Sugar Cove & Cohutta RI   Jess Riddle
  Aug 29, 2004 18:08 PDT 

Sugar cove lies in the middle of the largest road less area in the Georgia
mountains, the 35,268 acre Cohutta Wilderness area. Between 2600 and
3600 the forest in the middle of the northeast facing cove varies between
nearly pure tuliptree to a well-developed mixed mesophytic community
dominated by tuliptree, white basswood, and sugar maple, hence the name.
The understory is generally open, but a thicket of young maples is growing
up in one area and spicebush grow scattered in other sections. The
herbaceous layer displays considerable variety with lady fern and
foamflower being the most abundant, but some sun-loving species like
pokeweed also thrive in the cove thanks to a series of large canopy gaps.
The hiking guide for the area attributes the gaps to a tornado striking
the area in 1998. The gaps contrast with the density of the adjacent
tuliptree boles that have grown up in the past 70 or 80 years. The middle
section of the cove where most of the sugar maples grow also has a few
remnant trees, including a current state champion 109 x 105+ sugar
maple.

Species Cbh Height
Ash, White 89 ~130
Basswood 76 112.7+
Basswood 71 113.2
Basswood 66 116.3 In side cove
Birch, Black 43 93.0
Buckeye 76 120.8
Cherry, Black 38 ~119 102:1 H:D
Cherry, Black 53 ~122
Cucumbertree 71.5 112.3
Cucumbertree 57 112.7
Hickory, Pignut 73 126.9 In side cove
Maple, Sugar 95 108.3+ remnant
Maple, Sugar 68 108.7
Maple, Sugar 89 119.3 Remnant
Oak, N Red 66 115.2+
Tuliptree 73.5 130.1 Typical
Tuliptree 911 138.1 Remnant
Tuliptree 108 140.7 Remnant
Witch hazel 14 41.0 Not in sugar cove
Witch hazel 110 44.4 Not in sugar cove

The sugar maple sets a new height record for the state. The tallest of
the second growth tuliptrees in the cove are likely in the low 140s. The
witch hazel is the current state champion, and former height record
holder. I have been suspicious of the former 48.5' measurement for a
while now, a tape-drag measurement that was not cross triangulated.

Rucker Index 130.02
Tuliptree 146.4
Hemlock 145.5
Pignut hickory 140.3
White pine 140.0
White ash 130
Black cherry 126.4
Yellow buckeye 120.8
Sugar maple 119.3
White Basswood 116.3
Northern red oak 115.2


This Rucker Index for the wilderness area is substantial higher than the
previous one, but likely still well below what actually grows in the area.
The listed sugar maple and pignut hickory are likely good approximations
of areas growth potential. Continued searching may reveal five feet
taller individuals for most of the other species; northern red oak and
white pine may show substantially greater gains.

Jess Riddle
Re: Sugar Cove & Cohutta RI   Jess Riddle
  Aug 31, 2004 05:35 PDT 

... One more detail turned up regarding sugar cove when I
spoke with a gentleman who is very knowledgable about the Cohuttas. He
informed me that Sugar Cove was the last area cut by the Conasauga Lumber
company, the main timber operation in the area, before the ended
operations in 1936.

Jess Riddle
RE: Sugar Cove & Cohutta RI   Robert Leverett
  Aug 31, 2004 06:00 PDT 

Jess:

For a period of time, my dad worked for the Conasauga Lumber company.
He told me that there were significant sections of the Cohuttas that
hadn't been cut. He didn't think in terms of old growth or virgin
timber, just whether an area had been previously logged or not. He was
keenly observant and new his trees.

Bob