Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

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Erik Danielsen
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Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Dec 18, 2016 5:41 pm

The Canadaway Creek, which begins in the hills of Arkwright, NY and flows down through Laona, Fredonia, and Dunkirk to drain into Lake Erie, is one of my favorite waterways in Western New York. Its very name encodes its relationship with the forest- "Canadaway" turns out to be an anglicized corruption of an Erie or Seneca place-name "gana-da-wao", meaning "flowing under hemlocks." I have previously reported on a portion of this drainage in this topic: http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=105&t=6449 However, I'd like to consolidate my findings in this topic. This is one of many gorges cutting into the allegheny plateau which would seem to hold a lot of similar potential to Zoar Valley. Anticipating my visit to WNY this november, I was able to find promising views in aerial images of large sycamore crowns in the "upper canadaway," a portion which I had not previously explored. The included map will make it a bit clearer, but I delineate the Upper Canadaway (upstream of Arkwright Falls) from the Middle Canadaway (downstream of Arkwright Falls), both of which are included in this report, and additionally Lower Canadaway downstream of Laona Falls, which is outside of the map.
Location Map
Location Map
Most of the terraces along the Upper Canadaway are state land, part of the Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area. This section has definitely been subjected to a lot of mixed usages in the past. Plantations of Red Pine, Scotch Pine and European Larch intergrade with regenerating native hardwoods and hemlock. The occasional open-grown sugar maple or old exotic (Honeylocust, in this case) and lots of periwinkle and multiflora rose in parts of the understory further evidence a history of clearing and small-scale agriculture. Nonetheless, occasional patches of older trees and aerial photos from the 1930s showing a healthy buffer of intact hemlock canopy along much of the streambed attest the influence of legacy elements of the area's primary forest as well.

The particular terraces that appealed to me from the aerial images did deliver. Tall Sycamores and large cottonwoods dominate the canopy of the lowest floodplain forests, where it seems that the first generation of succession is finally starting to reach late maturity. What surprised me was the tall European Larches. As is often the case, the tallest (point (1) on the map) has a split leader driving some internal competition. The next "step" up in elevation from the creekbed was generally some mixture of hemlock and hardwoods, including basswood, sugar maple, black cherry, bitternut hickory, and white ash. There were very few red oaks in this area and no tuliptrees. There was also a scattering of very interesting Cucumber Magnolias; the first in a grove of smaller hemlocks right along the trail near the parking area, a very full-crowned tree, the second a messy octopus form of a tree at point (2) on the map- imposing but not very tall, and the last an enormous upright form at point (3) on the map which bore claw-marks from a local bear in its bark.
Two of the large Sycamores- the thinner one is the tallest measured at 123.6'/7.3'cbh and the larger one measures 121.2'/10.6'cbh
Two of the large Sycamores- the thinner one is the tallest measured at 123.6'/7.3'cbh and the larger one measures 121.2'/10.6'cbh
The tallest Larch (119.1'/7.5'cbh) is shown here with the split leader.
The tallest Larch (119.1'/7.5'cbh) is shown here with the split leader.
The beautiful Cucumber Magnolia at point (3) with myself at the base for scale. Measured 108.9<br />/9.2'cbh.
The beautiful Cucumber Magnolia at point (3) with myself at the base for scale. Measured 108.9
/9.2'cbh.
Bear markings in the bark of the big Cucumber Magnolia.
Bear markings in the bark of the big Cucumber Magnolia.
Returning to the Tributary Gorge and other portions of the Middle Canadaway was exciting, as I've long suspected there were tall trees among the large tulips I remember on the long shelf midway down between the upland and the gorge bottom at point (5) on the map. In the Tributary Gorge (point (4) on the map) I did find some reasonably tall trees on the steep slopes, but unfortunately with better measuring skills today I'm forced to conclude that the measurements I made two years ago in that earlier thread were mostly the tops of trees rooted higher on the slopes. There is really nothing particularly tall in there as far as I can tell, aside from a pair of tall cottonwoods.
The two tall Cottonwoods in the Tributary Gorge.
The two tall Cottonwoods in the Tributary Gorge.
The Shelf at point (5) was even taller than I expected; a nice forest of mixed early-maturity hardwoods with some legacy hemlocks, sugar maples, and tuliptrees. The tallest Tulip, at 134.1, becomes the tallest measured hardwood in chautauqua county and is exceeded only by the two tallest white pines at Lilydale. It's a very large tree rooted right at the edge of a steep slope, which may have made it unappealing to cut for timber. Multiple tall Bitternut hickories were also impressive, and a very nice slippery elm was great to see.
A view from within the grove of hemlocks that includes the 129'/8.3'cbh tuliptree.
A view from within the grove of hemlocks that includes the 129'/8.3'cbh tuliptree.
A final nice surprise was a very tall Red Maple growing with a slightly shorter companion, both of them quite exposed and isolated above a canopy of much smaller trees, at the edge of the terrace at point (6) on the map. There's plenty of territory yet to cover in the Canadaway Creek drainage, and I'm looking forward to it. I have no doubt that the RHI10 would exceed 120 with a bit more coverage.

