Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society?

The Western Native Tree Society is a chapter of the NTS focusing on the trees and forests of Western United States and Canada. http://www.nativetreesociety.org/wnts/index_wnts.html This forum is for discussions of the ENTS chapter itself including meetings, events, and operations.

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#1)  Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society?

Postby edfrank » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:06 am

Before the actual creation of the present day Western Native Tree Society http://www.nativetreesociety.org/wnts/wnts_origins.htm as a chapter of the larger Native Tree Society, many people had toyed for years with the idea of creating a parallel organization to ENTS for tree hunters in the western United States.   Don Bertolette provides a more detailed overview of the history as a guest editorial in the July 2011 issue of eNTS Magazine.  That discussion is also reprinted here:  http://www.ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=159&t=2818  Some of the discussion before Don Bertolette took the helm of WNTS concerned the name for the western branch of the organization.  One of the suggestions had been the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society (RMNTS). I personally pushed for Western Native Tree Society as a better parallel for ENTS.

The western United States is a vast area representing thousands of square miles of rugged terrain.  People like Michael Taylor, Zane Moore,and Mario Vaden are doing wonderful things in California with tree measurements.  Western tree hunters like Chris Morris and many others have posted on the region.  Don himself is coordinator of the Alaska Big Tree Program http://www.akbigtreelist.org. Others have visited the area and made their contributions.  We have a growing membership in the region and are collecting data that includes measurements of the tallest trees in the world and the oldest trees in the world.

The membership is growing – but growing slowly.  I wonder if we would be better off as an organization to try to create another chapter of the Native Tree Society centered on the locus of interest in the Rocky Mountains.  We could capitalize on the interest created by Bob Leverett’s western trips and the WNTS rendezvous held in Colorado over the past few years.  We have a beginning with contacts within the US Forest Service, retired forest service members, and groups such as the Great Old Broads for Wilderness.  

I propose we create a third chapter of the Native Tree Society under the previously suggested name Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society.   This is not meant as a reflection on the excellent work being done by the members and officers of the current WNTS, but just an attempt to take advantage of the opportunity we have in the Rocky Mountain region.  

From an ecological standpoint the two areas are distinct.  Many of the giant trees on the west coast – from giant redwoods, sugar pines, to western red cedars are found only in the western-most states along the coast.  The temperate rainforests are restricted to the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.  

               
                       
sugarpinerange.png
                       
Sugar Pine ranges
               
               


Another listing http://www.encyclopediaofforestry.org/index.php?title=BioEco12 shows the forest types of the North America:

               
                       
ForTypesFig1.gif
                       
Forest Types of North America (Young and Giese 2003).
               
               


Young, R.A., and R.L. Giese (eds.). 2003. Introduction to Forest Ecosystem Science and Management. 3rd edition. John Wiley and Sons. 560 p.

We could nitpick about the classification schemes and boundaries, but the diagram makes it clear there is a distinction that can be made between the two regions.  The article breaks the two regions under discussion into the Rocky Mountain Forest Complex and the Pacific Coast Forest Complex.

Rocky Mountain Complex

Rising to over 14000 feet above the Great Plains and Great Basin Desert is the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains. These mountains stretch from northern New Mexico into Alberta and British Columbia and into Alaska to Mt. McKinley, the highest point in North America at 20320 feet. The distribution of forests in the Rocky Mountains is controlled mainly by two factors: elevation and latitude. As elevation increases, there is a decrease in average annual temperature and generally an increase in annual precipitation. Increasing latitude has a similar effect on temperature and also causes the elevation range of forest types to decrease. For example, the southern Rockies have a timberline around 11500 feet whereas in the northern Rockies near the Canadian border, timberline is above 6000 feet and only 2000 feet in Alaska. The majority of the Rocky Mountain forests have not experienced heavy logging due to their rugged geology and inaccessibility. The major disturbance agents in these forests are fire, avalanches, windthrow and insect and disease outbreaks such as those currently occurring with bark beetles and western spruce budworm. There are generally six major forest types in the Rocky Mountains that change as elevation increases, as well as riparian forests that form along rivers and streams:

