10, 2003 15:20 PDT
Zoar Valley always surprises us, but these past few days the
#1) All right, no sense wasting time - the BIG news: Zoar is
America's very symbol, the bald eagle!! My latest trip down to
canyon was with Dr. Courtenay Willis, a terrestrial ecologist
YSU who specializes in ornithology, along with two of her
observed two adults and two juveniles (apparently 3rd year) in
vicinity of Valentine Flats. I discovered upon reviewing several
New York birding web pages that adults and juveniles have been
in this area at least since 2001. No nest is yet known, but
sightings of multiple generations suggest this may be a breeding
Gee, how many acres would make for a good bald eagle refuge?
2960... the FULL extent of the state land! It's just a bonus
are also hundreds of acres of contiguous old growth.
#2) My first visit to a streamside terrace downstream from the
Valentine Flats farmland led me into a drop-dead gorgeous
forest. Recall, we had doubted old growth here until historical
photos suggested otherwise. This little terrace is only a few
size, but has the best concentration of >9' CBH sugar maples
yet seen in
the canyon. Also present is a 10' 6" beech, a 9' 7"
northern red oak,
and some very nice yellow birch. An American elm of 7' 7"
The canopy here is not as tall as in the Gallery of Giants
this part of the canyon is much more exposed to the wind. Still,
several nice sycamores (9' 8" CBH) approaches 120'. The
core of the
terrace is very shade-tolerant, so I presume it is old and
its borders along the river grade into the riverfront and
floodplain woods that signify newer land. Huge downed logs,
pit-and-mound topography, tall straight trunks... I don't think
spot was ever logged, even selectively. There are four more
like it that need to be visited in this part of the canyon, and
slopes above should be virgin as well. The old growth in Zoar
ultimately exceed 1000 acres.
#3) Superb heights in the sycamore grove on Valentine Flats
the wind shadow of Point Peter (cliffs ~170' high). Scores of
trees, some cloaked by impressive Virginia creeper and poison
form a striking canopy that looks oddly out of place in upstate
York. Check these out (height x CBH):
140.7' x 7' 9"
140.2 x 7' 4"
135.3' x 5' 10"
134.3' x 4' 5"
130.2 x 10' 4" (several more 9'+ trees likely don't reach
112.0 x 3' 7" black walnut
I think these sycamores are older than I first imagined. The
ones are likely young, but the 7'+ trees could be the same age
trees in the old growth farther upstream, 150 years and up.
species, particularly elm and tulip tree, seem to be recruiting
this stand. This sycamore grove could represent what was left
after valuable trees were cut in the 1800s. However, it could
reflect the natural development of a bottomland forest on land
becoming progressively drier over time (the site is obviously an
wetland). Even the anthopogenic explanation in no way diminishes
coolness of this grove.
More to come. See it all on June 28th and 29th when ENTS hosts
in the Valley!
30, 2003 08:21 PDT
The rendezvous at Zoar Valley, courtesy of the organizational
skills and leadership of Bruce Kershner and Dr. Tom Diggins, was
successful by all reasonable standards. Zoar Valley continues to
emerge as a very, very significant place, ecologically and with
abundant scenic treasures.
On Saturday, we were filmed by a regional television station
(Empire Sports Network, I think). The program will air Tuesday
evening. Several reporters accompanied us and sought accounts of
what we were doing. So publicity was abundant. My friend Bruce
kershner is an absolute magician at drawing media attention.
Good job, Bruce!
The ENTS prowess at tree measuring was amply utilized at Zoar
Valley through the talents of Tom Diggins, Bruce Kershner, Dale
Luthringer, Howard Stoner, and yours truly. The group scored
well, which of course, was our mission. However, our successes
went beyond my personal expectations. We began by verifying that
the remarkable sycamore reported as 150.1-feet a couple of
seasons ago has grown to a height of 153 feet! The tree's form
is slender with an 8.4 feet cirumference. One must look up to
get the story of the tree.
