The Significance of Ice Glen Explored    Robert Leverett
   Nov 17, 2003 07:07 PST 

Will, Colby, Lee, Dale, et al:

      Yesterday John Knuerr and I remeasured the huge Ice Glen white
pine, a tree that has been frequently remeasured. My last measurement
was from the uphill side. The uphill side of the crown can be seen well
and the height of that side is somewhere between 153 and 154.5 feet.
However, that isn't where the high point is located. The trailside of
the pine has the high point, but it is within a nested top and
consistent measurements are hard to get. Yesterday, both John and I
topped 156. On occasion I've done that in the past, but not
consistently. With two sets of instruments, I feel comfortable enough to
now go with the higher measurement. In addition, I can justify 12.9 feet
as the best circumferential measurement. So, the two values enter the
record book for 2003. The Ice Glen white pine is an old tree and has a
broad, fairly flat crown. I don't thinki it will get much taller than it
is. I suspect that we seeing the tree during the period preceeding its
start down hill.
      In fact, I think our 126.11 Rucker height index is approaching the
maximum for Ice Glen and to my mind that bit of information has
significance for reasons that will later be explained. But first, a
species by species analysis will explain why I think we're near the
maximum for Ice Glen.

1. In terms of the Rucker index, white pine is the flag ship species for
New England and Ice Glen has it. But in terms of producing a high Rucker
height index, there is only one main contributor in the Glen - the Ice
Glen pine. The old field pines on Ice Glen's north side are capable of
growing taller than present, but they get buffeted frequently by winds.
Crown damage is the rule instead of the exception. However, the Ice Glen
pine is in protected area. Height wise, it probably represents the best
we're going to get out of the pines. I admit to teh possibility of a
possibility of a north-side pine eventually catching the big one, but
regardless, I'd place the pine height limit of Ice Glen at 157. At
present, if we lose the big Ent, we're down to 151.1 as the next index
contributor. Lose the second and 150.2 becomes the third. Thereafter,
we're in the mid-140s. So we can set au upper limit of 157 to the pines
for Ice Glen with confidence.

2. White ash is turning out to be a beautiful performer in the Glen. A
140-footer is eventually possible. But more than that is just tossing
dice with the elements. I think the larger ash trees are approaching
maximum. Presently, there are two solid candidates for a future 140 Club
in Ice Glen and maybe 3. So with white ash, we have a little insurance
if we lose one. However, for purposes of this analysis, we can set the
upper limit for the species in Ice Glen at 140 with a moderately high
probability of holding one in that class for a decade or two.

3. The champion hemlock in Ice Glen is now at 137.1 feet and may go to
137.5. I'd place 138 as its ceiling and that's also the ceiling for all
the hemlocks in the Glen. Lose the champ, and we drop like a rock to
131.1 as the next best. Lose number two and were down to about 128.5. So
we can set the hemlock's maximum contribution to 138 and with teh
adelgid lurking near by, a precariously one at that.

4. The current shagbark hickory champ has potential to grow more. It
could eventually make 135. It is an amazing tree. But, alas, it is one
of a kind. If it goes, there are no close replacements. We can place its
max at 135, but lose it and we drop all the way to 120. Yuk! That sucks.

5. Our black cherry champ has already dropped in height -courtesy of
more meticulous measurements (John Knuerr and myself, yesterday). It is
now at 120.5, but lose it and we're screwed. We're down to 115 and there
is little depth in black cherry beyond that. There may be 2 or 3 in the
115 class.

6. We have a pignut hickory in the Glen at 120.8 with a back up at about
117. We could eventually get a 122, but I just don't see any chance of
more. There are very few. If we want to live dangerously

7. The red maple is wide spread with lots of potential. The current
champ is 116.5. I can image us eventually pulling a 118 out of Ice Glen,
but one will have to grow into this number. Lose the top contender and
we have a backup only inches less. After that, its the doldrums.

