Summit Draws Near   Robert Leverett
  Oct 22, 2003 06:25 PDT 


   The long awaited forest summit lecture series begins tomorrow evening
at Holyoke Community College. The time is 6:30PM. The location is the
Forum in C Building, also named the Donahue Building. The agenda is
posted on the HCC website.

   Gary Beluzo and I have watched with relief as the interest has built
up over our stated educational mission. It wasn't a given. We'll
eventually reel in representatives from all the stakeholders, but
initially, participation by some groups will likely be minimal. As the
pressure on them builds to send representatives (since others at the
series will be talking about the missing parties), we expect that about
a year down the road, we'll have full representation. Then we'll be
rocking and rolling. HCC will be where the action is.


Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society
Direction of Lecture Series   Robert Leverett
  Oct 22, 2003 10:31 PDT 


     The interest in the HCC forest summit lecture series is growing
rapidly. Gary and I are pleased, if not relieved. However, we've been
down the road before. The first old growth forest conference devoted
exclusively to eastern OG was the one we organized at the University of
North Carolina in Aug 1993. It was a spectacular success, but we were
nervous before hand. Since that first conference, we've held 4
additional full eastern old growth conferences, 2 old growth definitions
symposia at Harvard Forest, and a special old growth conference for
landowners at Sweet Brier College in VA. That's 8 events. We'll have
another full eastern OG conference in New Hampshire next fall. However,
the forest summit lecture series is of a different breed. In the lecture
series, we're not calling out to the choir, but to a broader spectrum of
the public. Our goal is public education.

     A good reason why Holyoke Community College is an ideal place to
hold the forest lecture series is that it provides us with a neutral
location. HCC is not beholding to any funding sources that could
pressure us to stray into advocacy of a special interest. So while we
will invite forest stakeholders who have commercial designs on our
forests to make presentations. They won't get a free ride. There will be
opposing viewpoints.

     Gary and I will hammer home the point that the goal of the forest
summit lecture series will be to get at the truth, whatever the truth
may be. Of course, we also want to have fun. Some future topics that the
lecture series will include will be:

   1. Role of forests in climate stabilization

   2. Roles of state and federal agencies in forest use, conservation,
and preservation - who is doing what and how well?

   3. Threats to old growth icons

   4. Whither goes the profession of forestry

   5. Forest health - what defines a healthy forest

   6. Forests of the past

   7. Native American uses of the forest

   8. The many roles of trees in our lives

   9. Forest canopies as seen through the eyes of Will Blozan

10. The icons of the environmental movement

11. Modern forest stakeholders - who they are, what they want

12. Forest practices - good and bad

13. Threats to our forests and trees

14. The many roles of the Eastern Native Tree Society

   15. Big beautiful trees and the people who photograph and paint them

    16 Forest researchers and what they are learning

      Hopefully, this sample of topics of topics is broad enough that
more and more people will come to learn.


Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society
A heck of a four days
   Oct 27, 2003 13:13 PST 


     The 1st forest summit lecture series enters the pages of forest history. The two-day series was very successful by the goals we had established. More will be said about the two-day series in the future, but for now, we are off to a good start and look forward to the next event.

      In terms of big tree confirmations and tree climbs, all we can say is WOW! But before getting into the details, I must first humbly bow to my better, Will Blozan. On October 23rd, Will began a tree-measuring blitz by confirming a hop hornbeam in Monroe State Forest. Ed pointed out the tree. It is one I had walked passed on at least a dozen prior occasions, usually leading groups of people and talking. The hop hornbeam's circumference is 3.7 feet, and as such is respectable, but its height is amazing. At 78.1 feet, it is the new eastern U. S. A. height record for the species. Mark up a big one up for Will Blozan. I'm sure that with the spotlight on the species, the Monroe State Forest record will soon fall, but for a few weeks or months, may Monroe bask in glory.

