Zoar Valley... WOW!!!!!    tpdig-@ysu.edu
   May 21, 2005 09:20 PDT 

Howdy ENTS,

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 (so far)
American basswood, getting 127.8' and 127.5' from different vantage points.
Previous tallies of this tree came to 128.2', so Thursday's measurements were
both repeatable and conservative. Later I honed in on the pair of middle-aged
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 mid-story were
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.

Re: Zoar Valley/Outstanding performers   Robert Leverett
  May 22/23, 2005 07:42 PDT 
Tom, Everyone:

Way to go. That oak is off the charts. With Zoar topping 137, I wonder 
what other areas in that region hold promise.

   It 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 northern
red is as remarkable as the 156-foot tulip or 153-foot sycamore in Zoar
or the 151.5-foot ash in Mohawk. Tom is to be congratulated. It takes
perseverance at these sites to determine their full potential. Tom's
interest in and dedication to Zoar Valley allows us to know this site
for the remarkable achievement of its hardwood species. Were it not for
Tom and the rest of ENTS, our understanding of the site would be of a
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 don't
appreciate the numbers that are coming out of Zoar Valley or what those
numbers represent. Certainly, New York's DEC didn't get it in the past.
But Dr. Tom has persisted as Zoar continues to show itself as THE
outstanding performer of the Northeast - at least so far as Rucker
indicies are concerned. Congratulations again go to Tom.    


RE: Zoar Valley... WOW!!!!!   Gary A. Beluzo
  May 23, 2005 09:01 PDT 

Dale, Tom, et al:

So.. what makes Zoar so special a growing environment? The TSI (Terrain Shape
Index), i.e. extreme concavity? Relative isolation from storm events? Have
ENTS folks found a good correlation between TSI (especially steep, narrow
ravines) and maximum height for a given species? Henry McNabb suggests that
certainly Lirodendron tulipifera (being extremely site sensitive) shows one.

What say you ENTS?

RE: Zoar Valley... WOW!!!!!    Dale J. Luthringer
   May 23, 2005 09:22 PDT 

I believe the ~136ft red maple in the Wintergreen Gorge behind Penn
State Behrend could be used as evidence for northeast species height
maximum in relation to where it's growing. It's tucked away on a small
depositional flat in very steep ~200' deep sheltered ravine. The steep
ravine wraps around this tree from about 4 o'clock to 12 o'clock
(~75-360 degree azimuth).

These deep sheltered Lake Erie drainage ravines are an ideal repositories
for possibly more northeast tree species height maximums. The Erie
County, PA gorges are not as deep or as wide as Zoar Valley, NY, but
appear to be following Zoar Valley's pattern of sheltered terrain
effects in PA's younger age stands.


More Zoar Valley #s   tpdig-@ysu.edu
  May 29, 2005 10:16 PDT 

Hello ENTS,

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. Fourth species
over 140', although admittedly NRO and white ash are both borderline.

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 the southern

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 material.

Re: More Zoar Valley #s   dbhg-@comcast.net
  May 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 Day.

    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 and 134.5.

    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 May, 2005.

RE: More Zoar Valley #s SERVICEBERRY   Will Blozan
  May 30, 2005 18:30 PDT 

Excellent! BTW our big serviceberry down here is A. laevis. A arborea is
uncommon and rather small when encountered. I pruned one last week in
Asheville that is the biggest arborea I have ever seen. The fuzz under the
leaves choked me out of the tree! It was ~4'cbh X 40' tall. Nice tree, nasty
to work in!

Laevis will exceed 100' and 6' cbh. I think I still have the National
Champion laevis growing on the TN side of the Smokies. 6'6" X 101'.