Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe County

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ElijahW
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Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:04 pm

Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe County

Post by ElijahW » Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:52 pm

NTS,

Tuliptree Liriodendron tulipifera

150.1' x 7'5"
143.0' x 10'
137.3'

Sugar Maple Acer saccharum

127.0' x 8'11"
115.5' x 13'3"

White Ash Fraxinus americana

125.3' x 8'2"
123.0' x 5'9"
118.8' x 7'5"
117.8' x 8'9"
117.8' x 8'3"

Black Cherry Prunus serotina

125.2' x 10'2"
123.7' x 8'6"
106.0' x 8'2"

Eastern Hemlock Tsuga canadensis

121.4'

Northern Red Oak Quercus rubra

120.1' x 10'7"

Red Maple Acer rubrum

117.5' x 6'7"

American Beech Fagus grandifolia

117.1' x 7'2"

American Basswood Tilia americana

115.0'

Black Birch Betula lenta

108.8' x 5'9"
104.4' (double-trunk)

Rucker 10 Height Index: 122.75'
127' Sugar Maple
127' Sugar Maple
115.5' x 13'3" Sugar Maple
115.5' x 13'3" Sugar Maple
108' Black Birch
108' Black Birch
125' Black Cherry
125' Black Cherry
Black Birch along the Big Woods Trail
Black Birch along the Big Woods Trail
Touted as a unique example of old growth forest for many years http://www.geneseelandtrust.org/protect ... aspx?id=10 and about 75 miles from home, I probably should have checked out Gosnell Big Woods Preserve sooner, but I hadn't. After a visit to the Big Woods with Tom Howard, we came to the conclusion that though some old growth exists here, much of the property is second-growth and younger. Tom estimated the old growth core, dominated by American Beech, was likely between 10 and 20 acres. I think it may be slightly larger, but not by much.

This confusion seems to be another example of people conflating tree size with age, a transgression I've certainly committed. A red oak portrayed in photos as a potential 350 year old tree is probably half that age, given its growth form and bark characteristics, but, at over 16' in circumference at breast height, it's possibly the largest tree many people have seen in the woods. The preponderance of Black Birch, Tuliptree, Northern Red Oak, and Black Cherry outside of the core area suggests an average tree age between 100 and 150 years, which would not be considered old growth.

The Beech-dominated area, though still largely intact, faces a difficult future. Many trees have serious structural problems due to rot brought on by Beech bark disease, and many more have already fallen. Scattered old, weathered hemlocks are fighting the adelgid, which I found signs of on one young tree. White ash, another important canopy cohort, is dealing with the Ash borer, which has wreaked havoc in central and western NY. In short, the future of this forest type in this place is not looking great.

As for the old growth, quick ring counts by Tom on fallen Beech and Hemlock logs suggested maximum ages in the 200-250 year range, though a few trees may be a bit older. I wouldn't be surprised if Sugar Maple and Basswood exceeded 200 years old, as well.

I had contemplated writing up an incomplete report yesterday on Gosnell Big Woods, but ended up finishing the survey Tom Howard and worked on last Sunday after returning this afternoon. As most of the trees listed above were found today, I think it was a good move. Tom has a few additional measurements in his notes, including another 108'+ Black Birch, but this report should paint a good picture of what grows in this forest.

In wrapping up, Tom and I were wondering how far west in the U.S. one would have to travel to find a taller hardwood than the tallest at Gosnell (150'); and is there a chance of a taller hardwood east of this location? The GPS coordinates are roughly 43.24785,-77.48479.
143' Tulip
143' Tulip
One of several beautiful Cherries
One of several beautiful Cherries
Tuliptree slope; base of the 150' tree is in the left foreground
Tuliptree slope; base of the 150' tree is in the left foreground
Typical tall-tree topography, even near Lake Ontario
Typical tall-tree topography, even near Lake Ontario
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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Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Re: Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe Coun

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:35 am

Nice work! You're really racking up tall lake ontario sites.

Is that 16'cbh northern red oak a tree with any height, or is it an open-grown tree getting shaded out? Forest-grown red oaks over 14'cbh are another "club" I've been interested in since seeing that big one at Long Point. There seem to be quite a few in ohio, but they're scarcer once you get up into NY.

Is this 150' tulip now the furthest north known in the east? Going westward I know there are some impressive hardwoods in the detroit area of Michigan, but I'm not sure how much further north they extend. A touch further west you start getting into more grass-dominated ecologies. Peninsular Ontario has been noted to have some big old-growth hardwoods, but I don't know if much serious examination has happened since the Kirschner days.

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Larry Tucei
Posts: 2014
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:44 am

Re: Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe Coun

Post by Larry Tucei » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:00 pm

Elijah- Wow impressive trees and great photos. I love how open the Forest setting is. That 13' Sugar is old!!! Larry

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ElijahW
Posts: 809
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:04 pm

Re: Gosnell Big Woods Preserve, Town of Webster, Monroe Coun

Post by ElijahW » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:49 pm

Erik and Larry,

Thanks.

The 16’ Red Oak and a 14-footer nearby seem to have been at least partially open-grown for most of their lifetimes. The same probably could be said of the 20’+ Red Oak on Howlands Island. All of these trees have large crown areas and begin branching low on the trunk.

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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