Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

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tomhoward
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Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

Post by tomhoward » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:08 pm

On this sunny, surprisingly warm Sunday (Oct. 4, 2015, 71 F Trumansburg), Elijah Whitcomb and I explored Smith Woods, a 32-acre site said by Dr. Leopold of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and others to be original old growth forest. (A Syracuse Post-Standard article of Sept. 15, 1989 says that, according to Dr. Leopold, this is the only old growth forest in central NY, and this site is the subject of a study by P. L. Marks, Sana Gardescu, and Gregory E. Hitzhusen, “Windstorm Damage and Age Structure in an Old Growth Forest in Central New York” in Northeastern Naturalist 6(2), 1999: 165-176 cited in Mary Byrd Davis, ed., Old Growth in the East: A Survey: Revised Edition, Vernon, KY: Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest, 2003.) The Davis Survey (p.30) describes this site as follows: “a 42-acre former farm woodlot, half of which has few signs of human impact and is characterized by enormous trees of the dominant species including basswood, beech, Cucumber Magnolia, Sugar Maple, and Tulip Tree, as of 1988 owned by the Village of Trumansburg (described by Kershner and Leverett [2002] as a combination of many second-growth trees and a few old-growth trees; by the New York Old Growth Forest Association’s Web Site as ‘second growth’, and by Marks et al. [1999] as a ‘well-developed, mesophytic old growth stand’.”

The New York Old Growth Forest Association (NYOGFA) disbanded in 2003. Kershner and Leverett 2002 refers to the manuscript for Bruce Kershner and Bob Leverett’s Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast (Smith Woods did not appear in the published edition). Marks 1999 refers to the P. L. Marks article cited above.

Smith Woods is on a good soil site, and the large trees seem to grow rapidly. It is an extraordinary forest, remarkably beautiful with tall trees all around. Despite having a lofty canopy, this forest does not appear to be original old growth. The trees do not look old enough, and all (or nearly all) appear to be even-aged, and about 150 years old, or a little older. There could be a few trees over 200 years old. The site was possibly mostly cleared in the early 1800s, and left alone since then. This assessment agrees most with the NYOGFA report of 2002, in which this forest is said to be mainly 2nd growth. As far as I know, the Oct. 4, 2015 survey by Elijah and me is the first survey of Smith Woods since 2002. Also as far as I know, Oct. 4, 2015 is the first time heights have been measured in Smith Woods, As will be seen below, we had a number of surprises.


Tree Species seen: Dominant: Beech, Sugar Maple, Hemlock (no sign of Adelgid) , and in some sections Tuliptree (extremely tall), Black Birch, Red Maple.

Associate: Basswood, Black Cherry, Cucumber Magnolia (near edge), Red Oak (near edge), White Oak (near edge), Green Ash, Bitternut Hickory (small, near edge), possibly Shagbark Hickory (small, near edge), Boxelder (small), Striped Maple, Black Walnut (small, near edge), Black Willow (small, near edge), Staghorn Sumach (small, near edge), White Pine (near edge).

The interior consists mainly of Beech, Sugar Maple, Hemlock with Tuliptree, Black Birch, Red Maple, Black Cherry, Basswood.

The big Beech trees are mostly dead or dying of Beech Bark Disease, and most of the abundant coarse woody debris if from fallen, dying Beech trees.

Tuliptrees are by far the largest and tallest trees, and one section in the northern part of Smith Woods, is another Tuliptree Cathedral like at Green Lakes State Park, with towering columnar trees very close together and rising to lofty heights. Most of these Tuliptrees have balding bark, but they do not look very old otherwise. The great height of these trees was a surprise to Elijah and me, with Elijah consistently getting straight up shots of over 135 ft. on many of these trees. The dense, still green, leafy canopy made it impossible to see the highest points, but these Tuliptrees are easily over 140 ft. tall. As far as I know, these are the tallest trees ever measured in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, and Smith Woods could be the tallest forest in the Finger Lakes.

