Greetings from a Maple-Beech Forest

A forum for new members to introduce themselves to the other members of ENTS. New users and guests can ask questions about ENTS and the ENTS BBS here.

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

Post Reply
User avatar
JHarkness
Posts: 249
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 5:44 pm

Greetings from a Maple-Beech Forest

Post by JHarkness » Sun May 13, 2018 8:47 pm

Hello everyone, I'm Joshua, I'm from eastern New York State in the Taconic Mountains. I have loved trees, especially large old ones, all my life. My family owns a decent sized patch of second growth, and what I'm thinking is disturbed old growth (disturbed in the sense that hemlocks and white pines were removed but the less profitable deciduous trees remained undisturbed in these sites), the past couple years I've been spending a lot of time documenting, studying and measuring the trees on our land. We're located at a fairly high elevation so our forest is mainly a maple-beech-birch-hemlock type while lower elevations tend to be more oak and hickory dominated, or in the wetter areas, cottonwood and black willow dominated. Despite the elevation, our forest is fairly protected and seems to produce a lot of very tall trees, I've measured many trees to near, or on a few occasions to above, record heights in our state, these include sugar maple, white ash, black birch, american beech, northern red oak and a hemlock that's just a few feet shy. I do not however have any professional measuring equipment such as a laser rangefinder, so I simply use old fashioned techniques, originally I used a real clinometer but I found an application for my mobile phone that produces slightly more accurate results and so I've moved to that, I've taken many measurements of these trees and have determined that this method is accurate to within three feet when used with a decent tripod. I also spend a lot of time in nearby forests in NY, CT and MA as well as those in the Adirondacks and enjoy photographing any large, or simply remarkable, or beautiful trees I find.

I'd be happy to post about these trees here, even if some of them aren't the giant pines and tulips the ENTS seems to mainly be looking for.

Best wishes to everyone here,
Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

User avatar
Erik Danielsen
Posts: 897
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Re: Greetings from a Maple-Beech Forest

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon May 14, 2018 9:49 pm

Hello Joshua,

Glad to have another New Yorker on board! This state is in a prime tree-discovery period and we'd be glad to have you be part of it. From your description of your land it sounds like you've gotten a good handle on the factors that go into producing tall trees. The Taconics should definitely be a productive region, so height records are very possible. I do have to note that even though clinometers and similar apps work well for most known reference objects that are geometric, like poles and buildings, the more variable forms of trees are where they run into trouble, with even experienced foresters and arborists making measurements 20 or 30 feet taller than the true height at times. There are ways to reduce the errors that we can go over, but if you're serious about measuring trees a rangefinder is the way to go! I'd even be willing to lend one of mine if you're willing to get some rangefinder measurements to confirm your tall trees, but aren't sure about investing in a rangefinder yourself yet.

I really hope you'll post some of your photos and the measurements you've made. This is a big state, and we don't have much data from your area yet. By the way, are you getting your reference height records from the state champion list or from what we've reported here?

Big pines and tulips are exciting, but it's the records of the other less overachieving species that can be really exciting and surprising- when I found a 121' tall black birch on long island last spring, for example, that was a real shocker! Just as exciting to me as finding 160' tulips and pines at last.

Glad to have you on board and looking forward to hearing about what you've observed.

-Erik

User avatar
JHarkness
Posts: 249
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 5:44 pm

Re: Greetings from a Maple-Beech Forest

Post by JHarkness » Tue May 15, 2018 12:20 am

Thanks Erik! Fortunately none of my trees are exactly difficult to measure in terms of their form, most are pretty tall and straight and I've had very good results with my current method, for example I've been able to successfully determine the growth rate of one of our hemlocks by getting a series of 116' measurements before the last growing season and a series of 117' measurements after the season (out of four of my measurements, only one was off from the 117' and that was only to 118'). The use of a good tripod with my mobile phone drastically increases accuracy too, I've also used it to measure fallen trees and then tape measured the same trees and found it to be accurate to within two feet generally. I would love to be able to get a rangefinder for further measurements of my trees, but treating our hemlocks for EHS and a few of our healthier, more remarkable white ashes for EAB are obviously higher priorities at the moment, I'm generally happy with my measurement results and most of the trees I've had particular difficulty on are ones that I know won't make any kind of big tree list, these are trees I've only measured for my own satisfaction.

Onto the big trees, I've been referring to the ENTS height database, but I've measured a couple trees that will likely make their way onto the DEC's State Champion list, one of which being a very large (for it's species), pin cherry.