•        Pinyon-Juniper Woodland
•        Ponderosa Pine Forest
•        Aspen Grove
•        Lodgepole Pine Forest
•        Spruce-Fir Forest
•        Subalpine Forest
•        Riparian Forest


Pacific Coastal Complex

The Pacific Coast of North America is very young and active in geological terms. As part of the “Ring of Fire,” earthquake and volcanic activity is common, and glaciers dramatically shaped the landscape in recent history. Despite the upheaval, the largest conifers on the planet reside in this region supported by the ample winter rainfall of a maritime climate, young volcanic soils, and a low frequency disturbance regime. Mountains like the Coast Range and Cascades, with peaks reaching 14000 feet, also have a profound impact upon the distribution of forests in the region. Not only do forest types change as elevation increases, but due to the rainshadow effect, annual precipitation is often less than 10 inches east of the mountains. Compared to annual precipitation totals often exceeding 100 inches along the coast, this creates a dramatic divergence of species and life history strategies within relatively close proximity. Land use history has also had a significant impact upon much of this region. The timber industry was extremely active from the late 1800s to the early 1980s, often clearcutting forests to allow young, vigorous trees to reestablish the sites. In recent decades, harvesting has slowed and there has been a political push to preserve the remaining areas of uncut forest. There are four general forest types common to the mountains of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, and three forest types that dominate the coastal fogbelt from southern Alaska south to central California:

•        Northwest Oak-Pine Forest
•        Northwest Riparian Forest
•        Douglas-fir Forest
•        Subalpine Forest
•        Spruce-Hemlock Forest
•        Redwood Forest
•        Closed-Cone Pine Forest


For or purposes we could fudge the boundary of the chapters.  There is overlap of the ranges of some species, but that doesn't really create any problems.

               
                       
471px-Thuja_plicata_range.png
                       
Western Red Cedar
               
               


The RMNTS  would include - the Rocky Mountains and eastward to the eastern edge of the Great Plains.  The WNTS would include the Pacific Coast Forest Complex, the Great Basin and areas eastward to the base of the Rocky Mountains.  It would also include the boreal forests of western Canada and Alaska.  

This is my suggestion.  I am trying to work on the organizational structure of the organization so that it both promotes our own goals, and presents a professional appearance to people outside of the organization.  I think this idea would help on both of those fronts.  So what does everyone else think?  Let the hate mail begin.

Edward Frank

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#2)  Re: Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society

Postby dbhguru » Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:52 pm

Ed,

 You've stolen my thunder. I had begun to think along those lines because of the support we've gotten from people in Durango, and my desire to capitalize on it. The West Coast is in the best of hands, and the tree confirmations there area on an unequaled scale. With Michael in California and Don in Alaska, the far West is covered. But my belief is that people in the Rockies aren't comfotable being lumped in with the West Coast, because the scale of the trees is so much diminishhed. It's apples and oranges.

   Perhaps the biggest reason to think seriously about establishing a Rocky Mountain chapter is that there is a lot of energy and enthusiasm that can be generated locally. For example, I'm confident that the Great Old Broads for Wilderness would support the move and contribute time and energy. They move mountains. Most of them are retired, but you'd never know it. In addition, we have the Forest Service connection. It is a win-win situation.

   I'll contact some of the people I know in Durango and see if my sense of their willingness to support the idea is on target. It's all exploratory at this point, but I really don't want the opportunity such as I think we have slip through our fingers.

Bob
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#3)  Re: Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society

Postby Don » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:50 am

Anybody interested in my take on this?  Or Michaels?  Or the other steadfast WNTS members?
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#4)  Re: Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society

Postby dbhguru » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:00 am

Don,

  Of course we're interested in your thoughts. The idea is conceptual. Ed, got ahead of me on this one, and my enthusiasm showed through.So, I jumped on the idea. I find merit in Ed's suggestion because Durango has developed into a center of activity that can grow.

