Big Fork Ridge #6   Will Blozan
  May 13, 2007 12:35 PDT 

Jess Riddle and I finished the plot around the BFR #6 (Big Fork Ridge #6)
tree last Friday for the Tsuga Search Project. Ground laser measurements of
168.7' put this tree into the top ten for tallest known eastern hemlocks.
The climb was challenging due to the high initial set, dense
understory, awkward distance and angles between branches, and debris falling
in my face. The tree was also completely dead and the bark was beginning to
fall off. Not daring (or stupid) enough to get too close to the top I
extended a pole to the tip for the tape drop. The height from a "nested" top
came out to 169.4', the sixth tallest eastern hemlock ever climbed.

This tree was very old and full of gnarly reiterations, five of which I
measured and mapped. One of these, a giant 20.7" diameter sprout originating
at 54.6 feet up, continued upwards parallel to the trunk for 62.2 feet! It
was like a small tree stuck on the side of the trunk, and it had limbs that
wrapped around the trunk to the other side. Volume measurements came out to
a decent 1214 cubes of wood; 63 of them in reiterations.

This tree was the sixth tree we had located over 160' tall on the Big Fork
Ridge System, hence the impersonal name. I am tentatively calling it the
"Big Fork Tower" due to its extreme height and lack of taper. At 9'5.5",
this tree had one of the largest trunk girths at 100 feet up (9'7" is the
current record). At 130' it was still 21" diameter!

Will Blozan

President, Eastern Native Tree Society
President, Appalachian Arborists, Inc.
RE: Fridays Tsuga Search climb -? for will   Will Blozan
  May 22, 2007 14:11 PDT 

We are not sure exactly what the mechanism is but there appears to be a very
high correlation of the super tall trees growing on a specific type of
sandstone, of which Big Fork Ridge is mostly composed of. It could be
nutrients, water holding capacity, or other soil structure attributes that
allows them to attain such height with such high frequency. I climbed the
fourth known hemlock over 170' last week and although not on Big Fork Ridge,
it grows on or very close to (maybe even in the alluvium from up the cove)
the same rock substrate as the others over 170'. The tree was 171.5 feet
tall (laser= 172.2') and contained 1189 cubes of wood. It also was still
alive and had new growth so we treated it with a soil drench.



From: Brandon Gallagher Watson
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 10:37 AM


The lengths you guys go through for proper measurement! I refuse to (or,
more accurately, am scared to) climb any tree that tall, let alone dead

What is the reason, in your opinion, for the concentration of giants at Big
Fork Ridge? Is it site conditions or age or a combo? It is just incredible
how big the trees in that section are and I am curious as to why so many
reached the 99th percentile of Tsuga height there. What are your thoughts?

Brandon Gallagher Watson