Salutations from Massachusetts!

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#1)  Salutations from Massachusetts!

Postby a_blooming_botanist » Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:07 pm

Hello!

I’m Jared, and I currently wander beneath the trees of eastern-central Massachusetts. I’ve had an interest in plants and natural spaces since I was young, and have deepened my scientific understanding of the botanical world as an undergraduate and graduate student. It has only been relatively recently, though, that I’ve taken a particular interest in big, old trees. Aside from the awesome physical presence that large trees have, I find myself drawn to them for the continuity and perseverance that they represent. I imagine them almost like immovable ambassadors from the distant past.

Big trees seem to be the exception rather than the rule in this part of the country, which makes the search all the more thrilling for me. I’m a rank novice when it comes to measuring trees, and I haven’t even received the laser rangefinder that I ordered online. Nevertheless, I find myself driving around eastern Worcester county scouting for trees that stand out as worthy of another visit when I’m properly equipped. I’ve included two photos of eastern white pines that border the Old Common in Lancaster, MA. There are three of these behemoths in a row several paces from the road. I’ve never seen a trunk of such girth on this species – my conservative guess is around 4 feet in diameter at breast height. The bark has an especially aged appearance, too. Since this old common was cleared for settlement in the mid-seventeenth century, I wonder if these trees may be living representatives from that time. Is that conceivable?

               
                       
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I am excited to get out there and come back with some real, repeatable measurements! In the meantime, I will leave you with this impressive red oak that I happened upon in Bolton, MA. I returned to it today to measure a healthy 144 inches of girth at breast height! For the record, that was my first CBH measurement. Woohoo!

               
                       
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Until next time,

Jared

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#2)  Re: Salutations from Massachusetts!

Postby dbhguru » Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:50 pm

Hi Jared,

   Welcome aboard. I'm located in Florence, MA. I'd be pleased to teach you the ropes of tree measuring when you get your laser rangefinder. You'll also need a clinometer for angles. Do you have one now? Oh yes, and you'll need a scientific calculator whether a separate instrument or on a smart phone.

  Again welcome aboard.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Native Native Tree Society
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Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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#3)  Re: Salutations from Massachusetts!

Postby wisconsitom » Tue Mar 15, 2016 9:28 am

Well Jared, white pine is known to live as long as 500 years, so it is indeed conceivable that these trees date from that time period.  Welcome aboard.
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#4)  Re: Salutations from Massachusetts!

Postby Erik Danielsen » Tue Mar 15, 2016 9:52 am

Those are some chunky pines! I personally wouldn't be inclined to think those three quite date back to the 17th century, but they're also clearly not young trees. Specimens in the open with a large crown like that (and probably lawn/landscaping treatments to the soil) can put on a lot of bulk much more quickly than they would while competing in a forest setting.

Glad to have another botanist on board- I came into interest in botany through trees first but continue to broaden my horizons as well. One of the more botanically interesting things about trees in the northeast coastal area is the many small disjunct populations of more southern species that show up here and there- sweetbay magnolia, persimmon, swamp cottonwood, and many others. Thursday I'll be visiting a really unusual botanical site here in NYC- hopefully you'll enjoy the site report, and I'll look forward to any non-tree botanical finds and details that make it into any future site reports of yours. If you're ever down in NYC, get in touch, always happy to run around in the woods with a fellow tree-hunter.

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#5)  Re: Salutations from Massachusetts!

Postby dbhguru » Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:26 pm

Jared,

  The ages of white pines with the appearance of your 144-inch girth tree often fall between 170 and maybe 220 years. We have dated white pines in Massachusetts to over 300 years. One in Ice Glen was right at 300 when we dated it around 1990. That would place it at 326 years now. One thing I have observed over the last 25 years is that our oldest trees live a precarious existence.

Bob
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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#6)  Re: Salutations from Massachusetts!

Postby wisconsitom » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:14 pm

Bob, with respect to what you're saying about some white pines the age of which has actually been determined, I was using a literary source for my claim above of a potential lifespan of 500 years.  That is to say, I have no proof of that particular statement, whereas you brought up some verified ages.  I think whatever source I used was a "good" one, but not in the same league as your verified stuff.  Thanks.

