Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

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BeeEnvironment2020
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Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

Post by BeeEnvironment2020 » Fri Jan 01, 2021 2:07 pm

Hello everyone, I hope everyone has been having good holidays, :D
I recently found a old book in my small library called, "Seeing Pennsylvania" written by John T. Faris, and published in 1919.
Faris goes over the great natural wonders of the whole state of PA, and even describes primeval forest that survived at the time of his writing, along with photos. He even goes over places such as Snyder-Middleswarth Natural area, and Ricketts Glen with its old forest and waterfalls.
Anyhow, on page 333, Faris talks about the wilderness around State College, and he described one, today unknown, old-growth tract as follows:
Pine Creek Hollow, near Woodward, (there) is a 100 acre tract of primeval white pine. 'The great trees, rising to a height of nearly 200 feet, and straight as gun barrels, are always sighing in the wind, and are weird and sad survivors of the grand forests which once covered the central Pennsylvania uplands'
Faris includes the above quote from Henry Shoemaker's "Eldorado Found", a book on the PA wilds.
Does anyone think the old-growth tract could still exist? On google maps, it shows the area as still wooded.
If the old-growth trees and pines still exist, they may hold potential for having some of the tallest pines in the North-East :o Sadly, I live in SE Pennsylvania, so I can't make the trip for quite some time.
If anyone is located near Woodward, though, it should be accessible by Pine Creek Hollow Road out of town, if they are wanting to tackle the trip :)

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dbhguru
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Re: Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

Post by dbhguru » Fri Jan 01, 2021 7:14 pm

If anyone knows about today's tall pines today in PA, it is Dale Luthringer, environmental education specialist at Cook Forest, PA. Dale's your man. However, I wouldn't hold out much hope for near-200 foot white pines. The 184-foot Longfellow Pine is the best we've done in the Northeast. It grew in Cook Forest, but a May 4,2017 storm broke it off.

Faris's account of exceptional tree heights near State College needs corroboration. I would imagine that Mark Abrams at PA State would know of any stands of white pine in that region.

I have a book by Robert Pike, titled Tall Trees, Tough Men. In the book, Pike deals with the lumber history of New England, and speaks of white pine 264 feet tall in Lancaster, NH. Totally nuts. I could buy 164, but not much more.

Nonetheless, it's fun to think about.


Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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BeeEnvironment2020
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Re: Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

Post by BeeEnvironment2020 » Wed Jan 06, 2021 11:38 am

Hi Bob,
Thanks, I will try to contact Dale and Abrams soon to ask.
Yes, Pike's book that mentions the 264 foot white pine is nuts. As you say, though, it is pretty fun to think about :)
Here is a photo I made of a Aerial shot of the Pine Creek Hollow in 1956. As you can see, the dark section is probably the old-growth Faris mentioned at 100 acres. Sadly, it seems like logging by PA foresters have destroyed some of the old-growth, though there might be some left worth preserving, if some of us are able to head out there:

Click on image to see its original size
I put the Old-growth surrounded by the blue-line. I hope some of the great pines and hemlocks still exist there though! :?
BeeEnvironment

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:58 am

Recently I've come to think differently about the >200' white pine records. There's a webpage informally reviewing accounts in upstate NY in the 19th century including many with reporting from decent "gentleman botanists" and foresters and nearly all described pines of at least 220-230' and a little higher, often based on measurements on the ground, though very few and only vague claims up to 260'. Dozens of these reports, seeming to treat 220-230' as esteemable but not atypical. The habitat they're described in, conifer-dominant bottomland flats in sheltered glacial valleys with steep walls (the local sites with these accounts I'm familiar with are on deep sandy and gravelly loams with perennial groundwater seepage), were cut comprehensively. The accounts also often mention upland/hillside stands with impressive trees but don't attribute such heights to them. There are no sites remaining with these habitats in an intact state in a favorable climate.

All the modern sites we can set our expectations by are upland (the webpage in question is of mixed credibility overall, but I'm less interested in the web author's speculations than the information in the primary sources). I think of the very young but dense super-tall white pine stand on a streamside gravel bar Brian Beduhn's been tracking (and that's a small patch), the very analogous conditions John Harvey describes as necessary for producing the tallest Redwoods, and the mentioned complete lack of remnant examples of these bottomland pine forests. There's too much smoke in even the most scholarly 19th-century local accounts for me to hold with the assumption that there was no "fire" in the form of 220-230' bottomland White Pines on the northeastern landscape, especially around the Great Lakes. The upland samples we've got left to work with have too few similarities to the forests in question to reasonably invalidate the claimed heights.

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dbhguru
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Re: Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

Post by dbhguru » Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:08 pm

Erik,

I understand where you are coming from. The late Gordon Whitney's exhaustive research certainly supports 200-foot tall white pines in Colonial times, and I think a good case can be made for around 220 feet as the upper limit. That said, as we so often see, ostensibly reliable sources are often unreliable on tree heights. For example, the U.S.Forest Service measured a Georgia white pine to over 190 feet that later proved to be 168.

