Sipsey Poplar, May 2010

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#11)  Re: Sipsey Poplar, May 2010

Postby PAwildernessadvocate » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:41 pm

Glad that beauty of a tulip polar is in a federal wilderness area so that it and its fellow giants around it are immune to development pressures!

http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fus ... ab=General

Do you know if this tree is located in the portion of the wilderness that was originally designated under the Eastern Wilderness Areas Act in 1975, or if it is in the area that was subsequently added to the wilderness in 1988?

You should contribute some of your photos of the Sipsey poplar to the Wilderness.net album for the Sipsey Wilderness Area:

http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fus ... tab=Images
"There is no better way to save biodiversity than by preserving habitat, and no better habitat, species for species, than wilderness." --Edward O. Wilson
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#12)  Re: Sipsey Poplar, May 2010

Postby Zachary S » Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:52 am

RyanLeClair wrote:Hey Zachary, is the poplar still healthy? I ask because I was just reading about the Wasilik Poplar in NC, which suffered greatly because of root-trampling.

At the time of our visit two years ago, the tree itself seemed very healthy, with a full crown (perhaps replacing a long-ago broken top) and as far as I recall we didn't meet anyone else near the tree; however the Park Service and several hiking-related organizations do promote the tree and suggest hikes to see it, though a conversation at the ranger station led me to believe that there were very few people who ever made the four-mile hike in to see it. There are many who have been there, of course, but it's tucked away at least four miles from any roads... and most folks who come to Bankhead NF don't stray that far from the picnic parks and swimming areas. In any season but winter, that is one MISERABLE stretch of forest loaded with ticks, subtropical humidity, and stretches of second-growth with nearly full sun. Very sweaty work, there. Ran out of water on our trip and came home barely able to walk... but then again, I'm out of shape! The little area it sits in appears worn, but I highly doubt it's by foot traffic since apparently few people venture to see the tree. I somewhat suspect occasional flooding might be one of the causes for the smooth and worn appearance of the ground around it, though that's just a thought. I know the WIlderness gets some pretty significant flooding during rainy periods but I don't know if the poplar's location floods much. In 2010 I saw that there were several uprooted beeches in the grove very near the Poplar, so it may be slightly more exposed now than it once was.

I should note, though, that since I went there, storms have wreaked havoc on parts of the Bankhead NF; last April 19 there was an EF-1 tornado embedded in an area of downbursts within the comma head of a bow echo that sliced right through the heart of the Sipsey Wilderness, which blocked numerous trails around the tree for many weeks. Then on April 27th, the Haleyville tornado lifted right before entering the Wilderness, but I think that there were many more trees blown down by non-tornadic winds as those violent storms tore through. I have little knowledge of the condition of the tree now, but all the references I could find make no mention of it being down. I am almost positive there have been hikes to the tree since the tornado, and I can find nothing that suggests it doesn't still stand. I vaugely recall seeing somewhere that several trees around it had fallen, but a search through wildsouth.org and sipseywilderness.org shows no mention of its immediate area. There is still a lot of cleanup going on along the most affected trails through the Wilderness.

PAwildernessadvocate wrote:Glad that beauty of a tulip polar is in a federal wilderness area so that it and its fellow giants around it are immune to development pressures!
http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fus ... ab=General
Do you know if this tree is located in the portion of the wilderness that was originally designated under the Eastern Wilderness Areas Act in 1975, or if it is in the area that was subsequently added to the wilderness in 1988?
You should contribute some of your photos of the Sipsey poplar to the Wilderness.net album for the Sipsey Wilderness Area:
http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fus ... tab=Images


I'm honestly not sure. I did a bit of searching online but can't find anything that confirms if the tree and its immediate surroundings were in the initial Wilderness or the 1988 expansion. I do know that the tree was well-known for decades before the Wilderness - I've seen photos of the tree from the 1950's - so I would imagine that it could easily have been in the initial part. Can't say for sure, though - will look more into it.

I think I'll go through my external drive where the pictures are and find all my shots of the tree to add to that gallery - thanks for the link!
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#13)  Re: Sipsey Poplar, May 2010

Postby eliahd24 » Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:27 pm

tsharp wrote:Zach, ENTS: I have never seen a bark pattern on Yellow-poplar that is similar to your photographs. Is it an unusual pattern or have you seen it before?
Turner sharp


I believe the horizontal pattern is weathered woodpecker holes.  I've seen more defined woodpecker holes in Tuliptrees before (not as weathered).  Not often, but every once in awhile.
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#14)  Re: Sipsey Poplar, May 2010

Postby Drala Hiker » Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:17 pm

Hi. New to the ENTS website via information given at the Georgia Master Naturalist course taught at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell, GA.

I grew up in Florence, AL and spent many years hiking Bankhead and the Sipsey in the late 1960s and 1970s. Next to nothing was written about the Sipsey then until local outdoorsman/naturalist/Native American Mr. Lamar Marshall became proactive in protecting the area in a literal battle with the National Forest supervisor of the time (eventually proven to have been taking payments from loggers to open up the forest to logging - this was before Wilderness designation). Marshall spearheaded created of Wild South in order to protect notable wilderness in Alabama and the south in general. There was a magazine by the same name for some time in which Lamar shared is encyclopedia of Bankhead knowledge both as a naturalist and Native American.

Lamar has cataloged the location of Native American trails, caves used, marker trees and even glyphed trees (the Sun Tree). He knows things about Bankhead that no other human knows.

Lamar is still around, though I don't see discussion board posts or emails from him these days. However, he and his wife come visit the knitting circle my mother is in!

