21, 2005 09:20 PDT
Labor-intensive run up to finals week is over, so I'll be back
into the postings
a little more frequently, especially as our current field
studies gear up. This
past Thursday the 19th I took eight students and several faculty
from our NSF
undergrad research program to Zoar Valley, for a tourist jaunt
to the relatively
accessible Skinny Dip Terrace (yes, there were a few naturists
out there in
addition to us naturalists). The canopy was only partially
leafed out, so I took
height measuring gear, mostly to have fun with the math
students. Still, I was
secretly hoping for an overlooked tree, or for good sight lines
to any of a
number of tough specimens. I first measured Skinny Dip's tallest
American basswood, getting 127.8' and 127.5' from different
Previous tallies of this tree came to 128.2', so Thursday's
both repeatable and conservative. Later I honed in on the pair
northern red oak skyscrapers measured by Bob and Dale two
summer's ago to ~131'.
Bob concluded either of these trees could be 2-3' taller,
because sight lines
through the fully leafed tulip/bitternut canopy and sugar maple
very poor. Penetrating surrounding trees on Thursday was still
very tough, but
at least there were fewer leaves.
Well... I eventually found the top of the apparently taller of
the two oaks, and
got 133.9', BEFORE adding 5.5' for my height. YIKES! 139.4'.
However, I was
awfully close to the tree (angle of elevation 67 degrees), so I
set off for a
vantage point farther out. I found one after 20 frustrating
minutes, and now got
140.3'. BTW, I also measured Bob's beanpole 136.4' bitternut
(right next to the
oak, ~10' away), and got 135.5'. Again, quite conservative. No
reason to doubt
the 140.3' on the Zoar NRO, which blows the roof off the
Northeast height max
for this species. Will the madness ever end???
New Zoar Rucker Index now goes to 137.16', all hardwoods. Cool.
Zoar Valley/Outstanding performers
22/23, 2005 07:42 PDT
Way to go. That oak is off the charts. With Zoar topping 137, I
what other areas in that region hold promise.
seems that New England is destined to trail
western NY in the variety of tall hardwoods, courtesy of NY's
spectacular Zoar Valley. The confirmation of the 140.3-foot
red is as remarkable as the 156-foot tulip or 153-foot sycamore
or the 151.5-foot ash in Mohawk. Tom is to be congratulated. It
perseverance at these sites to determine their full potential.
interest in and dedication to Zoar Valley allows us to know this
for the remarkable achievement of its hardwood species. Were it
Tom and the rest of ENTS, our understanding of the site would be
much lower order.
With respect to Zoar Valley, despite Tom's
fine work, there are
probably some people out there who still don't get it, i.e that
appreciate the numbers that are coming out of Zoar Valley or
numbers represent. Certainly, New York's DEC didn't get it in
But Dr. Tom has persisted as Zoar continues to show itself as
outstanding performer of the Northeast - at least so far as
indicies are concerned. Congratulations again go to Tom.
Zoar Valley... WOW!!!!!
23, 2005 09:01 PDT
Dale, Tom, et al:
So.. what makes Zoar so special a growing environment? The TSI
Index), i.e. extreme concavity? Relative isolation from storm
ENTS folks found a good correlation between TSI (especially
ravines) and maximum height for a given species? Henry McNabb
certainly Lirodendron tulipifera (being extremely site
sensitive) shows one.
What say you ENTS?
Zoar Valley... WOW!!!!!
23, 2005 09:22 PDT
I believe the ~136ft red maple in the Wintergreen Gorge behind
State Behrend could be used as evidence for northeast species
maximum in relation to where it's growing. It's tucked away on a
depositional flat in very steep ~200' deep sheltered ravine. The
ravine wraps around this tree from about 4 o'clock to 12 o'clock
(~75-360 degree azimuth).
sheltered Lake Erie drainage ravines are an ideal repositories
for possibly more northeast tree species height maximums. The
County, PA gorges are not as deep or as wide as Zoar Valley, NY,
appear to be following Zoar Valley's pattern of sheltered
effects in PA's younger age stands.