The full set of measurements from the two days I worked on these sites are in the attached PDF. The Rucker Index and other maximums are as follows:

Rucker Height Index:

Tuliptree 134.1'/11.7'cbh
Bitternut hickory 128.4'/7.3'cbh
American sycamore 123.6'/7.3'cbh
European Larch 119.1'/7.5'cbh
Red Maple 117.6'/5'cbh
White Ash 115.2'
Sugar Maple 111.3'/8.4'cbh
Red Oak 110.4'
Cottonwood 109.5'
Slippery Elm 109.2'/6.6'cbh

Average Top Ten: 117.84

Cucumber Magnolia 108.9'/9.2'cbh
Black Locust 107.7'
Eastern Hemlock 107.4'/7.8'cbh
Shagbark Hickory 107.4'/6.2'cbh
Basswood 106.5'/5.2'cbh
Black Cherry 102.6'
Red Pine 98.4'
Honey Locust 89.1'/9.4'cbh
Ironwood 47.4'
Attachments
Canadaway Creek Basin.pdf
Spreadsheet of all trees measured 11/20 and 11/21
(68.04 KiB) Downloaded 51 times

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djluthringer
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Re: Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

Post by djluthringer » Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:28 am

Erik,

I love those Lake Erie stream gorges. I've been trying to catalogue as many as possible on the Pennsylvania side of the line. Most of my work has been from Harborcreek west to Ohio. There are several from Harborcreek to the New York line that I'm itching to get into. We've had many tall tree surprises over the years. If you can find a stand that hasn't been whacked in over 100 years, chances are very good that you'll start finding some dandies. The hidden water falls along these streams make every trip an adventure, even if you one doesn't find tall trees to measure.

Dale

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Dec 19, 2016 7:14 pm

You and me both, Dale. When I land back in the area I'd love to get into some of those with you. Do you have any leads on spots in the Twentymile Creek Gorge? A DEC report I ran into a few years back mentioned small sections of forest with trees exceeding 150 years old and/or 150' tall similar though to a lesser extent than Zoar in that creek, which straddles the NY-PA border.

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djluthringer
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Re: Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

Post by djluthringer » Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:41 am

Erik,

The farthest east drainage I've been in is Sixteenmile Creek, both Ed Frank & I. As I look at the topography of Twentymile Creek on the PA side, it doesn't look impressive, but on the PA/NY border drops ~600ft ! HOOOLY MOOOOLY !!! I see it listed on the map as 'Gage Gulf'. WOW ! This was right in my "backyard" and didn't even know about it. Once my knee gets healed up, I'll definitely be dropping in for a looksee:

http://www.americanwhitewater.org/conte ... il/id/1447

Dale

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:58 am

Unfortunately, all the deep stuff on the NY side of twentymile creek seems to be private, but I imagine at least some of the landowners might be open to granting access permission. It does seem that people access for whitewater and a little hiking... There are some unusual vegetation communities persisting on the beach where the creek empties into the lake on the PA side too, which might suggest there are some less-disturbed forests upstream (and there is public access, popular for flyfishing) even if the topography isn't quite as dramatic.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:11 am

This past week I managed to break up the cabin fever by getting out to do some scouting in unfamiliar sections of the Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area. The portions of public land on the south bank of the creek are much less accessed, and are often a very narrow strip between private lands and the creek itself, with one private parcel even crossing the creek for a brief section.
The tallest Sycamore, also very large but alas, no tape measure.
The tallest Sycamore, also very large but alas, no tape measure.
Sunday 1/21 I scouted in from the road after crossing the creek from the southeastern parking point on Bard Road. Traveling north and west, most of the terrain covered was the plateau above the gorge, with a creekside terrace also accessed, and some tributary ravines traversed. The end point was roughly across the creek from the point marked (1) on the map in the original post. At this point a property line briefly crosses the creek. It was a warm day, nearly 50 degrees, and the snowpack had been deep- crossing the creek to go further was not an option. The hiking was exhausting, actually, with my snowshoes attracting huge clinging balls of ice, but postholing in 2' deep snow covering an unpredictable ground surface often quite jarring.

