Native Tree Society Expertise

The expertise of an organization is not only reflected in the credentials of its officers and members, but in the accomplishments of the organization as a whole, and the contributions made by its regular members.  The Native Tree Society has strength in all of these areas.  Under the original ENTS we became known as the foremost tree measuring group of the eastern forests.  One website described us a "tree measuring fanatics."  Rather than taking that as an negative approbation, we consider it a compliment.  Dendromorphometry, represents our most successful NTS achievement. Sine-based tree height measuring, Rucker Indexing, and trunk-limb volume modeling have filled real needs, though largely unperceived by forest professionals.

We have added unprecedented tree dimension accuracy and have contributed enhanced site descriptions for many forest icons to include superb forest sites like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cook Forest State Park, PA, Zoar Valley, NY, and Mohawk Trail State Forest, MA. We have a far better grasp of eastern species dimensional maximums than any other individuals or groups anywhere and we're far from done. Our recent thrust into the southern world of the live oak promises to shine the spotlight on a species that has been way under-represented in the big tree annals.

The tallest white pine ever accurately recorded was documented in the Cataloochee district of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by NTS President Will Blozan.   In April 2011 we measured and modeled the tallest native hardwood know to exist in North America, both also located in GSMNP.  NTS conducted the first detailed mapping of the branch and trunk structure and volume measurements for the largest Eastern trees, including -   The Middleton Oak and Sag Branch Tuliptree,  The Tsuga Search Project documented the largest living Eastern Hemlocks in existence before they fell prey to the invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and died;  The Live Oak Project is documenting the Live Oaks of the southern United States, The American Chestnut Project is documenting the surviving remnants of the once great America Chestnut after the species was devastated by blight in the 1920's and 30's.   We have documented hundreds of sites containing old growth forest, or spectacular trees across the United States and  Canada with inroads being made into Europe and elsewhere around the world.

NTS members currently hold scientific research permits with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, and in the past, Congaree National Park. We have research access to Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest Estate and James Madison’s Montpelier. The NTS offers periodic workshops for tree measurers. The workshops are co-sponsored by Cook Forest State Park, PA, and Mohawk Trail State Forest, MA. We are co-sponsor of the Forest Summit Series of Programs presented at Holyoke Community College, MA.  We were co-sponsor of the Kentucky Old growth Conference in 2007 and of the  7th in the Ancient Eastern Forest Conference Series held in Little Rock Arkansas in March 2006.

Here are the backgrounds of some of our members:

Will Blozan
, President, Eastern Native Tree Society, President, Appalachian Arborists, Inc., ISA Certified Arborist SO-4032A  Will is a former science technician with the GSMNP. Will has a widely recognized reputation as a tree measurer. He has been featured in articles, on TV., and on radio. Will is a co-author of "Stalking The Forest Monarchs - A Guide To Measuring Champion Trees". He has climbed and measured the tallest or among the tallest trees in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.  Will Blozan helped organized and mapped the structure of the Middleton Oak, in South Carolina, the Sag Branch Tulip - the first two tree to be mapped in eastern United States. Will organized and directed the Tsuga Search Project that documented the largest and greatest of the Eastern hemlock trees found anywhere, many of them hundreds of years old, prior to their untimely death as the result of infestation by an invasive insect - the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. Will Blozan has recently become involved in a canopy mapping project of some of the giant Sequoia's in Whittaker Forest in California as part of a National Geographic Project.

