Allison Park, Staten Island

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Erik Danielsen
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Allison Park, Staten Island

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Dec 05, 2015 1:19 pm

Allison Park is located in the middle of the northern shore of staten Island, no more than a mile inland. The forested portion of the park is tiny, even smaller than the 21-acre forest at Corson's Brook Woods. The site's impressive trees mostly line a ravine that carries a stream that feeds into Allison Pond. The pond was once the chief water supply for the campus of Sailor's Snug Harbor, a historic retirement community for new england sailors. The main campus (just a block away) is now a cultural center and botanical garden and, fortunately, my new place of employment. After the pond's utility was supplanted by NYC municipal water supply the Allison Park property was deeded to the city, and has been under the parks department since 1943. Some of the forest appears to be on the property of St. Peter's High School for boys, though it is unclear where the boundary lies. There are bits of crumbling infrastructure scattered through the forest, and I do wonder what it looked like a hundred years ago. The largest trees are very clearly forest-grown and possibly quite old, mostly great tulips and thick-boled oaks with broken tops. The low-lying sections are dominated by norway maple in the understory and midstory, while the slopes feature a mixture of tuliptree, red, black, white, and chestnut oaks, and black birch in the understory and midstory, with the canopy very much dominated by tuliptree with some red oak. It seems that more of the old oaks than not are broken off at 30-60 feet up their trunk, while this is only true of one large tuliptree (a loner situated amongst the norway maples. I suspect this little slice of woods is subject to intense winds from storms that come through. Are tuliptrees known to be more flexible and thus less likely to snap in high winds, relative to oaks? The trees in this forest do suggest as much. Further upstream the slopes become almost entirely oak, chestnut oak being dominant here. The woods surround a second pond, with more open-grown oaks and some exotics forming an altogether different forest community. I have not measured in these last sections yet.

Visiting on 11/28 I sought out some superlative measurements in the lower gorge section. I am considering getting a tripod to improve my chances of getting a reading off of high bare branches; I suspect that shaky optics don't help when the backscatter is weak. Heights are likely to improve with new measurements in early leaf-out. Perhaps the most frustrating characteristic of norway maple is that it retains its leaves so late in the fall, so that measuring taller trees above it is impossible until well after they have become bare. Black Birch, luckily, seems to be easy to read from even small bare twigs, perhaps because of its reflective bark. Even thick tulip branches often give me nothing, though the old dry blossoms help, and oak usually isn't much better. Girths for this forest are impressive, and I think that full height readings will probably impress as well when I can obtain them. Due to the small site size I would like to measure this forest fairly comprehensively as well.

Tuliptree:
126'/14.5'cbh
123.5'/13.8'cbh
117.6'
114.1'
95.9'/16'cbh loner with a broken top, large hollow on one side

Red Oak:
94.76'/14.1'cbh this tree has incredible presence, and it was frustrating to be unable to get a reading off of points in the canopy visibly higher. This tree reminded me of the oaks in Lilydale.
88.96' also a low reading, but closer, and typical of this park's broken-topped oaks

Black Birch (all are young and slender, around 1'dbh):
88.8'
85.7'
81.7'
Attachments
The big red oak... a very imposing tree
The big red oak... a very imposing tree
Looking east along the forested slope.
Looking east along the forested slope.
The 16'cbh loner tulip. On the other side is a large hollow where it seems a second trunk may have fallen off in the past.
The 16'cbh loner tulip. On the other side is a large hollow where it seems a second trunk may have fallen off in the past.
Native leaves are long off, but the norway maple understory are still half-green. I imagine the impacts on ground flora and native tree reproduction are quite negative.
Native leaves are long off, but the norway maple understory are still half-green. I imagine the impacts on ground flora and native tree reproduction are quite negative.
103.98'/13.7/cbh tulip
103.98'/13.7/cbh tulip

Joe

Re: Allison Park, Staten Island

Post by Joe » Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:08 pm

Erik, you said, "Native leaves are long off, but the norway maple understory are still half-green. I imagine the impacts on ground flora and native tree reproduction are quite negative. "

Just curious if anyone has any evidence of the negative effects. Maybe there is something positive about it?

