Big and Tall Trees Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge
Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:47 pm
Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge located in east central Ms. continuously produces some of the largest and tallest trees in the State. Jess Riddle gave me Lidar from this area back in 2015 and I’m still using it to locate some of the tallest trees. The Refuge is large 44,000 acres, it takes several trips up to document all the finds. I would say I’m about 85 % complete. In addition, I Bushwhack on my own and locate superlative trees as well. On my annual visits in Nov. and Dec. I located several of the tallest trees left on Lidar as well as some large trees. Some of which are the largest and tallest that I have found to date.The first area I explored in Nov. was the Noxubee River south of Keaton Tower Rd. in the northwestern region of the Refuge. The River is only about 3/8 of a mile south of the road so it’s relatively easy to get to. The road running from west to east about 3.5 miles long is along a Ridge that parallels the Noxubee River. The Ridge area has Pines in the 120’ class with Oaks and Cypress after you reach the Floodplain. Most of the Oaks are in the 100-120’ class with an occasional 130’. When I got closer to the River I found a huge Swamp Chestnut Oak turns out the largest I’ve measured in the state. It was only 114’ tall but had a large Crown of 111’ x 114’ and an impressive CBH of 14’ 4”! When I got to the River I located several superlative trees starting with two Hickory one CBH- 8’ 10”, 114’ and another 10’ x 112.5’ tall. The 10’ tree is the largest Hickory that I’ve measured here. Next the find of the morning was a huge Cherry Bark Oak less than 10 yards from the River. CBH- 18’ 3”, Crown Spread-123’ x 109.5’ and Height- 132’ the largest of its Species I’ve measured in the State. Not far from it were several large American Beechnut one was CBH- 12’ and 96’ tall. The last tree I measured was a Black Gum to 102’ tall and CBH- 8’ 6”. I also went over to Oktoc Creek in the eastern region of the Refuge and measured a large Overcup to CBH-12' 6" 111' tall, the largest I've measured in Ms. A nice Shumard Oak to 132' tall and CBH of 11' 7". The last tree I measured here was a 13' Cherry Bark Oak. I came back in late Dec. and the first place I went was back to the Keaton Tower Rd area to find more large trees. I hiked to the same region on the Noxubee River as in Nov but this time more westerly. I came across a few Pines mixed in with the Oaks one was a monster! It would become the third largest Loblolly to date that I have measured in the Ms. CBH- 12’ 4” Height 123’. This tree at 50’ was still 4’ in Diameter a real giant! The next big tree I measured was a large Cherry Bark Oak to CBH-14’ 10” and Height- 136.5’. As I continued along the River westward I encountered a huge Sweetgum CBH- 12’ 4” and 132’ tall. It is the largest Sweetgum I’ve measured in Noxubee and only Delta National Forest near Vicksburg has any larger. It was time to come out, but I will be back for these discoveries have been made only a distance of ½ mile along the river. There is more to cover east and west along the River. It was now time to find some of the Trees Lidar located, info I had not completed. My first area to explore was in the east central area of the Noxubee River at Trail of Big Trees Rd. I have been there many times and was familiar with a small Grove of Loblolly that had some 140+ hits. The 17 Loblolly Pines are just north of the road about 200 yards. The following are the results of the trees I measured there. Heights 144’, 144’, 141’, 141’, 132’, 132’, 131’, and 130’. One of the 144’ Pines had a CBH of 9’ 1” all were in the 9’ Circumference range. A couple of these trees were measured back in 2015 to 139.5’ so they grew a few feet since then. Pines in the 140’ or taller class are rare and in an elite group there are only 24 documented in all of the U.S. This includes Congaree and the trees from Ms. I found and measured one more huge Cherry Bark Oak in this area halfway down River Road crossing a log to get to it. This Cherry Bark Oak is the largest I've ever measured CBH- 18'4" and 108' tall. I’m sure there are more Loblolly Pine to be discovered throughout the Southern U.S. These 4 added to the Listing will make 28! At the end of the road to the north was one more Oak that had a Lidar hit right by the River easy to find. It was another Cherry Bark Oak at 141’ and CBH- 11’ 9”. While there I measure the dia. of and Oak that had been cut it fell across the road. I counted 91 rings in 36” the cut was from 27’ above ground. The trunk still standing was 12’ CBH. The Oaks in the 140’+ range are also rare in the Deep South so this will be added to the Ms. Tall Tree Listing containing with this latest addition 21 trees 140’ or taller. I then went to the Wilderness Area located at the end of Keaton Tower Rd. This area is about at 6-mile circle loaded with Oaks, Hickories, Gum, Cypress and some Pine. I tried to reach an area north and west where Noxubee River meets Cypress Creek but ran out of daylight. Lidar has several hits in this region, but I must come back for them at another time. I did measure a nice Hickory to 135’ with a CBH of 9.9” at the .75-mile marker. The next area I went to was Enis Rd. it is located on the northwestern side of the Refuge south of Starkville 10 miles. I wanted to re-measure the large Loblolly that I did in 2015 to see what growth it had. I n 2015 CBH was 13’2” this year it was 13’ 3” so 1” Cir in two years not bad. If I measured it exactly in the same location on the tree. This is another monster of a Pine and so far, this and only two others are 12’ CBH or larger in the State. On my last day at Noxubee I decided to go where a few high Lidar hits were in the west central region of the Refuge. A 3-mile Levee runs northeast to southwest along the Noxubee Floodplain south making up Bluff Lake on the east side of the Wilderness Area. The Levee was created in the 1970’s for Duck Habitat. After a 2-mile hike on the levee I turned north .25 mile into the Oaks to locate the tall trees. After going through Oaks and two Pine groves in the 120’ + class I reached where I thought they would be. I found two tall Tulip Poplars one 138’ Height, CBH-8’ 10” and one 138.5’ Height with a similar CBH. These would be the two tallest Poplars that I have measured in Ms. Just to the south of these were twin Cherry Bark Oak that reached 144’, CBH- 10’ 4” and 141’ CBH- 11’ 10”. Two more 140’+ trees for the listing now at 23. On my way out, I spied a tall Willow Oak that measured 138’ with a CBH- 11’. Noxubee Refuge has large and tall trees everywhere it is such a special place. The Refuge is very similar to Congaree National Park and only there and a few other places in all the south are trees taller or bigger. Most of the trees here are 120’ or taller and less than 100 years old with a few remnant trees that are a little older. I will add these latest finds to my tree listing and post them later. Good luck tree hunting and Happy New Year!!!!