MTSF   Lisa Bozzuto
  Jan 13, 2004 14:38 PST 

    Now that we are more than 1/2 way done tagging/mapping the white pine stands at MTSF, I've been giving some thought to what we can measure/assess. What interests me about these trees is both their growth rate and their health status. We will have diameter measurements on all the pines and height measurements on many - this will allow for assessment of growth rates/trends over time.
    Re: tree health: right now there appears to be very little indication of disease,dieback or insect infestation - these are clearly strong, healthy trees. I've been re-reading research methods used by the Forest Health Monitoring Program and think some of the variables measured can be assessed at MTSF. Tree status , crown health, growth rates, disease processes, natural disturbance (and others) can be looked at over time to determine if changes are occurring. We may also want to include some of the larger hemlock trees in this.

     Will give this more thought. Let me know what you think.

  Jan 13, 2004 15:43 PST 

I read with great interest your list of items that you will be documenting in
relationship to the pine trees at Mohawk Trail State Forest.

I would encourage that you also try to assess the diversity and vigor of the
understory vegetation on the site as well.

In my work as a forester, I continue to learn about the identification and
management of medicinal plants found in the forest understory and many other
intricate aspects of the microclimates and plant communities that can exist on
the forest floor beneath some of these old forest areas.

In some instances, especially on hardwood sites where logging has been absent
for over a hundred years...or never harvested at all, there can be plant
populations and communities that rival the significance of the trees that tower

Over the years, I have had the opportunity and privilege to walk through many
fine patches of old timber and have found a serious correlation between the
health and diversity of understory plants and the trees growing above. It is
often possible to find large, old healthy looking trees in a park like setting
where the forest floor is bare. However, an area of old trees with a heavy
ground cover that consists of multiple fern and moss species, herbaceous growth
represented by several fertiltiy-loving herbaceous species is something worth

Russ Richardson
RE: MTSF   Gary Beluzo
  Jan 14, 2004 05:43 PST 
Hi Lisa,

If you send me your georeferenced field data I will put it into our master
Massachusetts GIS Database for further analysis. What I would need is GPS
coordinates for references points (center of each plot), distance and
azimuth measurements from your trees to the reference points, and attribute
data (whatever you folks have measured). Any coordinate system would be
okay..I can transform the numbers…but for future reference Massachusetts
State Plane is the best followed UTM 1983 followed by LATLONG.

Let me know how I can help with the project.

RE: Setting the age bar for ancient Eastern trees   Robert Leverett
  Mar 04, 2004 08:31 PST 


   The operative statistics for Mohawk Trail State Forest are as

   Rucker site index:   134.45 (131.50, 2nd iteration)

   # species reaching 160 feet in height or more: 1

   # species reaching 150 feet in height or more: 1

   # species reaching 140 feet in height or more: 2

   # species reaching 130 feet in height or more: 5

   # species reaching 120 feet in height or more: 10

   # species reaching 100 feet in height or more: 22

   # species reaching 80 feet in height or more:   24

   # species reaching 50 feet in height or more:   26

   # trees measured to over 160 feet in height: 5

   # trees measured to over 150 feet in height: 44
   # number of state height champions: 14

   # regional height champions (Northeast): 7

   # eastern height champions (white birch, bigtooth aspen): 2

   # state champions: 1 (sugar maple)

   # species that commonly exceed 120 feet: 5 (hemlock is borderline)

   # species that have potential to reach 140 feet based on existing
data and reasonable projections: 3 (wp, wa, sm)

   Tallest individual tree: 163.5 feet

   Tallest hardwood: 147.4 feet (white ash)

   Oldest tree dated: 488+ years (hemlock, per Dave Orwig)

   Highest basal area for mature trees: 360 sq ft per acre in white pine stand

   Acreage of old growth forest: approximately 700

   Well, I think this about covers the subject for the present, but with
our new Tree Amigo John Eichholz combing the area, we may soon nudge some of the numbers up a bit.