The confirmation of this splendid, towering sycamore is an
interesting story in and of itself and it is the kind of story
that is music to ENTS ears. From the opposite side of the
Cattaraugus River, Bruce Kershner had measured the tree to 153
feet early in the season. Bruce used a tripod to steady the
clinometer so he could get readings without the inevitable
bounce. However, the yardage across the Cattaragus is long, 110
to 116 yards, so errors from small differences in clinometer
readings is a big concern. However, from across the river range
I got 154 feet for the sycamore, based on a hypotenuse distance
to the crown of 114 yards. Matt Largess was at the bottom of the
tree with a bright orange vest, so I got a reasonable good angle
to the base - but not entirely satisfactory. Howard Stoner
likewise got 154 feet for the sycamore measuring from the center
of the stream. I don't know if Howard had difficulty seeing the
base. I didn't discuss that with him. Tom Diggins got 153 feet
from an island in the middle of the stream with ample people
standing at the base giving him targets. From closer in, Dale
Luthringer got 152.8 feet and I got 153.1 feet. All measurements
fall between 152.8 and 154 feet. We ultimately settled
arbitrarily on 153 feet, since the 152.8, 153.0, and 153.1
measurements were from closer distances and from vantage points
that gave us complete visibility of crown and base. Had we
averaged all reading, we would have gotten 153.3 feet.
The range of only 1.2 feet difference in the height measurements
for the sycamore incorporated 5 sets of instruments employed
from different locations and over distances varying by over 40
yards. The small range amply illustrates the efficacy of the
methods we use to measure tree height and also the experience of
the users of the methods. We are probably within 2 to 4 inches
of the exact height of the tree. However, we'll never be
satisfied until we know with an even higher probability that
we're in the under 6-inch range of true height. That's the kind
of fanatics we are.
Other highlights of Zoar Valley were a 144-foot sycamore, a
139-foot white ash, a 136-foot bitternut hickory, a 128-foot
cottonwood, and two red oaks at around 131 feet, if not 2 or 3
feet more, and a 124-foot black walnut. Oh yes, I almost forgot.
There is the little measurement done by Dale Luthringer and
myself near day's end. We're confident of our tuliptree
measurement of 156 feet! YES! A new record. The respectible
10.5-foot circumference of the tuliptree creates a strong
impression. The tree is no slouch. It is a most worthy champion
of height. As of this date, the 156-foot tuliptree is New York's
tallest accurately measured hardwood of any species. It may be
New York's tallest of any species, but the odds of a few
160-foot white pines are high and the odds of a few other tulips
in that height range somewhere in New York are also high. The
tuliptrees of Welwynn Preserve on Long Island are above 140 and
probably close to 150. It remains to be seen if any can
challenge the Zoar Valley tree. A trip in November will tell
that story, but back to Zoar Valley.
The Rucker index of Zoar Valley now stands solidly at 134.1 and
that could go up by a significant amount should Tom and Bruce
locate a few tall white pines somewhere in the gorge. For
smaller increases in the index, the odds of a 140-foot bitternut
hickory are very high and a 140-foot white ash some where in
Zoar Valley is almost certain. An eventual 134.5-foot index is
highly probable, but 135 is improbable. So we're closing in on
While the Zoar Valley account dominates, another sleeper story
is that western New York is awash in big, tall, beautiful trees.
It is home to the legendary Forestville black walnut, the Avon
elm, and who knows what else. Towering cottonwoods are literally
all over the place. I've never seen so many. Tonawanda Creek is
a gold mine or perhaps 'cottonwood field'. New York IS
cottonwood country. I could spend a lifetime and never exhaust
the possibilities. The west part of Route 20A is named big tree
road. That speaks volumes. Elsewhere, the Erie canal corridor
has a wealth of mature cottonwoods. What is good for me is that
the Hudson and Mohawk river valleys are close enough for more
frequent visits by yours truly. However, if Howard Stoner gets
turned on to the cottonwood possibilities, we'll be set. Howard
will have a ball. Guaranteed. The possibilities are simply
As a final observation, outside of the citiy zones, New York is
spacious and aesthetic. History is felt more keenly. It has a
highly varied climate and striking terrain features. It is so
much more than the limited titles we put on regions like 'wine
country'. Those little commericial handles are never adequate to
convey the real nature and variability of the countryside. They
often say more about human myopia. The small agrarian towns of
New York are neat and replete with absolutely gorgeous trees.
The mountainous regions are extensive. I Love New York!
