Warren Woods State Park, MI

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DougBidlack
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Warren Woods State Park, MI

Post by DougBidlack » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:09 pm

NTS,

I first reported on this site in December 2006 when I measured a few species and I've been trying to get back ever since, but I'd like to give some background info on this site before posting measurements on my late November visit. Warren Woods State Park is fairly small at just over 300 acres in size but the forest here has been very well studied due to the old growth beech-sugar maple forest that is present here. This old growth forest is located in the northwestern corner of the park and it is only 16 hectares (ca. 40 acres) in size. The old growth site is a flat uplands that is 0.03-1.5 m above the water table in spring and the soils are mostly a loamy, mixed, mesic Aquic Arenic Hapludalf with a sandy, mixed mesic Psammentic Haplandalf on the slightly elevated areas. This info was taken from:
Poulson, T.L. 1996. Replacement patterns of beech and sugar maple in Warren Woods, Michigan. Ecology. and
Larson, J.D. 1980. Soil survey of Berrien County, Michigan. United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, Washington D.C
Current forest composition was found in the following publication:
Donnelly, G.T., and P.G. Murphy. 1987. Warren Woods as forest primeval: a comparison of forest composition with presettlement beech-sugar maple forests of Berrien County, Michigan. Michigan Botanist.

RD RDo RF IV IP
American Beech 43.8 68.2 38.6 150.6 50.1
Sugar Maple 47.6 20.0 40.4 108.0 36.0
Hornbeam 3.8 0.2 8.8 12.8 4.3
American Basswood 0.5 6.3 1.8 8.6 2.9
Tuliptree 0.5 5.3 1.8 7.6 2.5
Hop-hornbeam 1.4 0.0 3.5 4.9 1.6
American Elm 1.4 0.0 1.8 3.2 1.1
Spicebush 0.5 0.0 1.8 2.3 0.8
Witchhazel 0.5 0.0 1.8 2.3 0.8

RD = Relative Density
RDo = Relative Dominance (Basal Area)
RF = Relative Frequency
IV = Importance Value
IP = Importance Percentage

Donnelly and Murphy also noted that red maple, pawpaw, bitternut hickory, shagbark hickory, white ash, sycamore, black cherry, white oak, northern red oak, red-berried elder and mapleleaf viburnum were also present in low numbers in the study area but not within any of the 25 100m2 plots. This publication also calculated the composition of presettlement beech-maple forests of Berrien County which was derived from data contained in the General Land Office survey of Michigan, conducted during the period 1825-1832. This is shown below.

RD RDo RF IV IP
American Beech 53.5 45.2 43.3 142.0 47.3
Sugar Maple 11.1 10.1 18.4 39.6 13.2
American Basswood 8.7 9.9 7.8 26.4 8.8
Ash spp. 6.5 6.7 12.0 25.2 8.4
American Elm 5.3 5.7 5.1 16.1 5.4
White Oak 2.3 4.9 5.1 12.3 4.1
Tuliptree 2.4 5.8 0.9 9.1 3.0
Poplar spp. 2.9 4.1 1.8 8.8 2.9
Hop-hornbeam 2.0 0.4 1.8 4.2 1.4
Northern Red Oak 0.9 1.5 1.8 4.2 1.4
Black Cherry 0.8 0.4 0.9 2.1 0.7
Hickory spp. 1.1 0.8 0.0 1.9 0.6
Black Walnut 0.4 0.5 0.9 1.8 0.6
Red Maple 0.6 0.5 0.0 1.1 0.4
Black Oak 0.3 0.4 0.0 0.7 0.2
Hemlock 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.6 0.2
Butternut 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.3 0.1
Bur Oak 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.2 0.1

Donnelly and Murphy noted that poplars (members of the genus Populus), black walnut, black oak, hemlock, butternut and bur oak were present in presettlement forests but not in Warren Woods.