Robert T. Leverett, Native Tree Society (ENTS): Cofounder and executive director.  Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest: Cofounder (1993), President, and principal old growth forest ecologist for this federally recognized non-profit environmental organization and an officially recognized Friends organization to the state forests and parks of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Ancient Eastern Forest Conference Series:  Principal architect, and presenter. Conferences held on eastern old growth forest sites bring together academics, resource managers, and environmental activists to share information on eastern old growth and present technical papers. Conferences held at University of North Carolina; Williams College, MA:  University of Arkansas(2 events): Clarion University of Pennsylvania: University of Minnesota, Harvard University-Harvard Forest, Sweet Briar College, VA, and the University of New Hampshire, Eastern Kentucky University.  Forest Summit Lecture Series:  Cofounder with Professor Gary Beluzo Sponsored annually by Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, Massachusetts as a public service. Some of his publications include:  Stalking the Forest Monarchs-A Guide to Measuring Champion Trees Coauthor of. with Will Blozan on how to measure champion trees (1997). Included new measurement techniques.  Old Growth In The East, A Survey Wrote forward and lead essay for Dr. Mary Davis's publication seminal publication on the old growth sites in the East, 1993. ‘Re-Wilding the Northeast - A New Wilderness Paradigm’  A coauthor of the book. Wrote lead chapter on eastern old growth. Published by University Press of New England. ‘Sierra Club Guide Book to Ancient Forests of the Northeast’  Coauthor with Bruce Kershner of this 2004 book on old growth sites in the Northeast.  Robert Leverett holds scientific research permits with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, and in the past, Congaree National Park and has research access to Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest Estate and James Madison’s Montpelier.  He has worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation on the development and implementation of the state's Forest Reserve system and other aspects of forest management.  He is one of two individuals responsible for the old growth inventory, mapping, and documentation for DCR in Massachusetts.

Dr. Lee E. Frelich, Vice President of The Eastern Native Tree Society, Dr. Frelich is Director of the University of Minnesota Center for Hardwood Ecology. He received a Ph.D. in Forest Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986. Frelich teaches courses in Forest Fire Ecology and Landscape Ecology on St.Paul Campus. He has advised 18 graduate students, and is a senior member of the Conservation Biology, Natural Resource Science and Management, Ecology, and Invasive Species Graduate Programs. Frelich has published numerous papers on forest ecology and has been listed among the top 1% of all scientists in the world in the Science Citation Index, Ecology and Environment Category. He has appeared in the news media 200 times including /The New York Times/, /Newsweek/, /National Geographic/, and many TV and radio stations. Current research interests include fire and wind in boreal forests, long-term dynamics of old-growth hemlock and maple forests, invasive earthworms in forests, and global warming.  Dr. Lee Frelich is one of the most distinguished forest ecologists in the United States and the foremost expert on natural forest disturbance regimes in the forests of the upper Mid-West. He is the author of "Forest Dynamics and Disturbance Regimes". Lee is often called on as an expert witness on subjects that span the spectrum of forest issues from the potential impact of climate change to what constitutes an old growth ecosystem.

Dr. David Stahle
, an ENTS co-founder, is a Distinguished Professor,, University of Arkansas, Director, Tree-Ring Laboratory.   Professor of Physical Geography and the Conservation of Natural Resources.  Dr. Stahle's research interests include all aspects of  dendrochronology, particularly climate change and the proxy evidence for past variation in the El Nino/ Southern Oscillation and other large scale atmospheric circulations. Dr Stahle has developed GIS-based predictive models for the location of ancient forests, and is conducting active research in the United States, Mexico and Africa. Dr. Stahle's research is funded by NOAA , NSF, NPS and the USGS and he has published in a variety of journals including, Science, Nature, Journal of Climate and Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Stahle has taught courses in Physical Geography and Conservation of Natural Resources.  Ph.D., Arizona State University, Geography 1990.

