Re-energizing our Rucker Analysis Mission   Robert Leverett
  Nov 06, 2006 11:26 PST 

   Will's comment "That is a cool project. Just think of the resource if
the trees were measured properly!" set me to thinking. The number of
mis-measured trees in studies past and present done by others literally
swamp the number that have been measured right. The troubling
implication is that most of the tree height data that researchers will
be using is suspect at best and downright awful at worst. I've been
thinking about this situation and I've come to the conclusion that there
are two ENTS states of mind for coping. One is for us to feel
overwhelmed and perhaps slighted (Why didn't they ask us?) and just stay
focused in our world. The other, the better course, is to feel
energized. If we choose to be, we can eventually become the main source
of accurate tree height data in the East available for research
purposes. Additionally, we will have an increasing number of internal
uses for our data.

   Lee is biding his time until we collect enough data to warrant a
group of us, under his leadership, writing a paper on maximum tree
heights correlated to predictive variables. This project has been
mentioned several times before on the list, but most of the discussions
have been off-list. Lee has had the project in mind for some time, but
we're not there yet in terms of raw data. There are major gaps in our
dataset and they have to be filled carefully.

   It isn't enough just to visit more sites on whirlwind explorations,
grabbing a few numbers here and there. For serious research purposes,
our measurements need to reflect complete searches of the sites we
choose for inclusion. A single visit to a site by a single measurer is
nowhere near sufficient. One needs to spend enough collective time
on-site that the resulting dataset reliably reflects the maximum heights
for the species represented. That's the data that should feed the model
Lee has in mind. But, collecting the data is no mean task. Howeevr,
through sheer persistence, we now have a number of sites that have been
measured to saturation. The data are of impeccable quality. MTSF and
Cook Forest SP probably lead the list. A step down from saturation, we
have places like Hearts Content, Monroe State Forest, Zoar Valley, Ice
Glen, McConnell's Mill, a number of sites in the Smokies, several sites
in South Carolina, the Elders Grove in the Adirondacks, and the Congaree
NP in SC.

   We can live with near-saturation measuring to be reasonably confident
that our data represents the tallest trees to be found at the respective
sites. That is what we are after, but near-saturation coverage is very
labor-intensive. Alas, we need more troops.

   Next April, we will hold another rendezvous at Cook Forest State
Park, and as part of the rendezvous, we will have a tree-measuring
workshop, similar to the one that got rained out at MTSF on Oct 28th and
the one's we've held at Cook before. We encourage as many Ents as can
make it to come and join the elite of the eastern tree measurers. As an
outcome of the rendezvous, it would be great to add a couple of
measurers from the Mid-west. It would be the stuff that dreams are made
of to recrut someone to represent us in the
Alabama-Mississippi-Louisiana area. Larry? Also, Don Bragg could
probably use some help covering the southwestern corner of the range of
eastern species. Don is a non-man army, but his Forest Service duties
keep him occupied most of the time. Hey, maybe we can eventually get
state-oriented competitions going. Nothing wrong with a little
competition to sharpen the desire, resolve, etc. Anyone have ideas on
how do we get things started?

   In terms of replicating the working state models, I'd have to say
that Pennsylvania is our front runner. With Dale Luthringer, Scott Wade,
Ed Frank, Anthony Kelly, and Carl Harting on the job, Pennsylvania is in
very good shape. Okay fellows, what's your secret? Is it in the water?
BTW, any chance you all could adopt West Virgina? The Massachusetts crew
will adopt Maine if you all will adopt West Virginia.

   In terms of the eastern seaboard, whatever happened to Darian Copiz?
Darian, Oh, Darian, where are you, Darian? Delaware, Maryland, the D.C.
area, and northern Virginia are in need of coverage. Colby Rucker's
passing left a big hole in that region. We need at least two and
preferably three folks to cover it.

Re: Re-energizing our Rucker Analysis Mission
  Nov 06, 2006 12:58 PST 

Delaware is on the list for me. I live about 15 minutes from the state line. I don't think there is much to measure, except for the northern county of New Castle. Most of the state is in the coastal plain. We should get down there soon.