What's the number?
   Mar 29, 2004 04:18 PST 


   This was an extraordinary weekend for tree measuring. Going into Saturday morning, MTSF had 46 150-footers. The 47 previously reported had to be dropped by one. Alas, the Sandra Decontie tree in the Algonquin Grove broke off and toppled, leaving us with 46 standing 150s. By day's end, Howard Stoner and I had picked 3 new 150s in the Trees of Peace Grove and lost one. The Clutter Tree, which I had at 150, just couldn't be sustained at that threshold. Its height is somewhere between 148.5 and slightly under 150 feet. It will likely make 150 in this season if it gets 6" to 8" of new growth. We'll see how it has faired in the fall.

   Elsewhere in the Trees of Peace, Howard and I confirmed what we thought to be 4 new 150s, but later that day when I checked my database, I confirmed that one of those 4 was the appropriately named "Lost Pine", which I already had as a 150. So Saturday ended with a legitimate count of 48 150s, although at the time, I thought we had 49.

   Yesterday saw John Knuerr, my son Rob, and I in the Encampment Pines. Well, guess what, we have 2 brand-spanking new 150s in that under-measured area, which is the region that includes the Will Blozan Pree. The region has been officially named the ENTS Grove of the Encampment Pines.

   The two new 150s are splendid trees. The first one was discovered by John Knuerr under amuzing circumstances, which I'll let him describe. The second was found by yours truly. John and I agreed on a name for his discovery, a splendid 156.1-foot height, 8.3-CBH beauty. It is the Lee Frelich Pine. So now the president and vice president of ENTS each have a tree named for them in the ENTS grove. That seems appropriate. We have not officially named the second 150-footer, though. So, we thought that we'd let the membership name the tree. It is a 152.6-foot tall, 10.0-foot around double-stemmed pine.

   Please send your nominations to me at In two weeks, we'll announce the winner, which has to be an ENTS member. All people on this list are ENTS members.

   In a week or two , I'll send out the revised list of 150s in Mohawk, but as of this instant the count is 50. YEEEEHA!

One heck of a day in the forest
  Apr 04, 2004 15:15 PDT 


   Today John Eichholz and I roamed the Encampment area of MTSF looking for more great pines to add the the ENTS Grove 150s. The results follow inluding re-measurement of Lee's and Will's trees, and the Mast Pine #2 and the Jake Tree in the Trees of Peace.

Encampment Area

Species         Height      Circumference     Name

Red maple        104.2           6.2             
Norway Spruce 118.3           4.1
White pine       157.7           8.3          Lee Frelich pine
White pine       151.9          10.0         Will Blozan pine
White pine       151.0          11.7          Dale Luthringer pine
White pine       153.8           9.5          Colby Rucker pine   
White pine       152.7           7.9          Michael Davie pine
White pine       151.9           7.4          Lisa Bozzuto pine
White pine       151.7           7.6          Susan Benoit pine
White pine       154.9           8.3          Howard Stoner pine
Black cherry     118.3           4.8
Black cherry     116.1           4.8

Trees of Peace

Species         Height      Circumference     Name

White pine       156.0           8.1          Mast Pine #2

   We took additional measurements of the Jake Swamp pine and all were over 164 feet. John photographed the crown of the Jake tree as well as a number of others. That's the way to go.

   We have one of the 150s in the ENTS Grove left to name. It is the one everybody can vote on. In voting, please consider the names already awarded above.

   We're now up to 57 150-footers in MTSF and I do believe there are one or two more in the Encampment area. Actually, I should quite making predictions on the number. My track record as been awful.

    John measured several other black cherries and I measured a couple of red oaks, all in the 105 to 110-foot range.

Re: One heck of a day in the forest
  Apr 04, 2004 16:03 PDT 


I forgot to mention that the 118.3-foot Norway spruce that John and I measured today is a new record for MTSF, but not for Massachusetts. A summary of the 150 Club for Mohawk follows.

