Taking stock and making wishes

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dbhguru
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Taking stock and making wishes

Post by dbhguru » Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:56 pm

NTS,

A couple of times a year I go into strategic planning mode, thinking about NTS. I begin with where we started as an organization, look to where we are presently, and think about where we are pointed in terms of a future direction.

The BBS continues to be a success, though it is not without its challenges. It can be a little overwhelming, but Ed has provided ways to manage the volume of traffic. I wouldn’t dream of returning to the older system. And I’m sure the BBS has contributed handsomely to our expanding membership, and our excellent new contributors are inspiring. We have a steady flow of interesting material. Michael Gatonska’s recent contributions have been very exciting. They are remindful of how broad and accomplished our membership is. Will Blozan’s post on Savage Gulf reminds us that there is a lot of serious work going on under the umbrella of or at least connected to NTS. Then there is the recently concluded Advanced Tree Measuring Workshop in Cook Forest, PA. We are getting excellent tree and site reports from afar, and the corps of accomplished tree measurers is expanding. I could go on, but the point is that our outreach has never been greater and with the NTS magazine and Bulletin, there is a good paper trail for researchers to follow.

The future is bright, but there can always be improvement. Going into dream mode, if I could have a few wishes come true, what would they be? Here is my wish list.

First, I’d like to see each Ent take ownership of a favorite site or two and keeping the information up on the chosen site(s) in a special place on the BBS set aside for that. At this point, I would dispense with formats and let each site custodian free form it. We can agree on a minimal format in time. The key here is to maintain an up-to-date set of descriptions that a newcomer can go to. It’s that simple. It is fairly obvious who the site custodians are for a good two dozen sites, if not more. There can be joint custodianship. Whatever works.

My second wish is for a place on the BBS for big tree facts. Some people would call it tree trivia, but regardless, it should always reflect the superlatives in updated form. For instance, if someone wants to know what the tallest tree we know about in the country, the West, the East, North, South, etc. where would that person go? How much research must be done to ferret out the 191.9-foot tuliptree that Will and company climbed in the Smokies? How many posts have been made about the Longfellow Pine? Will a researcher settle on 184.7 or 184.0? The information on tree superlatives obviously changes, and there is no spot where one can confidently go to get the most current information. Where does one find a ranked listing of Rucker Indices? I could go on, but the point I’m sure is clear. How to best implement an NTS Book of World Records, so to speak, I have no idea. I think I know a few folks with the expertise to figure it out, though.

My third wish is for the import capability to the NTS database to be completed so that I can get spreadsheet information into the database. Like most of you, Excel will function as the primary tool to initially organize information from site visits, because extracts can easily be sent to others in the appropriate format for the receiver. I send many Excel spreadsheets custom designed for the recipient.

My fourth wish is for us to expand our tree measuring workshops. Success at Cook has spurred my enthusiasm. One individual from Penn State commented to me on how valuable the workshop had been for him. It cleared up a lot of questions. So, we’re getting the format down. In terms of the future, I can see progress being made within certain elements of the academic community, among naturalists, and with big tree hunters. After October in MTSF, a workshop out in say Ohio might be something to pursue.

My fifth wish is that we gain ground more rapidly in being a backup to the state champion tree programs. It is true that more individual coordinators are finding their way into NTS. At the Cook event, we had Turner Sharp, coordinator for WV and Scott Wade, coordinator from PA present. Present coordinators such as Turner Sharp, Scott Wade, Michael Taylor, Don Bertolette, and BVP are the ones who will have to bring this to pass. I think it has to be an inside job, and one that I don’t envy them. I do not possess the patience, but it is an important mission to pursue – if for no other reason than to help get the junk out of the lists.

My sixth wish is related to number five. I hope for more progress in cooperative ventures with American Forests. I sense that they are serious about making progress. NTS has a role to play in their progress. That role became ever more clear at the Cook event when Sheri Shannon of AF gave a n excellent presentation on the history of the National Register of Big Trees. She mentioned a couple of big performers who presently have the most champions listed. I’ll forgo names. However, my Buddy Will Blozan and I met the chaps once and attempted to train them into the better method of measuring tree height. Will got wind that they had rejected the better technique because they get higher heights going the tape and clinometer route. What more needs to be said?

My seventh wish is that the connections we’ve made to Laser Technology Inc. continue to grow. LTI is the Cadillac of infrared laser technology for business and sporting purposes. We are the Cadillac of tree measuring organizations. I think the two organizations now recognize each other’s dominance. LTI will be at MTSF in October. At Cook there was a hint that LTI might be willing to make an equipment donation to NTS. That would be way cool. So things are moving, I guess I’m just a little too impatient.

I have other wishes, but will dispense with discussing them now. As a finale, I mention that around June 17th Monica and I will head toward Durango, CO. On the way there I hope to visit a few big tree sites. My schedule is iffy, so I can’t commit to any rendezvous with others yet. Once in Durango, I’ll return to all big tree spots and update our measurements and hopefully add new sites. This is what I do when I go on the long trips. There are always tree sites to visit and data to collect. Standing alone, a dataset might seem superfluous or unimportant, but in the proper context, it helps paint the picture of a species. I do hope that when my lady and fellow Ents take trips to far away places, they will always be mindful of our need to gather data and of the potential importance of that data.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

RyanLeClair
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Re: Taking stock and making wishes

Post by RyanLeClair » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:02 pm

Hi Bob,

I could cover the Pequonnock.