Don Bertolette
is the founder and President of the Western Native Tree Society.  His career started in as a pre-Forestry community college student working for the BLM as a Forestry Aid (GS-3) with BLM in Eastern Oregon, and with a few exceptions (as material coordinator/pipefitter supervisor with Fluor Engineers and Constructors, in Saudi Arabia) I stayed the course with federal land management agencies through retirement last year as a GS-12 program manager, with the National Park Service, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ. My education started early on pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resources Management, which I completed at Humboldt State University in 1983.After nearly a decade with the USFS, I was encouraged to pursue my Master of Science degree in Forestry with University of Massachusetts, at Amherst, where I specialized in Remote Sensing of Old-growth Forests, and successfully defending thesis in 1993. Returning to the West (Arizona/Alaska), I developed skills in GIS that eventually led to Fire Area Growth Simulation, to model wildfire growth. With additional studies at Northern Arizona in Ecological Restoration, I obtained NEPA compliance for, and completed Wildfire Hazard Reduction Research project at Grand Canyon National Park. At my retirement from Grand Canyon, I was Vegetation Program Manager (Developed Area). Since retiring in 2007, I’ve continued participation with ENTS/WNTS, the Cook Inlet Chapter of SAF, and am Alaska’s Big Tree Coordinator.

Dr. Robert Van Pelt
is one of the foremost scientists in the world studying and mapping forest canopies and determining tree volumes. In addition, Dr. Van Pelt is an author and the coordinator of the champion tree program for the state of Washington. He is currently a Adjunct Professor, Institute for Redwood Ecology, at Humboldt State University where he is engaged in canopy research in Douglas Fir and Coast Redwood forests. He gives occasional lectures and lead field trips for the University, and teach several field classes on Pacific Northwest old-growth forests and Northwest canopy ecology. He received his MS in 1991 and PhD in 1995 from the University of Washington. His main research interests are old-growth ecology, canopy structure and its control of the understory environment, spatial patterns in old-growth forests, and tree plant geography.

This life takes me to many of the great forests of the Pacific Northwest and California. He was part of the National Geographic Canopy Trek project in the fascinating canopy work in the world’s tallest hardwood forest in Australia. He spends much of my private life measuring trees – I maintain a database of tree measurements from all over the world. He take extensive measurements, sketches and photos on some of the most remarkable of these trees for tree portraits. An avid hiker, photographer, woodworker, and big tree hunter, He is continually on the lookout for new and exciting trees.  Select books include: Van Pelt, R. 2008. Identifying Old Trees and Forests in Eastern Washington. Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA. 178 p.; Van Pelt, R. 2007. Identifying Mature and Old Forests in Western Washington. Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA 104 p.; and Van Pelt, R. 2001. Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast. Univ. Washington Press. 200 p.

Michael W. Taylor
, Vice-President of the Western Native Tree Society, is now the American Forests champion tree coordinator for California. Michael W. Taylor is a leading discoverer of champion and tallest trees - most notably Coast Redwoods. In 2006, Michael co-discovered the tallest known tree in the world, a coast redwood (sequoia) now named "Hyperion". He also discovered "Helios" and "Icarus", the 2nd and 3rd tallest.  National Geographic made a video about the discovery and measuring of Hyperion. The discovery made headlines.   Taylor has discovered 50 coast redwoods over 350 feet tall, and co-discovered approximately 100 more over 350 feet with Chris Atkins and Stephen Sillett, who is the first holder of the Kenneth L. Fisher Chair in Redwood Forest Ecology at Humboldt State University. Taylor and Sillett have collaborated and measured remarkable previously unknown redwoods. Their discoveries have fueled research and public interest in coast redwoods, which are now a World Heritage Site.  Michael is a main character of the non-fiction book (2007) The Wild Trees. The narrative includes how Taylor began exploring for tall trees, measuring tallest trees, and later networking with Pacific coast forest researchers.