Area                # 150s

Trees of Peace         19
Pocumtuck Grove        10
Algonquin Grove         9
ENTS Grove              9
Elders Grove            5
Cherokee-Choctaw Grove 2
Shunpike Grove          2
Trout Brook             1


   Our re-measurement of the Lee Frelick tree was from a greater distance and higher up so we got a better crown view. The same was true for Mast Pine #2.
Barring damage, Lee's tree is sure to exceed 158 this season. The pines in the whole Encampment Pine area are young trees. They have plenty of growing left to do.

   On the way out, we checked a couple of pines in the "Tree of the Earth Born Spirit" grove. Several will join the 150 Club in the next 2 to 4 years.

MTSF Dedication
  Apr 03, 2004 09:28 PST 


Perhaps you are right about us straying too far into the political and religion zones. So on a positive note I'd like to announce an upcoming event in MTSF. On May 15th, Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest will dedicate the Jani Grove in the Cherokee-Choctaw region of MTSF. We will also make a number of other dedications I'll say more about in the near future. Our objective is to strengthen the cultural role of the Mohawk pines. In addition to their aesthetic, ecological, historical, and research values, we see them as serving well as natural monuments to the defenders of the Earth, past and present, and to celebrate indigenous culture.

We have the Mohawk pines divided into a number of regions. Presently, we have:

   Headquarters Hill Pines
   Indian Springs Pines
   Totem Trail Pines
   Pocumtuck Pines (10 150s)
   Trees of Peace (19 150s)
   Cherokee-Choctaw Pines (2 150s)
   Encampment Pines (3 150s)
   Algonquin Pines (9 150s)
   Memorial Pines (For deceased non-Native environmentalists)
   Pines of the Earth Born Spirit (For women environmentalists)
   Elders Grove (5 150s)
   Shunpike Pines ( 2 150s)
   Trout Brook Pines (1 150) Courtesy of John Eichholz

The Indian Springs, Pocumtuck, Trees of Peace, Cherokee-Choctaw, Algonquin, Elders, and Shunpike Pines are collectively known as the Indian Pines. The Encampment Pines area is where the ENTS grove is located. Voting on the 3rd 150-footer is still open. The person has to be a member of ENTS. Remember that trees are already dedicated to Will Blozan and Lee Frelich, the president and vice president of ENTS.

Visiting old friends
  Apr 10, 2004 16:47 PDT 


   Yesterday, I spent the day flying solo in MTSF checking on important trees and getting GPS coordinates for most of them. I relocated the lone 140-foot white ash in the Trout Brook watershed. It was fine. It has grown since I measured it last, which was May 2002. Its height computes to a cool 141.8 feet. Its circumference is 8.3 feet. I was hopeful of finding a few sugar maples that might push the envelope, but see little chance of breaking 130 feet. I did measure one to 123.3 feet. Its slender form yielded a girth measurement of 5.3 feet. Not much. The skinny maple reinforced the lesson about these second growth stands. They achieve significant height fairly early in their life cycles. There are several sugar maples in the area I was in that are between 120 and 125 feet tall and have circumferences between 5 and 5.7 feet. All are between 65 and 85 years of age. A much older sugar maple measures 127 feet tall and 10 feet in circumference with large, heavy limbs. The old tree has gained a lot in volume over the younger trees. It is at least 3 times as voluminous and probably 4 times. It is about 3 times the age of the younger trees. I'm unsure how much insight the older tree gives us in the accumulation of biomass as a function of time for the particular species or the site.

ENTS Groves in MTSF
  Apr 11, 2004 15:22 PDT 

   Diane Gray and I spent much of the day in the ENTS Groves of the Encampment Area of MTSF. The Encampment area covers about 100 acres and includes a 13-acre area designated the ENTS Groves, which includes 3 groves of pines. We crowned 3 new 150s today. I thought we had crowned two, but when I checked my records, I realized that what I thought was a re-measurement was an adjacent tree - a new one.
   The attachement includes information on the ENTS Groves including the 12 dedications. Latitude and longitude limits of teh groves are included. The quadrangle is Rowe, Massachusetts. There are more splendid trees in the ENTS Groves to dedicate. The cutoff height will be 145 feet. That will give us plenty more big, charismatic trees to dedicate.