8. We have the one American elm at 115.2. Need I say more.

      At this point, I'll lump the remainder in the 110 to 113 category.
No shortage of trees will be in that height range. So lets see where
these numbers point us, 157, 140, 138, 135, 121, 120, 118, 115, 113,
113 averages to 127.2. But for Ice Glen to reach 127.2, all species must
be at the above maximums at the same time. If the maximums are
realistic, concurrently maintaining all of them over time becomes
increasingly improbable. Of course a N. red oak in the Glen may grow
into the 115 to 118-foot class, partially offsetting the loss of one of
the better performers, but the scenarios all point to something under
127.2 as being the probably maximum for Ice Glen. I'd guess about 126.5
Incidentally, sugar maples are well represented in Ice Glen, but do not
find it as good for growing as they do in Trout Brook and on Clark
Ridge in Mohawk. The sugar maples in the Glen will not be super
performers, nor will the basswoods. So what we've got is what we get.

      So what does this all add up to? At present, I see Ice Glen as our
best indicator of what a good southern New England site can produce.
Mohawk is an anomalie and non-representative of the geographical region.
If we want to start putting points on the map in terms of Rucker indices
plotted against latitude and longitude, Ice Glen may be the proper site
to use to typify southern New England, or 41 - 43 degrees latitude. If
we drop south of that we likely substitute tulip tree for white pine to
retain a big performer. But for the same site, multiple big performers
at 41 degree and north starts to stretch the odds. Now, we can really
begin to appreciate the significance of Zoar Valley, New York. What and
odds breaker!

      Excepting the Mohawk anomalie, in southern New England, Ice Glen's
only present competitor is Monroe State Forest, which could eventually
be nursed up to 123 or even 124, but not more. There may be Connecticut
sites that are close to 120 if not slightly over, but without a white
pine or tuliptree flagship species to lead the way, the Connecticut
sites yield 2 full points on the index before starting. Rhode Island
and eastern Mass are too close to salt water. Those places can grow some
fine trees, but they wont push the index.

      Given that the southern Appalachians and the southern swamps out
perform the Northeast by quite a lot, the point is not in fostering
contests in which the Northeast is bound to lose, but to determine what
the maximums are for the overall regions and individual sites. This is
where John Knuerr, Gary Beluzo, John Eichholz, and myself can do our
best work. With John Eichholz aboard, we can get a much better
understanding of the growth potential of the full Deerfield River
corridor. John and I have sampled it at points all the way to its
mouth, but need to expand the sampling.

       It should be remembered that the site indices we are computing
for Massachusetts reflect the best sites we've been able to find. Most
of the upland Berkshire region represents very ordinary growing
conditions and a not insignificant proportion of sites are scrawny and
totally uninspiring. By contrast, for the Connecticut River Valley, with
its much deeper soils, large areas are capable of producing fairly large
trees. Within the mountainous regions, the areas that grow the best are
invariably in mountain valleys and coves/ravines and on the toe slopes
of ridges. Large bowl-shaped drainages with stable boulder fields, such
as on Clark Ridge, obviously do exist, but may not produce big/tall
trees. Some do, some don't. I suspect the poor performers don't hold
their moisture well enough as Lee frequently suggests. There are enough
of potentially good mountain sites left to warrant extended searches to
develop increasingly better comparisons between the lowland, broad
valley sites of the Connecticut, and the western mountain sites.   

       As a final bit of information, when we returned to our cars, we
walked along the Housatonic River on an old Trolly Bed. We spied a large
cottonwood that proved to be 12.9 feet around and 107 feet tall. It was
further confirmation of the consistency with which the species reaches
to between 105 and 110 feet in height over a large part of its range and
how infrequently we encounter cottonwoods over 120 in Massachusetts. We
really are getting this species dialed in.


Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society
Re: The Significance of Ice Glen Explored   jarred trout
  Nov 17, 2003 08:13 PST 
Will, Colby, Lee, Dale, et al:

it was a wonderful day out there...

and i know that bob's zeal made him forget that he had two understudys in training out there with him and brother john k.

it is part of bob's spread the word policy....

i even have pictures of him doing the gorilla dance...

in the pitch, working on my dues...