Dr. Don Bragg
, Research Forester, USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, Monticello, AR.  Dr Bragg serves as editor of the NTS scientific journal "Bulletin of the Eastern Native Tree Society."  He has engaged in multiple research projects related to the upland forests of the Midsouth region. This has included studies on ice damage to pine plantations in the South, investigation of the Cross Timbers woodland in western Arkansas, and completion of long-term growth and yield projects. Much of my work has also concentrated on the refinement of silvicultural techniques for the development of old-growth-like attributes in managed stands of the northern Lake States and the Midsouth (primarily Arkansas). His Ph.D. (1999) is in Forest Ecology, from Utah State University.  He is a member of the Society of American Foresters, the Ecological Society of America, the Forest History Society, the Torrey Botanical Society, the U.S. Chapter of the International Association of Landscape Ecologists, and the Natural Areas Association.  Select Publications:  SRS-RWU-4159 Ancient, Big, and Historical Trees of Arkansas, Past and Present: 

Dale Luthringer
, the naturalist and educational director for Cook Forest State Park, PA, runs the NTS workshop for tree measuring. He has been the driving force in the documentation and measurement of the great trees and old growth forest across western Pennsylvania and other nearby states.  Dale Luthringer  has been the Environmental Education Specialist at Cook Forest State Park for the past 8 years. He facilitates interpretive programs and teacher workshops to  over 15,000 participants per year. He regularly gives tree measuring workshops and old growth forest workshops for teachers at the park. Dale Luthringer serves as host of biennial rendezvous of NTS at Cook Forest.  He  His ecological research includes acid mine reclamation, white-tailed deer populations, West Nile virus, and most recently the Old Growth Forest.    Dale has quite a varied background. He was a farmer for 9 years, a Marine Corp sergeant, and a furniture maker. After his 4 years with the Marines, he moved to the area to attend school. Dale earned an A.S. in Wildlife Technology from Penn State DuBois and a B.S. in Applied Ecology from Clarion University. Some of his pubications include: Old Growth Forests in the Pennsylvania Wilds by Dale Luthringer and Luthringer, Dale J. 2009. Big Trees of Cook Forest. Pennsylvania Forests, Volume 100, No. 3, Fall 2009.

Dr. Neil Pederson,
Assistant Research Professor at Lamont-Dougherty Earth Observatory - Tree Ring Lab, at Columbia University.  Research Interests: My research interests are centered on trees, ecosystems and old-growth forests at the intersection of climate change, ecology, conservation biology, natural history, forest management and charismatic megaflora. I conduct basic and applied research to gain information that can help ecologically-based, long-term management plans. Education: Ph.D. - Columbia University, Dept. of Earth & Environmental Science. Dr. Pederson created and maintains the Eastern Old-List - a listing of the oldest trees in eastern North America:  CV  Select Projects:   1) Fire, Climate and Forest Ecology in Mongolia funded by the National Science Foundation   2) Drought History of Three Ponds and Blanton Forest Preserves: Investigation of an East-West Drought Gradient Across Kentucky funded by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission    Selected Publications:  1) McEwan, R. W., J.M. Dyer and N. Pederson. 2011. Multiple interacting ecosystem drivers: toward an encompassing hypothesis of oak forest dynamics across eastern North America. Ecography 34: 244-256 doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2010.06390.x;  2) N. Pederson. 2010. External Characteristics of Old Trees in the Eastern Deciduous Forest. Natural Areas Journal 4: 396-407. pdf

Edward F. Frank
is the webmaster of the NTS website, Administrator of the NTS BBS, and editor of our monthly magazine the eNTS Magazine.  By training he is a geologist with a MS in Geology from Mississippi State University. Thesis title: Aspects of Karst development and Speleogenesis Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico: An Analogue for Pleistocene Speleogenesis in The Bahamas. I was a PhD candidate in Geology at the University of Minnesota. I have peer reviewed published papers in fields ranging from spelean history, geology, archaeology, vertebrate paleontology, karst processes and speleogenesis. Some examples:  Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, Vol. 60(2), August 1998.   He am a member of the National Speleological Society and have been involved in cave exploration ad mapping across the United states from New Mexico, to Kentucky and Tennessee, to Pennsylvania, west Virginia, and Virginia. I organized and lead a speleological expedition to the Dominican Republic in December 1986, and have participated in and organized field work in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.  he is actively involved in many of the research projects being conducted by the Native Tree Society.

