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Hemlock Search in Eastern and Northern New York

Posted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:26 pm
by JHarkness

A friend of mine recently had the idea to make a documentary on white ash trees, I loved the idea and said I'd be willing to do it, but after my continued arguments with NY's DEC to try to bring attention to the elongate hemlock scale I decided to change the plan to make a film about elongate hemlock scale, that turned into a full on documentary of eastern hemlocks. We've recently begun filming for the project and I've been searching a number of sites in New York and New England for old growth or mature hemlocks. I've decided to continue that project to attempt to document as much of the old growth hemlocks there are in eastern New York, and document as many of the previously unkown hemlocks in the Adirondacks. It seems I've been on a roll, last fall I stumbled onto an old growth hemlock site in the High Peaks, unfortunately many of the old growth hemlocks had been logged but some were still standing, this spring I found another very close to the first, and I've since found three stands in Dutchess and Columbia counties with some old growth hemlocks, two of these stands had not been documented before.

We will be utilizing these sites in the film, and more importantly we will try to document to just what extent EHS has invaded the hemlocks of eastern and northern New York (apparently, it was found in the Adirondacks along with HWA last fall but they didn't treat the EHS). The outcome I'm hoping for will be to bring awareness of EHS, as well as HWA, in hemlocks here to DEC and also to the general public, I'm presently in a good position to do the latter as I, as well as several naturalist friends of mine, currently have good connections to quite a few environmentally concerned members of the general public.

On August 24th, I found a small patch of undocumented old growth in Dutchess county with some beautiful old hemlocks, and I know of a site just a mile from my house that is claimed to have never been logged, I will soon be checking this site out. I feel that if enough people can realize the importance of the eastern hemlock and how serious the problems it's facing are, something can be done, and now is the time to do something.

I very much welcome any information regarding possible eastern or northern New York sites with old growth or mature hemlocks, please do let me know if you know of any such sites, sites in the Adirondacks, Catskills and Taconics are of the most interest. More specifically for the film, I would really like it if anyone has, or knows of, historical photos of old growth hemlocks, logging or bark havesting of such hemlocks that I could use.
An old growth Adirondack hemlock...
An old growth Adirondack hemlock...
Joshua Harkness

Re: Hemlock Search in Eastern and Northern New York

Posted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:22 pm
by Erik Danielsen

Sounds like a great project. Any chance you can post a list of the sites that are already on your radar? Some sites come to mind but for all I know you've already gotten into them.

Re: Hemlock Search in Eastern and Northern New York

Posted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:38 pm
by JHarkness

Presently, the only well known eastern New York (south of the Adirondacks) sites I have on my radar are Bash Bish Falls and Mianus River Gorge, I have assembled a list of poorly known, or completely unknown, Taconic sites with some old growth, these include the Great Swamp, Brace Mountain. I know of a decent hemlock site near Heart Lake in the Adirondacks, as well as one at the base of Allen Mountain, the best I've seen in the Adirondacks is the Santanoni Range (this site includes a tree which could well be one of the oldest hemlocks in NY). I don't know of any sites in the Catskills, what are the hemlocks like at Kaaterskill? Please do not restrain on your site list, I could use as many sites as possible.


Re: Hemlock Search in Eastern and Northern New York

Posted: Mon Aug 27, 2018 6:42 pm
by Erik Danielsen
The Kaaterskill hemlocks are impressive and worthwhile, though they're pretty tattered by now. I have only visited once but the place definitely pushed my hemlock-appreciation buttons.

Mianus is nice, and a similar site nearby with fewer access restrictions is the Halle Ravine Preserve. Decent component of old hemlocks on the slopes. I made a brief report here:

Rockefeller State Park actually has a small area of old hemlock, high mortality though. Could make a decent example of the havoc wrought by the pests? A few big ones still living, and a great big-tree site in general. The second portion of the first report in this topic discusses their condition and location:

The Montgomery Place Estate in Red Hook (a bard college property) has some pretty spectacular old-growth oak-hemlock-pine forest right near the hudson. The site's exposure means that regular weather events may limit the absolute height potential as far as I can see, and it can be a bit of a mess to get off-trail, but it's near the top of my list of SE NY sites to do some real measuring in sometime. Some discussion here:

Unfortunately that's about all I've got for the region. All of my dacks experience is in the western part of the high peaks. An interesting tidbit is that Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan (still one of the tallest forests in the state, with a 150' tuliptree canopy and height records for some other species) was well known decades ago for its dense grove of apparently quite impressive hemlocks. Having been cobbled together from several estates, the park is fortunate to even now retain some old-growth elements of the sort that rich people like to keep around on their fancy properties. There's just one of the old hemlocks left, an outlier on a more exposed ridgetop area that's actually quite substantial. There are suppressed hemlocks scattered here and there throughout the natural section of the park.