Other trees that do, or appear to break the record but need more measurements for confirmation, include a 117' black birch (though now I know it's not the tallest in the state, but for this latitude (42 degrees) it's pretty remarkable), a 133' sugar maple, and a 148' white ash (the latter needs to be measured several more times and in better conditions so I can accurately locate the highest branch, I'm guessing I could be up to five feet high or low on my 148' measurement, still 143' exceeds NY's height record for a white ash and if it's over 150, I believe that would make it the first ash over 150 documented in the Northeast). I'm currently waiting for a post about the ash, photos included, to be approved to be posted. Other remarkable trees on or near my property include several beeches that exceed 125 feet, and maybe some that exceed 130, a forest grown northern red oak that seems impossibly large at over 12' in circumference and at least 125' tall (this being one of the difficult ones, I've never gotten an accurate height for it, but I guess it could break 130) and an American elm just off my property that I know exceeds the state height records (based on it's proximity to a grove of 135-145 foot ashes, I can guess with fairly good certainty that the elm is at least 130 feet and likely quite a bit more) and might make state champion, but sadly I don't know the owners of the land it's on now. You'll definitely see more from me here.

Glad to hear from you,
Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

User avatar
Erik Danielsen
Posts: 897
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Re: Greetings from a Maple-Beech Forest

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue May 15, 2018 9:12 am

Looking forward to seeing your Ash post! A 150' specimen in NY would be great. Broad-crowned trees like ash, sugar maple, northern red oak, beech, and elm are however the forms that create errors with the old method (elm is probably the worst, really)- a hemlock is often practically a pole, and therefore much easier to work with. Unfortunately this has nothing to do with how steady the instrument is, and everything to do with geometry- if the top point of the tree is not directly over the base, the errors can be large, and even moreso the larger the tree is! Even if you have the correct top twig, perfect lines of sight, level ground, and a steady tripod, any horizontal offset between the top twig and the base of the tree can produce geometric errors that can amount to dozens of feet. If you haven't checked out the American Forests Measuring Handbook yet, it discusses the considerations for reducing these errors, though to get it really accurate you have to triangulate the point on the ground directly below the true top and use that as the end of your baseline (instead of the base of the trunk). Page 38- https://www.americanforests.org/wp-cont ... nes_LR.pdf

I'll be rooting for your ashes- just bear in mind that these do amount to extraordinary claims. As the saying goes, they require extraordinary evidence. This group exists in part to help set the record straight after decades of the old measurement methods put a lot of funny numbers on the books, so for us to accept records measured with those methods we would have to see that the baselines were properly triangulated. That's a lot of work- on the other hand, accurate measurement with a rangefinder is actually very quick and easy, so I'll keep that offer open. I'll bet you could learn it quickly.

If your ashes turn out to be NY's tallest, I will be thrilled to know they're in the hands of someone who's actively treating for EAB.

Best,

Erik

User avatar
JHarkness
Posts: 249
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 5:44 pm

Re: Greetings from a Maple-Beech Forest

Post by JHarkness » Tue May 15, 2018 10:52 am

Thanks again, and yes, I always do locate the top most twig and get a perfect vertical angle from it so I know where to measure to, an issue I didn't think about at all when I first started measuring our trees, but that once I realized that we had some extraordinary trees, I quickly started checking the vertical angle to the highest branch. Ironically, I ended up following all of the guidelines in the AF's measurement book before I even knew such a thing existed, I was happy to know I was doing these measurements right.

I actually have a post coming about some more impressive black birches that I've recently identified.

Thanks again for the offer, but I don't think I'll take you up on it, I would rather purchase my own anyway, but like I said, tree health is a bit more important than having a perfectly accurate measurement, after all, what would there be to measure if the trees were dead?

Regarding the accuracy of my measurement methods, I performed a test of it today, and found that a measurement I took a little over a month ago from a completely different angle matches perfectly with three measurements from three different angles (all with different elevations too, for example, one site was around 20 feet above the base of the tree (I don't remember the exact number now) and several other sites were between 8 feet above the base and 3 feet below, so overall I'm pleased with the accuracy of this. I am absolutely considering a rangefinder though, especially as I'm seeing trees on my land that appear to break the height record.
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

User avatar
Erik Danielsen
Posts: 897
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Re: Greetings from a Maple-Beech Forest

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue May 15, 2018 11:35 am

I'm very impressed that you're in the practice of finding an appropriate baseline! That definitely makes a huge improvement to accuracy and consistency. Eager to see your upcoming posts.

Post Reply

Return to “Post Here First - Introduce Yourself”