Black Birches are also standouts. These are the largest Black Birches I’ve ever seen, with girths of 7 and even over 8 ft., and heights of about 100 ft. or more. The dense leafy canopy made it impossible to see the highest points. It was hard to believe that these large trees were Black Birches, but they have the characteristic dark platy bark of this species.

Elijah and I parked at the Save Shur grocery store on NY 96 just south of the village of Trumansburg, and walked into the south entrance to Smith Woods. We took the trail that runs to the northwest entrance by Trumansburg Cemetery. There are signs at both entrances, and at least one of the signs says that Smith Woods is managed by Cayuga Nature Center. Many of the trees have plaques on them, identifying species. The main part of Smith Woods is parallel to NY 96, and the highway is never out of sight or sound.

At the south entrance, Elijah measured a Basswood to 100 ft., a Red Maple to 99 ft. +, both straight ups shots into dense canopy.


We came to a huge Cucumber Magnolia with balding bark, and huge spreading crown, one of the largest of this species I’ve ever seen – 9.4 ft. cbh (35.8” dbh) – Elijah got 108 ft. on a straight up shot into this tree’s wide crown – it is easily over 110 ft., and should be the tallest and largest Cucumber Magnolia in central NY.

Then we came to the largest Black Birch I’ve ever seen – 8 ft., 5” cbh (32.2” dbh), and near it another Black Birch 8.2 ft. cbh (31” dbh) – this tree had a parasitic plant that looked like Beech Drops on its roots. Beech Drops are plentiful on the roots of Beech trees in Smith Woods. There were even more big Black Birches in this section – Elijah got 97 ft. + on a straight up shot on 7 ft. 5” cbh (28.4” dbh) Black Birch. A young Cucumber Magnolia grows next to a big Black Birch with a gnarled crown.

Elijah measured a tall-looking Basswood to 101 ft. It looked taller.

On a big hollow Beech, 11 ft. cbh (42” dbh), Elijah got a height of 100.6 ft.; there is a young Cucumber Magnolia next to it. In this section a Grapevine climbs high into the trees.

Black Birch 7.4 ft. cbh (28.1” dbh)

We came to the first big Tuliptree – 10 ft. 4” cbh (39.5” dbh). Elijah got over 120 ft. on a straight up shot.

I measured a rather slender Red Maple with spiral grain (one of few trees at Smith Woods with spiral grain) to 102.6 ft.

Near the edge Elijah measured a big Red Oak (11 ft. 6” cbh – 43.9” dbh) to 117 ft. + with straight up shot, much taller than any other Oak we would see in Smith Woods – this Red Oak is easily over 120 ft. tall.

Elijah got 123.8 ft. on a Tuliptree.

We came to an area with many tall Hemlocks.
I measured a Hemlock of 8 ft. cbh (30.4” dbh, typical of big Hemlocks in Smith Woods) to 121.7 ft. + - This is not the highest point, but the laser rangefinder couldn’t see the highest points because of the dense leafy canopy. The tallest Hemlocks are easily about 125 ft. tall or more.

We came to a big old Sugar Maple, with balding bark a long way up into crown. This is one of the oldest looking trees we’d see at Smith Woods, a possible remnant of the original forest. Most trees looked a lot younger than this Sugar Maple, which is 11 ft. cbh (42” dbh), and Elijah got a straight up shot of 124 ft. + into its wide crown. It is one of the tallest Sugar Maples in New York State.

We saw a big Black Birch with stilt roots, and near it other big Black Birches.

Elijah measured a dying Beech to 106.9 ft. – some of the Beeches may be taller, but not much taller.

Elijah measured a Hemlock near a big fallen dead Beech tree to 121.2 ft. There are several Hemlocks over 120 ft. at Smith Woods.

Elijah measured a Tuliptree in a hollow (10 ft. 9” cbh, 41.1” dbh) to 137.6 ft., and near it a Hemlock to 120.3 ft.

One of the bigger Hemlocks is 9.6 ft. cbh (36.8” dbh).

I counted at least 87 rings on the outer part of a Beech log cross-section, but the inner rings were too faint to count.

Most cross-sections had wide rings, with no counts seeming to be over 150 years. This indicates rather rapid growth on a good growth site.