The ravines and main gorge slopes contained plenty of unmanaged hemlock-northern hardwoods regrowth. Large hardwood stems and large hemlocks for tanbark were probably harvested between 120-180 years ago, based on the general lack of old-growth trees, but abundance of hemlock and hardwood diversity suggest these slopes were probably never entirely cleared and were not subsequently managed for timber. Gorges and ravines in this region do seem to suggest smart practices by most landowners in terms of retaining a hemlock buffer against erosion, even if the big trees were generally cut.
The great big Elm.
The great big Elm.
Two sections of the upland plateau also contained good mature forest, showing up as forested in the 1938 aerial images and most likely managed for hardwood timber based on the relatively even age of the large stems and restricted diversity. The canopy here was in general 95-105 feet, with black cherry being the tallest and white ash (declining) and basswood associates, sugar maple being the dominant species. Near the edge of the gorge was a nice section where old hemlock and beech sheltered some of the best-formed black cherry. The biggest surprise, though, was a magnificent American Elm in the midst of the hardwoods, lording over its neighbors.
Base of the big elm- I lacked my tape measure, but based on the 5&quot; wide notebook I put in the snow at the base maybe I can use the photo-measurement method to work out a diameter (this would be the wide view of the trunk and would exaggerate cbh'). Roughing it out with a ruler held against my computer screen puts the dbh at right around 35&quot;.
Base of the big elm- I lacked my tape measure, but based on the 5" wide notebook I put in the snow at the base maybe I can use the photo-measurement method to work out a diameter (this would be the wide view of the trunk and would exaggerate cbh'). Roughing it out with a ruler held against my computer screen puts the dbh at right around 35".
The terrace below also yielded some nice tall Sycamores, but not much else. I had misplaced my D-tape, so unfortunately I only have heights from this section. Another small patch of upland near the end point surprised with yet another outsize American Elm, this one branching higher, but not quite as tall or thick as the first Elm. Unfortunately I failed to write down the measurement for this elm but it was around 105'.
The second nice Elm, not quite as large as the first one but still dominant in its stand.
The second nice Elm, not quite as large as the first one but still dominant in its stand.
Heights recorded from this trip:

Sycamore
121.5'
117.9'
115.5'
Black Cherry
107.5'
American Elm
107.3'
Eastern Hemlock
104'

Thursday 1/25 I returned early in the morning, to hike the trail along the creek and then cross it (around point (2) on the map) and head west to access the most remote portion of the WMA, on the other side of the private parcel. It was much colder, around 12 degrees, which helped keep the water level low for an easy crossing. The prior string of warm days had also significantly reduced the snowpack. The aerial view on google maps for the plateau in this section was very promising, with the more open structure and distinct stems I associate with old-growth in the same image set. This is also right above a spot in the gorge where a glacial deposit of mixed gravel and stones erodes into the creek, suggesting there might be more diverse parent material and soil texture to feed tree growth. On ascending from the creek I immediately met a large Hemlock- probably the largest and oldest in this forest, as it turns out. Not the tallest, but respectable. This tree may have been in early maturity when the first cuts happened, and now it's on the edge of having that "old growth hemlock" feel.
The elderly (relatively) Hemlock (94'/9.1'cbh)
The elderly (relatively) Hemlock (94'/9.1'cbh)
The aerials were right- this forest has also clearly been managed for hardwood timber, but not intensively. There were large stumps here and there, but for the most part it appears that the stems selected as desirable have been given a lot of time to grow. Many tall, thick-stemmed black cherries, well-formed sugar maple, occasional white ash. Some red maple as well. On the slopes of the gorge there is again more hemlock and more species diversity. One little "shelf" just below the gorge rim yielded a surprise outlier of a Sugar Maple that wound up being the tallest tree measured on this trip. Compared to the previous sunday, however, there was noticeably less hardwood diversity even on the slopes- no cucumber magnolia, no elms, no bitternut hickory, no red oak. It may be that this portion was more intensively cleared in the initial settlement period, though the regrowth has been vigorous. When my time was nearly out, I was getting up into a section with a lot more tall white ash. I look forward to scouting the rest soon enough.
109.5' tall, 8.2'cbh Black Cherry, one of many fine specimens.
109.5' tall, 8.2'cbh Black Cherry, one of many fine specimens.
Sugar Maple
115.5' 8.2'cbh
109' 9.1'cbh
107' 6.9'cbh
105' 7.5'cbh
102' 7.3'cbh
Black Cherry
112' 9.1'cbh
111.5' 9.3'cbh
109.5' 8.23'cbh
102' 8.1'cbh
White Ash
111' 6.7'cbh
106' ~20"dbh estimate, too steep
105' 4.8'cbh
Eastern Hemlock
106.5' 6.0'cbh
105' 8.6'cbh
94' 9.1'cbh
Yellow Birch
91' 4.8'cbh

