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Re: Washington Grove City Park

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:21 am
by tomhoward
NTS (especially Adam, Elijah),

All you say about Washington Grove City Park is true. This old growth oak forest is truly extraordinary, with oaks, that are, indeed, much larger than in North Syracuse. The Black Oaks may be among the oldest of this species in existence. My brother Jack Howard, who lives in Toronto, spent a week with me here in North Syracuse, and we used his car to get to Rochester sat. Apr. 7. Washington Grove was easy to find, and is in a remarkably beautiful neighborhood with tree-lined streets, and many trees in lawns. Such neighborhoods are virtually non-existent in the North Syracuse area.

Adam, I believe I saw the oak log cross-section you counted 220+ rings on - it was near the entrance, was, as you said a smaller tree, and, indeed, had at least 220 rings. It's the log of a Black Oak. We did not see any Black Gum at Washington Grove, but the dry upland of Washington Grove is poor habitat for Black Gum.

What follows is a report I did on Washington Grove:
Washington Grove City Park.docx
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Re: Washington Grove City Park

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:14 am
by ElijahW

I read your report and thoroughly enjoyed it. When I visited the park, I didn't own any measuring equipment (not even a d-tape), so I could only compare the site with others that I had read about and visited. I really should go back and get some height measurements, but it may be a month or more before I have the chance to do so. Thanks for sharing.


Re: Washington Grove City Park, NY

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:38 pm
by larrychampoux

If you do come back to Washington Grove, I know a few people who may be very interested in working with you and learning about tree measurement. I am a volunteer with the Friends of Washington Grove and we are fascinated with Tom Howard's report. If you would like to meet a few of us, please e-mail me at . (It will also be very helpful for our restoration efforts to learn more about your efforts.) Thanks, Larry

Re: Washington Grove City Park, NY

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:14 pm
by larrychampoux
Attached is a map for visitors to Washington grove that may be helpful for plotting locations of trees.
WG base map.jpg

Re: Washington Grove City Park, NY

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:18 pm
by larrychampoux
Attached is a document that was prepared a few years by the Committee to Restore Washington Grove in order to make the case for additional protections for this valuable resource. This group evolved into the current Friends of Washington Grove.
Project to Restore Washington Grove..JPG
Project to Restore Washington Grove..JPG (34.35 KiB) Viewed 1931 times

Re: Washington Grove City Park, NY

Posted: Thu May 03, 2012 8:48 pm
by tomhoward

This Sat. afternoon May 5, Larry Champoux and I will explore the magnificent old growth oak forest of Washington Grove City Park In Rochester. The Black Oaks are the most extraordinary trees on this site, and they may be the oldest of their kind in existence. The ring counts I got from them are from stumps and cross-sections of smaller trees, and the highest ring count I got from a Black Oak stump in this grove is 238 years, which is more than the NY record from the Eastern Oldlist; the record age for Black Oak in the Eastern Oldlist is 257 years in Tennessee. If the larger Black Oak in Washington Grove grow at a similar rate as the these smaller trees that are over 200 years old, they could be about 300 years old. It will be exciting to see this grove again, and Larry will show me even more big old trees.

Tom Howard

Re: Washington Grove City Park, NY

Posted: Thu May 03, 2012 9:32 pm
by ElijahW

Enjoy! I hope you do well.


Sorry I'm taking so long to respond to your invite. I'm on the road for long periods of time (I drive a truck over-the-road for a living), and, consequently, I don't make many serious plans outside of family obligations very far in advance. I will be home in about two weeks for a few days, and if I'm able to get to Rochester, I'll try to let you know in advance. I suppose an email would do the trick. I would love to visit with you and any of your interested group. I'm really an amateur at this measuring stuff, but I do know the basics. Ed Frank put together a very, very helpful document on the basics of tree measuring and Will Blozan, Bob Leverett, and others have done a TON of work on the subject. Some of it is way out of my league right now, but it's all very serious, honest, accurate methodology. These fellows are really at the top of their respective fields and their efforts are to be admired. I've linked to Ed's worksheet below, as well as Will's measurement guidelines. These were my starting point, and should be required reading for anyone interested in serious tree measuring. I'm sure Tom Howard will be able to help as well.


