Foundation Ridge Flat & new records!
   Sep 26, 2006 16:40 PDT 


It's been a long time coming, but we got a couple of new doozy's for Cook
Forest. Recently, Carl has been busy scouring a new flat along the river that
is virtually an unexplored area of the park.

This past Saturday, we had our annual 'Woodsy Owl Workday' at the park. A bunch
of volunteers showed up to complete a number of various maintenance tasks for
the park. Carl showed up with his daughter, so I thought I'd give him a really
good job... one that I really wanted to assign myself to. So, I sent him off to
a flat below what we call 'Foundation Ridge'. This ridge is where Carl found
the current Am. chestnut record. We've been coming across nice hickories and
tuliptrees at the base of the ridge recently, so I sent Carl out to recon the
area to see if he could find any sleepers.

When he came back for lunch. I asked him how he did. He said, "What record do
you want me to tell you about first?". He kind of downplayed it with his hands
in his pockets, like this wasn't going to be a big deal. So, he rattled off a
couple of new beauties:

Species          CBH   Height   Comments

big tooth aspen 4.3   110.8    new state height record
scarlet oak      7.6   106.2    new park height record
tuliptree        N/A   117.9
tuliptree        7.1   129.9
tuliptree        6.1   139.3
tuliptree        7.5   139.7    new park height record
white ash        7.7   122.6
white pine       8.9   120.8
white pine       9.7   145.8    new 140ft class

I never would've guessed we had 140ft class white pine in this site. The big
tooth aspen record is nice. Not many aspen in the data base though. We could
probably do better somewhere, I just haven't come across many that were even
worthy of measuring. The new 100'ft class scarlet oak is nice. It's the first
scarlet to break 100ft so far at Cook.

Carl, any chance you have a GPS coordinate for the scarlet, or at least an area
to look in?

The real find was the tall tulip. Yes, I hear you... "It's not even 140ft,
what's the big deal?" Well, finding decent sized tulips at Cook Forest is like
finding a hidden treasure. Decent sized ones are rare as hen's teeth here.

So, I got a chance today to go out and see some of the same trees he measured.
I was not disapointed. We not only confirmed or found better shots of the ones
he measured, but found some new records to boot.

First off, found a new park girth record for witch hazel: 1.1ft CBH x 19.3. No
biggy, but that was just for starters.

Found Carl's 7.5 x 139.7 footer, but found a better vantage point on this clear
day that put it to 140.3! That's our first 140ft class tulip for Cook. Carl
had a very foggy and dreary day for measuring, so I thought I'd try to find
some of his other trees.

Found his 6.1 x 139.3ft tulip, but couldn't find a good vantage point. Hit
138.1ft+ from directly underneath.

Another tulip nearby went to 7.0 x 135.5ft. Not bad, but continued to scour the
area. I just about walked past this next tulip. Couldn't believe it, but even
topped Carl's new record with another tulip at 7.4ft CBH x 141.4ft! I started
thinking, this ought to bring the Rucker Index up a bit. It had a spring going
right underneath it. A nice red oak nearby also had a spring going underneath
it that went to 6.1ft CBH x 120.7ft high.

I then headed off to try to find Carl's new big tooth aspen record. I had a
heck of time finding it. GPS was going crazy. Turns out it was only 27 yards
from the next AWESOME find, a decent sized pignut hickory... at least for Cook
Forest. What brought my attention to the tree was the girth. I thought it
might be a new girth record for the park. It wasn't, but at 5ft CBH, it was
quite respectable for the park. We have very few pignuts in our data base. I
then shot straight up from underneath and my mouth dropped... had 117.ft+ and I
wasn't anywhere near the top of this tree. Couldn't believe it. I backed off
on the same contour to try to get a better view of the top and got a shot to
119.3ft+, but I still couldn't see the whole canopy. So, I headed up the slope
to try to find a vantage point where I could see the whole crown. Couldn't
believe my eyes when I started getting readings of 46 & 47 yards to top from
upslope. Did the calculations from a couple of different spots and came up
with 5ft CBH x 126.7ft high! I believe this one is a new Northeast height
record! Regretably, the critters weren't all too happy after the silence was
broken by repeated Ents yells.

Couldn't believe that pignut. It's been a long time since we've found a new
hardwood to break into the 120ft class at Cook. I didn't think we'd find
another. But this one went off the Richter Scale. Between the new park record
tulip and new record pignut, that puts Cook Forest RI just over 137. We're now
back in competion with Zoar Valley which sits pretty at 137.3.

Day's stats follows:

Species          CBH   Height   Record

N. red oak       6.1   120.7
pignut hickory   5     126.7    new Northeast height record
tuliptree        7     135.5
tuliptree        7.5   140.3    re-measure of Carl's find above
tuliptree        7.4   141.4    new park height record
witch hazel      1.1   19.3     new park girth record

Cook Forest's latest Rucker Index is now 137.1 (before today it was 136.27):

Species          CBH   Height   Record

E. white pine    11.1 182.5    tallest NE
E. hemlock       12    146.2    tallest NE
tuliptree        7.4   141.4
black cherry     11.4 137.3    tallest NE
white ash        7.6   128.3
Am. beech        7.5   127.5    tallest PA
white oak        10.7 127.3    tallest NE
red maple        9.1   127.3    tallest PA
pignut hickory   5     126.7    tallest NE
N. red oak       11    126.5

Bob, you always said you thought there was a 140ft class tulip out here... I
apologize, but I didn't believe you until today. Just took us 9 years to find

RE: Foundation Ridge Flat & new records!    Robert Leverett
   Sep 27, 2006 08:28 PDT 


   By Gum, in one burst of activity, you all have raised the Cook index
completely beyond Mohawk's reach. Congratulations! I suspect that Cook
will eventually surpass Zoar Valley by 0.2 or 0.3.

