Welcome to new members    Robert Leverett
   Apr 15, 2005 11:10 PDT 


     Good news. Our list membership has risen to 110. That is the
highest it has been since we've been on the Topica list serve. While on
the original Chicopee, Mass list serve, we reached an all time high of
124 members, but lost a number in the transition to Topica.

     As of late, several new folks have joined the list. I presume that
most learned about us from perusing our outstanding website (thanks to
webmaster Ed Frank) or hearing about us from a friend. But regardless of
how each has come to the list, we welcome all and look forward to each's
participation. All of us are equal in the eyes of the trees.

     I won't repeat our mission or other information obtainable from our
website. However, I would emphasize that as an all volunteer
organization, basically an Internet interest group, ENTS relies on the
participation of its members and support from other organizations to
carry it forward. Our members come from varied backgrounds and many have
vast stores of knowledge and experience to share on many subjects that
span the mission and objectives of ENTS. We even compose poetry and are
toying with the idea of music. A first ENTS concert is planned for
October 2005. Photographic projects are underway.

    A top priority of ENTS is the continued statistical documentation of
important forest sites and individual trees and the development of new
methods of tree measuring. This is our bread and butter. However, how we
achieve it needs some amplifying for our new members. Basically, we want
to achieve individual excellence in the field as we explore new
technologies. We never want to degenerate into an indoors,
computer-centered interest group where trees become computer
abstractions and our focus becomes the ever expanding new technologies -
fancier toys. Nor do we want to become so enamored of technology that
we lose our ability to use Kentucky windage. Like any excellent athlete,
we emphasize staying in shape. We train, train, train. But we have
plenty of tools to help new members get started and progress rapidly -
next week's ENTS rendezvous at Cook Forest is a case in point. Will
Blozan's superb guide to tree measuring, available on our website, is
another example. It is the Cadillac of the industry. Will outdid himself
in synthesizing what we had done before and then added new material and
diagrams to produce a superb guide.

     Once a new member is confident that he/she can measure the common
dimensions of circumference, height, and spread for trees, it is then up
to that member applies the trade. But in general, we specialize in
measuring whole forest sites. It is here that ENTS truly excels and has
broken new ground. So a new member will read a lot about the forest
sites we study. Names that will become very familiar with site-based
study data include:

    Will Blozan
    Bob Van Pelt
    Dale Luthringer
    Jess Riddle
    Scott Wade
    Darian Copiz
    John Eichholz
    Tom Diggins
    Michael Davie
    Howard Stoner   
    Bob Leverett

    From time to time, you'll see Ed Coyle, Lee Frelich, Gary Beluzo,
Paul Jost, Ed Frank, and Don Bragg, and increasingly Susan Scott and
Holly Post. Hopefully, Russ Richardson will be coming in with

    Our bread and butter method of documenting and comparing sites is
through the Rucker index, or Rucker indexing methodology, to describe it
more accurately. Basically, Rucker indexing serves two purposes: (1) to
document what is going on a site at either at a point in time or across
a time period, and (2) to assess the growth potential of a site for the
included species. At the least, we compute a simple Rucker index for
either height or circumference or both as an initial assessment of what
the constituent species have attained at a point in time. This was our
initial use of the Rucker index. However, once we extend our
measurements from the individually tallest members of each species to
many trees of each species, we can profile a site on a species by
species basis. We have done this for a number of sites, but two stand
out as the most heavily measured - Mohawk Trail State Forest (MTSF) in
the Berkshires of Massachusetts and Cook Forest State Park in the
Allegheny Plateau of western Pennsylvania. For example, as of the
present, I have 863 trees for MTSF in my database. I suspect that John
Eichholtz has another 50 to 60 that he has measured, but that I don't
have entered into my database. The actual number of trees measured in
MTSF is at least double this number, since not every tree that is
measured gets entered into the database for a variety of reasons. The
total number of trees measured in MTSF both pre and post laser days is
not less than 2,000.

    What have we gained (or are learning) from such concentrated
measuring efforts? The following list gives an idea of where we are
going with the data gathered by studying a series of sites for a
particular species.

1. Maximum height potential of the species, overall and within various
local habitats.
2. Where the species grows best, poorest.
3. The influence of one species on others in canopy
4. Within what age range the species tends reaches its maximum height
5. The role of the species in an iterated Rucker index
6. Rates of growth for the species.
7. Site indices using height to diameter ratios for the species.

     Some of the above determinations will flow from more formal
research efforts headed by Dr. Lee Frelich, the ENTS Vice President. For
the most part, doctors Lee Frelich and Tom Diggins add the bulk of our
ENTS research muscle. Professor Gary Beluzo is our undisputed GIS maven.
Dr. Bob Van Pelt, on the west coast, is our world-class tree modeler. In
addition to ground-based tree measuring, Will Blozan and Michael Davie
climb the trees to do tape drops and take other kinds of measurements.

      Well, enough rambling. Anyway, to our new members, welcome aboard.


Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society