Zoar Valley Update

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:06 am

I've been exploring Zoar Valley all summer, not many tree measurements but many fascinating plant communities observed. Looking forward to the measuring season, I wanted to share a few photos from one of the most unique locations in the canyon. This high ridge jutting out from the South Branch's north rim (directly across from Deer Lick Preserve) hosts a community of stunted oaks and pines- similar to the community on the better known Knife-Edge Ridge. Specimens on the Knife-Edge Ridge were directly dated by DIggins in the published literature and found to be over 165 years consistently (chestnut oak and red pine specifically- unfortunately no maximum age was specified). The specimens on this other ridge appear to be at least as old, and potentially even older. Red Pine is no longer present this far upstream in the south branch, but is replaced by Eastern Redcedar- and two of these appear to be good contenders for the oldest trees in the canyon. These are perfect examples of the sinuous cliff-grown strip-barked growth type documented along the Niagara Escarpment by Doug Larson and other researchers in "The Last Stand." https://www.amazon.com/Last-Stand-Journ ... 1897045190 I would be surprised if they were less than 400 years old.
The most photogenic of the two ancient Eastern Redcedars
The most photogenic of the two ancient Eastern Redcedars
Another angle on the Redcedar's complex architecture
Another angle on the Redcedar's complex architecture
There was a SUNY fredonia research student out with me on Sunday looking for American Bittersweet, which seems to correlate strongly with this habitat type. We did find it, as expected. He's parallel to the cedar in this photo, to establish a sense of scale.
There was a SUNY fredonia research student out with me on Sunday looking for American Bittersweet, which seems to correlate strongly with this habitat type. We did find it, as expected. He's parallel to the cedar in this photo, to establish a sense of scale.
This looks like a relatively youthful white pine... until you see the base!
This looks like a relatively youthful white pine... until you see the base!
A number of white oak specimens were relatively small, but with strongly aged character.
A number of white oak specimens were relatively small, but with strongly aged character.
This old chestnut oak lost its base, but not its balance- as if it were doing yoga it somehow ended up tipped back over the portion of roots still embedded in the edge, with a full crown biased on one side of the trunk keeping its center of gravity on the stable side of the ridge.
This old chestnut oak lost its base, but not its balance- as if it were doing yoga it somehow ended up tipped back over the portion of roots still embedded in the edge, with a full crown biased on one side of the trunk keeping its center of gravity on the stable side of the ridge.
These two Chestnut Oaks on the sheltered side of the ridge are some of the most ancient-looking trees anywhere in the canyon.
These two Chestnut Oaks on the sheltered side of the ridge are some of the most ancient-looking trees anywhere in the canyon.

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ElijahW
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by ElijahW » Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:39 pm

Erik,

That's some beautiful stuff. I didn't realize any Red Pines were dated to that vintage. I guess I should have read the literature more carefully. Thanks for sharing the photos,

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: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:58 pm

Elijah,

The red pines are often assumed to come from nearby plantings- however this population and some others in similar habitats along our great lakes shores (and possibly in Letchworth) appear to be refugia from a previous point in our history since the last ice age when climate and resulting distribution of this species were different. Sort of like some of the disjunct Bur Oak populations. Little's range map captures the major known WNY disjunct populations, and omits (as much as possible) anthropogenic distribution. In my experience it's likely there are som minore pockets that were missed. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... eviala.jpg

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djluthringer
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by djluthringer » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:47 am

Great job, Elijah!!!

So glad to see all the measurements in one place. There's SO MANY tall tree records there, and so many good sites that it's hard to keep them all straight.

Many trees are impressive and off the charts for this for north.

I haven't reported on it yet, but the only tree I have in NW PA that can top Zoar Valley is a tall black walnut I recently measured in the old Coho Property, now Erie Bluffs State Park, at 7.7ft CBH x 139.4ft high. It's in a small wind protected valley about 1/4 mile south from the wind swept bluffs of Lake Erie.

Zoar Valley is the hardwood mecca of the Northeast.