     Elsewhere in Monroe, an 89-foot tall, 15-foot circumference northern red oak held our attention. It was no slouch, nor was the 126-foot tall white ash. Monroe State Forest continues to tease us and beckon to us to take this small state property seriously as a worthy big tree site. With a Rucker Index already above 120, I think we can eventually get it up to 122 or 123, but don't see much of a possibility for a higher value. The species that needs to be improved vis a vis the Rucker Index is oddly the sugar maple. I just haven't found the mother load yet. There is almost certainly a 120 somewhere and possible a 125.

      On Friday, a re-measurement of the three giant Connecticut River Valley sycamores produced some nice surprises. The statistics now favor the Sunderland Sycamore even more than they did. The measurements are:

   Name     Height Girth Spread Points Measurer

Sunderland 114.4 24.9 143 449 WB
Hatfield   117.1 23.9 129 436 WB/BL
Deerfield 122.1 21.7 112 411 WB/BL

     Crown spreads for the Hatfield and Deerfield trees are from older measurements and may be understated. Incidentally, the point total for Connecticut's Pinchot sycamore is 456 points.

     After the Sunderland sycamore measurements, Will bagged two more 120+ foot cottonwoods on the Hatfield flood plain. Both scale out at 123.6 feet in height. This brings to 11 the number of 120+ foot tall cottonwoods measured in Massachusetts. The significant cottonwood database has 120 trees in it. Perhaps we can add another 2 or 3 before the snow flies. The average height for the 120 trees is 108.8 feet.

     In terms of climbs, ENTS's distinguished president Will Blozan scored big successes. On Friday Oct 24th, Will and his climbing partner Ed made it up the huge Tecumseh tree and we taped it to 160.1 feet. This tree had given us fits for years, but we now have a good baseline measurement. Actually Howard Stoner gets credit for the closest measurement with laser and clinometer. Howard is getting to be a whiz. Congratulations Howard! You da man! Several other measurements by Lee Frelich and myself were slightly under to slightly over the taped length. If they were all averaged together, we'd be very close to the taped height of the Tecumseh Tree. Incidentally, Will and Ed were hit be a snow squall while at the top of the tree. Wow! Ed dropped down 8 feet to provide better counterbalance. It got a bit sporty for them. Those of us on the ground were getting worried.

     On Saturday morning, the day was gorgeous. We had a large group sponsored by Mass Audubon. Will skipped on ahead to look for trees to bring up the Rucker Index. In short order, he truly humbled me. I was both delighted and embarrassed. Will found 3 new 150-footers in Mohawk Trail State Forest in the Pocumtuck grove! That brought the total of 150-footers in Mohawk up to 39. The three additions are all in the Pocumtuck grove, a tightly packed stand of pines 100 to 110 years old. Three new ones? That is beyond my wildest hopes. More on where the sneaky 150-footers were hiding in a future e-mail. But first, I've got to toot my own horn.

     Later that day on our walk through the Encampment grove, I managed to break 100 feet on a white oak at 101.8 feet tall and 8.2 feet in circumference. This white oak becomes the 20th native species to break 100 feet in Mohawk. There is a total of 22. So much for my exploits. Back to Will. Will made 116.7 feet (I think) on a red pine. The tree grows in the 1930s CCC pine stand in Mohawk. Will's confirmation makes the tree the second tallest of its species in Mass. It is a darn good find. Will also pegged a Norway spruce at 117.7 feet in height, which becomes the new height record for the species in Mohawk, beating my old record of 117.1 feet. By this time Will was really starting to rub it in. Then it happened. He bagged another 150-footer! I'm serious as a heart attack and right on the side of a trail. It wasn't even hiding. Well, that was number 40 for Mohawk. Oh the shame, the shame. In my own back yard! Under my nose. In a matter of hours, Will had increased Mohawk's total of 150-footers by 11%! How long had it taken me to make my incremental gains? Oh, the shame, the shame.

