Update: huge oaks at Batsto, NJ Barry Caselli
April 11, 2009

A couple months ago I decided to measure one of the large White Oaks next to the entrance road to Batsto State Historic Site in Wharton State Forest. I can't find my original post right now, and I don't have my notebook in the house with me, but I seem to remember it being in the 13 to 13.5 foot CBH range. The trees are nearly identical except that one of them has a huge lightning scar on it.
Anyway, I have sad news. Both trees have been butchered. The tops and all branches have been cut off. I don't see them surviving more than a few more years now, since this has been done.
I'm not sure if they are in the process of removing them (and I only saw them partway through that) or if they think they are doing something good for the trees by cutting them so far back. I don't know. Either way, the trees are doomed. And these are by far the largest and oldest trees in Wharton State Forest, and in much of the Pine Barrens.
There used to be two similarly-sized White Oaks along 542 in Hermann City (a ghost town), but as of last year one was dead and one was nearly dead, and the state had them cut down. I counted the rings in the one that wasn't hollow, and I came up with 170 years. But the two trees at Batsto were NOT dying!
I did not have my camera with me when I was out today. But I'm attaching my photos from a couple months ago, from the day I measured one of them.
The photo called "DSC01595a.JPG" is the tree that I did not measure, the one with the big lightning scar on it. The other three photos are of the other tree, the one that I did measure.
Now they look completely different, with no branches or tops. It's very sad to see. Tomorrow I will probably drive by and take new pictures, as much as I don't want to see them that way. As I say, these trees were not dying. Each year they leafed out 100%.

Continued at:


[Barry Caselli, April 12, 2009]

Today I swung by Batsto and re-photographed the two trees I just posted about yesterday. I then went in the visitors' center and enquired about what was going on with them.
Someone there determined (or just decided) that the trees are dying and that they need to go. They are indeed being removed. In my post yesterday I said that those trees are not dying. Each year they get their full complement of leaves with no problem. I know dying trees when I see them! All that needed to be done was for the dead and decaying branches to be cut off and maybe some tree wound paint to be put on. They would be fine for a long time. We are now losing some great old trees. I told the woman who I know there, that I am in protest. She said that it wouldn't be the first time that someone was in protest to something that the state was doing. I know that to be trure, for sure.
So here is what they look like today. To reiterate, the one with the bushy cedar tree at its base is the one I did not measure. The other one has a CBH of about 13.5 feet. These are real biggies. And based on the ring count I did of the stumps of the Hermann City oaks, mentioned in my last post (170 years), these two trees are at least 170 years old. I'm guessing a bit older.


[Ed Frank, April 12m 2009]

If they chop the rest of the way down, it would be interesting to see how old it was before the mutilation and how tall the remaining section of the tree is.  Here is a comparison of the before and after images from nearly the same angle and same scale.  The original tree by my measurements on the images is 1.903 x taller than the chopped tree - as measured from the base,


[Jennifer Dudley, May 6, 2009]
Basto Oak Removals
Barry, ENTS,

I  finally got a response from Michele Buckley at  NJ State Parks
Dept, about those oaks being removed from Batsto:

"Jennifer - I forwarded your concerns to the Superintendent of Wharton
regarding the trees and this is the response I received:

'These trees were identified by the park staff as hazard trees.  These
trees were dropping limbs during snow storms and times of heavy wind.
Gypsy moths also took a toll on the trees the past few years.  The
limbs were removed in anticipation of removing the entire tree/stump
at a later date.  (We did this in-house to save $$.)  We are presently
awaiting a quote from Asplundh, our state contract, for the removal of
the stumps, should funding be available.  Once removed, we hope/plan
to plant replacement trees in their place, as we have done throughout
the village.'

Just as an FYI.  More trees are scheduled to come down soon...and we
had our state foresters out to look at the trees prior to removal, and
they agreed that they needed to be removed.


Any thoughts?



[Barry Caselli, may 21, 2009 - Basto NJ Oak Removal Update]

Jenny and all ENTS,
My dad contacted me on my Nextel while I was at work today, to tell me that one of the oaks had been completely cut down.
So I detoured there after work and took some pictures. I also attempted to count the rings as best as possible on the one that had been cut. I stopped counting at about 170 to 175, since there was no center. I estimate that the age is between 180 and 200.
I don't care what the State forester says. These trees may have been in rough shape, but were not hazard trees. When they say the trees were dropping limbs during big storms, I believe the word "twigs" should be substituted for "limbs". Also, how can they be considered hazard trees when they were in an area where few people ever walk? As I said in an earlier post, this tree that has been reduced to a pile of wood had a CBH of 13.5 feet. Both of these trees are (or I should say *were*) most likely the largest trees in all of Wharton State Forest.
I'm attaching today's photos, plus one of the photos from my April post (that's DSCO5424a) The tree in that picture is the one that's in pieces now, the one with the 13.5 foot CBH. 
It's so sad...