Allegany State Park's Trackless West

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Erik Danielsen
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Allegany State Park's Trackless West

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:27 pm

Allegany State Park is a pretty big place. It's been mentioned many times in literature on stands of old-growth remaining in the east, particularly the Big Basin section. However, unlike the Adirondacks or Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest, ASP has seen relatively little ENTS-style documentation. I'm now a couple visits into investigating the forests of Allegany's peaks and valleys, and from what I've found so far it's clear that the work has only just begun.

A friend and fellow tree-measurer tipped me off last year to some superlative old growth located in the Crick's Run drainage in the west-central portion of the park. Examining maps of the area I noticed that of all the sections of the park, this portion is the least accessed by trails and infrastructure (check out the trail map; the section I'm talking about is where I drew a big blue X). I like to call this section, bounded mostly by Route 86, Bay State Road, English-Stoddard Road, and ASP RT 3, ASP's "Trackless West."
X marks the spot
X marks the spot
I visited on 10/20/2017 and again on 10/21. On the following map, "P" designates the sites where I parked, to the west the first day to access site A up Crick's Run, and to the east on the second day to access site B above Bay State Brook. Holts Run Road is mapped but not open to vehicle traffic, and mostly nonexistent. The terrain and vegetation are complex with mixed disturbance histories; I'd like to expand posts with details from my notes in the future but will stick to the main findings, measurements, and photos for tonight.
Topo of the Trackless West section with notations referenced in the post
Topo of the Trackless West section with notations referenced in the post
Typical View in the second-growth lining Crick's Run, much of it very mature and having impressive trees of its own.
Typical View in the second-growth lining Crick's Run, much of it very mature and having impressive trees of its own.
Multiple stages of the Hemlock life cycle visible peeping up a tributary of Crick's Run.
Multiple stages of the Hemlock life cycle visible peeping up a tributary of Crick's Run.
At site A, having ascended Crick's Run through enjoyable hemlock-northern hardwoods intergrading with oak-hickory forests on many of the slopes, a pair of parallel tributaries trace a ravine upstream into a stand of old-growth hemlock, with scattered hardwoods. Measurements within that section are listed. To the south above this ravine mixed old-growth hemlock-northern hardwoods forest (in which I did not measure, but should in the future) follow the slope up to an abrupt transition, where just before the 2000' isoline (visible on the topo) the composition shifts into what I'd classify as an oak-tuliptree forest type, seemingly a bit younger but with many old trees, perhaps representing an area where the loss of american chestnut nearly a century ago had a particularly pronounced impact. Further upstream from the old-growth hemlock stand, just to the east below that transition zone, is a more open old-growth hardwood stand with some sugar maple but heavily dominated by white ash, which I'm calling the "Ash Basin."

Hemlock Stand Data:

Tuliptree
121.5' 8.3'cbh
Eastern Hemlock
116' 8.3'cbh
111.5' 6.7'cbh
White Ash
115.5' 7.1'cbh
Black Cherry
114.5' 8.2'cbh
Northern Red Oak
102' 7.4'cbh
Black Birch very old specimen, few in vicinity
97.5' 6.0'cbh
Striped Maple
21' 0.59'cbh
The black birch in the Hemlock Stand slants across this image.
The black birch in the Hemlock Stand slants across this image.
The base of the black birch, which struck me as exceptionally old and whose bark reminded me of old-growth black tupelo getting plated and knobby.
The base of the black birch, which struck me as exceptionally old and whose bark reminded me of old-growth black tupelo getting plated and knobby.
Ash Basin Data:

White Ash
123.5' 8.2'cbh
123' 10.4'cbh very impressive tree
107.5' 8.8'cbh
Sugar Maple
107.5' 9.5'cbh
Largest-diameter White Ash, on the slope right above Ash Basin.
Largest-diameter White Ash, on the slope right above Ash Basin.
Botrychium oneidense, a NYS threatened species, on the slope with the big old ashes
Botrychium oneidense, a NYS threatened species, on the slope with the big old ashes
At site B, after a brief hike in through a younger poplar-hornbeam-serviceberry forest in which the latter two species were honestly pretty impressive, then a jaunt through nice northern hardwoods second-growth, crossing a small ravine and getting up onto the steep slope finds you in more hemlock-northern hardwoods old growth. Perhaps due to the slope orientation, the heights here seem to be more impressive than in the west-facing site A. Absolute size and age potential is probably limited by the steepness of the slope, but old, tall trees are abundant and nothing suggests and serious attempts to harvest timber from this slope in the past. Just like the slope above site A, at just below the 2000' isoline the forest transitions into an oak-tuliptree type, where white oak, chestnut oak, cucumbertree, and hickories, which had been scarce or absent on the slope, become common.

