Mohawk Magic
   Mar 21, 2004 16:33 PST 


Today mathematician John Eichholz and I broke new ground in MTSF, our forest Mecca. We started the day by tackling a very tough tree and we tackled it with dogged determination, I might add. Our objective was to get the most accurate measurement to date for the Jani Tree - that beautiful pine named in honor of my dear departed wife. The Jani Tree is at the bottom of a steep slope and to see both the crown and base from the same point presents some measuring challenges. Because of the adjacent pines, some really pesky black birches, and just general forest clutter, you actually must be almost level with the base or slightly below it to concurrently get good views of both the crown and base. Locations that we've used in the past near eye level with the base have produced height measurements in the 143 to 146-foot range. That's too broad for our purposes. True, the most recent measurements have been between 144 and 145 feet, but there had remained a substantial doubt that I was hitting the absolute top. The big problem is that the tree has a very broad crown and long side branches, so that even though the crown is generally visible, finding the absolute top from near eye-level locations was doubtful. So today John and I tackled the problem by breaking the tree up into two large sections identified by a conspicuous limb at the division point. We could work from the crown down to the limb from one location and the limb to the ground from another. Working together and checking our mrasurements repeatedly, we succeeded to each's satisfaction. We were elated when the height of Jani's Tree came out to be 150.2 feet! Yes, another joins the 150 Club!
   The Jani Tree's girth is a solid 10.6 feet when taken at a carefully chosen mid-slope spot. The tree's age is about 140 years. Maybe a little more. Well, we have finally done justice to Jani's tree.
   What follows is the full list of today's recorded measurements and there are a few surprises with the promise of more to come. Before listing the results, I should say that we began measuring in a new spot in Mohawk, which we have dubbed the Seneca Grove. It will be the location of the Edna Gordon Tree - a Seneca Grandmother who lives in western New York and a protector of the Earth. Edna will be recognized in a ceremony on May 15th. Now to the list.

Tree              Grove             Height        Girth

Cabin #2          Pocumtuck          142.5          10.3
Mirror Tree       Trees of Peace     150.0          10.5
Jani's Tree       Cherokee-Choctaw   150.2          10.6
Charles Yow Tree Cherokee-Choctaw   147.5           8.6
Seneca #1         Seneca Grove       146.7           8.2
Seneca #2         Seneca Grove       147.0           8.1
Seneca #3         Seneca Grove       148.2           7.7 (Edna's Tree)
NRO #1            Seneca Grove       110.9           6.4
NRO #2            Seneca Grove       108.8           8.1

We shot about 10 other trees, but didn't record them.

    I found it embarrassing that I had previously paid almost no attention to the trees in the new Seneca Grove. It just doesn't show up as promising from my usual vantage point, but today something told me to go into it and check it out more closely. It has a cluster of pines in the 140 - 148-foot height range and a number of competing hardwoods in the 100 to 112-foot range. It has a lot of promise and we can establish clear boundaries for the area. Its pines are young and vigorous and will add several 150s over the next few years.
   The two new 150s we confirmed today brings Mohawk's total to 47. BTW, that total is beyond my wildest dreams and there are half a dozen trees that will make it into the prestigious 150 Club within 2 to 3 years. Remembering that the Mohawk pines are still relatively young trees with plenty of growing left to do, in 10 years there could be 75 to 80 trees in the club with one or two 170-footers.
   The Mohawk pines have immense ecological, research, aesthetic, and cultural value. But they also have timber value. We're going continue dealing directly with the foresters to promote the non-timber values instead of relying on the environmental community to build general awareness of the non-timber values. At the research level, forestry has a legitimate interest in knowing what white pines can do when left to grow in good growing conditions into the 150 to 175-year age range. Our current data clearly shows that the great whites of Mohawk continue growing quite well into ages older than what would be allowed on private property. Incidentally, the average diameter of the 7 great whites that we measured to day is 35 inches and all these trees have a lot of growing left to do despite their ages of between 135 to 150 years. I wonder what the timber community at large would have been saying about these trees had they judged their continued growth potential at say 60 years? Would they have believed that the trees would still be growing well at double that age? I suspect many would not.
   My belief is that the Mohawk pines are just now entering their prime and will stay in it for 25 to 50 more years, after which time the older ones will go down hill. Left completely alone, of course the stands will continue to self thin, with the hardiest trees surviving and continuing to slowly add girth and a little height. A few trees would reach diameters of 44 to as much as 50 inches. The tallest would be in the 165 to 175-foot range (the Jake Swamp tree is 163.5 feet now). The mature trees would range from 1,500 to 3,500 board feet volume. Are their existing stands that suggest where the Mohawk pines are headed? You bet. Cook Forest and Hearts Content and perhaps Anders Run, PA.

Re: Mohawk Magic    greentreedoctor
   Mar 21, 2004 16:58 PST 
Jani's Tree came out to be 150.2 feet! Yes, another joins the 150 Club!

Congratulations!   Jani would be proud!

RE: Mohawk Magic    Robert Leverett
   Mar 22, 2004 10:43 PST 


Indeed, it was a wonderful day. I even enjoyed floundering around in
the snow, and flounder I did. John Eichholz and I discussed the
iteration process at Mohawk and how far to take it and why. Colby and I
have off the list discussions of the value of many iterations. It isn't
clear if the effort required to take the iteration process out beyond 3
or 4 is justified.
        Be that as it may, we hope to take Mohawk to 25 this summer, but
probably not further. I'm not sure that continued iterations would add
that much understanding to what we already have. We know that the white
pine stands and the relative dense concentrations of sugar maple, white
ash, northern red oak, and hemlock will serve to keep the index high
through many iterations, while the truly tall members of the other
species will fade.
The mix in Mohawk of mature second-growth forests with their
concentrations of pioneer species like white pine and bigtooth aspen,
the wide distribution of settler species like sugar maple and hemlock
among areas of both old growth and mature second growth, the
intermediate species like northern red oak that are widely spread, and
the species like black cherry that are thinly distributed make for
interesting discussion about the distribution of tree ages and
dimensions and what they tell us about the growing conditions at across
Mohawk. The distributions put us into a position to make predictions and
allow us to be legitimately surprised when something bucks the trend.

            From the 21 iterations of the Rucker index, we present the
following distribution with relative confidence.

Species              Age Range    Avg age

White pine          100 - 175        135
White ash            80 - 220        120
Sugar maple         80 - 320       150
Hemlock              150 - 350       180
N. red oak              90 - 140       120
A. beech              130 - 200       150
B. nut hickory         70 - 130        95
Bigtooth aspen       70 - 130         95
A. basswood           100-140       120
Red maple              90 - 200       135

           The average age of these participants is 131 years. The
average may be understated by a year or two, but not more. The
comparable average for Ice Glen is around 150 years and 190 to 200 for
Bullard Woods. Monroe State Forest is around 150 years.