     Well, I was feeling more chipper on Sunday morning Oct 26th, when Lee, Will, Ed, and I headed north to Claremont, NH. Will's objective was to climb a splendid white pine that John Knuerr and I had measured the year before. The pine grows at an altitude of 400 feet and a latitude of a little less than 43.4 degrees. It had been given the status of New England's tallest accurately measured tree per John's and my measurements. However, we needed to get a good fix on it. We had bagged four 160-footers the year before at the private Claremont site and 150-footers had proven to be more common than I had originally thought. On this trip, a number of laser-clinometer measurements taken by Lee Frelich and myself averaged out to be about 164.5 feet. However, the taped height of the tree turned out to be 164.1 feet. Not too shabby. The key to accuracy is the laser-clinometer combination and statistics, statistics, statistics. - which is what we've been saying all along to bring the measured height to with +/- 1.0 feet of taped height.

   Will and his climbing partners can now claim to have climbed higher into trees in North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire than any other person. Tennessee can probably be added to the list.

   While Will and Ed swayed to and fro in the top of that extraordinarily skinny Claremont white pine, Lee Frelick and I measured other trees. I was trying to nab all the 160-footers and thought there were six. To cut to the chase, I discovered this morning, to my surprise, that we had confirmed a total of seven 160-footers. I had thought the number to be six, but no, we actually have seven. Two are in a shallow ravine just north of the ravine with the tree that Will and Ed climbed. One of the two new trees was measured by Lee to a height of 166.1 feet. I got 165.5 feet. It is probably the tallest. So Lee now holds the record for Wisconsin and New Hampshire. Well, Will will just have to return in 2004 and confirm Lee's measurement. Its girth is a respectable 10.3 feet. By contrast, the girth of the tree that Will climbed is a slender 8.2 feet. When the wind blew, and it did, the tree swayed mightily. Will has plenty of images and hopefully he'll share some with other Ents.

    One observation Will made that I'm now hesitant to dispute is the density of 150-footers in the private Claremont Stand. Will believes that it is the highest in the Northeast, including the indominatable Cook Forest. I'll bet Dale's mouth just went agape. After spending about 4.5 hours in a fairly confined area measuring, counting, and observing I think Will may be correct. Let's see why. There are about 20 acres of the tall pines, maybe more. The stand averages between 160 and 190 years of age with a few trees near the Connecticut River over 200 years. Within the concentration of seven 160-footers, it stood to reason that there would be a lot of 150-footers. Well there are. They are all over the place. I would guess that a 10 acre area averages at least ten 150-footers per acre and we can probably get another 2 or 3 per acre out of the remaining 10 acres for a total of about 125. However, there is a chance that there could be double that number. At this point, I'm from Missouri. We will just have to do a lot more measuring to settle the question. The problem in quick passes through the area is that many of the pines have re-grown from broken crowns. Long side branches make seeing the full length of a tree quite difficult. Also a scattering of deciduous species, especially black and yellow birch, when leafed out, creates a sub-canopy that makes seeing the tops of tall pines virtually impossible. The bottom line is that gathering data on the Claremont forest's vertical structure can only occur when the deciduous trees have lost their leaves and even then is extremely time consuming. We'll be at it likely for several years. Nonetheless, Will's observations about the density of 150-footers is not to be taken lightly. He's probably right. Plus, Will has a distinct advantage. He's seen the forest from the top of the canopy and he reported to us tall pines jutting up everywhere.

    The hardwoods growing among the white pines at Clarremont are not exceptional, but neither are they wimps. Lee measured a white ash to over 115 feet in height. Many hemlocks grow among the pines, but appear to reach heights of 110 to 115 feet with a few topping 120. The Rucker Index of the Claremont site is likely between 117 and 120. However, it would take a lot of time to nudge it past 120.

    Well, we're nearing the end of the report covering the whirlwind events of the past few days. As the Eastern Native Tree Society continue gains in prominence, the need grows for us to solidify an organizational structure to keep us rolling and to keep us focused. Dr. Lee Frelich has agreed to act as the society's vice president. It all came about in an unplanned way, but that's okay. With Will as the president and Lee as the vice president, we are assured of a continued strong focus on science to include plenty of views from the canopy. We don't just putter around at ground level.

