The Coho Property:
Erie Bluffs State Park, PA
  NR, Cook Forest Env. Ed.
  Oct 04, 2003 06:54 PDT 


I made a second visit to the Coho Property adjacent to the Elk Creek Access Area along the cliffs overlooking Lake Erie in Erie, PA earlier this week. My property contact failed to show, so I took the opportunity to do some more exploring in search of its reported 'old growth'. I wish I had more local history of this site, but I just haven't had the time to do a thorough historical assessment. The contact said that this site was a recent win in terms of saving old growth from the saw. I'm still hoping I haven't observed what he's calling old growth.

I don't know what to say about this property other than I wouldn't personally call it old growth in terms of old trees. The cliff escarpments may be argued as old growth in terms of a perpetually young forest due to wind disturbance and cliff falls. I've yet to find an area that hasn't been harvested to some extent in the last roughly 100 years. I've found a few nice large and old trees near the edges of fields, along old pasture borders that are now forested (barbwire in trees), and others that balance near the cliff face overlooking Lake Erie. There is also evidence of an old road of sorts that goes right through the property. A large "wolf" N. red oak stands beside it at 13.7 x 87.1+.

I took my increment borer with me to help get a rough idea on some of what appeared to be some of the older specimens in the stand. I picked on one tuliptree in particular that was just starting to get a balding pattern at its base. This tree was 8ft CBH x 118.5ft+ high, and was very close to only 60 years old.

I did get into a small stand of sassafras. It's the first I've been able to measure in PA. The ridges on the bark reminded me of the old hemp ropes. I only measured 2 of what appeared to be the tallest in about a stand of ~10 trees. I cored one to very close to 70 years. They were on a flat about 75 yards from the cliff face, both were a bit taller than any Bruce and I measured in the Niagara Gorge (75.1ft+ and 78.1ft+). It was a very windy day, so these heights might be a bit short. Canopy dominant white ash were giving me problems as the branches intermingled in the wind. I had one height to 84.1+, but couldn't confirm it from farther away. Both shots were taken from directly underneath the tree.

There is one section that might go close to 100 years since management. It's on a bench just down from the sassafras stand. If you work your way up from Elk Creek, it's just west of where it empties into Lake Erie. There is a large old pipe system here. I'm not sure what it was used for, but may appear to be an old well that's been filled in. After reading my Great Uncle's account of the mouth of Wintergreen Gorge and Lake Erie, I suspect that this area may have experienced similar usage. I did find a nice butternut here. Actually it was quite a surprise and a nice end of the day treat. It's the first forest grown butternut I've been able to measure in PA. My Allegheny River butternut was on the edge of a road. I put the tree at 5.7 x 104.6ft. Looks like we don't have a lot of data on the ENTS list for butternut, but it may go as one of the taller one's we've measured. Were you getting butternuts commonly over 100ft in the Manhan River Terrace?

Oh, found my fattest E. hophornbeam to date. They used it as an old pasture fence post right on the edge of the escarpment. It still had barb wire hanging out of it at 4.4ft x 64.5.

The day's tally as follows:

Species CBH Height Comments

bitternut hickory 6.7 89.2
bitternut hickory 5.7 93.1+

butternut 5.7 104.6 42 1.353N x 80 22.538W

E. hemlock 5.8 94.5

E. hophornbeam 4.4 64.5 old pasture boundary tree

sassafras 4 75.1+
sassafras 3.7 78.1+ ~70 years old (great smell !)

tuliptree 8 118.5+ ~60 years

white ash 9.2 101.8

I've got 10 species documented in this site. There are sugar maple in here that would make it to 100ft, but not much more, although I haven't documented them yet. Rucker Index for the site suggests the following:

Species CBH Height Rucker Index

tuliptree 8 118.5+ 94.00
N. red oak 13.4 105.1+
butternut 5.7 104.6
white ash 7.9 102.1+
Am. beech 9.1 101.5+
E. hemlock 5.8 94.5
bitternut hickory 5.7 93.1+
sassafras 3.7 78.1+
cottonwood N/A 78
E. hophornbeam 4.4 64.5

Coho Property (Eagle's Nest)   Dale Luthringer
  Jan 24, 2004 10:36 PST 
Bob, Tom, Bruce,

Yesterday I was able to get into the Coho Property which has been reported as old growth by the Lake Erie Conservancy. I still haven't come across anything but a few secluded old trees. Everything in this area so far has been either mature 2nd growth or clearcut. I've got about 2 miles of coastline to check though, so I'm hoping I haven't seen the best the site has to offer.

The largest ravine area, called the Eagle's Nest by locals, is the next ravine system that I will try to get into. I went as far as my ankle would take me yesterday, which was one ravine short to the east. Regardless, I still was able to find some decent trees, including a new sassafras record.

The last ravine I made it to today was quite interesting. I stayed as far away from the lake cliffs as possible. It was only about 8F out, and the wind was really ripping off the lake... it's been awhile since the snot has frozen in my nose. I think I looked like Jack Frost by the time I got back to the vehicle with icicles hanging off my mustache. Anyway, the last ravine started in a series of wide ranging forks that converged just before dropping over the carapace down into the lake. I followed the forks toward the lake, and as I did the ground began getting steeper and steeper on each side of me. I started to feel like I was walking the plank by the time I got to the end where there ground dropped off steeply in front of me and both sides. At the end of this 'bridge' (about 5ft wide x 60ft long) was a large N. red oak that even the loggers didn't want to try to get. A CBH measurement for this tree was unattainable... maybe I should've employed the raccoon who had tracks all over the tree and lived within its bulk.