Dale

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ElijahW
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by ElijahW » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:26 pm

Dale,

Erik deserves the bulk of the credit for what he’s found in the last couple of years. I’ve been able to join him a handful of times, but most of what’s been posted lately is his doing. Zoar Valley is a special place, with much more forest left to explore.

I’m looking forward to hearing about your walnut. That must be close to the maximum known for the species, no?

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: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:36 am

Yesterday morning I made a visit to the terrace with the tallest sycamore, to get a solid measurement with the 200LR. Shooting side by side with my old 200B it's clear that the 200B often shoots a little long, so I wasn't sure whether this visit would confirm new growth putting the tree over 160' or confirm last season's measurement to be too high. Shooting from two different locations, I was able to confirm the present height of the tree to be 159.34' (8.95'cbh).

This does suggest last year's 200B measurement of nearlh the same height was a little high, consistent with what I've observed with other measurements. Thanks to an intermittent breeze, though, I can also validate my speculation that the tree can reach up past 160' when the wind gives it a push! Along with the fact that the true base is buried under debris sliding down the slope, and almost certainly lower than the midslope point we've been using, I do find myself thinking of this as a 160' tree in all but most formal measurement!

Nearby I found a very nice black walnut 123.62' tall by 8.5'cbh that I've somehow missed on my other visits to this terrace. All around, the maple leaves on the ground displayed the telltale hairiness and leaflike stipules of black maple- I am sorting out some doubts and uncertainties about other traits, and so it was good to have the strongest possible confirmation of its presence here. Leaf shape in these terrace forests is a bit different from black maple in open oak-dominant woodlands I've seen in Michigan and in the Niagara Gorge area.

I really wish I could have spent all day there, but had to get going. Another sycamore with a tall, clear trunk is calling out to have its volume modeled- it's over 75' to the first limb! Possibly the most pleasing form of any sycamore in the canyon, to my eye. Another day.
Last edited by Erik Danielsen on Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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ElijahW
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by ElijahW » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:35 pm

Erik,

Sweet. What do you think of the 200LR so far? I’ve only taken mine out once, so I haven’t formed much of an opinion yet. Michael wasn’t kidding when he talked about the size and weight of the thing; it’s a beast.

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: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:38 pm

Elijah, so far I like it a lot. I've started just using my backpacking bag all the time for tree stuff anyways as it's easier to strap the tripod to, so the extra weight hasn't been a problem. Compared to the 200B the only downside is shooting through small windows. The gate function has helped me out with this a few times but I need to practice with it more to get a sense of its limitations. But when it has a clear shot, the readings are solid and precise in a very satisfying way. My 200B does funny things at the edge of tree trunks, and increasingly on bare distant twigs- one of the reasons I was apprehensive about my numbers on the bitternut hickory and waited on your visit to finally report it. The 200LR just feels solid, is the best way to describe it. I assume its advantages compared to the 200x are smaller.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:11 am

I just wanted to add a couple pictures from the sycamore terrace visit.
Attachments
Black maple leaf showing the characteristic stipules.
Black maple leaf showing the characteristic stipules.
The tallest sycamore, seen from a spot near the best vantage point for measurement. Seemingly intermediate in age- one of the 150' sycamores in the south branch, with much more symmetric and young branch structure and right across from the 160' tuliptrees, may have even greater potential than this one.
The tallest sycamore, seen from a spot near the best vantage point for measurement. Seemingly intermediate in age- one of the 150' sycamores in the south branch, with much more symmetric and young branch structure and right across from the 160' tuliptrees, may have even greater potential than this one.
The sycamore I'd like to model- 75.5' to the first branch, nice crown architecture suggesting it's one of the older representatives of its species present.
The sycamore I'd like to model- 75.5' to the first branch, nice crown architecture suggesting it's one of the older representatives of its species present.

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JHarkness
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by JHarkness » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:04 pm

Beautiful trees, Erik! The second sycamore is just beautiful, I'm interested to find out how much volume it has. It's interesting to see so much coarse woody debris in the second photo, is this area old growth or is it just mature second growth that has seen heavy blowdown? Also, are there any invasive species on that terrace? I'm noticing how green some of the shrubs there look.

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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