Austin Brook, Breadloaf Wilderness, Green Mountain National Forest

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adam.rosen
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Austin Brook, Breadloaf Wilderness, Green Mountain National Forest

Post by adam.rosen » Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:21 pm

The Breadloaf Wilderness of the Green Mountain National Forest is managed for low impact recreation only. The Long Trail passes through, and the mountains have had minimal disturbance, in some cases for over 150 years. Along any of the side trails to the Long Trail large maples, Hemlocks and Yellow Birch can be seen. In a program on Vermont Public Radio
(https://www.vpr.org/post/does-vermont-have-any-patches-old-growth-forest#stream/0)

I heard reference to the Austin Brook Area, which an older map had indicated that it was logged in 1820???, the multiple question marks perhaps indicating that it had never been logged. I spent a few hours there this week, again using my new toys of the diameter tape and the Hagelof EC II. I was hampered by a thick stripped maple and hobble bush understory, steep ravines and wet ground beneath my feet. As well as deerflies.

As to whether this a true "Old Growth" site, I am inclined to say that it isn't. The trees were certainly big and tall, the ground properly pitted and mounded, and the there were twisted trees, buttressed roots and some canopy deformations. The lack of huge standing snags and enormous deadfall in advanced states of decomposition is what leads me to believe that logging occurred here at some point. Most of the large debris was blighted beech trees, not the towering maple, birch and hemlock snags that are present in documented old growth sites I have been too. However, some of the trees must be a full 200 years old, only a core sample could really tell.

I was impressed with a Hemlock with a CBH 9'11". I actually could get a line on the base and the top at the same time, but at this was the last tree I measured that day and I could not hold the Hagelof steady enough. One thing that impressed me about this giant was approximately a 50% 50% distribution between the long straight bole and the top of the tree. Beautifully proportioned. This tree had a twin that was a very recent snap. It was sad to see a giant down like that. I wanted to do a ring count but the tree was butt hollow so I could not do so. It reminded me of a snap that I had seen in the Paul Smith's Elders groove and I was able to take a long walk on the limbless portion of the downed trunk.

I measured two maples, one at 8'1" CBH, 108' and another at 7'10" CBH and I could not get a measurement on the height. I did measure to the first branching--45'9" to the first branching, and 73' to a snap that was well below canopy height. The trunk of this tree was almost black with what I think is charcoal mat fungus, and it was dotted with sapsucker holes.

Large Yellow Birch are where my soft spot lies and there were a couple beauties in the Austin Brook ravine.
All had very mossy bark, covered with several species of lichen and moss, and the fuzzy, scaly bark characteristic of fully mature yellow birch. When they get to this point the bark looks nothing like the horizontally stripped bark of the less mature Yellow Birch. I took height measurements, bole measurements and on one, only the CBH.

9'3" CBH, 37'6" to the first branching, with a large, round cavity at 22'
9"9" CBH, 87' Height

Then the largest Yellow Birch I have ever measured, but I need to go back to measure the height and crown spread. I'd like to get the full points on this tree. I don't think it is the state champion, but it is big enough to be a significant benchmark for this species at our latitude and elevation. In addition to the bark characteristics described above, the lowest three feet of bark were "fuzzy" and peeling. No cavities that I noticed but several huge burls marked the trunk.

11' 10" CBH.

I would like to go back and and do a more complete report, including some examples of the woody debris present, and measurements of White Birch, Beech, Black Spruce, there also was Fir that I can't completely identify, and White Ash.

Austin Brook is located in the Granville Gulf Reservation and the Breadloaf Wilderness, only a short distance from Route 100 and 35 miles north of the Old Growth at Gifford Woods, and 50 miles north of the Old Growth at Tinker Brook.

Maple
8'1" CBH, 108'
7'10" CBH ,45'9" to first branching

Hemlock
9'11" CBH

Yellow Birch
9"9" CBH, 87' Height
9'3" CBH, 37'6" to the first branching, with a large, round cavity at 22'
11' 10" CBH.

My JPG photos are not loading "the attached file is invalid"--what's up with that? Any guidance on how to load photos?

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