   The Rockies are isolated from the West Coast with its giant trees. With the rest of you taking care of the big trees, I have no worries about sustained activity for California, Oregon, and Washington> Michael Taylor is a tree-measuring machine, and will produce, no matter what for the region he covers, but the Rockies are another matter. Let's face it, Don, outside of my annual western trips, nothing happens for that vast region. But I believe that Durango can change that. There are local people in southwestern Colorado with an actual big tree interest that can be stimulated and activity can be sustained beyond my annual visits. That's what the chapters of the Native Tree Society should be about. Chit chat on the BBS is fine, but it doesn't go far enough. We need people to measure trees, organize events, draw in other people, etc. The Durango people just may be up to the task.

   There are other avenues of development, e.g. partnering with the champion tree coordinators, but you'll recall Idaho. I also tried Colorado. Nothing there. Duds. So if we really want to develop the organization and increase the activity and outreach, don't we need to take advantages of the opportunities when they avail themselves? We can debate Ed's idea fully. It is still a concept. As I said, I jumped on the idea, but it is still just a developmental concept.

Bob
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#5)  Re: Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society

Postby edfrank » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:06 am

Don,

Of course I am interested in your opinion and Mike's opinion.  That is why I said it was a suggestion.  I wanted to discuss the idea.  It certainly is not a done deal and if you and Michael are opposed...I want to hear your thoughts. It is not my intent to force anything down anyone's throat against their will.

Ed
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#6)  Re: Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society

Postby Chris » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:06 am

To be devil's advocate:

Is something like the name "Western" as opposed to "Rocky Mountain" really reducing the willingness of people to join in/explore/whatever? Is that a major sticking point? It isn't like there is so much measuring and posting going on that someone that is only interested in forest of the southern Rockies is going to be overloaded with everything else going on. If there are a group of people in SW Colorado, why not be even more local? Why not the southern Rockies Native Tree Society?

I hope I don't step on anyone's toes, but there are more to trees than "heights and girths". Trees and forest attract people for a variety of reasons. To split off a group for the reason that some people feel "not comfortable" because someone else has "bigger trees" seems odd to me. People in the east managed to post from various places despite the fact no one measuring in Minnesota is going to come close to western NC in terms of height. I don't think people have problem with girth envy whenever Larry posts another fat Live Oak.

I think there is just as much unity between "Rocky Mountain" and "Pacific" forest as there are between various eastern forest types. Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Douglas Fir span both [although via different subspecies] as important parts. As you move north, the distinction increasingly dissolves. There are places in Idaho and western Montana that can be wetter and "Pacific" or drier and "Rocky Mountain" based on altitude, aspect, soil, etc.. . The Pine-Oak woodlands of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada  have more (structurally) in common with the Pine-Oak woodlands of the Rockies of New Mexico than some temperate rain-forest of Washington.
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#7)  Re: Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society

Postby dbhguru » Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:07 pm

Chris,

Not to worry. You are not offending anyone - certainly not me. Basically, this is about marketing - whatever works.

In terms of points of view, I’m sure we have people spanning the spectrum. Some will find the larger organization more attractive because they may see it as giving them the opportunity to brush shoulders with the elite of the elite. Others will take a local view. Still others will express no opinion at all. So, this is about going where the interest manifests itself, and in what form. It isn't about heights and girths any more than photography, music, or some other facet of tree awareness. It is about tree interest, however that interest manifests itself. Obviously, I push measuring, but value other contributions just as much.

Having spent a lot of time in the Rockies, I can say fairly confidently that NTS-style tree awareness lags. People in that province are understandably very much into mountains and canyons, and distant horizons, and conscious of them in all kinds of ways, but trees? Not very much. Durango may afford us an opportunity to develop a center of heightened awareness for native tree species, capitalizing on the superlatives of the region. But does a rise in local interest, ipso facto, suggest a local NTS chapter? Probably not, but if local people want one, why not? It is an idea worth testing.

We can always take the big, big picture view and focus only on NTS, forgetting, ENTS, WNTS, and any other potential chapters.  If that works, then fine, but if it doesn’t, it is back to drawing board, and that means marketing.  

Ed has created us an extremely flexible cyberspace home.  To newcomers it can seem endlessly deep, but it works and I wouldn’t want to lose any of its features. We'd miss them. And if we decide to create more chapters, I'm sure Ed can make it happen.  But I absolutely do not want to create work for Ed just to test a concept, so the idea of RMNTS will stay in the conceptual realm for now.  Additionally, if Don and Michael absolutely do not want a RMNTS, for whatever reason, then I’ll honor their wishes.