Re: Washington Grove City Park, NY

Posted: Wed May 09, 2012 7:24 pm
by tomhoward

Here is my report on the May 5 survey of Washington Grove:

On this beautiful cool sunny day, Larry Champoux and I had a glorious visit to this magnificent old growth oak forest east of Cobbs Hill Park in Rochester. This survey convinced me that this is the finest old growth oak forest I’ve ever seen. Washington Grove could contain the tallest White Oak, Black Oak, Sassafras, and Butternut in New York State, and it is also possible that the oldest Black Oaks in existence are in this grove. We need to get Neil Pederson up here with his increment borer, and since we had no access to laser rangefinders, we need to get some of the height measuring NTS up here.

These Oaks really look extremely tall for so far north, with Black Oaks and White Oaks seeming to be at least 120 ft. or more tall. The tallest Sassafras could be as much as 120 ft. tall, far higher than the tallest Sassafras I know of in upstate NY, 86-87 ft. trees in North Syracuse. It was a perfect time to be in the Grove, with the lofty Oaks in bloom, with tiny yellow (and sometimes orange) blossoms festooning the otherwise bare branches. Sassafras looked the same as the Oaks with yellow blossoms on bare branches. The tall Black Cherries in the canopy were in nearly full leaf. Also the many invasive Norway Maples that dominate the understory were in leaf. The Friends of Washington Grove are trying to remove the Norway Maples in an effort to bring the Grove back to its old growth state. The seemingly endless numbers of huge ancient Oaks have many of the characteristics of old trees as described in Neil Pederson’s article, “External Characteristics of Old Trees in the Eastern Deciduous Forest”, Natural Areas Journal, Volume 30 (4), 2010: 396-407.

Trees examined:

Black Oak log cross-section - 1.3’ radius, inner .1’ to pith missing, 260 rings on intact portion, about 20 ft. above base, tree possibly lived close to 300 years

Black Oak log cross-section - .94’ radius, 264 rings – as far as I know, the highest ever ring count for Black Oak (the max. age for Black Oak in Neil Pederson’s Eastern Oldlist is 257 years), so this could be a world record age for Black Oak.

White Oak 28.5” dbh (7.46’ cbh), old with balding bark, spiral grain, crown composed of few large crooked limbs, largest White Oak in small group of that species near Nunda Blvd.

near this White Oak Black Oak 36.8” dbh (9.63’ cbh) – balding bark, stem sinuosity, crown composed of few large crooked limbs

Black Cherry same area 30.2” dbh (7.93’ cbh), est. 110’ tall

at edge by Nunda Blvd., growing next to shed in hollow, tall forest-grown Black Oak, est. 120’ tall

Black Oak upslope 40.4” dbh (10.48’ cbh), old tree with leaning trunk (many of the old Black Oaks have leaning trunks), crooked crown of few large branches

White Oak, forest-grown 33.1” dbh (8.7’ cbh), spiral grain, big limbs in crown

Black Oak 36.9” dbh (9.71’ cbh) – balding bark, low stem taper, stem sinuosity, crown with big crooked limbs, est. 115-120’ tall

We walked to the northern part of the Grove, to a 2nd growth area with lots of young Red Oak in what used to be a quarry.

near boundary between old growth and 2nd growth:
Red Oak at trail junction 46.8” dbh (12.26’ cbh) – partly open-grown (only non totally forest-grown tree examined this day) with massive limbs, hole that looks like increment borer hole (it’s possible that some of these trees have been cored, possibly by Bruce Kershner?)

Sassafras cross-section in younger area – 85 rings, 3.5” radius, 20’ above base

Sassafras in younger area 16.9” dbh (4.42’ cbh) – Sassafras common in younger area under dominant Red Oaks, and some large Black Oaks

We re-entered the old growth in a hollow with huge trees (and a fairly tall young Tuliptree, and many much larger Oaks). In this area:

huge Black Oak 40.5” dbh (10.6’ cbh) – balding bark, stem sinuosity

In the hollow an old fallen log crossed the trail, and the spiral grain of the log was clearly visible.

Sassafras in hollow with trunk snapped off – about 155 rings counted on natural break, 4.5” radius

Oak log cross-section - species unknown – no bark – 270 rings, 8” radius

White Oak forest-grown in hollow near Nunda Blvd., a huge limb fallen out of its crown right by it, remaining crown composed of few crooked limbs; tree seems to be at least 120’ tall, biggest forest-grown White Oak I’ve ever seen –
43.8” dbh (11.48’ cbh)

near trail junction with many Black Oaks (site described in 4/7/2012 report with group of Black Oaks over 3’ dbh), by north side of trail that branches off from Center Trail, Oak log cross-section – 250 rings, species unknown as there is no bark, 13” radius

This section, north of Center Trail, is possibly the tallest part of Washington Grove. It is a low-lying area dominated by towering White Oaks and Black Oaks that seem to be at least 110-over 120’ tall. In this section:

White Oak by trail, forest-grown, looks like over 120’ tall –
25” dbh (6.6’ cbh), balding bark, a lot of Sassafras in understory.