Elijah got 121.3 ft. on a 9 ft. 10” cbh (37.6” dbh) Hemlock.

We came to a massive Tuliptree (11 ft. 5” cbh – 43.6” dbh) with balding bark – Elijah got 136 ft. + with a straight up shot.

In this section, we came to the largest Striped Maples we’ve ever seen – the biggest one 1 ft. 8” cbh (6.4” dbh, 51.9 ft. tall – Elijah’s measurement), and another 1 ft. 7” cbh (6” dbh).

In the same area, Elijah measured a big Black Cherry to 115.6 ft.

We now entered the stand of spectacular towering Tuliptrees, and Elijah measured at least 6 of these giants to over 135 ft. with straight up shots. The canopy was too dense to get clear shots into the highest points of the crowns, but these trees are easily at least 140 ft. tall or more. One of these Tuliptrees is (typical in this dense group of mighty columns) 10.7 ft. cbh (40.8” dbh).

I got the following on one of these Tuliptrees (only the highest branch visible to the laser rangefinder – this is a side branch, not the highest part of the crown): 138.7 ft.+

Another Tuliptree, again not the highest point: 137.2 ft.+

These Tuliptrees are close together, a density of large trees that rivals or even surpasses the density of tall Tuliptrees in the Tuliptree Cathedral at Green Lakes. This is the Tuliptree Cathedral of Smith Woods, the most spectacular forest we’ve seen in the Finger Lakes.

We left the Tuliptrees behind, and were now near the northwest corner of Smith Woods, and we came to our first big White Pine – 10.5 ft. cbh, 40.1” dbh. This tree has rough, deeply furrowed bark, but does not look very old, possibly 150-200 years old. I measured its height to 130.8 ft.
This is the tallest White Pine we know of in central NY, and this tree was even taller at one time, as the highest point is in a broken crown.

In the same area, Elijah got a straight up shot of 109 ft. + on a 6 ft. 4” cbh (24.2” dbh) Green Ash with orange leaves, one of the few trees in Smith Woods with fall colors.

There are 2 big young looking Red Oaks near the end of the trail at the northwest entrance. Elijah measured one Red Oak to about 105 ft. tall, and the other Red Oak to 10 ft. 6” cbh (40.1” dbh).

Across the road from the northwest corner of Smith Woods is the old Trumansburg Cemetery, which has many tall Norway Spruces, and big spreading Sugar Maples (and also a Chinese Chestnut with burs).

In the cemetery, Elijah measured the tallest trunk of a double Norway Spruce to 110 ft., and I measured another Norway Spruce to 104.4 ft.+

There are some tall White Pines back in Smith Woods across the road from the cemetery. Elijah measured one of these White Pines to 124 ft., and a nearby Tuliptree to 121 ft.

We re-entered Smith woods, and took the trail back to the southwest entrance, and Elijah’s car.

Near the 130.8 ft. White Pine, in a group of tall Sugar Maples, we found a tall Basswood, which Elijah measured to 120 ft. + - this could be the tallest Basswood in the Finger Lakes.

We saw 2 Deer running.

We returned to the big Black Birch area. Elijah got 97.5 ft. + in a straight up shot on a 7 ft. 1” cbh (27.1” dbh) Black Birch. On another Black Birch (8.2 ft. cbh, 31” dbh), Elijah got a straight up shot of 100 ft. +. These are not only the biggest, but also, the tallest Black Birches we know of in central NY.

Elijah got 103 ft. + on a straight ups shot on a Red Maple (8 ft. 4” cbh, 31.8” dbh).

Near the big Cucumber Magnolia near the entrance, we found a small White Oak, the only White Oak we would see in Smith Woods – Elijah got a straight up shot of 91 ft. +.

A big Red Maple in this section is 8.8 ft. cbh (33.6” dbh). Elijah got 94 ft. + on a straight up shot on another big Black Birch.

Another survey when the leaves are down should be conducted, with special attention to Tuliptree, Black Birch, Sugar Maple, Basswood, Cucumber Magnolia, Black Cherry.