   The new 150-footers brings to 60 the number in MTSF's 150 Club. I suppose we could find another one somewhere, but I do believe that we've about exhausted the prime growing areas with trees old enough to be in the 150 class. There may be another 150 in Trout Brook and conceivably another in the Encampment area, but we're really pushing the limits until the area has a little more growing time. MTSF will eventually produce another 20 to 30, but that won't be for a few years.

   Along with John Knuerr, Diane Gray will be photographing the area over the next few months.

   In other Mohawk news, thanks to John Eichholz's measurement of some splendid yellow birch yesterday, MTSF now sports 4 over 100 feet.


ENTS Grove Spreadsheet

Growing up, and up, and up   Robert Leverett
  Apr 12, 2004 07:21 PDT 

Dale, Will, Colby, Lee, et al:

   With respect to the 150 Club, MTSF isn't going to catch Cook Forest
any time soon, if ever, nor will Mohawk match Claremont, NH, once we've
done a thorough inventory of the pines there, but who would have thought
we could have reached 60 in Mohawk? Where were they lurking? Do I have
egg on my face? Well, yes and no.

   The Mohawk pines are fairly young trees. The oldest pines are around
170 years and they are in the Elders Grove. A lot of Mohawk pines are
between 125 and 150 years of age. A third age class is 100 to 120 and
the trees in that class are growing like weeds. The Encampment pines are
in the latter age class.

   Back around 1996, when we started using our lasers in earnest, most
of the current Mohawk 150s were then between 135 and 145 feet tall. The
pines on the edges of the stands and the loners were in the low 130s.
The Encampment area just didn't seem impressive enough to spend any time
looking for taller trees. Well, that was ten. Guess what? The Encampment
pines including the ENTS groves grew up. The Encampment trees have been
growing very fast and they still have a way to go. Consequently, we are
seeing just how quickly a pine canopy can change in regions of high
growth. However, it remains to be seen how much volume these trees are
putting on since the annual rings of the crowded trees are narrow. The
numbers are likely all over the board.

   To learn more, we're proposing a joint FMTSF-DCR study in high growth
areas of Mohawk. They would mark the trees we select to study. We would
do the rest. By establishing a population of permanent study trees, we
can develop a data set that will eventually give us better growth
profiles of individual trees.

    Imagine a series of photographs taken at fixed time intervals of a
tree that allow us to watch it grow upward and outward. What would we
see that we don't see now? Once a tree gets to be a fairly large size,
my impression is that a lot of people, professionals and amateurs, pay
much less attention to incremental growth except in recorded expansions
of diameter. The percentage changes from year to year are certainly less
noticeable, but the changes in absolute terms may be larger than a quick
annual visit can reveal. That's what we want to investigate.


Mohawk Trail State Forest 150 Club Spreadsheet

#64 and maybe more
  Jun 06, 2004 19:55 PDT 


      When will I ever learn not to make predictions on when we've found the last 150-footer in Mohawk Trail State Forest? Well, today I confirmed #64. It is located in the Pocumtuck Grove and it is a chqallenging tree to measure. That's #11 for the Pocumtucks. Not bad. Not bad at all, and there is the possibility of another 150-footer. Where were they all hiding? That will be the subject of the next e-mail.
       While I was there working in the Pocumtuck Grove, I also took 16 density samples. The average density is 78 mature pines per acre. The pine-saturated acreage of the Pocumtuck Grove is 12.2 (14.6 overall). This means that the total count of mature Pocumtuck pines is around 950. Folks, that's a first for us, i.e. a solid calculation of a statistical population of mature pines for one of the named sites. Basal areas are up to 340 sq ft per acre in the Pocumtuck Pines. The Pocumtuck Pine Grove is a growing machine. The trees are only 95 to 120 years old. What could they eventually reach? I suspect a few could top 170, but alas, I won't be around to witness that.