01, 2003 07:07 PDT
Our successful foray into Zoar canyon to document a few of its
many big/tall tree treasures gave me the oportunity to have
extended conversations with Tom Diggins about the on-going
preservation efforts associated with Zoar Valley. With Bruce and
Tom pushing on multiple fronts, Zoar is in very good hands. I
felt extremely honored to be able to at least play a small part
in bringing Zoar's wealth of wonderful trees to public
I am perpetually puzzling over how such treasures escape notice
even in the year 2003. It has to do with the way we, as a
species, filter and interpret input to fit with preconceptions
and manage the volume. Fifteen years ago, I would have flown
across Routes 98 and 20A oblivious to the big, tall cottonwoods
lining the banks of streams and in yards and parks. They would
have manifested themselves in my consciousness merely as part of
that wall of summer green, undifferentiated in their particulars
from the other species. Oh yes, they would have been pretty in
their role as part of the New York background, but they would
not have stood out to me. On this trip they did stand out. They
stood out prominently, because I'd been cultivating 'cottonwood
consciousness'. As a consequence, on this trip, the distinctive
features of the species were being reinforced at every turn. I
saw cottonwoods everywhere and I saw them in context with the
other species. The same was true with the black walnuts. What
did I miss? Plenty, I'm sure, but the experience that I did have
was infinitely richer because there was a new attunement, an
alignment with an important species, on its terms. There was no
attendant cultural judgement. No 'junk species' mentality. Just
the raw force of the cottonwoods, kings and queens of their
Temporary species alignments can occur because of a very
different look to the land. For instance, when I visit the deep
south, the bald cypresses stand out so distinctively that it is
as though I'm visiting a separate country. I'm transfixed.
Plametto palms have the same impact, but were those species
daily fare, their visual novelty would eventually wane and that
would be a loss. The secret is renewal. Daily renewal. That I
guess is what morning rituals of thanks are all about to my
Perhaps in a circuitous way, cottonwood consciousness is for me
a prelude to a wider awareness that encompasses the multitude of
species, habitats, smells, and ambiences. Come to think of it
those soaring immature bald eagles in Zoar Valley we saw
imparted one heck of an ambience. I'm still thankful.
Zoar Valley Rules
01, 2003 13:10 PDT
To Bob and my fellow Tree People,
Thanks, my dear friend Bob, for the compliments on our
"Tally in the
Valley" event at Zoar Valley, one hour drive south of
Buffalo. It was
truly exciting to have you all out here to see the greatest
the Western New York Old Growth Survey, which sponsored the
with the New York Old Growth Forest Association.
Besides the names you mentioned, we should also add some other
'old growth sleuths' who participated: Daniel Karpen of Long
Bill Sweeney of Jamesburg State Park (SE Penn.); Rob Henry &
of Syracuse (discoverers of the Wizard of Oz Grove &
co-founders of NY
Old Growth Forest Association & Central NY Old Growth
Sebesta, NY DEC Urban Forester, also co-founder of NY Old Growth
Association; and Glen Gelinas & Mike Siuta, co-founders of
Old Growth Forest Survey, which has discovered 65 old growth
Bob, are you aware that after you left the 153-foot sycamore,
Largess and others looked at its trunk base and realized that it
covered by recent debris that had flowed onto it from runoff
cliff next to it. They dug and revealed its true base was 2 feet
than what had been measured. Thus, the sycamore is really 155
It was recent, loose shale flakes that were easily brushed away.
The next day was just as significant. It was the Public Tour of
135 people showed up to see what has now turned out to be one of
America's great forests. Channel 4 TV was there and conducted
interviews, along with Empire TV network and newspapers. Tom and
addressed the crowd, then I led them into the canyon. After the
forded the creek, Tom and I split them up into 2 groups and led
through the 3 river terraces. The group really responded with
awe at the
trees, craning their necks to see the LOWEST boughs which were
as 90 feet up. Besides the soaring trees, the 400 foot high
truly humbling. Everybody came out with a memorable
Experience. This is especially important because the entire site
still unprotected and public enthusiasm is the best insurance
greedy state-sponsored logging plans rearing up again.
