Joint Project to Support Silvics of North America  
TOPIC: Joint Project to Support Silvics of North America,

== 1 of 6 ==
Date: Sun, Feb 24 2008 8:09 am

Don Bragg, Will Blozan, Michael Davie, Jess Riddle, Dale Luthringer, Anthony Kelly, Carl Harting, Scott Wade, Ed Frank, Howard Stoner, John Eichholz, et. al.,

A search of the species in the "Silvics of North America" for maximum tree dimensions and ages that that are listed in the publication leads to a not unanticipated plethora of outdated and inaccurate information. I doubt that the authors of Silvics would be happy with this situation, were they aware.
I am creating a simple spreadsheet to compare ENTS height, girth, and age maximums to whatever is listed in Silvics on the species for which we have reasonably good data. However, I find that it has been far too long since we collectively updated our tall tree lists. There are numerous e-mail communications and lists on the website, but since our information has stayed so scattered, especially in th e-mail stream, that there is no clear spot where we can go to be sure that we have the latest maximum height or girth for a species. Can the A-Team of super measurers pool its efforts in an ENTS project to update our lists of tall and large trees? I am willing to act as the central consolidation point for the information that would coming from each of you. If you are willing to participate, please send your lists to me in spreadsheet format with column headings as follows:

Species (Scientific Name)
Species (Common Name)
Measurer (Please use a 3-initial abbreviation)
Region (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Southern Mid-west, Central Mid-west, Upper Mid-west)
Date of Measurement
Height in feet
Measurement Method (sine or tape drop - no tangents)
Girth at 4.5 feet in feet
Championship Status (e.g. tallest known in the Northeast, Southeast, Entire East, etc.)

I propose that if we complete this project, we send the list to the Forest Service. Don, perhaps you could do that. I think they would more likely trust the source if you okay it. As it stands now, I fear that our efforts are so wide ranging and scattered, that we can no longer react with speed on updated tall/big tree lists. It is time to remedy the situation.

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For those interested in these manuals, this publication can be found online (free of charge in either HTML or PDF) at:

I believe there are preliminary plans to update these entries, but I don't know when this will happen...

Don C. Bragg, Ph.D.
Research Forester
USDA Forest Service
Southern Research Station

== 2 of 6 ==
Date: Sun, Feb 24 2008 8:34 am
From: "Will Blozan"


Yes, we absolutely need to have a central source. I will compile what I can.


== 3 of 6 ==
Date: Sun, Feb 24 2008 8:42 am
From: "Jess Riddle"


I would like to encourage everyone who has measurements to participate
in this effort. We have complained repeatedly about people continuing
to cite American Forest's National Register of Big Trees for maximum
tree sizes, but we have failed to provide an alternative that is as
user friendly. American Forests provides an easily accessible,
clearly organized and relatively comprehensive list, so people will
continue to use that source. We've already done the hard part, the
data gathering, we just need to but in the last bit of effort to
organize all the data. I think this is also an excellent time to
start implementing the TDI ranking system. I've also liked the
method, but we've never but together the data base to support it. By
compiling height and girth maxima, we can at least start applying the
TDI at the national scale.


== 4 of 6 ==
Date: Sun, Feb 24 2008 8:54 am
From: "Edward Frank"


This is a worthwhile project to be sure. How far along are you in your spreadsheet? I have a listing of all the species of trees found in Eastern United States, including species name, common name, distribution, posted to the Google site. It was generated from the Department of Agriculture website. You would not need to retype all of the species information over again, and also it would give a feel for what we do know and what we do not know about the wide variety of species. before submitting the empty rows, and subspecies rows, could be deleted.



== 6 of 6 ==
Date: Sun, Feb 24 2008 10:04 am


I'm not far along. I've created the columns and added a few entries, but can easily adapt what I've done thus far to capitalize on what you've already done. Any formulas used are usually created so they don't show a calculated result until the required input columns are filled. This keeps the sheet more aesthetically pleasing.