I've bumped the Rucker Index up a bit for this site as well as add another large N. red oak to our list of 12x100's. The day's tally as follows:

Species            CBH    Height    Comments

Am. beech        6.7      93.1+
Am. beech        7.1      81.1+
black cherry      5.9      93.1+
cottonwood       7.8      99.7
N. red oak        13.5     106.9      previously 13.4 x 105.1+
N. red oak        12.3     109.5      new 12x100, it was marked to be felled with a huge blue 'smiley face'
sugar maple     9.3         89.2
tuliptree           10.5      110.4
tuliptree           N/A       120.7     in bottom of steep ravine
tuliptree           10.1      106.5
tuliptree           9.7        128.4
sassafras        5.3          89.1
sassafras        5.1          98.4     new NE height record
white ash        6.3         105.1+
yellow birch      4.4         75.1+

Here's the latest Rucker Index for this site:

Species        CBH    Height    Status            Rucker Index

tuliptree        9.7      128.4                            102.79
N. red oak    12.3     109.5
white ash      6.3      105.1+
butternut       5.7      104.6      tallest PA
Am. beech    9.1      101.5
cottonwood   7.8        99.7
sassafras     5.1        98.4       tallest NE U.S.
E. hemlock 5.8        94.5
black cherry 5.3        93.1+
bitternut hickory 5.7 93.1+

The sassafras grow here in clumps of usually 3-4. I by no means measured them all. I just tried to get the tallest in each group. I think we can go over 100 if I can find some growing in one of the many steep ravines in the area. I just love the smell of sassafras. The more I see this tree, the more it becomes one of my favorites.

Coho Property revisited   Linda Luthringer
  Feb 06, 2004 20:21 PST 

After receiving more info on the location of tall trees on the Coho Property from those within the agency, I was prompted to give the site another go. This time I came in from the west side of Duck Run, about 1.5 miles west of Elk Creek along the Lake Erie shoreline, and was able to take some readings from much better vantage points. I was also able to get access to the bottom of the ravine via an old corduroy road which terminates at the lake. My ankle was also feeling better, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I wasn't disappointed. Perseverance pays off again.

This particular ravine system is the longest in the property at close to 3/4 miles long. By the time you get to the lake, there is about a 100ft drop in elevation from the plateau to the streambed. The area is dominated by a number of nice tuliptrees in the mid-upper 130ft class, including one in the 140ft range. I also found a nice N. red oak which turned out to be my personal best in terms of height, and a decent white ash in the 120ft class. There were a number of red oaks in here to the 110ft class, and a decent # of tulips in the 130ft class, but after about 3 RI iterations, the site index will drop down dramatically to back around the lower 100's.

All in all, it was a good day. The N. red oak elicited one ENTS yell. The white ash and 140ft class tulip were also a surprise to me. This should be the best of what this property has to offer. There still may be a couple of large CBH trees to find along the escarpments and another small ravine system, but I think I've now saturated this site and am ready to move on. The day's tally as follows:

Species            CBH    Height    

E. hemlock       N/A         78
E. hemlock       6.2         106.5
N. red oak        N/A        110.6
N. red oak        7.6         115.4
N. red oak         9.7        123.4    
sugar maple      N/A       104.6
tuliptree            N/A       116.9
tuliptree            8           133.3
tuliptree            9.8        134
tuliptree            7.4        134.6+
tuliptree            6.5        136.3
tuliptree            8           137.1
tuliptree            8.4        140.3    
white ash          5.8        115.5
white ash          7.4        120.5

Here's the latest Rucker Index:

Species            CBH    Height    Comments         Rucker Index

tuliptree            8.4        140.3                                109.59
N. red oak        9.7        123.4    personal best
white ash          7.4        120.5
E. hemlock       6.2        106.5
sugar maple     N/A        104.6
butternut          5.7         104.6   tallest PA
Am. beech       9.1          101.5
cottonwood      7.8            99.7
sassafras         5.1           98.4   tallest NE
sycamore        14.7         96.4

I've also attached an updated list of Rucker Index comparisons for the state. A brief run-down of RI site comparisons of the state follows:

Site                                Rucker Index

Cook Forest State Park        135.27
Wintergreen Gorge               127.89
Fairmont Park                      127.72
Ricketts Glen State Park      119.85
Anders Run Natural Area      118.65
Heart's Content Natural Area 113.79
Walnut Creek Gorge             112.52
Alan Seeger Natural Area      111.13
Coho Property                      109.59
Tionesta Natural Area             109.36
Glenwood Park                      98.08

Next stop, Lake Erie Community Park. I'll wager an initial guess to 105-110 on the Rucker Index with this site. I may be wrong, but it's interesting to see where the numbers turn up as I continue to gain experience in assessing site quality in terms of significant tree height. There may be some ~140ft tulips in here. There are some nice sugars in here that I'm hoping will go to 120. Throw in a N. red and a white ash to 120 for good measure, and I think we've got the making of another ~110 class site. It may not be much when compared to other sites, but it's interesting to see where the 2nd growth sites are starting to pan out in rank with the old growth sites.

Re: Coho Property revisited
  Feb 07, 2004 05:08 PST 


Fine work. You are accumulating a good spread of sites for PA that is giving us a much better feel for how rare a Rucker index of 130 is.

We'll need to add a good 50 sites around the Northeast to our list, but eventually, the exceptional sites will hopefully be recognized by others than just ourselves for what they are, i.e. truly exceptional.

   I'm getting itchy to get out there and resume the documentation work.