On the 25th of November I parked at the gated southern entrance to Warren Woods State Park and I hiked North along the gravel road to the trail. All of this forest was quite young and not worth measuring. Once on the trail the forest was a bit older and nicer but still relatively young with lots of tuliptree, black cherry and northern red oak. Below is a map of the park. The old growth is North and West of the Galien River.
warren_woods(1).pdf
(67.71 KiB) Downloaded 133 times
Just before the bridge over the Galien River (South) there was a tuliptree that I wanted to measure. It was just to the right (East) and I had measured it to 183" (15.25') x 125' in December of 2006. I wanted to measure the height with my Trupulse 200X but after a frustratingly long period of failing to get good shots of the top and various bases, I just gave up and used my Nikon 440 to shoot straight up. I measured this tree to 15.76' (189") x 126'. So it grew 6" in girth over the last 8 years but I'm not sure that it actually grew a foot in height as I was just learning to use the Nikon 440 in 2006 particularly when you consider that this method of measurement is not as accurate as the sine method. I also measured the girth at other heights.
1' = could not measure due to slope
2' = 18.23'
3' = 16.95'
4' = 16.23'
5' = 15.41'
6' = 14.91'
7' = could not measure due to slope
I wanted to make these measurements to compare this tree to the one that Don Bragg measured at Russ Forest in Michigan. He measured the girth at 6' to 181" (15.08') and the height to 134'. It is fairly clear to me that the tuliptree that Don measured is larger than this one at Warren Woods. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to visit Russ Forest to get more recent measurements of that tuliptree. Below is a picture of the tuliptree that I measured with the flooded Galien River and bridge in the background (looking northwestward).
Warren1.jpg
The above tuliptree now holds the NTS MI (Michigan) girth record at 15.76' (189") but I'm sure Don's tree is actually larger in girth and I'm sure that there are larger open grown tuliptrees. I next wanted to measure a very large common hackberry that I'd measured in 2006 to 150" (12.50') x 115.5'. To reach this tree I hiked North across the bridge and followed the river to the road at the northern edge of the park. The tree is located just to the South of this road and right on the river and I was quite relieved to find that the tree had not fallen into the river due to an eroding bank. I shot straight up and got 120' and when I measured with the Trupulse 200X the best I could do was 120' 2". The girth was 13.15' (158") so it grew 8" in girth in 8 years. This tree holds the height record for MI as well as the NTS MI girth record. Below is a close-up of this tree followed by a more distant shot.
Warren2.jpg
Warren3.jpg
I had spent a great deal of time measuring these two trees and although I had arrived at 9AM I could tell that it was probably already early afternoon so I decided to bag using the Trupulse in favor of the Nikon to shoot straight up so that I could get more done in the time that I had left. Going just a little South along the river I saw the sycamore that I had measured to 171" (14.25') x 112.5' in 2006. The tree was completely flooded and I could not remeasure it. Here is a picture.
Warren4.jpg
At this point I should probably point out that the floodplain of the Galien River was never studied in any of the old growth papers that I saw, so they rarely or never encountered many riparian species like sycamore, common hackberry or eastern cottonwood. There were also many dead ashes present here which were likely green ashes rather than the white ashes of the beech-sugar maple forest above. I also noticed buttonbush and bladdernut as well and I'm sure that there were other floodplain species that I didn't notice. I'll have to return when the river isn't so high. As I continued back, this time in a more westerly direction away from the river I came across a stump from a long dead beech. It was a hair over 13.2' in girth so just a little less than the 13.25' x 119' beech that I had measured here in 2006. Here is a picture of this dead but still important tree.
Warren5.jpg
Continuing West I saw a nice beech that measured 11.00' (132") x 124.5', a new height record for MI. I didn't measure any taller beeches for the rest of the day and I also didn't measure any larger than 13.25' in girth (I only stopped to measure the girth of one more beech). The 2006 measurement of 13.25' in girth is still the NTS MI girth record. Below is a picture of the tall beech (it is the one to the right).
Warren6.jpg
Moving along I measured a 6.64' (80") x 108' ash, probably white ash, that was one of the few trees that would not tie or break some kind of MI record. It does not yet appear to be dead but it is certainly dying due to EAB. I then headed back North towards the road because I saw some northern red oaks that are not present within the old growth forest. The tallest of these was 11.09' (133") x 121.5' which also was not any kind of record. I then moved West again towards the western edge of the park where the old growth meets second growth and then I walked South along this forest boundary. In the distance was an absolutely gorgeous basswood! It measured 13.59' (163") x 111', a new MI NTS girth record. I collected a few seeds that I found near the base of this tree and I took a couple pictures.
Warren7.jpg
Warren8.jpg
Continuing South the next tree surprised me even more. It was a beautiful, forest grown, American Elm. It measured 12.54' (150") x 118.5' and it is a new MI NTS record for both height and girth. Below are three pictures of this wonderful tree.
Warren9.jpg
Warren10.jpg
Warren11.jpg
Still moving South towards the river I encountered a basswood that measured 8.90' (107") x 117' a new height record for Michigan. Farther South yet there was a little ravine that ran towards the river with a tiny trickle at the bottom just before the ravine met the river. Around and within this feature I would measure the next seven trees. The first two were sugar maples that measured 10.19' (122") x 120' and 10.18' (122") x 124.5'. The second of these trees is the new height champion for Michigan. A recently dead white ash (probably) measured 10.22' (123") x 126' which ties the previous MI NTS height record and is the new MI NTS girth record although this shouldn't last long. A northern red oak measured 10.06' (121") x 127.5' and is the new Michigan height record. A bitternut hickory measured 6.18' (74") x 120' which ties the current MI NTS height record although this species should eventually break 130' in Michigan. I had measured a few tuliptree heights but I didn't write them down and I really wanted to break the current MI NTS height record of only 134' by Don Bragg. Luckily I measured one to 9.20' (110") x 135' for a new MI NTS height record. I think one of the ones that I didn't write down was 136.5' but I can't be sure. Anyway, I'm sure there are slightly taller ones at this site and I know of a slightly taller one at another site. Soon enough one will break 140' but not on this day. The last tree I measured around this little ravine was a shagbark hickory to 7.26' (87") x 112.5'. Despite the modest dimensions this ties the current MI NTS height record. It was getting late so I started heading for the bridge and once I crossed it I decided to walk along a path to the East which is not on the map. Down below this trail nearer to the river I decided to measure a tuliptree but it didn't impress, but a neighboring black walnut did at 6.69' (80") x 123'. This black walnut ties a MI height record. This was the last tree I would measure and by the time I got back to the car it was 5:30 and I had a 3hr drive back to mom and dad to look forward to.

