Clarion River Rucker Index, PA Dale Luthringer

TOPIC: Clarion River Rucker Index

== 1 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Sep 12 2008 6:35 pm
From: "Dale Luthringer"


Thought I'd finally compile a list of all the trees we've measured along
the Clarion River Corridor and compile its associated Rucker Index.
Here's a list of the tallest tree species measured so far by Ed Frank,
Carl Harting, Anthony Kelly and I:

Species CBH Height Location Comments

Am. Basswood 6.9 113 CFSP-River Rd
Am. Beech 9.3 120.6 CFSP-River Cabin Flats
Am. Hornbeam 2 37.4 CCSP-yurts
Big tooth aspen 4.3 110.8 CFSP-Foundation Ridge Flats tallest documented PA
Bitternut hickory 4.3 106.2 CFSP-Foundation Ridge Flats
Black birch 5.4 110.7 CFSP-River Cabin Flats
Black cherry 10.2 136.4 
Black walnut 6.5 89.2 CFSP-River Cabin Flats
Butternut 3.6 82.6 CFSP-River Cabin Flats
Chestnut oak 4.9 96.9 CFSP-River Cabin Flats
Cucumbertree 7.2 122.6 CFSP-River Cabin Flats
E. hemlock 9.2 126.7 CFSP-River Cabin Flats
E. white pine 9.5 149.7 CFSP-Troutman Run
Hawthorne 4.8 32.7 CFSP-River Rd
N. red oak 10.1 126.7 CCSP-River Trail
Pignut hickory 5 126.7 CFSP-Foundation Ridge Flat
Red maple 8.2 106.4 CCSP-River Trail
Sassafras 1.2 29.4 CFSP-River Rd
Shagbark hickory 4.5 113.6 SGL-Piscataqua
Slippery elm 3.6 78.5 CFSP-River Rd
Staghorn sumac 1.9 28.5 CFSP-Troutman Run
Sugar maple 6.4 110.4 CCSP-Irish Rock Trail
Sycamore N/A 118.1 Halton
Tuliptree 7.4 141.4 CFSP-Foundation Ridge Flat
Vitus sp. 1.7 CFSP-Foundation Ridge Flat
White ash 7.6 128.3 CFSP-River Cabin Flats
White oak 6.4 110.8 CCSP-River Trail
Witch hazel 1.1 19.3 CFSP-Foundation Ridge Flat
Yellow birch 6.6 99.2 CCSP-Minich Run
Yellow buckeye 9.7 89.7 CFSP-RT36

The current Clarion River Rucker Index comes in at 129.72. That ranks
4th out of 41 sites sampled in the Commonwealth:

Top 10 Pennsylvania Rucker Index Sites
Site      Rucker Index

Cook Forest State Park 137.15
Fairmont Park 132.27
McConnells Mill State Park 130.85
Clarion River 129.72
Wintergreen Gorge 127.53
Ricketts Glen State Park 126.29
Walnut Creek Gorge 123.66
Anders Run Natural Area 121.59
Ohiopyle State Park 120.36
Little Elk Creek Gorge 119.45

Clarion River Rucker Index = 129.72
Species   CBH   Height

E. white pine 9.5 149.7
Tuliptree 7.4 141.4
Black cherry 10.2 136.4
White ash 7.6 128.3
N. red oak 10.1 126.7
E. hemlock 9.2 126.7
Pignut hickory 5 126.7
Cucumbertree 7.2 122.6
Am. Beech 9.3 120.6
Sycamore N/A 118.1


== 2 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Sep 12 2008 6:58 pm
From: "Edward Forrest Frank"


How much of the corridor length-wise do you want to include in the index? and what are you defining as the lateral boundaries of the corridor? I am sure that some of the numbers could be bumped up by adding some additional areas outside of the park. We only need to beat 118.1 for a species not listed. For the broader listing of species beyond the tallest ten, there is enormous potential to raise some of those numbers. For example the sassafras listed is only 29 feet. Carl ad I measured it to add a species to the Cook Forest list, not because it was the biggest in the corridor. We really need to get back upon the Allegheny River Islands, maybe visit some new ones also. They had a RI Height of 119.2, just off your top ten.