This bumps the RHI10 up slightly to 118.54. Unfortunately, there has recently been some logging in the area that has the tallest white ash, red oak, and bitternut hickory, so their status is uncertain. I hope to get in there sometime this spring, but the trails appear likely to be a mess. I walked through a small portion near the road during the summer and noticed that they didn't even cut as marked- they left marked slash standing, took all good stems (the marked cut left a portion), took several large trees that had been marked to leave as seed trees, threw masses of dead tops into the narrow tributary ravine, drove heavy equipment over a delicate ridge that's covered in a couple centuries of moss growth to get a couple niceish black cherry stems off a steep slope, just because they could, I guess. At least the tiny population of lady-slipper orchids is on a slope point just slightly too steep for them to drive on, or I'm sure they would have. Maybe the orchid population will increase with the extra sunlight. Who knows. I was unhappy that they were going to cut that property at all (it was just getting really nice, tree-wise), but that the final contractors ignored the sensibly marked harvest and just pillaged the place has had me dreading a really thorough walkthrough to see the rest.

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mdavie
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Re: Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

Post by mdavie » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:15 pm

Nice! I love big elms. Are you pretty sure it's American and not rock elm? I can't say that I've seen any big forest-grown rock elm though, at least, that I recognized. The bark is generally a little different and the form is too. Looks like it'd be hard to see buds or find samaras there though!

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:14 am

Thanks. We don't have rock elm in the region, though. The cross-section of a chunk of bark also had the distinctive alternating layers of light and dark that indicate U. americana. The form of the second one is less typical, but not unheard of.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:46 am

On Wednesday 8/22 I made a trip down to the hardwood forest that contained several of the existing RHI10 trees for this site- and which has been logged over the last two years. This stand is at point (5) on the first post's map, and straddles the border between county-owned land and a friend's private property. The logging all occurred on the county land, with the tallest Red Oak and White Ash in the cut area- the tallest Tulip I knew was safe on the private property, but I wasn't sure about the tall Bitternuts.

Fortunately many of the tall, vigorous young red oaks (including the tallest measured) were retained as future crop trees. The stand's white ash were all harvested, including the 115.2' tree. With that tree gone, the tallest white ash in the gorge is a tree currently measured at NLT 111.5' in a side-gorge that will be reported on in the topic on in the near future.

The tallest Bitternut is after all on private property, spared the logging, and has been growing at a good pace in the intervening three years. The Tulip's measurements have not changed much, at least as far as I could discern with the leaves on.

I made a detour on the way out to the tributary ravine reported on in the Ancient Hemlock Ravines topic- while the trees on the county side are all mostly small (including the unusual white oak and white pine elements), the slope on the other side of the creek (private land, unfamiliar ownership) has a few points that support slightly larger trees- I was able to find viewpoints from the creek bottom for the tops and bases of two nice white pines, one older and one younger. The older tree claims a place on the gorge RHI10.

Trees Measured:

Tuliptree
134.3'/11.9'cbh
Bitternut Hickory
133.2'/7.48'cbh
Northern Red Oak
110.9'/9.68'cbh (double)
109.4'
White Pine
120.5'
117.5'

Altogether, these updates (and a couple others to be reported on) add the Canadaway Creek Gorge to the list of NY sites with RHI10s over 120.

Tuliptree 134.3
Bitternut Hickory 133.2
Sycamore 123.6
Eastern Hemlock 122.8
White Pine 120.5
European Larch 119.1
Red Maple 117.6
Sugar Maple 115.5
Black Cherry 112
White Ash 111.5

RHI10=121.01

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dbhguru
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Re: Canadaway Creek in Arkwright, NY

Post by dbhguru » Sun Aug 26, 2018 6:24 pm

Erik,

Are you (or perhaps Elijah) keeping a list of sites with accompanying Rucker indices? Retired professor Tom Wessels would be interested in learning about the exceptional places in New York. We were in MTSF today and I mentioned to him the great finds that you all are making.

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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