Site B Slope Forest Data

White Ash
134' 7.7'cbh
126.5' double
125' 9.1'cbh
120.5' 6.3'cbh
Tuliptree all specimens in a cluster within hemlock stand, probably seeded from oak-tulip area above into a natural gap, clearly a single age cohort
127.5' 6.9'cbh
125' 6.1'cbh
116' 6.8'cbh
115' 8.3'cbh (double)
Eastern Hemlock
124' 7.3'cbh
122' 7.3'cbh
122' 7.0'cbh
121.5' 7.5'cbh
120.5' 10.0'cbh very impressive tree near base of slope
118' 8.4'cbh
Black Cherry
123.5' 10.0'cbh Larger crown than most other black cherries on slope
113' 8.1'cbh
113' 6.5'cbh
Northern Red Oak
117' 6.7'cbh
114' 9.6'cbh
106' 9.8'cbh
Red Maple
112.5' 8.8'cbh
Cucumber Magnolia
112.5' 7.1'cbh
Black Birch
110.5' 6.5'cbh
Sugar Maple definitely larger sugars present, just happened to mostly skip this species on this visit
110' large stem far above on opposite side of ravine
American Basswood
110' 4.8'cbh
106' 5.5'cbh
American Beech very few large beech present, but according to old botanical surveys this was a previously dominant species. Loss of beech may have had a significant impact on forest composition, as had the loss of chestnut and heavy selective harvest of large hemlocks for tanbark.
103' 9.1'cbh
Striped Maple many additional impressive specimens unmeasured
47' 1.5'cbh
38.5' 1.3'cbh
123.5' black cherry in the foreground, with the other side of the valley visible in the distance.
123.5' black cherry in the foreground, with the other side of the valley visible in the distance.
Base of the tallest and largest striped maple, seemingly much older than most of the rest, and tapering very little for about 20' of its rising trunk. Bark has transitioned to a gray that just hints at the original green stripey color.
Base of the tallest and largest striped maple, seemingly much older than most of the rest, and tapering very little for about 20' of its rising trunk. Bark has transitioned to a gray that just hints at the original green stripey color.
118' x 8.4'cbh hemlock, a handsome specimen
118' x 8.4'cbh hemlock, a handsome specimen
Oak-Tulip Forest Data

Tuliptree
132.5' 6.1'cbh
130.5' 6.9'cbh
130' 7.8'cbh
Northern Red Oak
120.5' 8.0'cbh
Shagbark Hickory
113.5' 4.8'cbh
Chestnut Oak
110.5' 5.6'cbh
White Oak
110' 5.8'cbh
107.5' 5.9'cbh
103.5' 8.8'cbh large tree with spreading crown right above steeper slope section
Cucumber Magnolia
104.5' 7.5'cbh
"Bear Corn," a parasitic plant dependent on oak roots, was incredibly abundant in the oak-tuliptree forest area.
"Bear Corn," a parasitic plant dependent on oak roots, was incredibly abundant in the oak-tuliptree forest area.
Large white oak with intermediate growth form (103.5 x 8.76cbh) at the edge of the oak-tuliptree section, hanging over the steeper forest on the slope.
Large white oak with intermediate growth form (103.5 x 8.76cbh) at the edge of the oak-tuliptree section, hanging over the steeper forest on the slope.
On my first visit I took a much longer bushwack route into the old growth than necessary, limiting what I had time to do. On the second visit the route was much more efficient, but I hit high-quality old-growth much earlier than expected and became so engrossed that I hardly covered any of the territory I had initially intended. On the topo map, "?" marks indicate promising locations with similar characteristics in aerial imagery to the old-growth sections I've already visited. Quite an exciting place! RHI is 119.4 so far and sure to rise. I have yet to properly measure any white pine but they are scattered throughout, and hemlock and many of the hardwoods do promise even greater heights.
Last edited by Erik Danielsen on Sat Mar 30, 2019 3:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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ElijahW
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Re: Allegany State Park's Trackless West