Sometime around the late 60s the Bee Branch Scenic Area was created to protect the cove with the Big Tree. At that time the Northwest Rd. passed less than 2 miles away and there was a jeep road that ended near the Giant Gall Tree. There was also an Indian marker tree nearby (quite a few still exist in Bankhead). In college we used to take an afternoon to drive down from UNA for a walk in the forest, contemplate the Big Tree and take a shower under the waterfall. Ticks don't get bad until late April, so we wouldn't go in the summer until early fall.

At that time the forest was more pristine. East Bee Branch Cove still had a loamy forest floor. Wildflowers and woody plants grew just a few feet from Big Tree (same is true of Eye of the Needle rock area, the Rapids beach area, Whiteoak Hollow, et al). I clearly remember bushwhacking through mountain laurel to get to the top of Bee Branch Falls. I've not checked but I'm inclined to think that rainfall has tapered off over the past 40 years in that area because the Sipsey in general does not seem as lush - or maybe it's because the ridge top pine forest was killed of by the pine bark beatle, the increased sunlight altering the environment to create a drier type of forest.

As for the crown height of the Big Tree, it seems that it was indeed 151-153 feet in 1969. A violent tornado ripped a mile wide swath through the Sipsey in spring 1974 (I think, may have been '73) northwest of Borden Creek. That storm ripped off the top of the Big Tree and left it around 130-135 feet tall, as I recall. (I could research the details but don't have the time available to do that, but the info is out there). The harsh, freezing winter of 1980 also caused a lot of damage. The Sipsey was totally frozen over and all the waterfalls had giant "volcanos" of ice at the base. A lot of marginal trees died that year. A few years later another huge ice storm hit northwest Alabama that lasted for weeks, damaging or killing off a lot of healthy trees.

Bankhead lays in the Tornado Ally area of northwest Alabama and has seen it's share of bad storms. A couple other tornados hit the forest around 1998. During the holidays that year (when I was visiting my parents as I then lived in TX and OK) a killer ice storm hit. A lot of hemlocks couldn't handle the ice weight and toppled over.

The early 2000s were severe draught years, which severely weakened many of the huge trees in ridges and heads of coves. Then a hurricane blew through knocking down thousands of huge tulip trees and oaks, which in turn took down some of the giant hemlocks.

I've no idea of the damage caused by the tornado outbreak of April, 2011 but can't help but think it considerable.

The beauty that nature has created in the network of canyons in the Sipsey also has provided the energy to destroy it - but it's part of the natural cycle (though who can say how much of global warming is natural and how much caused by man?).

My current fear for the Sipsey is the hemlock wooly adelgid. That parasite has reached the hemlocks on Lookout Mountain. Though the Sipsey, Dismals and other northwest Alabama hemlock sites are geographically disconnected from the Lookout Mountain hemlock habitats, I fear that man and nature will unintentionally introduce the wooly adelgid to the glacial remnant forest of Bankhead. There is plenty of info available to save specimen trees so I hope that the many volunteer organizations and National Forest directors have a plan in place to mitigate the invader (I'm on a mitigation crew to treat hemlocks at Helton Creek Falls in the north Georgia mountains-Helton Creek is just below where the AT crosses Neils Gap and the Mountain Crossings Outfitter store).

I'm excited to join ENTS and look forward to gaining knowledge from this fabulous group of tree fanatics!
Kindest regards,
Bill

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#15)  Re: Sipsey Poplar, May 2010

Postby edfrank » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:24 am

Bill,

Welcome to the Native Tree Society!  I think you will find a home here in the Native Tree Society and find many people who share your interests.  Excellent first post and introduction.

Edward Frank
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky
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#16)  Re: Sipsey Poplar, May 2010

Postby Joe » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:25 am

tsharp wrote:Zach, ENTS: I have never seen a bark pattern on Yellow-poplar that is similar to your photographs. Is it an unusual pattern or have you seen it before?
Turner sharp


I bet we hardly know many of the patterns that really big/old trees can make- despite the many that have been seen. With a continent of big/old trees a mere 5-6 centuries ago- just think what has been lost, in terms of the knowledge of what trees can do. There must have been millions if not billions of amazing trees with strange patterns and growth forms that we have no clue of.

Joe

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#17)  The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature

Postby Drala Hiker » Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:07 pm

Ed, thanks for the warm welcome and for volunteering your time to this chat site.

Any one that reads this site would find this book most interesting:
The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature
by David George Haskell

David Haskell is a colleague of my Master Naturalist teacher. They work at University of the South.

Mr. Haskell walks on the trails along the side of Mont Eagle, where the university has placed the wild lands in a preservation trust.

His book is based on the observations coursing over a year of one square meter of land. He does a good job of showing the interdependency of all natural things. It's a fascinating read, filled with great information that we can use to further increase our own personal experiences in the old growth places that we love and cherish.

As a side note, the first time I hiked in Bankhead was with a friend who had been going there for years. An elderly man lived in a small wooden house just off the upper portion of Kinlock Road. I don't recall his name, but my friend Roy always stopped to say hello and offer a few cookies. I had remarked how incredible the forest was with the old growth trees and how amazing it must be to live there. He said it was nothing like it used to be when he was growing up there. He said that back then (1930s) 25% of the forest was filled with chestnut trees, but the blight hit and by the mid-50s they were all gone.

The forest we know now is the not the forest that will be there 100 years from now. Climate alone will account for much of the change. After all, the last major climate change was when the glaciers receeded to the north and left the hemlocks to perservere in the canyons of Bankhead!
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