Monroe State Forest, Mass.

Bob Leverett
 Jun 07, 2003 
 A trip through Monroe State Forest located in northwestern Massachusetts today in a steady rain made me ever more aware of what an ecological jewel Monroe is, especially the Dunbar Brook watershed. There are between 200 and 250 acres of OG in Monroe and the Dunbar area is populated with many great trees. I really haven't tied down the Rucker Index, but expect to eventually confirm it at around 121 or 122, with 123 being absolute tops. The crown jewel of the Dunbar Brook area is the Thoreau Pine, which stands fully 156 feet in height. It is a tree that I hope Will Blozan eventually will climb.

        I have measured white ash trees to 134 feet in Dunbar and there may be taller ones, but measuring in Dunbar is always a challenge because of the difficult boulder field that one must negotiate. The boulders are larger than those on Clark and that limits the regions of huge trees. Even so, Dunbar has larger trees than Clark.

        Second to the Thoreau Pine as a show stealer is the Grandfather Pine, which is about 142 feet tall, but 13.6 feet around. A third show stealer is a huge white ash that measures at least 14.3 feet around. It is on a slope, so choosing a spot to measure girth can lead to figures that vary from 14 to 14.6 feet. It is a whopper, but it is on its last legs. I doubt that it will last more than 5 years, 10 at the most.

        The herbaceous layer in Dunbar is gorgeous. Today we saw a superb display of foam flower. Wild ginger, foam flower, baneberry, Indian cucumber root, wood anemone, dwarf gensing, clintionia, trout lilly, dutchman's breeches, squirrel corn, rose twisted stalk, solomon's seal, false solomon's seal, star flower, false lilly of the valley, red trillium, jack in the pulpit, oxalis, partridge berry, wild leeks, are all common. Pink ladies slippers are present, but not common. There are several rare species that I don't typically list. There are about 12 or 13 species of ferns.

        Dunbar is especially interesting and valuable to those of us who are working with Lee on the maximum growth model because of the factors that it brings into play including boulder field, ravine protection, high rainfall, circumneutral soils.

Bob Leverett    

Jun 07, 2003 18:04 PDT

Monroe State Forest, Mass.
   Jul 12, 2003 05:13 PDT 

    Well, yesterday Tony D'amato, Gary Beluzo and I got wet, bee stung, but
otherwise had a very productive day in an eye-popping second-growth oak forest.
It is simply one of the best we have in Massachusetts. It is located in Monroe
State Forest and it covers around 80 acres. The dominate species include
northern red oak and beech. There are a few white ash and sugar maple trees
growing in the wetter spots. Its exposure is southwestern. The canopy is 90 to
110 feet in height. It won't go above that, but the stem density is impressive
for an oak dominated forest. The basal area varies from 30 to 45 sq meters per
hectare. That is high. I would guess the average is around 35.

    We measured one oak to 112.1 feet in height and 9.0 feet in circumference.
Anothwer oak was 11.7 feet in circumference. I didn't get its height, but it
was about 90 feet. The largest we've measured in the stand is 12.2 feet around,
but my son Rob assures me there is at least one larger. There are plenty in the
30 to 40 inch dbh range.

    Tony took a few cores and we have taken them at other times. The stand
dates to around 1860 and illustrates what Mother Nature produces on her own in
120 to 150 years. It is impressive.

    On the way back we stopped at Clark Ridge. We didn't get any new champs,
but did manage to confirm a basswood at 123.6 feet. It is slender - about 5
feet CBH, but the second tallest that I've measured. The black cherry that last
year was measured at 118.5 is now 119.2. It is the tallest of its species in
MTSF and barring damage with surpase 120 in a couple of years.

    Gotta go to Bartholomew Cobble for a program.
Two Great Days in a Row
  Sep 21, 2003 16:01 PDT 

Dale, Will, Colby, Lee, et al.:

Well two great days back to back. Who could ask for more. Today Bruce
Kershner, Jerry Horowitz, and I looked at OG sites and of course tree measuring
did have to take place. In Monroe State Forest, I tagged a 100.6-foot tall, 8.1-
foot circumference yellow birch. That is #2 for Massachusetts. I can break 90
feet often, but 100 is a very, very difficult for the species. It is as if it
has a built in regulator.
Monroe State Forest notches Upward.
  Oct 05, 2003 15:08 PDT 


   Today John Knuerr and I escorted 12 folks from the New England Wildflower Society around the Bear Swamp area of Monroe State Forest's beautiful oak site. We had little time to measure trees, but did tag four beauties, including one at 8.8 feet around and 120.6 feet in height. This tree and other Monroe State Forest beauties push the Rucker Index for Monroe up a bit. Here is the latest tally for Monroe.

Monroe State Forest
Species Height Circumference

WP 156.2 12.6
WA 134.2 8.7
HM 124.3 8.1
NRO 120.5 8.8
BTA 120.1 5.9
BC 117.1 8.2
SM 110.3 9.1
RM 110.1 6.4
ABW 108.1 5.5
RS 106.5 6.1

Index 120.74 7.93

   Two quick basal area calculations for the oak site produced 170 and 160 sq ft per acre.

   The rise into the 120s for Monroe State Forest is not a surprise and the index will go higher. I suspect it will eventually make 122. But for now I'll settle for 120.74. Monroe is the 3rd Massachusetts site to exceed 120. At present Pennsylvania has 3 and Massachusetts has 3. New York has only one documented, but it has more, guaranteed. I suspect that we'll eventually identify 4 or even possibly 5 properties in Massachusetts (state forest, Trustee's property, etc.) with Rucker Indexes of 120 or more. Howeevr, that is pushing all kinds of limits. By contrast, I expect PA has 6 or 7 sites and New York about the same.

   The 120-foot oak brings the locations in Massachusetts where we've topped 120 feet to 4:

   MTSF - Clark Ridge North
   MTSF - Clark Ridge South
   MTSF - Todd Mtn East
   MSF - Bear Swamp


   The black gum to which you were referring in New Hampshire is 630 years old and was dated by Dan Sperduto of the New Hampshire Natural Heritage program.

More on Monroe State Forest
  Oct 05, 2003 17:05 PDT 


   I neglected to mention that the 120.5-foot tall N. red oak in Monroe State Forest lies at an altitude of approximately 1,350 feet and a latitude of 42.69 degrees. This is the highest altitude and latitude of the crop of 120-foot New England red oaks. Will Blozan's 135-footer is at 40 degrees latitude north. I can't remember, but I think the 131 - 132-footers in Zoar Valley grow at about 42.6 degrees latitude north. Tom Diggins knows exactly. The 130-footer in Mohawk grows at about 42.65.

   It remains to be seen, but I think that we'll find that 130 feet, give or take a foot or two is about as tall as northern red oaks will grow at 42 degrees latitude north. I suspect that by southern Pennsylvania, heights of 135 to 140 feet are as tall as the species grows. By Belt Woods, MD, add 2 or 3 feet. Going farther south may add a foot or two. So the ceiling for the species seems to be about 145 feet in the southern Appalachians and 130 feet at the latitude of central New England. I could be all wet too.


Monroe State Forest, Mass.
  Aug 29, 2004 18:47 PDT 

...Today, Eleanor Tillinghast and I measured two excellent OG hemlocks in Monroe State Forest in an upland cove: (10.7', 104.2') and (9.7', 117.2'). The state bigtooth aspen was remeasured (7.6', 111.9') and a nearby one at (6.5', 113.2'). The super ash tree in Dunbar measures (14.7', 121.8'). It is hanging on. The humidity was very high today. I hate hot, humid air.