Post by ElijahW » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:17 pm

Erik,

Very impressive start to your survey. Though you tried to hide it, I did spot the 110’ Black birch. Bob will appreciate seeing that, I’m sure. I’ll look forward to seeing what you find next. Is that a Jack-in-the-pulpit next to the fern?
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: Allegany State Park's Trackless West

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:28 pm

Hah! I'm not trying to hide anything! I do, however, need to start reformatting the measurement spreadsheets to be a bit more accessible at a glance. I've been trying to save time by just screenshotting my data sheets but typing the numbers out in the post, with underlined headers for each species does make for a nicer-looking post

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Allegany State Park's Trackless West

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:18 pm

Original post revised for easier reading, and with some added notes including (what else?) an ambiguous hickory.

Elijah, I see the resemblance in the little plant you note. To give a sense of scale the fertile frond of that fern is no more than 4 or 5 inches tall. The suspicious plant appears to be an ash seedling with another withered leaf stuck to its stem.

As it turns out, there is a several-hundred-page botanical survey of the park from the 1940s available as a free pdf online, complete with quite a lot of black-and-white photographs. Lots of good leads in this document. While I intend to stick to this "trackless west" before moving on to other parts of the park, I have also been informed that there is a healthy stand of mature american chestnuts hiding somewhere in here, its location a closely held secret.

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Allegany State Park's Trackless West

Post by Larry Tucei » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:47 pm

Erik- Super report such detail! The Black Cherry is impressive as is the Sugar Maple. I can't recall many much taller than either one. The Ash are also very tall and on the Pignut Hickory. The nuts are a little larger than the red with a bulged point on the end of the nut.
Some types of Hickory Nuts
Some types of Hickory Nuts
What a beautiful Forest lots to discover there. Larry

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Allegany State Park's Trackless West

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:27 pm

Thanks for the image, Larry. Based on that I'm leaning even more towards Red Hickory. While I didn't find any leaves with more than 5 leaflets, I had a hard time finding any leaves at all, as most were still attached to the tree. Here are a few images of the leaves and fruits if anyone else wants to weigh in. I suppose a third possibility would be a very un-shaggy shagbark, but the fruits seemed too small and the leaves too small and insufficiently hairy on the rachis.
Attachments
IMGP9121.jpg
IMGP9120.jpg
IMGP9124.jpg

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Rand
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Re: Allegany State Park's Trackless West

Post by Rand » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:32 pm

Erik Danielsen wrote: I have also been informed that there is a healthy stand of mature american chestnuts hiding somewhere in here, its location a closely held secret.
Maybe if you said pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top and promised to clean your shoes with bleach before hand? And bring us some pictures?

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Lucas
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Re: Allegany State Park's Trackless West

Post by Lucas » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:26 pm

Erik Danielsen wrote:
As it turns out, there is a several-hundred-page botanical survey of the park from the 1940s available as a free pdf online, complete with quite a lot of black-and-white photographs. Lots of good leads in this document.
https://ia601701.us.archive.org/18/item ... 00gord.pdf

This one?
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Lucas
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Re: Allegany State Park's Trackless West

Post by Lucas » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:32 pm

A good report. An exciting place! I love hearing about places like this. Who knows what has been missed in there?

http://www.ancientforests.us/OldGrowthNY.htm

Surveyed in 95.

Even though it is a state park, I assume, it is still can be logged, etc.
Last edited by Lucas on Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Lucas
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Re: Allegany State Park's Trackless West

Post by Lucas » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:35 pm

Erik Danielsen wrote: I have also been informed that there is a healthy stand of mature american chestnuts hiding somewhere in here, its location a closely held secret.
Held by who? The American Chestnut Foundation?

I would love to hunt them up but at a 100 sq miles the park is a big place. From the air in bloom time would be the best bet.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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