== 3 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Sep 12 2008 7:22 pm
From: "Dale Luthringer"


I'd include the whole corridor as we get to measuring it. I've hit
trees occasionally up to Ridgway but none have been higher than those
just mentioned.

I'm including trees on flats as within the boundary, as well as those no
more than a couple hundred yards up various drainages that come into
river. Trees going up the valleys are not included. So, for example
the Jani Pine (~170ft) and Seneca Hemlock (~145ft) up the slope along
Seneca Trail are not included.

Trees listed are mainly from Cook Forest and Clear Creek State Parks.
Others that make it into the list come from Halton and the state game
lands downstream from Gravel Lick Bridge. I recently measured a stand
of 130ft class white pines and their associates downstream of Gravel
Lick Bridge, but I don't think any will be a taller one than those

Yes, there's plenty of potential to bring numbers on other species up,
but to break the 118 barrier as one of the top ten will prove to be a
difficult find. The best chance to break it would be a taller sycamore,
which we should be able to find somewhere, or a bitternut hickory.

Ditto on the Allegheny River Islands. I just put my new schedule in for
approval. I should know in a few days whether they'll let me go out and


TOPIC: Clarion River Rucker Index

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Sun, Sep 14 2008 12:46 pm
From: "Edward Forrest Frank"


If Dale's post on the Clarion River has piqued your interest, I thought I would add a little more information on the river. The river is about 110 miles long, the upstream end forks into an East Branch and West Branch in the Allegheny Plateaus region of north central Pennsylvania. The east branch has been dammed and forms the East Branch Lake. Elk State park is on the western shore of the reservoir. The two branches meet just south of the dam in the town of Johnsonburg, From here the river flows generally westward to meet the Allegheny River about 5 miles past the town of Emlenton. The river flows through two state parks: Clear Creek State park and Cook Forest State Park and a 5.7 mile stretch is included in the scenic and recreational river system. "51.7 miles are free-flowing and contain outstandingly remarkable scenic and recreational values of regional significance. The qualifying section is from the Allegheny National Forest/State Game Lands 44 boundary (just south of Ridgway) downstream to the backwaters of Piney Dam Reservoir. Two Sections - from Portland Mills to Irwin Run, and Cooksburg to Piney Dam backwater - totaling 17 miles, qualify for 'scenic' classification. The remaining 34.7 miles qualify for 'recreational' classification."

From Cook Forest upstream to Johnsonburg virtually the entire river is paralleled on one side or both by back roads. This area has some potential for trees larger than those on Dale's Rucker Index, most likely will be taller sycamore, but there is a slight potential for other species. One of the places of note is a hole-in-the wall called the Halton Hilton, famous for its really big "Belly Buster: hamburgers. Most commonly a day's float is from Clear Creek to Cook Forest, a distance of about 6.5 miles> I plan to float the section immediately below Cook Forest down to Mill Creek (Piney Dam area) to visit the second, less frequented of the two scenic river segments, and one I have not seen before. Below the Piney Dam the river is till impacted heavily by acid mine drainage.

The best guide to the river is a pdf file by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy ad the PA Fish and Boat Commission: From confluence of East & West Branch Clarion rivers to Parker Bridge 100 Miles of Superb Paddling

"When lumbering began in the region in the early 1800s, the changing river names (Stump Creek, Mud River) indicated what the valley looked like at the time. Extensive erosion and sedimentation resulted from clear-cutting the river valley. In 1860, Pennsylvania led the nation in lumber production, with the Clarion River area contributing greatly. The river was used to float logs 100 miles to Pittsburgh, where they were sold. There were many sawmills and tanneries throughout the basin, which also contributed to polluting the river. By the turn of the century, the lumbering industry was all but dead. According to a report by Dr. Arnold E. Ortmann, an aquatic biologist working for the Carnegie Institute, the Clarion River was essentially lifeless in 1909-it was opaque and believed to be the most polluted river in Pennsylvania as a result of the lumber, chemical plant, mining, paper mill and other industries.