One of my forestry clients has a property at 2,200' elevation in the Berkshires of western Mass. We found on his property a Norway maple with fresh looking leaves about this time of year, some years ago. It was very strange. I found it refreshing.
Joe

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Allison Park, Staten Island

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:18 pm

Well, there's this http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... x/abstract and http://www.jstor.org/stable/2996795?seq ... b_contents. I've also heard it attributed as suppressing herbaceous plants on the forest floor.

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Matt Markworth
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Re: Allison Park, Staten Island

Post by Matt Markworth » Sat Dec 05, 2015 4:19 pm

Erik,

Wow, very nice looking red oak and tuliptree.

That would be very frustrating not to be able to get laser hits when needed. Fortunately my Nikon 440 and Trupulse 200 have never given me any problems even on very fine twigs at the tops of trees. I keep meaning to get another Nikon 440 while they're still available on ebay.

Matt

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Allison Park, Staten Island

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Dec 05, 2015 4:38 pm

I'm considering doing so as well. The rangefinder I have has been convenient due to the built-in clinometer but has not always been particularly reliable.

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Matt Markworth
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Re: Allison Park, Staten Island

Post by Matt Markworth » Sat Dec 05, 2015 4:46 pm

Cool, the only thing that would make the Nikon 440 better is if it displayed distances in smaller units than a half of a yard, although using the clickover point (then adding or subtracting distance based on testing) can be used to get much more precise. It's a great little laser.

Matt

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Allison Park, Staten Island

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Dec 05, 2015 5:01 pm

The one I'm using actually only reads in whole yards (and whole degrees). Someday I'd like to get a trupulse, but a little incremental upgrade in the meantime wouldn't hurt.

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dbhguru
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Re: Allison Park, Staten Island

Post by dbhguru » Sun Dec 06, 2015 1:26 pm

Erik,

Good information. I have a feeling that we're going to learn a lot more now about tree potential in the Big Apple now that you are there.

Thanks for the black birch measurements, I entered them in the black birch database. It is instructive to note that even young slender trees reach heights above 80 feet. southern New England, New York, and Pennsylvania seems to be the epicenter of species abundance.

We're up to 564 trees in the BB database. I would appreciate any additional measurements that you're able to send. I'm shooting for at least 1,000. The average height for the 564 trees slightly exceeds 94 feet. This statistic raises the question as to why the maximum height for this species is so mis-portrayed by existing sources. My guess is that most of them simply repeat information from others. One of the most perplexing sources is the Virginia Forestry's Va Tech website which lists the tree as growing to between 50 and 60 feet in height. This information is presented despite many sources they could have consulted that list the max to between 70 and 80 feet including Silvics of North America. There is no explanation for the 50 to 60-ft max given, such as: (1) what people might see near the edge of the woods as they drive across the Virginia countryside, (2) what one might expect after a prescribed growing period for a tree planted in a yard, (3) height at typical harvesting time, etc.

We have our work cut out for us.

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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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Allison Park, Staten Island

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Dec 06, 2015 4:54 pm

Bob, black birch data is now something that I am happy to supply! It is abundant here, and very significant and well-documented differences in soil chemistry are present in different parts of the island, so perhaps there'll even be some patterns emerging on how that impacts growth. At Allison Pond 70 feet almost seems to be the minimum, with the average probably falling in the low 80s. I just returned from another walk there and have some additional numbers to add:

Black Birch:
94.1'/3.5'cbh
88.5'
85.7'
78.5'

Northern Red Oak:
103'/11.1'cbh old specimen
102.7' early maturity, ~2'dbh
100.8' young specimen, ~18"dbh

The tallest tuliptree I also remeasured from an improved vantage point to 127.4'. I was expecting this site to break 130', but that seems to account for all of the large tuliptrees present. From the boundary of today's walk the forest shifts into a dryer mixed oak forest (I saw some older black birch in the distance as well). More soon.

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dbhguru
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Re: Allison Park, Staten Island

Post by dbhguru » Sun Dec 06, 2015 7:39 pm

Erik,

Thanks! We're up to 568 BBs. I bet it won't be too long before you find a 100-footer in the Big Apple. You know, we've never gotten a Rucker Index for NY City. I think you're the person to do it.

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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