Thanks again everybody who came and for making it a great
was a great way for the New York Old Growth Forest Association
the summer! Looking forward to seeing you again to show you more
25, 2003 11:58 PDT
Hey, speaking of Zoar Valley... OK, so you weren't speaking of
Zoar Valley, but
I've got a few updates that I've been too busy to post:
New tree species in gorge (I give locations for those familiar
with the gorge):
1) Sassafras. A number of them along a dry south-facing slope
across from Elm
Terrace. Was it Tom Howard and/or Susan Benoit who found these?
I heard about
these trees second hand, so I'm not sure. Either way, kudos to
the eagle eyes
who picked these out. No big ones, but a few up to 6" DBH.
2) Black birch. None ever found on the canyon-bottom terraces,
but quite a few
on the north rim above Knife Edge Terrace, along the margin
between a strip of
ridge-crest old growth and a neighboring property that was
logged in the past.
3) Balsam poplar. Professor Carl Chuey from YSU confirmed
specimens in flood plain downstream from Point Peter.
4) Black tupelo! Been looking for one of these for a long time.
Found a modest
18" DBH tree on the north rim upstream from Knife Edge. Has
some bark furrowed
into blocks; could be older than suggested by its size.
5) American chestnut! No, not blight-free giants or anything
crazy like that,
but some living chestnut near the sassafras. One very healthy
one at 8" DBH. One
of same size nearby has blight. It's sad to see that these trees
blight and die, but every living specimen is one more chance to
BTW, Zoar Valley is now up to 46 confirmed tree species. At
least 30 of these
reach canopy size (i.e., 8" DBH and/or ~50' tall). Old
fields surrounding the
canyon have not been explored, so a number of early successional
not been catalogued. Zoar is missing only a relatively few
species known to
occur in western New York.
New tree heights/sizes:
1) Sugar maple
Knife Edge Terrace. Good sight lines to tall slender tree
127.6' x 6' 5"
Tallest yet measured in canyon. NY champ by about 6'.
2nd measurement (decent sight line, but pretty close to tree)
Other Zoar sugars to date:
Skinny Dip Terrace
123.9 x 7.0' TPD
121.2 x 8.1' TPD and Bob got same #s from different spots
117.1 x 8.4' Dale
116.2 x 8.2' Dale
115.1 x 8.4' Dale
114.2 x 8.0' TPD
Knife Edge Terrace
119.8' TPD and Bruce
111.0' TPD and students
Taller trees on Elm Terrace unmeasured...
2) American elm.
Awesome tree on newly visited terrace directly across from
Valentine Flats. Very
small (~ 4 acres) core of old growth surrounded by maturing
1800s house foundation on site, but it's obvious both on the
ground and from
1929 aerials that the site was never fully cleared. Compared to
the more remote
terraces, though, this one does look "lived in". I
suspect salvaging, firewood,
etc. Possibly selective cutting way back. We found what look
like cast iron
parts of a small furnace - dampers and flues. Lotsa big old
maple today. Was this little terrace a sugarbush back in the
1800s? Very large
beech, ash, and red maple also appear canopy-grown, but white
pine of the right
size and likely age also may indicate some disturbance
associated with the
OK, back to the elm... Enormous tree 9' 5" CBH x 120.6'
tall. I was shooting
through the crown even from more than 100' away. This tree must
have a spread of
close to 100'... in a forest canopy! Its neighbors are big old
beeches and a
huge white ash, so I don't think it spent any time growing in a
clearing. It has
the largest root flare I've ever seen. Its foot print is 10 or
12 feet wide, and
surface roots snake out 10 more feet in some places. Everything
about this tree
says "American", but fruit are gone and buds aren't
discernable yet. Hey, it
won't exactly suck if it's a red elm, eh?
More surprises every time.
22, 2003 08:03 PDT
Good trip up the canyon yesterday. Very vigorous hike to the
upstream terraces, now that the river finally has receded from
weeks of high water.