Beginning in the 1970s, the river began its epic recovery. With the formation of groups such as the Toby Creek Watershed Association, the Mill Creek Coalition and the Clarion River Basin Commission, the communities' growing level of dedication to the region's natural resources was becoming apparent. While these groups were mainly addressing abandoned mine drainage pollution, other changes were taking place in the industrial sector, and natural re-growth was occurring in the clear-cut areas, which led to water quality improvements. In 1996, Congress designated 51.7 miles of the Clarion River as Wild & Scenic under the federal Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. A mature river confined in a steep river valley, the Clarion River provides few sweeping vistas. Instead, it fosters a feeling of intimacy. This combination of factors- scenery, the feeling of remoteness, accessibility and abundance of recreational opportunities in a natural setting-creates a unique experience for visitors. The river has been determined to offer remarkable recreational and scenic value of regional significance. The diverse habitat created by a large number of boulders, deep pools and many riffles provides excellent habitat for several game and non-game fishes. Upstream of Piney Dam the river is typically inhabited by coldwater and coolwater fish species, while warmwater and coolwater species inhabit the river downstream. Wildlife abounds in the wilderness surrounding the river valley. Sightings of whitetail deer, wild turkey, squirrels, black bear, bald eagles, osprey and blue herons are common. Even catching a glimpse of a river otter is not out of the question."

There is an excellent trip report of a canoe trip down the length of the Clarion River at:
"In early May we completed a four day through trip of the Clarion River from Ridgway, PA (Love's Canoe Access) to Parker canoe access on the Allegheny River (~94 miles). I wanted relate a couple of items worth passing on to others who might contemplate the trip. We made our trip with the Ridgway gauge reading 3' - a minimum level for loaded canoes. We were a party of four paddlers in Wenonah Cascade and Old Town Discovery Royalex canoes...."
"The Clarion River is a tributary of the Allegheny River, approximately 110 mi (177 km) long, in west central Pennsylvania in the United States. It drains a mountainous area of the Allegheny Plateau in the Ohio River watershed, flowing through narrow serpentine valleys and hardwood forests. It is formed at Johnsonburg in central Elk County by the confluence of its East and West Branches. The East Branch, approximately 15 mi (24 km) long, rises in northeastern Elk County and flows southwest through East Branch Clarion River Lake (dam) to join the West Branch. The river flows generally WSW across western Pennsylvania in a tight meandering course past Ridgway and Clarion. It joins the Allegheny from the east in eastern Clarion County approximately 5 mi south of Emlenton."
"The Clarion River was designated as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System on October 19,1996 (Public Law No:104-314). The outstandingly remarkable values for the Clarion River, as identified in the Clarion River and Mill Creek Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Report (March, 1996), are scenic and recreational. Several factors contribute to the special scenic value of the river. The unique landform (unique in the region of the Allegheny River basin) of the Clarion River valley contributes a feeling of intimacy to the river. The sinuous, relatively narrow river valley with steep sides and little floodplain provides little opportunity for long, focused views. The steeply forested hillsides of almost continuous mature deciduous and coniferous vegetation contribute to a feeling of remoteness in many places along the river. Two segments of the river, measuring 8 miles and 9.1 miles in length, are classified as scenic."
Vegetation - most of the forest along the Clarion River consists of mature, second growth mixed hardwoods. The upper section, below Ridgway, is predominantly oak forest, and the lower section, towards Clarion, is mostly northern hardwoods. Conifers are often found on the steep slopes: hemlock and rhododendron often on northeast slopes, and white pine on southwest slopes. Common tree species are red, white, and chestnut oak, red and sugar maple, yellow birch, black cherry, white pine, hemlock and sycamore in the floodplains. The old-growth forest (white pine/hemlock/beech) in Cook Forest State Park is of ecological and scenic significance. Understory species include pin cherry, sassafras, dogwoods, mountain laurel, witch hazel, rhododendron, and alder and willow at the river edges. Both forested and non-forested wetlands are found in the river corridor.

Edward Frank

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