Here is a list of the trees that I measured plus a few that I measured from 2006:

Tuliptree
9.20 x 135'
15.76' x 126'

Northern Red Oak
10.06' x 127.5'
11.09' x 121.5'

White Ash (probably)
10.22' x 126'

American Beech
11.00' x 124.5'
159" (13.25') x 119' measured in 2006

Sugar Maple
10.18' x 124.5'
10.19' x 120'

Black Walnut
6.69' x 123'

Common Hackberry
13.15' x 120' 2"

Bitternut Hickory
6.18' x 120'

American Elm
12.54' x 118.5'

American Basswood
8.90' x 117'
13.59' x 111'

Sycamore
171" (14.25') x 112.5' measured in 2006

Shagbark Hickory
7.26' x 112.5'

Eastern Cottonwood
12.83' x 110' measured in 2006

Chinkapin Oak
11.67' x 107' measured in 2006

This gives a Rucker Height Index of 123.62' for the top ten which is the current record for Michigan. The Rucker Girth Index is currently 12.83' and I think this could also be a record for Michigan and I'm sure both of these numbers will increase, especially the girth index as I did not really set out to break girth records. The top ten in height should eventually all top 120' and the top ten in girth should all eventually top 12'.

Doug
Last edited by DougBidlack on Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Rand
Posts: 1217
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Re: Warren Woods State Park, MI

Post by Rand » Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:56 am

DougBidlack wrote:NTS,

Continuing South the next tree surprised me even more. It was a beautiful, forest grown, American Elm. It measured 12.54' (150") x 118.5' and it is a new MI NTS record for both height and girth. Below are three pictures of this wonderful tree.

Doug
Jeez. That's like sighting Sasquatch in Ohio.
Last edited by Rand on Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Jess Riddle
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Re: Warren Woods State Park, MI

Post by Jess Riddle » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:49 am

Doug,

Well, if I visit Michigan I'll save Warren Woods for last so that everything else doesn't look puny. The state records per acre must be near a record. Thanks for the great description.

Jess

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DougBidlack
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Re: Warren Woods State Park, MI

Post by DougBidlack » Mon Dec 08, 2014 5:37 am

Rand,

pretty much as rare in Michigan, at least based on what I've seen. I seem to recall you saying how common American elm is in northwestern Ohio and how that might be one of the reasons that they don't get very big before croaking. I've noticed exactly the same thing for southeastern Michigan and, like you, I've often thought that the very high elm population keeps the disease pressure very high (I hope I'm not putting words in your mouth). Anyway, here in eastern Massachusetts, American elm is much less common than in southeastern Michigan and there are many more large elms here. Definitely seems like a density dependent thing going on here. Around Warren Woods I didn't see any other American elms although I'm sure they're around...seems like the lack of lots of close elms keeps disease pressure down.

Jess,

the number of big trees per acre is certainly high for Michigan. I'm especially impressed by the number of fat trees at this site. Can't wait to get the raw numbers on density and basal area and when I do I'll share this info. Although Warren Woods is very nice it is quite small and you'll have to block out that fact. If you ever do visit Michigan I'd save the Porkies for last based on the amount of old growth and not needing to work so hard at blocking out 'distractions'.

