On occasion I look at the membership lists to review the BBS ctivity. Did you know that since Mar 7, 2010, there have been 34,840 posts to the BBS offered by 474 individuals? Nine members make up the 1000-posts club. Of the 474, the top 10 contributors account for 55% of all the posts. The top 25 contributors account for 78% of the posts. The top 35 contributors account for 85%. The top 51 contributors account for 91%. And finally, the top 100 contributors account for 97% of the posts. In terms of participation, basically, we have just slightly over 100 members, although far, far more are readers of the BBS. I present these stats and the conclusion without judgment other than to say a very small number of folks are making a pretty big splash.
When we established ENTS in 1996, we had in mind pretty much what we have now, a forum where people interested in forests and trees along non-commercial lines could interact. Obviously, tree measuring has been a dominant preoccupation, but photography, scientific information, and even music and poetry are represented. However, we continue to have a big voice in tree measuring methodology and NTS tenacles now extend into many corners including American Forests, several state champion tree programs, and even into the U.S. Forest Service - through Dr. Don Bragg. Not a bad accomplishment.
While some worry about over-emphasizing the measuring mission of NTS, in retrospect, I think that path continues to work best for us. And now with our connection to VA Tech Dendrology, we have the opportunity to reach the public on a new level. But we won't reach our potential without participation of all our key players. The height maximums for individual species, the hot spot sites, and species geographical trends are embedded in our data, which is scattered through thousands of posts. But where else can one turn to get a true size profile of say Betula lenta? What about Silvics of North America, websites offered by the big botanical gardens, state extension forestry services, USDA Plant Guide, you name it? None of those otherwise reputable sources are accurate on the their tree dimension information. For example, the USDA Plant Guide has this information about the size and age of Populus deltoides:
Populus deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh., eastern cottonwood, is a fast-growing tree which reaches 80 to l00 feet in height and 3 to 4 feet in diameter. It is a relatively short-lived tree, seldom surviving for more than 80 years.
Whoever wrote that had no clue, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider their description of Liriodendro tulipifera.
This tree is rapid growing, attaining heights of 80- 120 feet and a trunk diameter of 2 to 5 feet. Young trees have a pyramidal form.
I have 4 tuliptrees in my backyard over 120 feet and I live at 42.35 degrees latitude north. Elijah Whitcomb has confirmed the species to over 150 feet at beyond 43 degrees latitude in NY. And where it grows optimally in the southern Appalachians, 150-foot tulips are everywhere. We don't get excited anymore until we reach 170. So, who knows this? Who has the information, the data? The answer is we do, and it has been accumulated by a very small number of us, illustrating our obsession. But beyond high-fiving each other, how do we make our data work for the greater scientific good? Think the Superlative Native Tree Database of NTS-National Cadres-VA Tech Dendrology! We're up to 2285 records, and that is a bare beginning.
I acknowledge that after we get the database built, the VA Tech source will still be only one of many sources, but what do you want to bet that it gains traction as we provide updated reports off of it to the general public.
Happy Easter Everyone
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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