From "Basswood" Terrace (named for a trio of
neighboring 3' dbh trees), not readily visited except during
summer/fall low water:
1) Red maple 119.1' x 5' 10" CBH
(tallest in Zoar, and likely in NY State)
2) Yellow birch 101.3' x 4' 6" (NE
co-champ with a tree in Mass. Three close neighbors are all in
3) Black cherry (4 nice trees up to 8' CBH)
114.6' (nice trees, but not the tallest
in Zoar, and well off the Cook Forest and Lily Dale pace)
4) Tulip tree 136'+ (Shot straight up. Tough
sight lines, and running out of time in the canyon. Species
likely exceeds 140' on this terrace)
5) Sycamore (Skinny Dip Terrace) 144.6' x 8' 5" (Two close
readings. Third terrace where Am. syc. >140')
6) Sugar maple (Elm Terrace) 113.3' x 8' 11" (Beautiful
maple grove, but no threat to 127' max. height on Knife Edge
BTW, we witnessed the largest rockfall I've ever seen in the
canyon. From 300 yards away (across the river) the boom of the
rock slab hitting the lower canyon face registered in our
stomachs. A rolling dust cloud rose hundreds of feet, spread
halfway across the river, and took several minutes to dissipate.
PLEASE, when visiting Zoar to admire its old growth, stay away
from the base of the cliffs. Cross the river instead. We want ya
Valley Rucker edges upward
13, 2003 08:39 PDT
Great visit to Zoar Valley yesterday. Found new access to
terraces that are difficult to reach otherwise. Explored last
downstream before human influence begins in earnest. Complex
with terrace bisected by a perennial oxbow in a former river
forests of all stages of succession. Also found evidence of a
never seen before in Zoar Valley - a blowdown. An area several
long is littered with downed trees oriented with the wind. Based
left they appear to be mostly 1 - 2 ' DBH cottonwoods (it's a
young floodplain forest). They may have gone down as much as
ago, although I must admit I do not know how fast cottonwood
logs decay when
down. This area of the canyon definitely catches prevailing
the very protected Gallery of Giants farther upstream. A few big
1) Eastern cottonwood 131.5' x 8' 4" CBH. New NE height
champ. Tucked in
right next to canyon slope, seems to be safe from the wind.
2) Shagbark hickory 107.0" x 6' 7" CBH. Biggest in
canyon so far.
3) Black walnut 115.0' x 7' 9" CBH. Nice tree. Walnut
common here, with
several large canopy trees and quite a few young trees growing
Good stuff. With new cottonwood, Rucker now goes to 134.69'.
more impressive, the shagbark represents the 18th species in the
be confirmed above 100'. I believe we may eventually find twenty
species. Cool. More to come.
Zoar Valley trip
05, 2003 14:46 PST
Great visit to a new streamside terrace in Zoar Valley. Probably
last decent chance for field work in the bottom of the canyon
snow flies. We came at the gorge from upstream this time, in
access a 5-6 acre terrace not reachable in a day from
folks who made the June 28-29 event, this terrace is three times
upstream than anything we saw.) Two students and I slogged along
stream edge for about a mile, much of it picking our way along
rock shelves only inches wide, with overhanging hemlocks above.
danger here; slipping only meant a hot-foot, not an emergency.
Well, our tough hike was amply rewarded. The terrace supports a
beautiful little old-growth forest (plenty of numbers below),
just be the most idyllic spot in the entire canyon. Across the
stark 200-foot rock face looms seemingly overhead because of the
narrowness of the river at this spot. A spectacular waterfall
down the middle of the cliff, half of its height in one straight
Behind the terrace, another beautiful cascade flows from a gap
impenetrable hemlock slope, then meanders right through the
its way to the Cattaraugus. Completing this vision of absolute
broad winged hawks roost on an exposed cliff along the gorge
Oh, yeah, the trees... Twelve species in the canopy, sugar maple
dominates. I believe this terrace is very old and stable, hence
shade tolerance. My 1929 aerials back that up (no stream bed
all). Our first visual impression was "pretty tall, maybe
some stuff in
the 120s". This proved to be an underestimate. First tree
measured was a
single, perfect sycamore to 130.9'. Not bad. Then on to a white
132.8', and 79' to first branch. Some real telephone poles down
Nice cherry at 118.1' x 7' 7". Just can't seem to break
120' on cherries
in Zoar. Then, a nice American elm at 6' 11" CBH. Pushed
upward by some
ash and bitternut, it seemed to go tall rather than fanning out
broom. Bagged it at 128.3'!!! Killer basswood abounds. Got what
believe to be the tallest at 128.7'. A new record for the
although the much more accessible Skinny Dip tree is so close
are really co-champs. The days tally of significant trees as
1) American elm 128.3
x 6' 11" NE tallest
2) Am. basswood 128.7
x 6' 9" Species' tallest
3) White ash 132.8
x 6' 0"
4) Sycamore 130.9
x 7' 3"
5) Black cherry 118.1
x 7' 7"
6) Black cherry 118.3
x 4' 8"
7) Sugar maple 124.6
x 6' 5"
We also laid out survey qudrats for canopy and understory trees,
to our quantitative database on Zoar's riparian woodlands. That
means a BIG jump in Zoar's Rucker.
