North Chagrin Reservation

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dantheman9758
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North Chagrin Reservation

Post by dantheman9758 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:23 pm

Firstly I'd like to introduce myself, as this is my first post on this forum! My name is Dan and I'm from Mentor Ohio (30 minutes east of Cleveland).

I've always been an outdoors person and growing up I enjoyed hanging out in the woods behind my house in Painesville Township, and the woods behind my grandmothers house in Willoughby. My family would occasionally take me for hikes throughout the area's local parks, which I enjoyed thoroughly even though I never really had an understanding of what types of tree's and forest I was surrounded by. In recent years I've been revisiting the outdoors that I enjoyed in my youth, by taking long hikes throughout the local Lake Metroparks and Cleveland Metroparks. I really started picking up interest in the ecology of these "natural" area's about 3 years ago. To me, the best definition of natural meant un-impacted by man, something that has remained a relative constant regardless of our presence. I was really disappointed to find out that Ohio essentially has no "virgin" forests, something that would have fit that bill perfectly.

Two years ago I then discovered that there is such thing as not so impacted old growth, and that there are still a few tiny places throughout the state that has managed to survive clear-cutting and heavy development, with little activity of past logging or other impact. I wanted to know if there was anything near by where I lived, because the more I learned, the more I really felt like I was missing something when all I was encountering was immature developing forest. That's when I read about a past naturalist named A. B. Williams, a man very involved in the foundation of the Cleveland Metroparks. This early 20th century naturalist literally wrote the book on southern Great Lakes Beech-Maple forests, and he did so because of one 1,050 acre stretch of land 2 miles north to south, and .75 miles wide - spread out over a collection of deep ravines and plateus on the west side of the Chagrin River. At the time the Metroparks started, the Squire family (famous for Squire's Castle) donated 525 acre's of this land to what would soon be known as North Chagrin Reservation. Then, at the insistance of A. B. Williams, the rest of this pre-colonial forest was aquired from the various near by property owners via eminant domain. According to his extensive study throughout the rest of his lifetime, he recorded that there were many examples of tree's in the park over 500 years of age. He focused his studies on a 65 acre section of what he felt was the "least" disturbed of the old growth. He documented ages, distrubution, species, and as I said, is responsible for writing the book on Northeast Ohio's original native forest.

Noteworthy information that he documented was the impact on the forest after settlement. The area was once selectively logged in the late 1870's for Red Oak, and at the time he is studying, he comments that most of the red oak are likely underrepresented from what he imagines was once there. The area he chose to study did however contain a few pre-colonial Oaks (and still does today). Another, smaller impact to consider is that some fallen tree's, and some selected white-ash were used to construct the first Nature Center in the late 1920's. In addition, he noted in the 1930's there was a noticeable decline in the old-growth Hemlock. Despite this, there are still quite a few around today, scattered throughout the ravines.

Finally, what we must also consider since his studies, is the impact of the Chestnut blight, and Dutch Elm disease, as well as North Chagrin Reservation's problematic drainage issues. In the past, the roads and trails that are scattered throughout the park have noticeably changed the composition of some of the the old growth, as there are now large area's within the 1,050 acres that contain a larger percent of light loving tree's alongside drowned out Beech, or Sugar Maple. This issue has been noticed by the Park in recent years and they are working to fix the problem to prevent further impact. On the bright side, the park is now loaded with mature, and very tall Red Oak. I imagine it is quite a bit closer to it's pre-colonial appearance in quite a few area's, because when Williams studied the park, all but a few of the Red Oak were no more than 50 years of age, and today that would make most of those second growth tree's roughly 130 years of age. They still look maybe half the girth relative to the few dozen pre-colonial Oak's that remain, but they compliment the Giant's nicely.