Gary Beluzo is Professor of Environmental Science at Holyoke  Community College. M.S. Global Ecology (Botany) UMASS Amherst.  He was the Department Chair 1984-1998. Although Gary’s earlier interest was limnology, he entered a partnership with Bob Leverett in the fall of 1998 to inventory, characterize, and map (GPS/GIS) the old growth forests of Massachusetts with a special permit from the MASS DCR and now also the Great Smoky Mountains (TN/NC).  Through an NSF Grant in 1996, Professor Beluzo created an Environmental GIS laboratory at HCC and is now developing an extensive geo-database of old growth forests and champion trees for Massachusetts .  Professor Beluzo is also the on campus architect of the HCC Forest Summit Lecture Series and Eastern Native Tree Society Rendezvous.  This event brings together scientists, foresters, environmentalists, and the public to discuss current Eastern U.S. Forest Issues.  Gary Beluzo is one of two individuals responsible for the old growth inventory, mapping, and documentation for DCR in Massachusetts. Robert Leverett is the other.

John Davis  "John Davis, a 47-year-old “tri-athlete meets John Muir”, also is a founder of Wildlands Network, past editor of the widely respected Wild Earth magazine, writer and naturalist. Throughout his career as conservation leader with other renowned conservation organizations, this Adirondack native with an indomitable passion for nature has supported continental-size wildlife corridors called Wildways."  In 2011 he undertook a 7,000 mile journey along the "eastern wildway" via many human powered means including canoe, hiking, bicycling, and kayak among others as part of the Wildlands Network's TrekEast Project.  He is a past Director of Conservation of the Adirondack Council The Council, which has offices in Elizabethtown and Albany, New York, works to protect the ecological integrity and wilderness character of the park. Davis's responsibilities include serving as the primary point of contact for the Council with the New York state legislature.  For the previous two years he served as land steward for the Eddy Foundation, which purchases and preserves wildlands in the eastern Adirondacks of northern New York. With the foundation, he conceived and is helping to create and protect a wildlife corridor linking New York’s Adirondack Mountains with the Champlain Valley, a habitat linkage called the Split Rock Wildway. He owns Hemlock Rock Wildlife Sanctuary, a fifty-acre preserve within the Wildway.    

Bart Bouricius
as worked as an arborist (Bart's Tree Service) since 1973 and still does part time, but his primary work is as an installer of canopy walkway systems for Canopy Construction Associates, an organization he founded in 1991.   The group is an association of arborists, builders and scientists.  The organization, was originally established to provide access to biologists for studying life in the forest canopy, but now also constructs projects for Eco-tourism companies as well.  They have constructed over 15 systems in Belize, Borneo, Ecuador, Peru, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Tennessee, and Massachusetts.  Bart came to this occupation as a conservationist and naturalist with a hope that ordinary people experiencing the canopy of primary forest from an altitude would improve their attitude regarding preservation of forests  around the world. He frequently gives presentations on Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Arthropods, primarily Arachnids and ants to Colleges, K-12 schools and museums.   Bart is a Research Associate at the Hampshire College School of Natural Science and is active in trying to preserve forests and other natural habitats in Massachusetts.  He has helped organize 2 canopy research conferences in Florida in the early 1990's.   Publications: Bart Bouricius has published articles on canopy access techniques, one on canopy bridge safety calculations for construction, and an article on the life history of Amblypygids (tailless whip scorpions).

We have several members who are the coordinators of state champion tree programs: Scott Wade is the big tree coordinator for Pennsylvania, Don Bertolette is the coordinator for Alaska, Michael Taylor is the big tree coordinator for California, plus several other coordinators are also members. 

In addition to the active members listed above we have many more members with PhD's in various aspects of forestry.  We have members with a variety of other educational backgrounds.  We have people who are entomologists, meteorologists, geologists, artists, musicians, medical professionals, foresters, arborists, and people with no special training who just have an interest in trees and forests.  All make valuable contributions to the overall efforts.


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