I did see-and I think I brought this too up here somewhere-that in the Great Lakes states, red pine is thought to have reached 400 years of age in some cases.  This relates to newer guidelines calling for longer (much longer) rotations for red pine around here than is usually practiced.  Of course, if you've been following my rants here at all, you may have read about a certain governor and associated fools who fancy themselves foresters now-setting logging policy in the state capitol.  I don't think we'll be seeing these new, longer guidelines put into practice here in WI any time soon!
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#7)  Re: Salutations from Massachusetts!

Postby dbhguru » Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:02 pm

Tom, you are correct. Don Leopold State University of NY dated a white pine in Nelson Swamp near Syracuse back in 1995 to 458 years. And there are reliable ages of white pines in Wisconsin that exceed 500 years. These trees are exceptional, but they do exist. Will Blozan has dated great whites in the Smokies to around 360 years I think, and I don't doubt there are some over 400. Cook Forest, PA, has a stand of pines some of which date to a fire in 1644 with a few older ones that escaped the fire to provide a seed source.

Bob
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#8)  Re: Salutations from Massachusetts!

Postby Joe » Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:17 am

Tom, when you said, "a certain governor and associated fools who fancy themselves foresters now-setting logging policy in the state capitol"- can you elaborate?
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#9)  Re: Salutations from Massachusetts!

Postby wisconsitom » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:21 am

Sure.  I'm reluctant to get way into this because-as some of you may have noticed-I get a little worked up about the present-day situation here in this state.  But briefly, we have an administration and a legislature that only understands one thing, and that one thing is extractive industries.  So, in the very heart of Paradise itself-the Penokee Hills of far NW Wisconsin, these guys wanted to (still do for that matter) relax environmental protections so that an out-of-state mining company could come in and create the world's largest open-pit iron ore mine.  The high country where this thing would happen is home to some 35 trout stream headwaters, innumerable wetland complexes, the whole bit.  And as for this state's timber industry, these clowns have actually set a policy of "more logging", plain and simple.  Now if you know me at all, you'll know I'm not opposed to logging per se.   But none of this has a thing to do with wise management of resources.  Our state was always known for that.  Not any more.  In five short years, this place has been turned 180 degrees.........and that's no exaggeration.  Incidentally, the wetland scientists who scoped out all the wetlands in that proposed mine site all lost their jobs.  We have the most short-sighted, vindictive government I believe a state has every seen.  They have simply put into place new rules opening the doors to production at all costs, the future be damned.  This is why I say I don't think we'll be seeing newer, wiser management put into place on our forest resources.  It's more like, if a timber sale can make ten bucks today, on a stand of trees that would fetch a hundred dollars in a few years, these guys will take the ten dollars now every time.  You would-I think-be shocked to see how they have relaxed the rules governing the disposition of these timber sales.  It's mostly hush-hush.  Few residents of this state even have a good feel for how our resources are being sold out from under us.

I say this too......the forces at work here in WI are also present in statehouses the country over.  Quite frankly, if your state has a Republican governor, you are being visited by the same forces.  Look up ALEC if you're not familiar with this organization.  Ever hear of the Koch Bros?  It's one of their many sneaky deal they've got going, focused strictly on states.  Everybody worries about the Presidential thing, and yes, of course that matters....but all the while, the states themselves are being taken over by a far right-wing agenda.  The word Fascism-widely used in recent years by idiots who haven't a clue what it means, really and truly fits what's happening here.
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#10)  Re: Salutations from Massachusetts!

Postby a_blooming_botanist » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:47 pm

Thank you all for the warm welcome! I’m glad to have found a group of folks that are enthusiastic about trees and I’m eager to see what I can learn from and contribute to the discussion.

I recently acquired my first laser rangefinder (a used Nikon ProStaff Laser 440 in very good condition) and have been getting used to my new toy for the past several days. I have experimented with several iPhone apps to use as a clinometer. At the moment I am most pleased with the simplicity of TiltMeter. I find that by firmly holding a hand held sight level to the long edge of my phone I can be much more confident in my angle measurements than when just looking down the edge of the phone case. My right eye looks through the sight level and my left eye can read the screen. Seems to work pretty well for me. I’m curious, though, how precise are you guys with your angles? Do you round to the nearest degree, or half degree, or tenth of a degree?

For now I will be exploring my area, looking for the hard-to-find tall trees, and working on my tree measuring technique. I would be honored to meet up with you sometime, Bob, and learn the ins and outs from a master.

Jared
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