We can hope that some of the reports of super tall trees were measurements of the trees on the ground. Unfortunately, the accounts almost never specify.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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bbeduhn
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Re: Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Jan 11, 2021 9:40 am

I went for a family hike yesterday. Yes, it was in the Smokies, but the white pine growth is incredible. I will get back to check some groves there. The only measuring was done on trail. I haven't even reported on it yet but many single tall white pines top 150' and 160'. These are mostly exposed and I would have to guess, mostly in the 80-110 year range. I encountered one northeastern facing grove where I measured just one tree. Others are not far behind by appearances. That white pine is 175.6'. I would have to guess, without any critical observation, merely on form, that that tree is a maximum of 80 years and likely less than 70 years. I found much larger groves with similar exposures nearby, from satellite views, that I intend to check this year. The site is in the Deep Creek watershed, also home to the 191.9' tuliptree.

After fire, on the right soils, groves can grow with protection very quickly. The limit is likely higher than we've recorded. This is entirely speculation, but if a grove is capable of hitting 180'+ in less than 100 years, some will continue to grow and 220' or even 230', doesn't seem so impossible. I concur with Erik. Time will tell.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:35 am

Bob,

I've read through the past conversations here that made that case, but that conclusion that 220' seems like a reasonable upper limit is exactly what I've come to question. Too many of these dozens of accounts of trees measured in the process of timbering (certainly not clinometer measurements, generally ground-based or more detailed log length and timber volume measurements) treat 220-230' as normal. I suspect 240' bottomland white pines had a realistic chance of actually existing. If the Congaree hadn't gone unlogged, I wonder what conclusions we'd draw about the maximum growth potential of many of our southern bottomland oak species, or even Loblolly? I just don't think the evidence for 220' as an upper limit is solid enough to dismiss the many 19th century records of trees over 230' in habitat that has since completely gone under the axe.

MarkGraham
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Re: Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

Post by MarkGraham » Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:47 am

BeeEnvironment2020 wrote:
Fri Jan 01, 2021 2:07 pm
Hello everyone, I hope everyone has been having good holidays, :D
I recently found a old book in my small library called, "Seeing Pennsylvania" written by John T. Faris, and published in 1919.
Faris goes over the great natural wonders of the whole state of PA, and even describes primeval forest that survived at the time of his writing, along with photos. He even goes over places such as Snyder-Middleswarth Natural area, and Ricketts Glen with its old forest and waterfalls.
Anyhow, on page 333, Faris talks about the wilderness around State College, and he described one, today unknown, old-growth tract as follows:
Pine Creek Hollow, near Woodward, (there) is a 100 acre tract of primeval white pine. 'The great trees, rising to a height of nearly 200 feet, and straight as gun barrels, are always sighing in the wind, and are weird and sad survivors of the grand forests which once covered the central Pennsylvania uplands'
Faris includes the above quote from Henry Shoemaker's "Eldorado Found", a book on the PA wilds.
Does anyone think the old-growth tract could still exist? On google maps, it shows the area as still wooded.
If the old-growth trees and pines still exist, they may hold potential for having some of the tallest pines in the North-East :o Sadly, I live in SE Pennsylvania, so I can't make the trip for quite some time.
If anyone is located near Woodward, though, it should be accessible by Pine Creek Hollow Road out of town, if they are wanting to tackle the trip :)
There was LiDAR done for the area circa 2008, it shows trees generally 120-130 feet tall in a little glen south of Pine Creek Hollow Road. The latest google earth imagery from 2016 shows these trees still standing. Pic is attached, coordinates on bottom of screen correspond to the pin. I am sure many taller trees were once in the area.
Attachments
woodward pa.JPG

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BeeEnvironment2020
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Re: Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

Post by BeeEnvironment2020 » Mon Jan 11, 2021 2:00 pm

Mark Graham,
Thanks for checking it out online. It seems like PA foresters or loggers have sadly cleared out the old-growth in the past 30 years. Sad, as it could have held some pretty impressive trees!
Did you check the area surrounding Pine Creek and the roads on both sides? I am just wondering if there is any left of the grove.
Also, can you help me out with finding approximate heights on google earth? I have been having a hard time trying to do this.
BeeEnvironment

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BeeEnvironment2020
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Re: Undiscovered Old-Growth near Woodward PA??

Post by BeeEnvironment2020 » Mon Jan 11, 2021 2:24 pm

Here is a "time-lapse" I made to see the yearly changes.
Pine Creek hollow in '56. As you can see, the OG is relatively undisturbed.
Pine Creek hollow in '56. As you can see, the OG is relatively undisturbed.
This is another aerial from 1957
This is another aerial from 1957
1963
1963
1967
1967
1994
1994
2006
2006
As you can see in recent imagery from google, it seems like recent logging has caused the demise of this forest.
As you can see in recent imagery from google, it seems like recent logging has caused the demise of this forest.
Sadly, unless one of us head to the area, it will be hard to tell if any old-growth is left that could be saved :(

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