Now to the goodies that I've found throughout the park. A. B. Williams section of woods (in the middle of the park) is by far the most impressive place to see mature Red Oak. One tree has an <18' girth, and another is 17'11". There are at least half a dozen other giant Oaks concentrated in that spot, mixed in with a healthy population of 130 year old second growth oaks. All of the tree's throughout the southern half the 1,050 acre's appear to be unaffected by drainage issues, as there are hardly any trails through this area. There are 3 very large (and hard to access) plateaus stretching about a half mile long that contain absolutely no trails, and are buffered in on all sides by a large tract of second growth, steep ravines, and a massive beaver swamp. I had been exploring that area regularly until I counted about 2 dozen piles of black bear scat scattered throughout the area, and yes, many of them were fresh. The beech tree's in there were the largest I have ever seen, and the canopy height was far far above average for Beech. In the North end of the park there is still some nice patches of old growth, but they are smaller and less continuous than the southern end. In the Northern area, worthy of note is a 300 year old stand of White Pine, completely surrounded by the Beech-Maple forest. According to an information block alongside the trail the stand averages 148' tall, and more than half of them started growing in the 1790's. This seem's to be consistant with what I've measured because so far 2 tree's I measured were roughly 125' tall, but one of them came in to be 170' tall. However, I do not have a laser, so I can not get precise measurements.

I am starting to document this place to the best of my ability, in the hopes that it will attract some attention from people with better equipment and knowledge of forestry. I feel that this place has been oddly elusive and off the radar of present-day tree hunters, and eastern forest ecologists. 1,050 acres of well-documented old growth, is a heck of a lot more acreage than the 15-50 acres that are more typically studied from Ohio's surviving old-growth.

http://rev215.treesdb.org/Browse/Sites/551/Details

Here is the link to my tree database, please feel free to look at the pictures and you'll get an idea of how special this place is. I will be collecting data the rest of this summer. I hope to get 30 complete measurements of at least 13 species that I recognize as incredibly large relative to all else I've seen at any eastern U.S. locations I've been to. Places like Mohican Wilderness, Cuyahoga Valley, Chapin Forest, and even many places in PA are fresh in my memory and do not contain tree's as massive, and diverse as this place.


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size


Click on image to see its original size
Last edited by dantheman9758 on Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Will Blozan
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Re: North Chagrin Reservation

Post by Will Blozan » Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:10 pm

Dan,

A hearty welcome to ENTS and WOW- what a first post! This site sounds incredible and well worth an ENTS visit. Summer heights are hard to do with a laser much less tape and tangent.

There are a few Ohio ENTS who can likely help with your documentation and I am sure they will chime in soon. I will be in Ohio July 31-August 5 and if a day worked out maybe we could meet up and get some preliminary heights. Rand, Steve, Brian?

Welcome!

Will Blozan

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dantheman9758
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Re: North Chagrin Reservation

Post by dantheman9758 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:54 pm

Will,

Thank you for the warm welcome! This place certainly is amazing, there are quite a few tree's here that are jaw dropping big, and a lot of the park has a canopy height that I haven't seen before, it could be an illusion but to me there are some expansive sections that look taller than the parks 300 year old white pine's. Aside from trunk diameter, i can't really measure with precision, but I'm going to try to get as many rough figures as I can, and most importantly I'll be pin pointing the most promising tree's. I've been exploring the park for two straight years on and off all trails and have a pretty good handle on the largest or tallest specimens of a wide variety of species.

Some tree's I can't Identify because the bark looks like nothing from any book or picture, and the canopy height puts leaves so far away a visual comparison is damn near impossible for me. I suspect the hard to identify bark on the tree's is a result of maturity, as most guides seem to show medium or small tree examples, and in pictures they are branched out like a neighborhood tree, not straight and tall like a forest one. Anyways I'd be glad to do any meet-ups and lead anyone straight to the big ones if it would help. It might be especially helpful on the vast trail-less area.

Also, It's hard to even hike the length of this park in one day, much less try to get measurements of all the exceptional trees. So if anyone is really interested in looking at this place keenly, it may take several trips.

Below is a composite image of one of the Red Oak's, I couldn't get far enough to obtain an undistorted image but at the base you can see a person sitting on the buttressed roots for scale. This one is 18'3" in circ, and stays fat and straight all the way up to the first branch. There's another Oak 25 meters away that looks almost identical, but a pinch smaller with a 17'11" circ.
one of the parks pre-colonial Red Oaks
one of the parks pre-colonial Red Oaks
Last edited by dantheman9758 on Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Steve Galehouse
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Re: North Chagrin Reservation

Post by Steve Galehouse » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:43 pm

