The Southwest Old-growth Forest Conference is now history. It was successful on many levels, certainly from an academic standpoint as top-of-their-field researchers like Doctors Lee Frelich, Dave Stahle, Craig Allen, Bob Van Pelt, Mark Varien, Don Bragg, etc. presented the latest research from their respective disciplines. Of personal satisfaction to me, they were able to network with one another in a very relaxed environment, which I think they appreciated.
From a tree-measuring in the field perspective, the event was unbelievably spectacular, off the charts, beyond my wildest expectations. The posts you all have been seeing attest to this. In the end, the numbers speak for themselves. Matt's 178.8-foot Colorado Blue is destined to be famous.
The conference was also successful in terms of bringing organizations with common interests together to forge alliances. NTS-WNTS, TCI, AF, LTI, and MSI are poised to explore cooperative ventures in the San Juan region in the interests of citizen science. NTS-TCI measures, AF publicizes, LTI supplies equipment, and MSI provides regionalized analysis.
I can think of a few other alliances that I hope can be promoted using the conference as a catalyst. For example, we should be able to team up with the Colorado champion tree people to the benefit of local competitions and advanced tree measuring methodology in Colorado. So far, that connection has eluded us. Perseverance is the prescription. Beyond the champion tree people, there are closer associations to be formed with the San Juan and Rio Grande NFs. We've got a pretty good relationship with the San Juan NF now with the field technicians, but the upper level officials have remained pretty far removed.
On a wider state level, there are other alliances to be explored. e.g. with university folks. It is mainly a matter of them recognizing what we in NTS are good at - and they are not. The great trees that we've been confirming in the San Juan region over the last few years didn't sprout over night. They've been there, but have remained invisible to the local players. Prior to NTS arrival on the scene, many San Juan residents probably felt that they had some neat forests and could point to big trees, but they had no way of knowing where their forests actually fit into the bigger scheme of things. With the deluge of junk tree size information on the Internet, how were they to know? None I've spoken to would have imagined that above 2 miles, the San Juan's forests are likely the tallest in the western hemisphere, north of Mexico, according to a world expert, i.e. BVP.
Now to the event horizon. I hope many of you will be able to attend either or both the next three tree-measuring gatherings: (1) Cook Forest in April 2015, (2) San Juans, the summer of 2015, and (3) Mohawk Trail SF in Oct 2015. In addition, I think we should plan a gathering for southern Ohio sometime before the end of 2015. Ohio has so much more to offer that I had ever imagined, and an NTS visit to Dr. E. Lucy Braun's mixed mesophytic forest to pay tribute to that great lady and to let Matt show us around seems like a fun thing to do. Matt, are you game?
In terms of the National Cadre, American Forests is committed to establishing the group, and within three years, requiring that all national champion certifications be done by Cadre members. The days of embarrassing mis-measurements of national champions, that AF was powerless to prevent, will mercifully come to an end. Based on the current schedule, AF will publish a 15 to 20-page measuring handbook for the public in the fall and a 75-page Internet guide to tree-measuring sometime thereafter. Don and I are putting the finishing touches on these guides as I write this post.
Well, I've said enough.
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest