Fire Tower Road findings   Dale Luthringer
  Jan 25, 2007 17:24 PST 
Bob, Carl, Tony, Ed,

Spent a good portion of the day investigating the old growth on the flat
around Fire Tower Road, Mohawk & Deer Park trails. I've driven round
that 3 mile road countless times over the years, but rarely get a chance
to get out of the vehicle and explore. Found a couple of whoppers
amidst the arriving Lake Effect snows we're getting. Had a good ~30mph
wind move through at one point which knocked all the snow off the
surrounding trees. thought a couple of the trees were going to come
down, should have heard all those cracks & groans. Visibility at one
point was down to no more than 10ft! Never had that happen to me before
out in the woods. Driving through white out conditions at 30mph is one
thing, I expect to go to NO visibility, but out in the woods standing
still with NO visibility, that was a chilling experience. Went from
heavy snow to open skies & sunlight a couple of times. Sure was an
interesting weather day.

The Fire Tower Road area is heavily dominated by ancient hemlocks.
Hemlocks in the 10-11.5ft CBH range were common. Passed many of these
up to concentrate on finding the big ones. Ancient white, N. red, and
chestnut oaks, as well as red maple, black birch, and black gum are
scattered throughout the site. Found one white oak that was cut off a
gas line with a diameter of 1.9ft at ~20ft off the ground with ~210
rings. I re-read Orwig & Abrams' paper that was in Mary Byrd Davis' 1st
old growth book a couple of weeks ago. If I remember correctly, I
believe they sited a white oak somewhere in the vicinity of Fire Tower
Road to ~350 years! That ~350 year date is interesting, since we have a
cross section of a white oak recently felled at the campground to ~330
to a hollow center ~10ft up from the base.

Found a number of new 12x100 hemlocks as well as two more 150ft class
white pines! I thought we were totally out of them, but then again,
Cook Forest pulls out another surprise. There were a few 140's in the
mix as well. They were growing in a shallow drainage on the hill top.
As you exit Fire Tower Road, there is a "dip" you go down into before
coming back up on the rise again. They're about 100-150 yards up the
drainage from this "dip" in the road. I've been wanting to check this
site for years, but never dreamed they'd go to 140, let alone 150.
Closer to the road they're not impressive, barely breaking 125ft, but
further in there's a nice little batch of white pine & hemlock.

Noted at least 3 other hemlocks that would've broken 12ft CBH easy, but
had died within the last few years. Also had a massive snag Am. Beech
at 12.4ft CBH! It probably went down this last year. Would've creamed
the old park record of 11.5ft CBH! Awesome tree!

The day's tally follows:

Species            CBH     Height   Comments

Am. Beech        10.2      111.2

Black birch        7.7        87.1+    burled mass loaded with moss

Chestnut oak     7.2        102.1+

E. hemlock        10.2      128.6
E. hemlock        12.2      113.6
E. hemlock        12.5      122.1
E. hemlock        12.9      122.7
E. hemlock        16.9(2x) 126.4

N. red oak         12.2      103.8+

Pitch pine          5.6        90.7      beginning of Fire Tower Road,

Red maple         8.9        102.1+ burled mass of a tree
Red maple         10.2      112.4    re-measure, extremely long shags

White oak         10.6      96.1+
White oak         8.7        102.1+

White pine         9.3        141.1
White pine         11         142.6
White pine         11.5      146.7
White pine         11.3      148.9
White pine         10.1      150.8
White pine         10.2      150.8

What a day.

Re: Back to Dale
  Jan 26, 2007 05:32 PST 


I've still got a backlog of data to put in, at least I'm up to November 06 now,
but it appears we've got the following:

Height Class   # trees

150               79
160               26
170                3
180                1

That's 119 trees 150ft or higher.



   So what' the count of 150s now in Cook? It must be around 110.