Bob
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#8)  Re: Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society

Postby Don » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:49 pm

Bob/Ed/Chris/Michael/NTS-
I suppose the only thing I'm absolute about is not being absolute about anything...

That said, my brief response here will be more of a ramble than a rant, and not likely to attain the impressive professional offering from Ed (good work that!).

First, from a purely personal point of view, I was initially attracted to the acronym RMNTS for it's pure elegance in dealing simultaneously with:
1) the acronym Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society RMNTS), and
2) the descriptive word remnants, for those few remaining species that draw upon DNA from another time and are only found where the environmental/climatic conditions remain sufficiently to sustain them, where others weren't able to prevail. Indeed synonomously, literally relicts from times passed.

But not being a resident of the Rocky Mountains, I was easily persuaded to go with WNTS...a wider geographic area, one I have had exposure to, through my career and of my own special interests.

I have often posed to Ed, are we not facing the dichotomy of whether we should organize on the basis of whether we want to 'lump' or 'split'.  I have in the past been a willing splitter where obvious gains would be made by doing so. I see the current inquiry as bringing us to a dichotomy, but I am not sure where obvious gains are accomplished. I can see the organizational neatness of having chapters ranging across the US, but in my humble opinion, I'm not even sure that ENTS has a large enough pool of active members to power a chapter based organization.  
I see Bob's perspective, wanting to present our efforts in the most attractive (read productive, growing) package.  Towards that end, I recognize that WNTS has not grown by leaps and bounds and I take responsibility for the lack of abundant growth. I AM pleased with the quality of recent western members and their champion bagging prowess, and will do better about providing recognition for them, although they are very much self-driven folks and seem to eat and sleep big hunking behemoths for breakfast.
I will however go with the flow, as it has been my pleasure to have had an association with the bigger picture that NTS has so well displayed.

A quick comment for those paying attention to the Crystal Basin District near Lake Tahoe...Google has some WONDERFUL satellite imagery with resolution sufficient to identify individual trees, and BIGGER BRANCHES...if you have any kind of competent computer/graphics, download Google Earth (I have it on my iMac 27's harddrive, but am pleased with getting it online, with my MacBook Pro 15" laptop). It's a wonderful aid to tree hunters when high res imagery is available.

-Don
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#9)  Re: Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society

Postby dbhguru » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:03 pm

Don,

  Excellent response and much appreciated. Now here's the kicker. I sheepishly confess that the opposite side of the coin is now impressing itself into my aging brain. I really am not confident that splitting would serve the intended purpose. It could be no more than a flash in the pan. But at some point should we move forward (with your and Michael's concurrence, of course), a regional chapter under WNTS might be more realistic than a coequal entity.

  I think we would all agree that the desire for a regional chapter of WNTS in Durango should flow from a truly local interest, as opposed to the unbridled enthusiasm from yours truly. And in rethinking the matter, I honestly don't know if what happened last summer in Durango reflects a genuinely local interest as opposed to their response to Robert T.Leverett, alias Professor Harold Hill, waltzing into town in high sales mode.

Bob
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#10)  Re: Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society

Postby edfrank » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:15 pm

Don and Bob,

I would like to suggest perhaps a regional survey would be an appropriate way to go.  On this page:  http://www.nativetreesociety.org/projec ... ojects.htm  we have a listing for surveys, where surveys are:

The Native Tree Society is involved in a variety of projects and surveys of various scales, scopes, and durations.  A "project" involves an investigations of a particular topic,  species, or activity, while a "survey" is an investigation of a particular site, area, or region. Some are long term ongoing investigations in which a particular site may be monitored for years.  Others involve studies of a series of sites in a particular region, or studies of a particular species. Some may be completed in a handful of trips while others may require dozens.  Some involve many people while others are driven by the efforts of a single individual.  In all cases the goal is to complete the project using the highest scientific standards.


Their purpose is to give recognition and structure to projects involving tree measurements in a particular area or region.  They can be structured internally however the participants want to structure them.

Ed
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