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In This State: Charlie Cogbill indeed sees the forest for the trees
by Bryan Pfeiffer | January 27, 2012
http://vtdigger.org/2012/01/27/in-this- ... the-trees/
Click on image to see its original size
First came the surveyors.
Long before Vermont became a state of farms and villages, hearty men walked the landscape and divided forests into lots. The surveyors crossed streams, climbed mountains and swatted black flies as they marked parcels for settlers who would later arrive to claim their piece of a nascent state. The surveyors were among Vermont’s early explorers.
More than two centuries later, Charlie Cogbill is hot on their trail.
In the survey maps they left behind, in their notebooks, journals and other historic documents, Cogbill has found trees. .
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky
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Pretty cool read. He's an important person in my mind, as he surveyed the old growth forest on Lord's Hill that I have posted about. He's also responsible for identifying Cambridge Natural Area and Dorthothy Canfield Fisher pines as second growth forest. Maybe 'twas the witness trees helped him suss that out.
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And Charley's interest in the surveyors notes may well be important. Early in my forestry career, I worked on a survey crew that used the same mountain transit, steel tape, and other gear that the original surveyor did, in our attempt to identify the original survey line. My first job away from home, hundreds of miles north in Oregon, had me living in government cabins where we pumped spring water up into a tank attached to a pole structure we built, so that we'd have gravity feed spring water. Evenings we'd read by propane lanterns, from the original surveyor's notes for the following day's field work. Often we'd find signs of the orignal surveyors passing, a century before. Scribing on bearing tree bases, planks they practiced scribing on, branches that had been cut to clear the survey line, rocks that had been piled into monuments, and finally when the going got tough, and the time was short, no sign from a ridge line down to the valley below, where after no sign for 4 miles, we found a section corner down where it was flatter, enabling the surveyor to get his horse and wagon team to it.
Ooops, got to rambling, what I started out to say was that the original survey notes have a surprisingly large amount of information, particularly in naming species and sizes. More recently when I was pursuing advanced education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, one of my colleagues had focused his thesis on statistically extrapolating forest communities, making estimates of timber volume back then, and a host of other data. In the somewhat new discipline of Ecological Restoration, this kind of data collection is used to establish Reference Conditions, to provide a sense of what the preceding forest ecosystem was like at the time of settlement, human disturbance.
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Grand Canyon National Park
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"Long before Vermont became a state of farms and villages, hearty men walked the landscape and divided forests into lots."
And long before them, for thousands of years, Native Americans lived there without dividing the land.....