Tree Heights Measured Oct. 4, 2015 at (and near) Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY:

In Smith Woods:

Basswood 100+
Red Maple 99+
Cucumber Magnolia 108+
Black Birch 97+
Basswood 101
Beech 100.6
Tuliptree 120+
Red Maple 102.6
Red Oak 117+
Tuliptree 123.8
Hemlock 121.7+
Sugar Maple 124+
Beech 106.9
Hemlock 121.2
Tuliptree 137.6
Hemlock 121.3
Tuliptree 136+
Striped Maple 51.9 (Elijah Whitcomb, tallest central NY)
Black Cherry 115.6
Tuliptree 135+
Tuliptree 135+
Tuliptree 135+
Tuliptree 135+
Tuliptree 135+
Tuliptree 135+
Tuliptree 138.7+
Tuliptree 137.2+
(These Tuliptrees could be the tallest trees in the Finger Lakes region, and they are easily over 140 ft. tall – our laser rangefinders could not see the highest points in the dense leafy canopy.)
White Pine 130.8 (Tom Howard, tallest central NY)
Green Ash 109+
White Pine 124
Tuliptree 121
Basswood 120+
Black Birch 97.5+
Black Birch 100+ (Elijah Whitcomb, tallest central NY)
Red Maple 103+
White Oak 91+
Black Birch 94+

Trumansburg Cemetery:

Norway Spruce 110
Norway Spruce 104.4


Heights in feet measured by Elijah Whitcomb and Tom Howard of NTS by Sine method

Tallest Trees by species at Smith Woods:

Tuliptree 138.7+
White Pine 130.8
Sugar Maple 124+
Hemlock 121.7+
Basswood 120+
Red Oak 117+
Black Cherry 115.6
Green Ash 109+
Cucumber Magnolia 108+
Beech 106.9
Black Birch 100+
White Oak 91+
Striped Maple 51.9


Smith Woods Rucker 10 Oct. 4, 2015:

Tuliptree 138.7
White Pine 130.8
Sugar Maple 124
Hemlock 121.7
Basswood 120
Red Oak 117
Black Cherry 115.6
Green Ash 109
Cucumber Magnolia 108
Beech 106.9

Rucker 10: 119.17 ft.

Smith Woods Rucker 5 Oct. 4, 2015:

Tuliptree 138.7
White Pine 130.8
Sugar Maple 124
Hemlock 121.7
Basswood 120

Rucker 5: 127.04 ft.


Tom Howard

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Lucas
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Re: Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

Post by Lucas » Mon Oct 05, 2015 3:26 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xZWe4klGRQ&feature=youtu.be

http://ithacafingerlakes.com/tag/smith-woods/

I was in the area once. Had no clue it was there.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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dbhguru
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Re: Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

Post by dbhguru » Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:15 pm

Tom,

This is an astonishing report. Congratulations to you and Elijah. And thanks for getting those black birch meadurements. They'll go into my black birch database tomorrow.

The work that you all are doing in central and western NY is giving us a much better picture of what might once have grown there. And I'm very impressed with the tulip trees you are finding growing there today. It is clear that the species finds the soils to its liking. Do you have lat and long coordinates for any of the trees?

I encourage you all to consider consolidating your trip reports into one PDF file. Your work is much too valuable to be scattered through multiple posts on the BBS. Although they are there for anyone determined to research the information, the reports need to be consolidated. The folks at SUNY need to see them.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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ElijahW
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Re: Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

Post by ElijahW » Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:13 pm

Tom,

Another great report - thank you.

Bob,

You're right about the need to consolidate our trip reports for the last couple of years. Everthing significant that Tom and I have measured recently is in the trees database, as well as in personal notes and spreadsheets, but we should do something more formal for archival and/or presentation purposes. We have several sites remaining for this year, but once the snow gets here, we may be able to put a comprehensive document together.

As for this trip, the size and heights of these trees were a spectacular surprise. Smith Woods may hold several state record contenders. I agree with Tom's assessment of the forest's age, with most or all of it being second-growth. In comparing tree heights here with other measured sites in NY, Smith Woods should come within a foot or two of Green Lakes' Rucker index (about 127') on a fraction of the acreage. This forest may also have greater future height and girth potential than Green Lakes, though its small size makes it more vulnerable to any disturbance.