White ash 139.0
NR Oak 131.1
Am. basswood 128.7
Am. elm 128.3
Sugar maple 127.0
Black walnut 124.1
Rucker Index of 135.51' (all hardwoods) Cool.
05, 2003 18:37 PST
We can practically taste a 130' American basswood. The two trees
have old-growth features (nice balding and moss cover), but
suffering any crown die-back that I can tell. Growing branches
all seem to
point upward. There is another very tall basswood on this new
terrace, but I
was having trouble getting any laser shots into the top
branches, and we were
really pushing the daylight to get my survey data collected. I
just might get
another chance to visit this site this fall. We simply need a
without rain. Everything is so much harder when the water is up,
spots cannot be accessed at all. There are still a few more
small sections of
river terrace to be visited, but this was the last one in the
that looks to be over an acre. And then there's the South
Will Blozan wrote:
stuff, Tom. I do hope to get a tour soon. The basswoods
Valley Correction/ update
10, 2004 10:56 PDT
I have a couple revisions of Zoar Valley's Rucker index that
(gasp) put Cook back on top for the NE...
I slogged into Zoar's uppermost terrace with an undergraduate
student (collecting mosses, etc., GREAT diversity!), and
trees in the leaf-free canopy. I have one "oops", and
The OOPS: The 128'+ American elm is no more than 117.1'. The
possible explanation is that my shot through the leafy canopy
hit a basswood behind it, and partway up the slope. I was back
and shooting through a small window (blah, blah, blah)... As I
"oops". This now leaves a gorgeous tree on another
terrace at 120.6' x
9' 3" as the Valley's, and possibly the NE's, tallest
The YAHOO: Got a much clearer shot at an impressive black cherry
tagged it to 126.4' x 7' 7". This measurement IS very
reliable. I got
125.3' and 127.9' from two widely separated spots, after which I
repeated the 126.4' measure from the original, and by far the
vantage point. I got only 118.1' last fall so I obviously was
hitting the top last year.
No other surprising heights, but a nice canopy between 110' and
Some ashes and a sycamore at the top end. The site is stunning
A few highlights, in addition to the trees I reported last fall:
Yellow birch 99.0'
x 6' 9"
Am. Basswood 119.3'
x 4' 5"
x 4' 9"
Am. Beech 115.6'
x 6' 1"
Plentiful sugar maple and basswood in the upper teens.
Not Zoar Valley's tallest terrace woodland, but perhaps its most
aesthetically pleasing. Definitely worth the price of admission
is a very tough one hour hike). More later...
Oh, BTW, the amended Rucker for Zoar is now 135.32, after
erroneous elm (128.3') and adding the new black cherry (126.4').
walnut is still on the bubble at 124.1'.
May 11, 2004
he also writes: That's the only Zoar cherry in the 120' class. A number of nice ones
in the teens, 6 - 8' cbh. Black cherry is only about 1% of the canopy, and
all mature specimens, widely scattered.
09, 2004 07:22 PST
Hearty thanks once again to all of our gracious hosts in
Massachusetts for a
wonderful Forest Summit!
Well, I finally got a chance to get out to the woods to do a
"sporting"... Hold on to your hats!! My original plan
was to head up into Zoar
Valley to get some leaf-off tree shots on the first two terraces
up the Main
Branch, mostly to check on white ash, basswood, red oak, and the
species, including the 120.6' x 9' 6" tree that has never
been measured in an
open canopy. Unexpectedly high water precluded hiking the main
canyon, so I
headed up the South Branch to hit some promising trees
discovered during this
summer's quadrat surveying. The South Branch of Zoar Valley is
wild and scenic,
but decidedly more disturbed than the Main Branch (mostly
pre-1900). A road
formerly crossed a little over a mile upstream, along which were
a couple of
Civil War era sawmills and a lime-kiln/furnace of some sort. The
forest is a
confusing mix of remnant old growth pockets (especially ridges
etc.), post-disturbance floodplain woodlands, and mature canopy
degrees of 19th century disturbance.