Confessions of a tree measurer   Robert Leverett
  Jun 07, 2004 07:28 PDT 


     I promised everybody an answer to the 150 riddle, namely, why is it
taking us (me) so long to confirm the number of white pines in MTSF that
top the magic threshold, or Thoreau threshold as I will call it, of 150
feet? Only a couple of years back, we were at 33 pines in Mohawk and I
was confidently declaring that we had exhausted the supply of
150-footers. I was even smug in my assuredness. Fast forward the clock a
couple of years and we're now at 64. How could one of the co-founders of
ENTS and a certified tree measuring guru been so far off? Am I
embarrassed? Should I be? Good questions.
     I'm sure others who read at least some of these e-mails noticed me
steadily, if not sheepishly, raising the count. Some may even recall
when the Pocumtuck Grove was listed with a single 150-footer, then a
couple, then possibly three. I wasn't sure about a skinny pine that had
the exasperating habit of shrinking then growin gf then shrinking. Hmmm.
Then ENTS president Will Blozan and Ed Coyle came up to dear old Mohawk
in Oct 2003 and immediately confirmed 6 new 150-footers. Now, that DID
embarrass me. In one fell swoop, our total count jumped from 2 or 3 to
8. Since then, we've added 3 more, so we're now at 11. Holy Smokes,
folks, you'd think I'd retire from prognostications once and for all.
But in my own defense, measuring trees of such height in densely packed
groves is not for the dilettante, not even for the resource professional.
It is a pursuit of the obsessed, the thoroughly obsessed. You must allow
the challenge to consume you.
     My dear wife Jani once laughingly said, "Bob, I know who you were
in a past life. You were one of the first Egyptian engineers working on
the pyramids. Yours fell down because of your mis-measurements and
squashed a lot of poor workers. So you were sentenced to come back this
lifetime and just measure trees -with everybody out of the forest, but
you. So go back out there and get it right this time."
     Well, seriously, as a consequence of yesterday's calculations, we
know that there are between 900 and 1,000 mature trees in the Pocumtuck
Grove, crammed into 12 acres. With an average of 78 trees per acre, the
full story of my measurement woes requires an understanding of how the
trees are distributed. They are not distributed evenly. So, my next
challenge is to derive some kind of   "clumpiness" measure.
      Regardless, trying to find the tops of trees that are hardly an
arms length apart means a lot of errors are initially made. You learn to
read the canopy structure or you screw up repeatedly. Oh Boy, first the
pyramids and now the trees. What will I be assigned next? Will it be the
barn yard for Bob?
      One fact that I now know for sure is that the Pocumtuck Grove has
a canopy differentiation of over 30 feet, i.e. the shortest canopy pines
are about 120 feet and the tallest are up to 153. The shorter are often
weak trees that fall more frequently and can be measured prostrate.
Measuring a couple of fallen trees can give one the initial impression
that the stand averages between 130 and 135 feet. Then measurements into
the side branches that are mistaken for the tops often produces numbers
in the 125 to 135-foot range. Thus, one can initially get the impression
that the stand average is about 130 feet and pass on to other more
promising areas. That's where the 'oops' comes in. These two erroneous
pieces of information led me to ignore all but a small section of the
Pocumtuck Pines. I concluded that 100 years of growth wouldn't produce
150-footers in Mohawk.
       Well, I'm sadder, but wiser. However, that is not the end of the
story. If there are 11 pines over 150 feet and there are 950 pines in
the Grove, then only 1.1% have made it to the Thoreau threshold. Choose
a pine at random and you have a 1.1% probability of selecting a
150-footer. The chance of making faulty assumtions early on becomes
clear and puts the problem of tracking down the 150s into better
perspective. It also reinforces the "obsession" nature of the search.
Yep, I'm obsessed. Will's obsessed. Dale's obsessed, etc. But just think
about how much better off each of you is now that you know approximately
how many 150-footers there are in the Pocumtuck Grove and what the
probability of hugging one is, if you should be there and suddenly get
an urge to squeeze the nearest pine.


Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society
#65 quite alive
  Jun 09, 2004 14:51 PDT 


     Today was spent by yours truly leading an interpretive field trip for Hawlemont School's 6th grade class. Afterwards it was back to the Pocumtuck Pines for more sampling. I extended the boundaries slightly to 13.5 acres and took more density samples. We now have 21 at an average density of 76.7 mature pines per acre. The tree count is 1035. Oh yes, (Ho Hum), I bagged another 150-footer (150.3', 7.3'). We're at 65. The pines in the vicinity of the new 150-footer are tightly clustered. The density is 89 pines per acre at that spot. The percentage of 150-footers in the stand overall is 1.1%.

     The magnitude of the task of hunting down all the pines that meet the Thoreau Threshold should begin to be clear. There may be another one or two, in the Pocumtucks, but more than that is very unlikely. Some areas of the Pocumtuck Grove just aren't growing them at current age range. Well, finding 12 out of 1035 sounds like it has involved a lot of work. You betcha!

RE: #65 quite alive
  Jun 10, 2004 04:28 PDT 


      By the latest estimates, I think MTSF has around 4,000 mature white pines. (up from 3,000). Total number of pines are around 6,000. Finding 65 in 4000 has present us with a continuing challenge. Are there others lurking around? Well, possibly one or two, but all areas aren't as challenging as the Pocumtuck Pines. Of the 13.5 acres, the areas of low density hold the average down to 76.7. In the swath that contains the 150s, the density is between 85 and 100 and two the untrained eye they all look about the same. To the trained eye, candidates can be quickly reduced by 50-60%. That leaves about 300 trees to consider more seriously. Finding the twelve out of the 300 tightly packed pines requires perseverance to say the least. Well, I guess we have demonstrated that we have that and have earned the right to continue the job.

      What others need to know is that the Pocumtuck stand was visited in October 2001 and not a single 150 was measured. There were probably 3 or 4 then, but not more. In three years of growth, the stand has added another 8 or 9. In 3 more years, it will add another 4 or 5. The stand will also increase its rate of self-thinning. What are the predictables? I guess that's what we're collecting the data for.

Comforting confirmation
  Jun 12, 2004 15:06 PDT 


   Ever since I re-measured the Frank Decontie tree at 157.0 feet height and 9.94 feet girth, I've felt squeemish. Today Dennis Hayman accompanied me and served to help us keep sight of the tree as I moved far enough away to see all the top spikes. Well, today I got 157.2 feet and 9.97 feet circumference. The difference is in the lengthening growth candles and the expanding circumference. The measurement that goes in the book is 157.2 and 10.0.

   Three density samples were taken:

    Site                          Stems             Stems/acre

    Trees of Peace           17                    65

    Algonquin                   20                    77

    Young pines               63                   243

The total number of pines in the Algonquin and Memorial Groves is presently set at 190. The number of pines in the Pocumtuck Grove has been reduced to 908 based on a re-evaluation of a boundary area that has only about 20 pines per acre for 2.5 acres. So the total number of pines in the two areas equals 1098. The number of 150-footers in the combined area equals 1.9%.

A good day
  Jun 20, 2004 17:03 PDT 


     On father's day I got to do what I wanted most which was to be in the forest measuring trees. So at 10:00AM I headed for my forest Mecca. The crisp, cool, sunny weather was as perfect. I had several missions. One was to get a better count of the mature pines in the Algonquin Grove. Mission accomplished. The count fell to 145. I'm finding that I have over-estimated the number of mature pines in Mohawk. The number is probably around 2,700. At one point I had the count close to 4,000.
     I spent time with the Jake Swamp tree and got a solid 164.9 feet. That represents about 0.8 feet of new growth. The 164.9-foot height raises the MTSF Rucker index to 134.8. Were I to re-measure all the champs, I would likely find that some have lost height. The maple is a case in point.