I'll add some photos when I get the time, probably in a few days.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Oct 06, 2015 9:00 am

Awesome report on a fantastic site! I wonder where tuliptree height really does top out in the latitudes of NY state. 130s seem to be consistently attainable by mature specimens on good sites, exceptionally into the 140s- will a 150 turn up? Zoar seems like it has the potential, and the coastal area definitely has the climate but has such a heavy and continuous disturbance history. Central NY seems to have some solid stuff in store!

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dbhguru
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Re: Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

Post by dbhguru » Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:44 pm

Elijah,

I look forward to pictures. I also hope next spring to return to western NY and team up with you all. Monica actually has a musician colleague in Trumansburg.

My comments about developing a report on central and western NY could be extended across NTS. We have so much great material, but its accessibility is not particularity convenient. We have several geographical regions where we have lots of posts and reports. We could develop the NTS guide to special trees and forest sites. The guide could exist purely as an Internet produce, but one we kept current.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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tsharp
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Re: Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

Post by tsharp » Tue Oct 06, 2015 5:07 pm

Tom:
I am assuming that any tree heights with a + behind them are straight up shots and not a sine height, Is that correct?

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ElijahW
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Re: Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

Post by ElijahW » Wed Oct 07, 2015 3:22 pm

Turner, you're correct on the "+". Of the heights measured, only 1 tulip, a couple of hemlocks, 1 black birch, and the white pine are full heights, if I remember correctly.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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Re: Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

Post by ElijahW » Sat Oct 10, 2015 7:21 am

NTS,

Below are some pictures taken at Smith Woods from the trip Tom and I made last weekend. I have a few more, but the lighting is poor, for which I apologize. One of the troubles, along with finding tops of trees in a beech-hemlock forest, is finding the right light for a good shot.
One of the two main trail entrances.  The road to the left is a NY State highway.
One of the two main trail entrances. The road to the left is a NY State highway.
Trillium
Trillium
Beech drops
Beech drops
Black birch stilt-roots
Black birch stilt-roots
DSC00620.JPG
Largest cucumber magnolia (108'x35.8" DBH)
Largest cucumber magnolia (108'x35.8" DBH)
Same cuke
Same cuke
Largest-girth black birch (8'5")
Largest-girth black birch (8'5")
Bob,

According to a quick Google search, here are the rough coordinates for Smith Woods: Lat: 42.53522°, Long: -76.644945°http://www.findlatitudeandlongitude.com ... hkTxSurFvA

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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Re: Smith Woods, Trumansburg, NY

Post by ElijahW » Sat Nov 28, 2015 11:51 pm

NTS,

I've made two more recent visits to Smith Woods. The data below are remeasurements and measurements from trees Tom and I didn't get to the first time.

Species name Height CBH

Eastern white pine 139.2' 126"
Eastern hemlock 125.7' 115"
Bitternut hickory 119.2' 88"
Black cherry 119.0'
American beech. 119.0'
Black birch 104.9' 87"

More black birch measurements are posted under Bob Leverett's black birch database page. A couple of these birches out-point the current NY state champion, for what that's worth.

The white pine is the same previously listed at 130.8'. I found two higher tops, one at 137 and another at 139, that we missed before due to leaf cover.

After three visits, it looks like about 10 hemlocks will exceed 120'. Several more need to be measured.

I found one bitternut hickory, and it seems to be the only hickory in the forest interior.

A second, much younger cucumber magnolia, rises to 102'.

Beech, black cherry, and red oak almost certainly will top 120'.

I tape-wrapped a white pine snag to 135" and a beech to 162".

I didn't spend much time on the tulip tree grove, but remain optimistic at least one of these trees will top 140'. Tom and I will probably focus on the tulips if we can make another visit this winter.

The Rucker 10 Index for Smith Woods now stands at 123', which may not sound like much to some, but for NY, it's our third-best site behind Green Lakes State Park and Zoar Valley.

Here's to large and unique trees,

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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