Allegheny National Forest    
   Dec 17-26, 2002  
Sent: Tuesday, December 17, 2002 9:21 PM
Subject: Allegheny National Forest


Hi, I was just checking out a favorite website of mine and stumbled upon
something that may be of interest to some. Check out   It has a piece on the Allegheny National Forest.
On the homepage you'll find the new Winter 2003 "Forest Voice." Just
click on that until you get a list of articles featured in the new
Forest Voice. You may want to stay away from the Acrobat Reader version
as it takes a long time to load.

Also, on the website they have a good slideshow with some good big tree
pics and some depressing clearcuts.


From: Rory Nichols 
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2002 2:50 PM
Subject: Re: Allegheny National Forest

Dale, et al:

On the 2nd page of the article, I found that G.G. Whitney study
interesting about how black cherry made up less than 1 percent in the
early 1800's and now it is 28 percent of the overstory and as much as 50
percent of the understory. Also, the fact that the Allegheny has been
the most heavily logged national forest in the East for the past 30
years. I never would of guessed. Course I haven't been there. With all
the oil drilling and logging in the Allegheny, is this as much a common
sight as the article indicates?

How close is Cook Forest to the Allegheny NF?


From: Dale J. Luthringer 
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2002 4:42 PM
Subject: RE: Allegheny National Forest


The article might be a slight exaggeration, but it probably wasn’t too
far off. One thing I didn’t mention on my last post about my latest
trip to the Tionesta Research Natural Area was my investigation of a
“highway” on the other side of a ridge. When I went to investigate, I
found out the noise turned out to be a noisy gas well pump that was
active within the research natural area. I actually thought that I was
near a highway because of the noise. Just when I thought I was miles
away from civilization, a gas well attendant drives by with a 4WD
pick-up. Then about a ½ hour later a back-hoe and another 4WD goes by
from the forest service. The nearest town was about 7 miles away.

If I recall, one of my first comments on the Tionesta Scenic Area was
that it was nothing short of a black cherry farm. Supposedly, nothing
was removed from the Tionesta Scenic Area or Tionesta Research Natural
Area after the 1985 tornado. I’d partially agree with that in terms of
the natural area, but I don’t think this was entirely the case with the
scenic area. I may just be getting my borders messed up, but the area
surrounding the scenic and research natural area is definitely a black
cherry farm. I’ve observed a lot of black cherry and red maple in the
overstory with Am. beech being the dominate understory specie.

There is no doubt that the ANF has been intensively managed over the
years to produce black cherry.

Cook Forest is about a 45-60 minute drive southwest of the Tionesta
Scenic Area within the ANF. The southernmost boundary of the ANF
actually borders the Clarion River about 25 miles up-river from Cook
Forest. Another southern boundary of the ANF is only about 10 miles
north of Cook Forest.


From: Rory Nichols 
Sent: Sunday, December 22, 2002 12:56 AM
Subject: Re: Allegheny National Forest


Thanks, Dale. Yeah, that would be quite a surprise hearing the sound of
a "highway" out in the middle of the "natural area." Do you know if they
are still able to drill new wells within Tionesta RNA and SA? ........
Sounds like the place is getting quite a bit of action.

During your time out there, were you mainly in the Tionesta RNA

Thanks again,


From: Dale  J. Luthringer
Sent: Saturday, December 21, 2002 10:12 PM
Subject: RE: Allegheny National Forest


I really don’t know if they are able to drill new wells in this area.
Gas companies still have mineral rights to the ground under the trees,
but I don’t know to what extent of power they have as in new access to
the resource. You might want to browse this site to see if they have
any of the information you’re interested in or if you’d like to contact
someone at the ANF:

Most of my time has been spent in the scenic area. I just recently
discovered the “natural area”. I believe it will take a number of other
visits to get a good handle on what is really in there. Comments from
those who have spent many hours in this section have informed me that
they don’t believe there is any old growth white pine that is so
abundant at Cook Forest.

It looks like they do have some nice old growth hemlock stands, but not
to the height that is attained at Cook Forest. I’ve yet to find one
hemlock here that is in the 130ft class. I’ve only found one to date
that even makes it in the 120ft class. Cook has numerous trees in the
130ft class and a handful in the lower 140ft class. The tallest that
Bob Leverett and I have found in the state is at
Snyder-Middleswarth/Tall Timbers Natural Area in Huntingdon County at
142.8ft. Cook Forest has the next tallest at 142.2ft.


From: Rory Nichols 
Sent: Tuesday, December 24, 2002 4:41 PM
Subject: Re: Allegheny National Forest


Thanks for the URL. I'll have to check it out when I get some internet
access. It wouldn't seem right if PGE and whoever else can get new

Would the reason for no old growth white pine be because of the forest
itself being older? Is white pine similar to douglas fir usually being
one of the first tree species after disturbance to pop up? Then later
giving way to hemlock, red cedar and anything else more shade tolerant.
Gee... I can't remember the terms they use for the different stages
after a disturbance. I just remember for example after a fire the
grasses/herbs come up, next the shrubs, then later the trees take over.

How tall is the tallest hemlock in the east now? What height has eastern
hemlock been known to reach?


From: Robert Leverett 
Sent: Tuesday, December 24, 2002 5:01 PM
Subject: Re: Allegheny National Forest

    Will Blozan will likely want to give you a full answer to your
question about the eastern hemlock. But as a starter, we have measured
them to a hair under 170 feet in the Smoky Mountains, and above 167 feet
in South Carolina. From all records that we have available, these are
the tallest accurately measured hemlocks, past or present. It is very
rare that we can feel with relative certainty that we have the best of a
species past or present still growing today. Eastern hemlock may be the
only species for which we can make the claim. I'll pipe down here and
give Will Blozan, the #1 supporter of this species, a chance to continue
telling you about it.



Great battery of questions! Looks like Bob and Will have answered most
of your hemlock questions. Will has found some dandies in the Smokies
and is probably best able to answer your species upper limit questions.

For Pennsylvania though, Bob, Will, Bob VanPelt (BVP), and I have
documented only 4 hemlock in the 140ft range. Going to the 150ft class
in PA is very improbable. Bob and I have documented the tallest hemlock
in the state to 142.8ft which is located in Snyder-Middleswarth Natural
Area just east of State College. The next tallest are in Cook Forest
with three that Bob, Will, and BVP have documented… the tallest is at
142.2 with the other two at 142 and 141.6. There may be a couple more,
but I have yet to do a thorough survey of the area that these three are
located in.

Your white pine question is the same one that I asked myself as I walked
through a large part of the Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Area.
The entire area of “4000” is touted as never having been logged.
Even though I don’t agree with this statement, there are some decent old
growth hemlock remaining in the research natural area stand. Large
stands of white pine are usually associated with some type of
disturbance in the past such as fire or tornados. Dendrochronology
studies suggest that around the mid 1600’s a large scale fire swept
through not only Cook Forest but also a large part of the ANF and
surrounding areas. The last stand of “virgin” white pine was supposed
to have been harvested just outside of Sheffield, PA in I believe the
1920’s. This would be pretty close to where the Tionesta old growth is
located. ANF literature states that there are hemlock and beech 300-400
years old here. They are both shade tolerant species and are those that
would represent a ‘climax’ forest in this area. White pine are shade
intolerant species. Many of Cook Forest’s oldest white pine are in the
300-350 year age range. Once these die out, the upper canopy will be
totally dominated by hemlock and beech such that is seen in the Tionesta
Research Natural Area.

I haven’t done a lot of research yet into the past logging practices of
the ANF since I’ve been quite busy cataloging Cook Forest’s old growth
and other PA Natural Areas. The folks at the ANF forest research center
at Irvine, PA (near Warren) should have a good scientific assessment of
past dominant old growth trees in this area. My main concern is that it
looks to me as if there was logging in the area that they say has never
been logged, but let’s say it happened more than 150 years ago. If so,
this would still classify as old growth via there definition. The
problem is that there are conflicts in the literature which I believe
stems from various national, state, and private agencies that have
promoted the area as totally uncut for a number of reasons. This
results in a public that is very upset and disappointed when they go to
these areas and witness a totally different scenario. What I’d really
like to know, is that if there was once white pine in this stand prior
to the mid 1800’s that have long since been selectively cut. If so,
there may be some great opportunities in terms of scientific study and
similarities between the ANF and Cook Forest.