Zoar Valley #s
29, 2005 10:16 PDT
A few more #s from Zoar Valley - not quite the blockbuster as
with that oak, but
some good stuff nonetheless.
1) White ash 140.5' x 8' 3"
This is the same tree measured by Bob to 139.0' in late June
2003. Maybe some
growth, or perhaps clearer sight lines earlier in the season.
over 140', although admittedly NRO and white ash are both
New Rucker = 137.31'
2) Tulip tree 141.1 x 10' 7"
The tallest on its terrace (Knife Edge), and may have the
largest crown of any
ZV tulip (~100' spread).
3) Big tooth aspen 101.4' x 4' 3"
Grove of BTA along fringe of former farmland in Vallentine
Flats. 20th Zoar
species confirmed over 100'.
4) Downy serviceberry/shadbush 73.4' x 3' 0"
NICE! But I have to presume these understory trees go taller in
5) Some hemlocks:
117.9' x 8' 6"
117.0' x 7' 8"
113.5' x 7' 8"
112.8' x 7' 4"
ZV terraces don't produce hemlocks like those in northern PA,
but at least we
have some #s for the lat/long gradient study.
More to come, although we may be running out of Rucker Index
More Zoar Valley #s
30, 2005 06:25 PDT
Again, congratulations. The
Zoar Valley story continues. I had little doubt that the Zoar
Valley white ash would eventually join the 140 club, but I would
have never expected any the N. reds in Zoar to go above 133 or
134. Nonetheless, one has and there are probably others. We
might label the phenomena the "Zoar soar". However,
apart from participating in the joy of your continued tall tree
confirmations, your work gives me pause to reflect.
Taking into consideration the
diversity of the site and the extraordinary performance of the
species there, I still marvel that it took a relatively small
group of private citizens to recognize the Zoar treasures and to
put them into context with other areas. Zoar's treasures should
have been recognized and protected years before, but they
weren't. Left unchallenged, the bone-heads in NY's DEC, with
their perpetual timber focus, would let the entire area slip
away. Worse yet, timber interests would seal Zoar's demise. The
virgin black walnuts, unknown to the public, would become mere
memories in the heads of those who would cut them.
The one area in which all parties should
agree is that there should be absolute protection for gems like
Zoar Valley. However, we're a long way from reaching a consensus
on protecting even these most exceptional places. In truth we
never will. It is that kind of world.
So, I for one, am mighty thankful for
yours and Bruce Kershner's leadership and persistence in
bringing the treasurers of Zoar Valley into the public's
awareness. We hereby declare this May 30, 2005 as Zoar Valley
Back to the numbers, 137.31 - yikes! Oh
my aching fanny. We could never match that index in New England.
MTSF is well in front of all other areas in New England and
Mohawk has peaked. I cannot substantiate the 127.7-foot bigtooth
aspen. The stand in which it grows has crown damage and I doubt
I'll get over 122 on remeasurements. The same will likely be
true of the 130-foot American beech. By the end of summer I
suspect that Mohawk's Rucker index will drop to between 134.0
Dale's prospects of reclaiming the number
one spot aren't much better. I doubt that Cook Forest can reach
137. I do think it can be nudged up to 136.5 to 136.6 or 136.7,
but 137 seems out of reach.
That's the way it is on this 30th day of
More Zoar Valley #s SERVICEBERRY
30, 2005 18:30 PDT
Excellent! BTW our big serviceberry down here is A. laevis.
uncommon and rather small when encountered. I pruned one last
Asheville that is the biggest arborea I have ever seen. The fuzz
leaves choked me out of the tree! It was ~4'cbh X 40' tall. Nice
to work in!
Laevis will exceed 100' and 6' cbh. I think I still have the
Champion laevis growing on the TN side of the Smokies. 6'6"