Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe County

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MikeK
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Re: Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe County

Post by MikeK » Wed Nov 23, 2022 11:27 pm

Likely I'll not know much about that particular oak, but I'd like to try to get some dates from beech and hemlock in other parts of that stand on the west of the easement. There's been no confirmation of anything other than hemlock from pre-European settlement, so there's a chance this could have been cleared of hardwoods right around 1800. Also I don't think any dating came from that particular area.

My goal, if I can get permission from the town to core recently deceased trees, is to try to find any beech that would date with some significance to pre-Euro settlement. Perhaps beech just don't live much past 200yo in this particular system - we really don't know much. BBD is certainly affecting a number of trees, and it looks like a few will perish soon. I'm confident some elders will remain though. I saw one today that fell a while back that is probably the biggest beech I've ever seen. Unfortunately it was completely hollow and looks like significantly even before it fell. Such is going to be the case we simply won't be able to date some of these trees.

But I'd also like to verify the age of the "younger" but I still think significantly older forest, and monitor how that changes. If I can get some dates from that area and do some survey of what is coming in - mostly beech and sugar maple, we might be able to predict how this forest will continue on to its old growth state. I certainly won't live long enough but I'd be very curious as to the composition of things like red oak that will remain here. We'd have to image some small component will remain and pop up with disturbances, as will tulip poplar, black birch, black cherry, etc...

Unfortunately some planting has started on the edge of the "younger" forest. I'm hoping this doesn't continue into the forest itself. In some other areas there have been past plantings and current plantings to try to encourage diversity, but unfortunately with so little of this type of forest to study, it begs us not to tamper with it too much.

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ElijahW
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Re: Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe County

Post by ElijahW » Sun Nov 27, 2022 5:30 pm

Mike,

I'm glad you found this thread interesting, and that you joined the group. Welcome.

I think you're assessment of Gosnell is excellent, in terms of forest age. I try to get ring counts or even cores when possible, but don't remember taking anything from this site. Even a handful of good ring counts from fallen trees can be helpful in trying to figure out the history of a particular forest. People make all kinds of fanciful claims about the age and size of certain trees, but what matters is the truth. Old trees also make a forest a more likely candidate for preservation, which is important these days, as old growth is getting harder to come by than in the past.

If you haven't looked closely at the Irondequoit Bay parks, I encourage you to do so. They're not loaded with old trees, but you'll find some. I'd be happy to give you a tour, but I moved to Tennessee last year, so that would be difficult.

Great photos, as well.

Elijah

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MikeK
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Re: Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe County

Post by MikeK » Sun Nov 27, 2022 6:35 pm

Thanks for the response, Elijah. I think there's a lot more to learn at Gosnell, I hope I can make some headway. Someone seems to be studying mid-sized hemlocks in the second growth area, they all have white blazes on them. Not entirely sure what that's all about but I intend to find out.

If I can't get the proper equipment to core I might try to see if the trail group, who have permissions and access to saws, could whack a slice through any fallen trees. They cut the ones near the trail, but all that were there were too black and rotted for me to count. I think they might have fallen in a micro-burst that happened a decade ago, but I'm not sure they have been down that long.

I think you're correct about the claims - I hesitate to make them myself. But having a small bit of information from this area has been quite helpful, for me. I'd love to see more.

As far as the bay parks, I believe Dr. Gilman found some old(er) red oaks in there. Those are what I was using for comparison but none were over 200 yo and none all that big either (the biggest ~44" dbh)... so it puts a lot of questions on others. There are no shortage of 5' dbh red oaks here that are likely less than 150 yo, but all I see have lower branches or some signs of losing larger, low branches i.e. holes, knots and/or scars. I'd imagine most are quite a bit shorter overall, as well.

I know there are some very similar characteristics at the bay parks as what I see in the more disturbed area of Gosnell. But I had assumed those forests were not that old. Perhaps a few on the steep slopes remain. Tryon park is said to have some older trees, and I know one or two come down a year on or near trails - those almost always get a saw cut and would be easy to date. Unfortunately I missed a lot of years where I was riding my bike in there and ignoring that stuff. Same can be said about the Bay Park West.

There's another section I need to check in Ontario County near Hemlock Lake. I don't know that I saw a report here. I have been told it's not "old growth", but I'd still like to look at it. NYS DEC currently owns and manages that property and I was concerned about the state of that forest because they do manage timber on that property. After a glance of the UMP, I saw that they do have some stands marked for preservation. I'd like to figure out if said "older" growth is on that protected list. Also, they re-write UMPs every 10 years for State Forest, so it's worth keeping an eye and trying to make sure the public stays aware and these lands are preserved.

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ElijahW
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Re: Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe County

Post by ElijahW » Sun Nov 27, 2022 7:58 pm

Mike,

I carry a fold-able hand saw sometimes, which works well for taking "cookies" out of small dead logs and branches. You might still need permission to take those samples in some places, however; NYS prohibits taking cuttings without a permit in a lot of locations. I can't say I've always followed those rules, but they do exist.

Bay Park West probably has the most old growth of the Bay Parks, and Ellison the least. All have at least some, though. You might find the spreadsheet I've attached interesting. It's not a large sampling, but better than nothing.

I think Erik Danielsen has been to Hemlock Lake. He's a member on here, and may be able to help you. I've not been there myself.
Monroe County Tree Ages.xlsx
(10.65 KiB) Downloaded 15 times
Elijah

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MikeK
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Re: Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe County

Post by MikeK » Sun Nov 27, 2022 8:23 pm

This is excellent, thanks for the data!

Did you find anything of any significance at Webster Park? I've only been on a brief tour, and most was plantation and field succession with a small bit of maple-beech that looked to be second growth. I did, however, see a stand of sugar maples, with a very few beech, that looked to be fairly old. I thought they looked even-aged, but I only walked through once. I want to go back, measure and take some pictures. Perhaps looked for some downed trees. My guess is they were a sugar bush in the past, and I'd guess around 150-180 yo based on the bark characteristics and size.

They reside right around here:

43.246746, -77.463741

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ElijahW
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Re: Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe County

Post by ElijahW » Mon Nov 28, 2022 7:32 pm

Mike,

You're welcome.

I've been to Webster Park, but don't remember doing any hiking there. I just looked at the coordinates you gave, and it does look promising. The trail system appears to cut through the thickest forest.

Some ring cores are partial due to internal rot or voids in the tree trunk, and others because the diameter is too large. I don't recall which was the case with the old Red Hickory in Bay Park West. My increment boring bit is 16" long, so I can theoretically get a full core only from a 32" or smaller diameter trunk. In practice, the maximum is a few to several inches less than that.

You are correct in that the old growth within the Bay parks is pretty much limited to ridge tops. Most of the hollows and flat areas are filled with young trees. If you want to see really large, old trees (mostly oaks) in flatter terrain, Washington Grove in Rochester is an amazing place. You'll find lots of 200+ year old trees.

Elijah

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MikeK
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Re: Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe County

Post by MikeK » Mon Nov 28, 2022 8:03 pm

Oh there's definitely some nice maples there - not sure they would break any records, but perhaps typical of what used to grow in this area. I really wonder how much of this region of Webster was oak-hickory and how much was maple-beech in past.

I've been to Washington Grove. The old-growth area seems fairly small, and apparently there was a lot of planting of sugar maple in there.

There is a black cherry there that is absolutely humongous. I'm surprised it hasn't been measured and reported here.

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