First, I surveyed the very small (barely an acre) terrace
closest to the river
junction. This was the most recently discovered old growth tract
because from a distance it appears to be nothing but floodplain.
tiny raised terrace is tucked in at the base of the cliffs.
1. Sycamore 10' 4" (not an old tree, but a fused double)
144.2' (2nd lead
2. Beech 6' 5" x 116.9'
3. Bitternut 8' 2" x 118.1' (impressive crown spread also)
Then, on to a huge cottonwood a few hundred yards upstream,
located in area
where I strongly suspect 1800s selective logging had occurred
(canopy seems more
fragmented, and ancient CWD seems to be lacking).
4. Cottonwood 14' 0" x 134.4' CS certainly exceeds 100'.
Multiple separate tops
exceed 130', and show no breakage or dieback.
Then, farther upstream through young floodplain woodlands to the
precludes much of any undisturbed forest cover. In fact the
steep slopes above
the little furnace look very young indeed. Still, some killer
growth at the base of the slope:
5. Tulip tree 8' 8" x 144.1' (smaller ones at 139.3' and
6. White ash to 131.4'
7. AND... American beech 6' 9" x 130.1' WOW! Added 11' to
our best for this
species. Two different shots from different vantage points both
8. Sugar maple to 118.5'.
Not a bad day in the woods. Wth the new cottonwood maximum and
the addition of
beech, Zoar's Rucker Index now JUMPS to 136.2' Yowzah!
Zoar Valley highlights
10, 2004 08:45 PST
Yeah, what a day out there! I think I may just get a couple more
at Zoar and elsewhere before weather starts to become a problem.
course, is never a problem for Lee! Good hunting in the newly
found section of
Cook - you're a LONG way from finished in there. BTW, that beech
is the first
New Yorker over 130'. We had never broken 120' before in Zoar.
However, all of
the beech I have tended to measure are impressive canopy
dominant trees that may
be putting more into girth and crown than into sheer height.
This 130-footer and
a nearby 122-footer are both youngish trees at the base of the
canyon wall, and
they're fighting with tulips and ashes. Quite notably, many of
tall shade-tolerant trees in Zoar (sugar maple, beech, basswood)
substantially slimmer than the biggest DBH trees of their
species. On the other
hand, a number of the shade-intolerant towers are also among the
largest in DBH
in the gorge, at least for forest interior trees (tulip,
Here's the current run-down for Zoar:
1. Tulip 156.0'
2. Sycamore 153.0'
3. White ash 139.0'
4. Bitternut 136.4'
5. Cottonwood 134.4'
6. Red oak 131.1'
7. Beech 130.1'
8. Basswood (Am.) 128.7'
9. Sugar maple 127.0'
10. Cherry 126.4'
Rucker = 136.21' BTW, those even # heights are not estimates;
that's just an odd
So many trees...
Zoar Valley highlights
10, 2004 17:23 PST
That's quite an impressive line-up. We only have you on black
Cook. Let's see... your sycamore, bitternut, cottonwood, beech,
basswood, and sugar are all taller than their highest documented
representatives in PA.
Red Oak Champ
28, 2004 09:35 PST
Bob et al.
Wow! Impressive NRO at 133.4' x 9'+ CBH. Our tallest at Zoar is
131.1'. As you
folks already know, the former Zoar champ of similar height
toppled into the
river during a flood in May. The current champ may be a little
taller than its
listed height, as it is in the midst of youngish tulips and
bitternuts, and it
has bever been measured leaf-off. NRO is only about 2% of the
canopy on the
terrace flats where the really tall stuff is found. Zoar also
has NRO up to
12'5" CBH, but I don't think any of these really large
trees is over 115-120'.
All NRO in the gorge are single-stemmed, while there are
numerous coppices on
the surrounding uplands - a pretty good demarcation of past
I've gotten for NRO in Ohio is 122'+ in Mill Creek Park, but I
doubt that's the state's tallest. I'm sure the
species exceeds 130' in the Buckeye
State. Just don't tell anyone or they'll convert it into