Nearby another very tall White Oak rises above a large patch of invasive Lily of the Valley.

Black Oak in hollow 42.9” dbh (11.25’ cbh) old lightning scar, big crooked limbs in lofty crown, easily 110’ tall, with even taller White Oak nearby

big Black Oak Center Trail 43.1” dbh (11.28’ cbh) orange flowers

possibly biggest Sassafras 19” dbh (5’ cbh) – this tree is awesomely tall, possibly 115-120’ tall, as tall as the tallest Oaks around it, its crown sticking up high above a tall leafy Black Cherry; this could be the tallest Sassafras in NY State.

near just above – hollow Butternut with buttress base 27.3” dbh (7.15’ cbh), est. over 100’ tall, possibly tallest Butternut in NY State

Earlier, we looked at a fallen White Oak in one of the glacial kettle holes, a tree that was very tall – I counted at least 150 rings on log cross-section, pith hollow.

Washington Grove Trees 40”+ dbh from 4/7/2012 and 5/5/2012 surveys – 14:
Black Oak - 8
Red Oak - 5
White Oak - 1

Over 50” dbh – 2 Black Oaks (see 4/7/2012 report)

Tom Howard

Re: Washington Grove City Park, NY

Posted: Mon May 14, 2012 7:26 pm
by larrychampoux

Once again this is great. Your initial research is garnering some important notice from many people who are actively interested in preserving Washington Grove. It is truly groundbreaking for our community of forest advocates and it will be very helpful to our future efforts to persuade others to help protect these trees. These tiny simple facts --the height of a tree or its girth or its age-- have the astonishing capability to reverberate through a community. I am looking forward to your next visit and to any other folks who wish to visit. The City of Rochester Forestry Division has some interest in your work and the work of other ENTS researchers so it will be important to bring them into the loop. Thank you for showing us how to look at these magnificent oaks with fresh eyes. Let's keep moving forward!

Stay in touch,

Larry Champoux

Re: Washington Grove City Park, NY

Posted: Sat May 26, 2012 9:15 pm
by ElijahW

On Monday, May 21, I met up with Larry Champoux at Washington Grove, and he gave me the nickle tour (I forgot to pay). Many tree heights were roughly measured, a real, live, Canadian was encountered on the trail, and a generally good time was had by all. It's been mentioned before, but I'll say it again: the black oaks here are unique, because of both their great size and assumed age, and ought to be recognized and treasured as such for the rest of their natural lives. Here's a copy of the email Larry sent me after our visit. Larry combined Tom Howard's comments and measurements and added my height measurements at the bottom for each tree.
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A few comments about the height measurements:
First, the height of the first black oak measured, near the main entrance "111-120 ft." is probably a comment I made to Larry. I need to apologize for this, as I don't have my own notes to give a more accurate measurement.
Second, and along the same lines, most of the measurements were straight-up laser shots into the canopy, and should be interpreted as "not less than." The reason for my use of this method was due to the thickness of the canopy and the most impressive trees growing close together and the middle of the grove. This is why I intend to return in the fall or spring after leaf-drop to get some higher numbers.
Third, the tallest tree measured Monday was a tulip tree. Using the sine method, as the tree was fairly open-grown, I came up with a height of 126.6'. On the way back to my car, I also got a height of 105' for a butternut (another straight-up shot).

To sum everything up, here are my maximum height estimations for each of the major species found in Washington Grove (fairly close to Tom's, except for sassafras).
Black oak: 120-125'
White oak: 120-125'
Northern red oak: 115-120'
Tulip tree: 126-130'
Butternut: 110-115'
Sassafras: 100-105'
Black cherry: none measured, but likely 110-115'
Sugar maple: none measured, but likely 115-120'
Rucker height index: likely between 115 and 120' due to the limited number of canopy-height species.

Looking over the report and the numbers, I'm both a little disappointed that I don't have more accurate height numbers (like in the decimal places), but also encouraged by the roughing-out that was done. We now have a starting point for both heights and girths at Washington Grove, and the numbers can only be further refined. Hopefully in the near future, we can add to the data set ages and volume and crown-spread measurements. I'd also like to get some more pictures of the monster oaks. I have a few hiding somewhere on my hard drive, but maybe Tom, Adam, or Larry has better, more recent ones to share (hint, hint).