Clearwater National Forest, Idaho - 2014

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#1)  Clearwater National Forest, Idaho - 2014

Postby tsharp » Thu Jan 22, 2015 3:46 pm

On July 19,2014 we stopped at two sites in the Clearwater National Forest along US Highway 12. This stretch of road from Lolo Pass (5220'), crossing the Bitteroot Mountains and  the Idaho/Montana border to Lowell, Idaho, is a delightful 78 mile drive of Idaho mountain scenery while losing 1500 feet of elevation. The first stop was at the Powell Ranger Ranger Station and Campground (3400') on a flat along the Lochsa River. It was pretty easy measuring heights due openings created by  hazardous tree removal near the campground and the amount of roads winding through the camping area.
Below is a list of the largest of eight species measured in descending order of height.  The Western Redcedar is not representative of the site since they seem to have borne the brunt of removals.
Western White Pine (Pinus monticola) 10.6' x 170.3'
Engelman Spruce (Picea engelmanii var. engelmanni) 9.4' x 161.3', 9.5' x 125.6'
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir (Psuedotsuga menziesii var. glauca) 9.5' x 149'
Ponderosa Pine ( Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa) 6.5' x 130.3'
Western Larch (Larix occidentalis) 6.7' x 129.6'
Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata) 9.9' x 109.6'
Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa) 4.3' x 90.4'
Saskaton Service Berry (Amelanchier saskaton) 0.5' x 25.6'

I am pretty sure with a little more more time I could come up with two or three more species for a Rucker 10 Index which would be unusual for a western site.  I believe this type of forest is informally know as the "Idaho Mix" and is common in Northern Idaho and parts of Western Montana into British Columbia.
When I was eying the Western White Pine a resident of the nearby campsite strolled over sporting a set of galluses embossed with "Idaho Logger". He worked for Potlatch Corporation for thirty years as a timber faller. Before I measured the height he estimated 175' , I estimated 160'. He won. He relayed that the fallers commonly measured the length of the tallest tree of the day and anything over two hundred feet was noteworthy. His personal record was 212' in the Selway drainage.  
A complete listing of trees measured can be found on Trees database site a:

The next morning I spent several hours at the Devoto Memorial Grove(3600'). This site is about three miles upstream but is on a tributary of the Lochsa River called Crooked Fork. It is a similar site to the one near the ranger station but is a mostly undisturbed old growth site.  I had briefly stopped here several years ago and looked forward to getting some numbers attached to some trees. Although I spent about the same amount of time at each site many fewer trees were measured. I basically measured what was easy and in no way reflects the maximum dimensions of any of the species on the site. Guess I will have to come back and spend more time.  

Grand Fir (Abies grandis) 10.5' x 162.5'
Engelman Spruce (Picea engelmanii var. engelmanii # x 158.5', 8.1' x 138.6'
Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata) 18.1' x 156.7', 18.6' x #
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir (Psuedotsuga menziesii var. glauca) 4.9' x 75'[url][/url]

Typical forest scene in the grove. Serviceberry leaves to the far right.

Western Redcedar
I believe this was the 18.1' x  156.7' tree
What to measure next?

Along Crooked Fork, Trees with spire type crown are Subalpine Fir
All photos by Susan Sharp

For this message the author tsharp has received Likes - 5:
bbeduhn, Jess Riddle, Larry Tucei, Matt Markworth, Will Blozan
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#2)  Re: Clearwater National Forest, Idaho - 2014

Postby Will Blozan » Thu Jan 22, 2015 3:52 pm


Awesome! I bet that Engelmann was a beaut!

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#3)  Re: Clearwater National Forest, Idaho - 2014

Postby Matt Markworth » Thu Jan 22, 2015 9:15 pm


It's cool to see reports/numbers coming out of Idaho, thanks!

Definitely a place that I hope to spend some time in.

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#4)  Re: Clearwater National Forest, Idaho - 2014

Postby Ranger Dan » Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:43 am

Very nice report. Thanks for the great pix
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#5)  Re: Clearwater National Forest, Idaho - 2014

Postby Larry Tucei » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:36 am

Turner-  Awesome post. I to have Idaho on the radar for a visit.That western red Cedar is huge!!  I remember from some of Bobs posting's that Idaho has some Cedar that are huge and very old. Perhaps in the future NTS could have a gathering out there.  Larry
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#6)  Re: Clearwater National Forest, Idaho - 2014

Postby Josh Kelly » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:19 pm

Great reports and photos, Turner.  Thanks for sharing!
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#7)  Re: Clearwater National Forest, Idaho - 2014

Postby Jess Riddle » Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:19 am


I always enjoy reading about your western adventures.  They're a nice way to learn a little about forests that I might not otherwise read about.  Nice to have some idea of the sizes of the different species too.

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