Maple Drive Gallery,  Cook Forest State Park, PA  
     Dale Luthringer and Edward Frank

April 12, 2005,  Page 1 of 1

Maple Drive Gallery 2 of 2

Ed Frank and I made a recent trip out to the Maple Drive old growth area today. It was a great time to take a break and enjoy a beautiful spring day after we tied up loose ends getting AV equipment ready for the ENTS Rendezvous next weekend. - Dale Luthringer

I am going to do a  parallel commentary  with Dales as we share this trip report.  My notes will be in brown and italicized to distinguish them from Dale Luthringer's comments.  Maple Drive is an area on the extreme northwestern boundary of the park.  Dale has posted descriptions previously, but thus was my first time to accompany him to the area.  Click on the thumbnails for larger versions of the images - Ed Frank 
Ed took a bunch of nice pictures of the area that give a decent feel for the site. I was also able to take a few cores of select white pines which helped to confirm it as a multi-age stand, and also to get a handle on when past logging practices occurred

 Ed first got a few shots of some nice northern red oaks. A few nearby easily made it to the "coveted" 12x100 club. The largest approached 13.5ft CBH x 117ft high.

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Large Red oak - one of many from the areas south of Maple Drive.  Conifers were at some point selectively removed from this section, but several of these large oaks remain from past timbering operations.

We then came across a porcupine kill. There was a fairly sizeable pile of quills and fur underneath a small hemlock tree that this particular porcupine was feeding on for quite some time. Clipped ends of hemlock branches littered the landscape underneath the tree's dripline as well as a decent amount of scat. Looks like he stayed in one area too long... long enough for one of our fishers to home in on him. 
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Porcupine Quills - a massive amount of quills with no actual body present.  There were signs of porcupine activity elsewhere in our excursion today, so they are certainly active in the park.

Leaves have not budded out yet at Cook Forest. Am. beech leaves still reluctantly cling to their branches as a reminder to the heyday of brilliant colors from last fall. Our last batch of winter snow has just melted within the last week. 

I always thought it was interesting how many beech leaves would cling to their branches the entire winter.  This particular area was dominated by American beech.  It is a shame that the tree has been severely reduced in n umbers across much of its range.

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American Beech leaves 

I cored 3 different size and bark classes of white pines to try to get a feel for site history. Past select logging is evident due to old white pine stumps and an old buggy/logging road of sorts that runs adjacent to this area. 

It appears that there are at least 3 and possibly 4 white pine age classes. The smallest girthed pine (6.8ft CBH) went close to 95 years, the next largest (~7.5ft CBH) went close to 130 years, the largest and most twisted crown specimen (~9.5ft CBH) went close to 160 years.
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Coring the 160 year old pine

The largest girth and tallest pine, which topped out at 11.3ft CBH x 161.2ft high (note Ed's "pine overview" shot), appeared to be in yet another older age class. It was too big to effectively core, but I suspect it should surpass 200 years.

These rough cores would correlate to various logging practices of the general area. I'm not sure when this acreage was actually deeded over to the park, but the earliest logging in this area would not be before 1828. Cores suggest white pine recruitment in the following time frames: 1840's, 1870's, and early 1900's.  

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Pine Overview of the 161.2 foot tall by 11.3 foot CBH white pine.  Dale is at the base of the pine for scale.

Many times white pine were harvested here first. After that market dwindled, hemlock bark was more valuable, so another select harvest was often made at previously harvested sites. This would explain the loss of ancient white pine and hemlock throughout the majority of this area. Of course, more cores would be needed to make a more accurate assessment of this site, but it is a decent start. pine02.jpg (102227 bytes)

Base of the 161.2 foot pine.  Again Dale is present for scale.

I was pleased that we had the time to visit some other interesting trees in the area. We found one black cherry that had a very peculiar burl at its base. If you were to look closely at its base just up from the downhill side, there was still enough room to see the original base below the burl. The burl almost resembled a really fat beer gut hanging over a belt line... no Bob, yours was never THAT bad...
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Black Cherry Burl - very low on the trunk of the tree.