Dan, Will-

This Friday and Saturday I'm planning to meet up with Robert Jetton from NCSU to survey hemlock sites in NE Ohio for the Camcore project, including North and South Chagrin Reservation, Sand Run Reservation in Akron, Bedford Reservation, and Ritchie Ledges in Virginia Kendall(where there is a reproducing population of Carolina hemlock). I've visited the Chagrins within the past two years, but have not spent much time measuring. Both are certainly gorgeous areas. Dan, if you are interested in participating, give me a call at 440-835-1253(I'm in Bay Village). Your heights for the red oak and white pine would be the tallest in the state---I'll survey the park using LiDAR, to see what else might pop up

Steve
every plant is native somewhere

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dantheman9758
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Re: North Chagrin Reservation

Post by dantheman9758 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:47 pm

Steve,

I would love to meet up at least at North or South Chagrin if my schedule permits me to do so. I will try to get in touch tomorrow. Also, good to know you've checked this park out before! I'm glad someone else already knows where it is. The outer shell of the park, and along the popular trails/roads I've noticed is mostly young growth, or damaged old growth. If you've been there and didn't give it a second look I don't blame ya. The park expanded from it's original 1050 acres, to over 2,300, cloaking most of it's old growth. In a casual trip that park's tree's appear rather ordinary. It certainly is beautiful though!

Oh and can either of you possibly identify this tree? There's only a few of these in the entire park, but they stood out because they grow very tall and straight. Their girth is about as large as an old beech tree, but smaller than any mature Oaks, I'm guessing about 9 feet but I haven't measured it yet. The deep ridged bark is unlike anything I could find on the internet or in my field guide. I can literally barely wrap my hand around those ridges, they're very distinctive and deep. The leaves have a slight jagged edge to them, and were between 5-8" long, and a bit narrow (I picked up a few off the ground). The second pic was as much as my lens could zoom to try and get a snapshot of how the leaves grow on the tree.
IMG_3768.JPG
IMG_3770.JPG

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dantheman9758
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Re: North Chagrin Reservation

Post by dantheman9758 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:48 pm

2 More pics of the tree I can't Identify
IMG_3772.JPG
IMG_3771.JPG

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James Parton
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Re: North Chagrin Reservation

Post by James Parton » Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:01 am

Dan,

Welcome to ENTS. You will certainly fit in here!
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
Bardic Mentor
New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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bbeduhn
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Re: North Chagrin Reservation

Post by bbeduhn » Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:05 am

Yes, quite a first post! I've spent some time in North Chagrin in the past but before I was really interested in trees. The visitor center used to have some old cross sections. I have no idea of what trees they were. I'm certain there are small patches of old growth in many of the ravines in the Metroparks.

The Holden Arboretum has a nice beech-maple old growth forest and there's a spot in the ravine that may be old growth as well. They have an enormous red oak and a 380 year old white oak in the gardens.

Ohio has a plethora of small old growth patches and most are open to the public. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_old_growth_forests Some may have been selectively logged in the past. Kingwood Center in Mansfield has some nice trees, along with the Gorman Nature center. Hocking Hills, southeast of Columbus is a good spot as well.

I haven't been to Ohio in a couple of years, but I'm heading to the islands of Massachusetts August 3rd. Enjoy. It sounds like there's still plenty to discover.

Brian

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Will Blozan
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Re: North Chagrin Reservation

Post by Will Blozan » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:33 pm

Dan,

Nyssa sylvatica? Not typical bark, but I have seen them with that bark pattern several times.

Will

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dantheman9758
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Re: North Chagrin Reservation

Post by dantheman9758 » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:55 pm

Will,

The leaves that I collected were toothed rather than smooth, pretty close to how beech leaves look, but a little larger. However there is always the chance that the leaves I collected did not come from the correct tree.

I am looking at A. B. Williams maps and species charts focused on the ridge corner where that tree is located, dated from 1935. Only two species were concentrated in that specific spot that can potentially have bark with that makeup, and leaves that (either smooth or toothed) resemble the shape seen in the pictures. One of them could be the Black Gum which you mentioned, and interestingly the other obvious one is Chestnut which even has jagged leaves. I would imagine that's highly unlikely though, chestnut blight wipes out mature tree's from my understanding. Am I correct? There is a dead tree of what looks like the same species and size about 30 feet away, with all the bark 95 percent fallen off, leaving an extremely hard and perhaps decay resistant stump of 20' in height. I assume decay resistant because there is now epiphytes growing in the top of it that are of reasonable size, and no sign of rot anywhere else. Is this still consistant with black gum?

Dan

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