   The tuliptree champ is a sweetie. Cook rules.


Re: Foundation Ridge Flat & new records!   Edward Frank
  Sep 26, 2006 19:18 PDT 

Emma, Carl, and Dale,

First I want to congratulate all of you on the new finds at Cook Forest. It
is pretty amazing to find several new records in a single area of the park.
What species in your Rucker Index, or out of it, do you feel has the best
potential for a better height at Cook? I realize this is an ambitious
difficult question to answer. It is somewhat akin to people asking how many
miles of unexplored passage remain in this cave. But you must have some
idea of what species are relatively "short" for the park and environs
compared to those found elsewhere. Tuliptree, N. Red Oak, and White Ash
seem to be possibilities. Is there a species lurking that could bump N. Red
Oak out of the top ten?

I am wondering if these new finds are indications of a broader trend in the
forests we are examining. Here is one of the most heavily measured forests
on the planet, and after 9 years of work in it, the forest is still yielding
surprises. I have seen similar examples from MTSF, recently when John
Eicholz found a new taller ash. If new records are still hidden in pockets
of our much measured forests, what can be found in pockets of old-growth,
older growth, or even younger forests that we are just beginning to explore,
or pockets we have not yet located.

We may be near the flat top edge of the curve for height for some species,
but for most species the picture is far from complete. Neil Pederson's
Eastern Old List is another example that comes to mind. Look at how many
species of trees there are in the eastern United States - 350+, and only a
handful have any accurate dendro date, and even fewer have ages even
approaching the maximums for those species. How long can these tree
species live, and how big can they grow?

Ed Frank

Re: Foundation Ridge Flat & new records!
  Sep 27, 2006 06:49 PDT 


This is one of the most exciting things to me about science. You never know
when the next discovery is going to made. If you're into trees in terms of age
and dimension parameters, the possibility of new discoveries are pretty good.
There are so few of us who are really doing this kind of work to such a high
degree of accuracy, that the prospects of a new discovery are pretty good as we
continue to build up our data base.

In terms of tree species to be on the lookout for at Cook Forest in regards to
new park height records that'll make the Rucker Index...

I'd be on the lookout for a new white ash record. The old record of 128.3ft has
stood for quite some time. It is located on a different flat bench along the
river amongst 130ft class tulips. This "new" bench I'm calling 'Foundation
Ridge Flat', may have some more sleepers after a thorough scouring. If we can
find 120ft class hickories and 140ft class tulips here, I'm thinking it's very
possible to find a new white ash record too. Carl already found one into the
lower 120ft class.

I'd keep my eyes open for a new park red oak record. There is probably more
than one red oak here that'll make the 120ft class. Up-river at Clear Creek
State Park, we had some that were just shy of 130ft.

That pignut really threw me for a loop. We've been finding shagbark, bitternut,
and pignut on the associated ridge to the very low 100ft class. All it takes is
for one of these babies to drop down to the flat for a new possible park record.
Although I still feel that finding another type of hickory to make it into the
RI is very slim.

This site is really a boulder field. Most rocks range from the size of a
bowling ball to about as big as your car seat, others can be about 2x as big as
your car. Springs run throughout the site, so water availability doesn't seem
to be an issue here either. It very much reminds me of being on the slopes in
the Monroe State Forest back up in Massachusetts.

RE: Foundation Ridge Flat & new records!
  Sep 27, 2006 15:13 PDT 


Well, it didn't stop there...

I was out re-checking old records today and was able to bump the RI up a little
bit more:

Longfellow Pine = 11.1ft CBH x 183.1 (up from 182.5ft on 11/19/2005)
Seneca Hemlock = 12ft CBH x 146.5 (up from 146.2ft on 1/20/06)
Colorado blue spruce = 5ft CBH x 113.4 (up from 112.8ft on 4/24/05)

So, Cook Forest RI now sits at 137.19:

Species          CBH   Height

E. white pine    11.1 183.1
E. hemlock       12    146.5
tuliptree        7.4   141.4
black cherry     11.4 137.3
white ash        7.6   128.3
Am. beech        7.5   127.5
white oak        10.7 127.3
pignut hickory   5     126.7
N. red oak       11    126.5


Re: Foundation Ridge Flat & new records!   Jess Riddle
  Sep 28, 2006 18:34 PDT 

Dale and Carl,

Those are fantastic finds. After seeing the forests around Toms Run
last year, I wouldn't have guessed that Cook would have 140'
tuliptrees. Those flats along the river must be completely different
forest. I agree, if that many height records could still be hiding in
Cook after all your efforts, you really have to wounder what's waiting
to be found at other sites.

RE: Foundation Ridge Flat & new records!   Carl Harting
  Sep 28, 2006 18:44 PDT 

the scarlet oak wasn't far from the parking area we used so I'll
get the GPS coordinates on my next visit. I should remeasure it anyway
since it was the first tree I measured and the fog was pretty thick
then. I'll be searching the flats along the Clarion River in the next
couple weeks to try pushing white ash over 130. I still need to measure
the one we found last winter in the Deer Meadows Old Growth area. I
tried to get Tony back to it 3 weeks ago but we were forced to retreat
because of an impending storm.