Doug

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dbhguru
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Re: Warren Woods State Park, MI

Post by dbhguru » Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:10 am

Doug,

Spectacular report! Warren Woods finally has been de-mystified. Great place for sure. I recall in the distant past Lee Frelich and Paul Jost telling us about the place and supplying a few tentative numbers. They seemed most impressed with the beech, if I recall.

As the primary National Cadre member for Michigan, you are going to have a challenging job verifying Michigan's national champs. You are going to need help. As I'm sure you know, as listed in the champion tree registers, Michigan trees are some of the most mis-measured in the Nation. But fixing the problem won't come easy. The bad numbers are very widespread and they are touted by ostensible authoritative sources. Michigan State University Extension Service actually put into their database those utterly ridiculous numbers from the past. Their pdf file carries this statement:
Data was obtained by permission from the Michigan Botanical Society and Elwood Eherle at Western Michigan University.
Data was entered into a database for this document by Bill Cook, MSU Upper Peninsula Forestry Extension at 906-786-1575 (6/98).
The URL for this document is:

michigansaf.org/ForestInfo/MSUElibrary/MIbigtrees.PDF.

They seem oblivious to reasonable heights for the species in their list. The level of ignorance displayed is little short of astounding. Hard to understand for professionals.

We need to think of a strategy for dealing with the Michigan situation through American Forests. Any ideas? Could get touchy. If we wait for current listed champions to be re-measured on the 10-year rule, the mess will remain for, well, up to a decade.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Rand
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Re: Warren Woods State Park, MI

Post by Rand » Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:58 pm

DougBidlack wrote:Rand,

pretty much as rare in Michigan, at least based on what I've seen. I seem to recall you saying how common American elm is in northwestern Ohio and how that might be one of the reasons that they don't get very big before croaking. I've noticed exactly the same thing for southeastern Michigan and, like you, I've often thought that the very high elm population keeps the disease pressure very high (I hope I'm not putting words in your mouth).
Nope, that's what I have said. One little news tidbit I stumbled across claims that elms, on average, seed much younger now than they used to, in order to reproduce before DED gets them. It'd be nice if this faster cycling of the generations would allow some resistance to appear, but uh..wishful thinking so far.
Anyway, here in eastern Massachusetts, American elm is much less common than in southeastern Michigan and there are many more large elms here. Definitely seems like a density dependent thing going on here. Around Warren Woods I didn't see any other American elms although I'm sure they're around...seems like the lack of lots of close elms keeps disease pressure down.
Had a red and american elm growing with 100' of each other in my grandparents woods, perhaps 50ish years old, roughly the same size. All the other elms within a similar distance to these two trees died while I was in high school. Then ~5 years ago the american died. I went back this fall and looks like last year the red elm died. I've read that their are strains of DED with different levels of virulence, so perhaps that explains these two trees longish survival.

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DougBidlack
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Re: Warren Woods State Park, MI

Post by DougBidlack » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:27 pm

Bob,

is it silly for me to think that people can be satisfied with the truth? I don't understand the need to exaggerate. It doesn't actually make the trees taller and it certainly doesn't make the forests more beautiful. For me, the true beauty of a forest lies in a better understanding of the place and nothing more. That is difficult enough.

I hope that my new affiliation with American Forests will somehow be helpful in putting some folks at ease. I have no interest in making people look bad, I just want a better understanding of the trees and forests of Michigan and how this relates to other parts of North America and the World. Seems simple enough to me.


Rand,

I'm sure the picture is more complex than we might like and different levels of DED strain virulence along with different levels of resistance within and between elm species is probably mucking things up a bit. Ain't biology great!

Doug

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DougBidlack
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Re: Warren Woods State Park, MI

Post by DougBidlack » Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:20 pm

NTS,
I just edited the original post by changing the only white oak measured to chinkapin oak. When we first measured this tree in 2006 I had no idea it was actually a chinkapin oak but suspicions began to creep in over the years when I read of chinkapin oak in Warren Woods and I ran into several chinkapin oaks in Missouri (Maple Woods Natural Area in Gladstone) and Tennessee (Percy Warner Park in Nashville) that I first thought were white oaks based only on features of the bark. I didn't even check the tree in November of 2014 because I simply forgot. However, I was supposed to lead an International Oak Society group through Warren Woods in October, 2015 and act like I knew what I was talking about so I had to check the tree out earlier that year. So it is certainly a chinkapin oak and this species is more common in Michigan than I had previously thought. Sorry for the error and the long lag time in correcting it.
Doug

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