragments have any official protections? This kind of evidence should justify a high conservation value if not already protected.

Matt

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Re: LiDAR search of Oregon's old growth reveals tallest pine

Post by mdvaden » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:20 pm

M.W.Taylor wrote:Mario, The species identification is fairly straight forward. See attached example from Google Earth.

As a general rule, the sugar pines have branches with a pointed end, the douglas fir have split end branches and the ponderosa are smooth like ice cream cones. You can usually see the round pom-pom like candles of the ponderosa in the Google Earth image, if it is high resolution (post 2012).
Ah .. now I get it.

I recall you pointing this out a few years ago, when we were in the Calaveras neck of the woods. You were showing the spidery tops of the pines and color differences.
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Re: LiDAR search of Oregon's old growth reveals tallest pine

Post by Don » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:52 am

What you're seeing of Michael's description of the forests of Oregon is, in the world of forestry, high order photo interpretation of LiDAR and high resolution satellite imagery. Takes familiarity with what the canopy looks like from above, as well as below. His interpretation coupled with ground truthing can filter out a lot of search time.
That said, the tallest tree can be a proverbial single 'needle in the haystack' of a forest. One must be nearly obsessively meticulous, to not overlook that single shining giant. Well met, Michael !
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Re: LiDAR search of Oregon's old growth reveals tallest pine

Post by Don » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:58 am

Michael-
A fair amount of ponderosa and Jeffrey pines in California and Oregon are known to hybridize either latitudinally or elevationally. Does that pose additional problems in differentiating them when you're photo interpreting their imagery?
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Re: LiDAR search of Oregon's old growth reveals tallest pine

Post by M.W.Taylor » Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:47 pm

Don, Those Jeffrey/ponderosa hybrids are impossible to tell from the aerial photos as far as I can tell. They are also very common in said areas, especially where Jeffrey and ponderosa ranges interface.
Don wrote:Michael-
A fair amount of ponderosa and Jeffrey pines in California and Oregon are known to hybridize either latitudinally or elevationally. Does that pose additional problems in differentiating them when you're photo interpreting their imagery?

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