Lolo National Forest - Girard Grove

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tsharp
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Lolo National Forest - Girard Grove

Post by tsharp » Sun Aug 19, 2018 5:13 pm

NTS:
On 7/21/ 2018 I visited a site on the Lolo National Forest called the Girard Memorial Tamarack Forest. I measured eight Western Larch on this site near Seeley Lake Montana The largest of eight trees measured were:

Western Larch (Larix occidentalis) 11.6' x 169.8', 23.3' x 160.8' x 38' (crown spread)

The large Girth tree is known as "Gus" and is the American Forest national champion.
A circumference of "Gus" was also taken at 5 1/2'. It was 21.8'. One half of the trees measured had spike tops including "Gus".
To be clear to our western Ents, the first dimension given is circumference in feet.

The site is on flat ground near the shoreline of Seeley Lake at an elevation of 4000'
The USFS logged this sixty acre grove during the winter of 2002/3 and fired it in 2003. Removed was the smaller timber consisting mainly of Doug-firs, Subalpine Fir, and a few Lodgepole Pines and leaving mature Larch This was considered a success with plenty of Larch reproduction and much reduced fire danger. The USFS has since similarly treated about 2000 acres with private landowners doing another 250 acres.

The grove is a memorial to James "Jim" W. Girard an early employee of the Forest Service who went on to develop standard methods of tree and timber measurement e.g. Girard Form Class and others. This old growth stand was dedicated in his name in 1953.

Some history of the stand and the area around Seeley Lake can be found at the following link:
https://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmr ... o_s001.pdf


Click on image to see its original size

23.4' x 160.8' x 38' (Average crown spread)
Turner Sharp and "Gus" on Lolo National Forest, Girard Grove, near Seeley Lake. Missouri County, Montana


Click on image to see its original size

"Gus"
23.4' x 160.8' x 38' (Average crown spread)



Click on image to see its original size

Bark of mature tree with 14.2' circumference.

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Lolo National Forest - Girard Grove

Post by Larry Tucei » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:57 pm

Wow what a monster of a tree - I don't believe I have ever seen the Western Larch. Larry

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Rand
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Re: Lolo National Forest - Girard Grove

Post by Rand » Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:49 am

tsharp wrote:NTS:
The site is on flat ground near the shoreline of Seeley Lake at an elevation of 4000'
The USFS logged this sixty acre grove during the winter of 2002/3 and fired it in 2003. Removed was the smaller timber consisting mainly of Doug-firs, Subalpine Fir, and a few Lodgepole Pines and leaving mature Larch This was considered a success with plenty of Larch reproduction and much reduced fire danger.


Click on image to see its original size

23.4' x 160.8' x 38' (Average crown spread)
Turner Sharp and "Gus" on Lolo National Forest, Girard Grove, near Seeley Lake. Missouri County, Montana
Comparing this image to the pre-thinned picture in the linked document is quite instructive:
Seely.png
From your linked document:
Our plot did not contain trees as large and old as those in some other parts of the Seeley larch forest, but it did have at least four larch trees that had become established in the fifteenth century and at least six from the sixteenth century.14 Other trees were dated to the next three centuries. Fire scars indicated that nine low-intensity fires swept through this stand between about 1671 and 1859, with none thereafter. Regeneration of larch saplings (as identified by age classes of larch trees) occurred after most of these fires, but no new larch trees had become established after the burning stopped. Age classes of the fire-dependent larch indicated that the pattern of frequent low-intensity fires extended at least back to early in the sixteenth century.
Our study confirms Koch’s description of the original big-tree larch forest with its open understory and at most a few dozen small trees (less than 12 inches in diameter) per acre. In 1995 our plot contained about 300 small trees per acre, mostly patches and thickets of Douglas-fir and less than 1 percent larch. Basal area of living tree stems, an approximation of tree biomass, increased about 2.7 times between 1900 and 1995, largely as Douglas-fir.15 These dramatic structural changes underlie the forest’s growing fire hazard and competition-weakened condition detected by local foresters.
Walking the old growth woodlots in Ohio gives a similar impression. They contain many large oaks..but the understory is all different species, and just in my puny 20 years of observation, the die-off of the old giants is noticeable. Dysart woods is particularly worrying. Even places like Goll woods, it seems like every time I am there, another old tree is now a dead hulk or on the ground. The interpretive signs say this most likely because they are reaching the end of their natural lives, but regardless, I can see these places being a shadow of their former selves even at the end of my own life.

The place you do see abundant oak regeneration is old pastures, so I suspect something similar to this example ought to be done to preserve the character of these old growth stands into the future. But who am I kidding, the political hairball that would kick up would be utterly intractable.

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