Jess, made some excellent points in his e-mail. The National Register is well organized and people will continue to turn to it, mistakes and all - usually without a clue as to what inaccuracies have been promulgated through the many editions. If we're going to be the purveyors of truth in tree numbers, we need to maintain our lists in efficient, easily accessible, and frequently updated formats. I'm willing to keep a master database and update it as measurers send new maximums and regularly send the updates to you for web posting.

At the least, we would have two entries for a species, the eastern-wide height and girth champions. We could extend the two with regional champions where we have them using the 6 geographical regions listed in my first e-mail.

Well, my next step is to merge what I've done with what you've done, submit it to the rest of you for approval, and then wait for input from others.


    Your biggest task is the third one from the bottom of your main list. If fact, it is close to a fulltime occupation, I would guess.
    As I think of my ENTS projects solo or shared, here is what comes to mind. Where shared is listed, it means that other Ents are involved. In some cases, there will be a clear project leader. For example, in the list below, Lee heads (1), Larry (4), Will (6) and (7), Neil (12), and of course, Ed (16). BTW, anyone who is a member of this list and who posts is considered to be an Ent. By the length of my list, it is easy to see how one can become overcommitted and end up not completing anything. That is a worry for me.
         1.   Work on study to compare sine and tangent-based methods of measuring tree height (shared)
         2.   Work on book on dendromorphometry (shared)
         3.   Help compile tall tree lists from input by all (shared)
         4.   Help model Live Oaks (shared)
         5.   Update Rucker and other data for Massachusetts tall/big tree sites (shared)
         6.   Assist April rendezvous (shared)
         7.   Assist on Tsuga Search (shared)
         8.   Work on mathematical methods for modeling tree trunk and limb volumes (shared)
         9.   Evaluate tree measuring equipment (solo)    
         10. Fitzgerald Lake study (solo)
         11. Help maintain the ENTS e-mail list (shared)
         12. Observe tuliptree blooming dates for Neil (shared) 
         13. Help Dale model trees in Cook Forest (shared) 
         14. Continue working with others on Robinson SP (shared)
         15. Refine boundaries of Massachusetts old growth (shared)
         16. Support Ed on his many fine ideas, e.g. diversity index  (shared)
         17. Get measurements of western white pines in Idaho (solo)
Bob Leverett

I have made a section for this on the website.  I will publish the website updates today, and also I will make a more formal project description for each as per your outline.

I think this is an outstanding idea, and I will have more to say on this shortly...I am at the tail-end of a business trip (I was actually running around the wilds of eastern Oklahoma with Grand Ent Dave Stahle, looking at ancient post oak, eastern redcedar, and shortleaf pine), and have to go to a few other meetings today, but I'll try to get y'all some feedback soon!
Don C. Bragg, Ph.D.
Research Forester
USDA Forest Service
Southern Research Station


      Thanks. We look very forward to your comments and assistance. I observe that ENTS has been collecting valuable tree dimension data since the mid-1990s, but it is scattered throughout so many lists and e-mails that nobody doing serious research can know for sure that he/she has located the latest measurements for a species.  And there's no way we can expect Ed to sort through all this stuff and keep summary lists for us in chronological order on the website. Ed will surely do his part if we do ours and organize the data we send to him in organized, updated list format.
       In the beginning, our job was simpler. We had a few areas of concentration, but now we suffer from a form of information overload. Simply put, we have too much stuff coming too often from too many directions in too many formats. I think the answer for us lies in maintaining a consolidated species list.A single species would show up a maximum of 6 times (one per geographical region) for each dimension for which we collect data. Such a list could then feed other lists to include the spreadsheet I've begun on maximum dimensions for species listed in the Silvics of North America and comparisions to what we have.
      I have come to realize that the Silvics manual is a veritable gold mine of information. Silvics shouldn't have an area where its information is unreliable, particularly if we can help. 
Bob Leverett


This is certainly long overdue and very important. I'll do what I can
to help.

Mike Davie