    Finally, on Saturday, we paid tribute to the passing of a dear friend. We dedicated a splendid white pine in the Algonquin grove of MTSF to our friend Karl Davies who recently passed away from cancer. The dedication was attended by 60 people. Karl's tree stands near Michael Perlman's tree. Mike passed away in April 1998. Karl passed on October 2003. Both Karl and Mike were protectors of the forest. They chose different, but equally important and necessary routes.

   One of Karl's close friends and fellow Quakers told me that he often walked the Mahican-Mohawk trail and had always admired the tree we dedicated to Karl. It seemed so fitting. We appreciated all who came to pay their respects to Karl. The tall pine stands as living monument to Karl and his work. We invite all to walk the trail and to remember Karl and Mike as they pass their trees.



More on the summit and aftermath   Robert Leverett
  Oct 28, 2003 09:06 PST 


   The Forest Summit lecture series got off to a good start with an
interview conducted by yours truly of Dr. Lynn Rogers. That interview
could have easily lasted another half hour, but that is all the more
reason to have Lynn return next year.

    Dr. Charles Cogbill then provided us with an impressive array of
data on the forest composition of pre-settlement New England. Charlie
quickly dashed myths about the abundance of white pine and where the
chestnuts grew before turning to the subject of tension zones that
separate forest types. It was a good way to start the public education
process about New England forests. Basically Charlie's material was new
to most of the attendees.

    Dr. Lee Frelich followed with a very interesting and thought
provoking presentation on old growth processes and definitions. We need
to think very seriously about Lee's concepts. There is much to discuss
on the subject on how we should view old growth on our list.

    Dr. David Orwig concluded the first evening with a detailed look at
the OG research on Mount Wachusett and Mount Everett that Harvard Forest
is doing and a general look at what we can expect in the way of future
OG research coming from Dave and Tony Damato via Dave's UMASS

    Dr. Tom Diggins started off on Friday evening with a detailed
presentation on the gorge-bottom OG forests of Zoar Valley, NY. He made
a compelling case for their full protection and pointed out what we have
so often seen, namely that the on-scene resource managers have a poor
understanding of the resource. Tom's presentation was followed by Will
Blozan's on the great forests and trees of the Smokies, Congaree, and
elsewhere in the southern Apps. Will did marvelously considering that
only a few hours before he had been in the top of the Tecumseh Tree as
the latter swayed to and fro in a passing snow squall. Thanks to Will's
and Ed's climb, we taped the great tree's height to 160.1 feet. Given
that the tree has always been a doozy to measure, we are pleased as
punch. All four of Will's climbs have been of trees that Jack Sobon and
I originally measure with a transit. Finally, the Tree Amigos made a
presentation on great forests and trees of Massachusetts. Yours truly
acted as the mouthpiece speaking for Susan Benoit, Lisa Bozzuto, Eleanor
Tillinghast (ladies first), John Knuerr, Gary Beluzo, Howard Stoner, and
Burl-belly. However, I got wound up and couldn't get stopped. Before I
knew it, the clock read 5 minutes of 10:00PM. The presentation was
supposed to end at 9:30PM. Fortunately for me, gary didn't have one of
those hooks such as was used on the old Gong Show.

   We'll now begin work on the second of the series, which will be held
in the spring. Early April will likely be the time. Gary and I will be
talking today about the agenda, but it will be focused on management and
forest practices.

   With respect to Saturday's new additions to the 150 Club in Mohawk,
I'm now chomping at the bits to see if John, Gary, Howard, and I can add
one more before the snow flies. As good luck, I plan to turn toward
Black Mountain, NC the morning before measuring and bow "tree times".
Yeah, I know. Bad!

    The trip to Claremont on Sunday is still fresh on my mind. Great
place! The density of 150-footers there is definitely an issue begging
to be settled. There is no doubt that the density of 150-footers beats
any other New England site. Averaging between 160 and 190 years of age,
the trees at Claremont are older than those at Mohawk. However, Mohawk's
trees are growing considerably faster and in Will's eyes will catch up
to Claremont in 10 to 15 years. I can live with that.


Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society



Lecture Series

Hosted by

Holyoke Community College

Eastern Native Tree Society

Event 1

October 23-24, 2003


Thursday Evening (6:30-9:30 pm)

"The Bear Man Commeth":


    Dr. Lynn Rogers is no ordinary wildlife biologist. He is to black bear research as Dr. Jane Goodall is to chimpanzees. In fact Drs. Goodall and Rogers know one another. Dr. Rogers is no stranger to Massachusetts nor to Holyoke Community College . But what is new in black bear research? Join Lynn Rogers and Robert Leverett as Bob interviews Lynn to reveal interesting new facts, the direction of black bear research, and the outlook for the black bear throughout its range. Learn the answers to these and other fascination questions about those wonderful, but much maligned and misunderstood black bears.

New England 's Forested Past:


     What were the original forests of New England like? Were the same species that we see today the dominant ones in the pre-settlement period. What species have dropped out? Which ones have colonized in recent centuries? How did Native Americans impact the landscape? What was the role of species like white pine in colonial New England ? What changes have taken place in our forests? These and many other fascinating questions will be answered by Dr. Charles Cogbill , one of New England 's most knowledgeable forest ecologists. Join us as Dr. Cogbill explores the forests of New England present and past.


Old Growth Forests Fact or Myth:


      We frequently hear the term old growth in terms of the forests of the Pacific Northwest and the tropical Rain Forests. But exactly what are old growth forests? How do they become old growth? Are they immutable or will they change in the coming decades/centuries? Are they all the same?   Join Dr. Lee Frelich , Director of The Center for Hardwood Ecology, University of Minnesota , as he takes us through the old growth morass. Dr. Frelich is one of the East's premier old growth forest ecologists and has spent years decoding the mysteries of how these forest ecosystems work. Come learn the answers. Fact is more fascinating than fiction.


Massachusetts Old Growth Surprises:


      Two decades ago, the perception of most experts was that Massachusetts had no old growth forests, but researchers have turned that notion on its head. Massachusetts has some remarkable areas of old growth and they are being systematically studied by forest ecologists such as Dr. David Orwig . Join Dr. Orwig as he presents his current research into the old growth forests of two disparate, but equally fascinating places Mount Wachusett in central Mass and Mount Everett in southwestern Mass. This is your opportunity to separate fact from fiction and to hear where old growth research in Massachusetts is going.



Friday Evening (6:30-9:30 pm)

Zoar Valley: Where the Giants Dwell:

    Zoar Valley is the hidden jewel of western New York state, a 1,400 acre-virigin canyon forest that amazingly escaped official notice until the late 1990's.  How did this happen?  Join Dr. Thomas Diggins from Youngstown State University as he discusses the ecological and historical importance of one of the Northeast's last surviving primeval forests and surveys its ancient forests and tall trees.  Learn of threats to this jewel and what's being done to save it.

Great Forests I Have Known:

    Will Blozan is an eastern legend.  This Co-founder and President of the Eastern Native Tree Society and former scientist with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park now runs an arborist service in Black Mountain, North Carolina.  But in his spare time he climbs the tallest trees in the eastern United States, including the great white pines of Mohawk Trail State Forest in MA.  Join Will for a memorable slideshow of his most interesting climbs and his photographic documentations of the eastern United States remaining great forests.

The Hidden Jewels of Massachusetts:

    Who says Massachusetts doesn't have big trees and charismatic forests?  Join Adjunct Professor and ENTS Excecutive Director Robert Leverett, HCC Professor Gary Beluzo, and Photographer John Knuerr in a memorable tour of the great forests and trees of Massachusetts.  Learn of historic Bay State trees that have stood for centuries and New England's premier lofty forest, the Mohawk Trail State Forest.  You will never think of Massachusetts woodlands in the same way again.  Don't miss this opportunity to glimpse the great Massachusetts forests of the past that are still with us today.