It might be worth it for you to post a template list of requisites on the BBS. Like RI 10, RI 5, etc. It could be like a rubric; every ENT completes one on their own site. Without this sort of standardization things might get cluttered.

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dbhguru
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Re: Taking stock and making wishes

Post by dbhguru » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:52 pm

Ryan,

The minimum inclusions might be:

1. Property location
2. Ownership
3. Trail network
4. Species composition
5. RH5 at least as a starter. RH10 and beyond when determined.
6. Champion trees by whatever criteria
7. Old growth status (how much, age classes)
8. Any superlative features not covered in 1 - 7
9. Some images of outstanding features
10. Historical and cultural features of interest
11. Threats to property
12. Summary comments

Building the above 12 items would be progressive. The site description would be ever evolving. So access to the description by the author would be essential.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

RyanLeClair
Posts: 302
Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 8:45 pm

Re: Taking stock and making wishes

Post by RyanLeClair » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:24 pm

That's beautiful! Will should do that list for the whole Smokies ;)

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edfrank
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Re: Taking stock and making wishes

Post by edfrank » Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:24 pm

NTS, Bob, Ryan,

What Bob proposes is a workable idea. But we need to ask ourselves what we can do better or can contribute to these descriptions that is avialable books or webpages already out there? We have Mary Davis's "Old Growth in the East - A Survey," Kershner and Leverett's "A Sierra Club Guide to Ancient Forests of the Northeast," and more personal accounts such as Joan Maloof's "Among the Ancients." We are in competition with various regional guides, websites, and hiking guides. This material unique to NTS is what we need to provide.

What we can contribute are our numbers - the accurate heights, the Rucker Indexes, and more detailed overviews of the ecology of the site. The numbers are the skeleton of the description, but we need to expound upon the features of the site beyond just numbers, we need to address whatever forest or forest related features on the site need to be emphasized rather than just sticking to a one size fits all structure. What Bob has outlined as the minimum is essentially a header or site at a glance, if NTS is to make a meaningful contribution we need the detailed descriptions and discussions of site features to accompany these headings. These can be available for download as a pdf file attached to each individual site heading.

We should write a couple line standard saying: 1) Height measurements included in the descriptions were measured via a sine-top/sine-bottom methodology using a laser rangefinder and clinometer, or measured via climb and tape drop and are generally accurate to within 1foot. 2) The Rucker index (RI10) is an average of the heights of the tallest individual of each of the tallest ten species on a site. Other variations include a five species index (RI5) or a twenty species index (RI20). This value represents a shorthand summary of the canopy height useful for comparison purposes between different sites. This statement should be included in every individual description, as the visitor might only read the description from one particular site and should not need to search for the information.

I think this information should be organized on a state-by-state basis. I can create a new sub-forum under each state where such a document is produced. Forums appear at the top of a page as a separate item above the trip reports themselves. People who adopt a site can post about it to this new sub-forum. Individuals can edit their own posts, so someone can go back and update the information in the site heading as it changes, the big tree information as it changes, and replace the more detailed pdf with answer version as needed. I can change ownership of any post, so the process can be handed off to someone new at a future time.

The basic post with the header/summary information should include at a minimum in addition to what Bob suggested, a location map showing where in the state the site is located (usually available from Wikipedia under a free creative commons license), and a map of the site itself where available (and not proprietary) and some spectacular photo of a feature for the site. However some of what Bob lists as minimal information, such as more photos should be incorporated into the pdf site description instead of the summary page itself. I also would like to see a bibliography of links to individual trip reports on that site included in the description document. The link addresses should be stable and remain unchanged even if a post is moved from one point on the BBS to another.

Ed Frank
"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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pattyjenkins1
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Re: Taking stock and making wishes

Post by pattyjenkins1 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:03 am

Hello all,

Bob's "wish list" provokes me to write about the potential contribution that Tree Climbers International can make to furthering the work of NTS and tree/canopy research.

First-- As some of you know, I have begun to take TCI in the direction of "citizen science" with an eye toward getting the growing recreational tree climbing community and professional arborists involved in monitoring and measuring champion and big trees. Our friend in Charlotte, Paul Giers, has built a spreadsheet incorporating virtually all the public information there is about state, national, and big trees. How we make use of that information has yet to be decided. We do not want to reinvent the wheel, so I hope that any and all of you with ideas about how we can collaborate will help us figure it out. For example, should there be a separate TCI database at all? (I think so, as our not-yet-launched "Adopt a Tree Program" is already attracting interest.) If so, how can we build links to other websites with the information that people enter there? How else can we help to accomplish the "data" stuff that Bob speaks of? The TCI website will soon be upgraded, and the newer version software will allow various levels of access to the database as we define them. As I told Ed many weeks ago, we are not interested in publishing the data to encourage "bagging big trees." Anyone who knows our policies understands how deeply we care about trees and their care and preservation. However, our website gets almost 10,000 visits a month (7-8,000 unique visits), which can increase the visibility of "tree research" in any way we want to do that. I am pretty much clueless here, so I absolutely WELCOME guidance and input.

Second-- I am also building a program to connect people who are studying anything about trees. It will also be housed in a database on our website whose entry will be a form which will include: the nature of the study, age level and organizational affiliation (if any) of researcher(s) (including school children), what kind of help they need (observational, data, samples, site locations) and from where, secure contact information, study findings, and other fields. The database will be searchable by any keywords; access will be given to people who are registered (free) on the TCI website. My goal is to build a world-wide community of people who will help each other via our "Learning About Trees Directory." I expect to launch this project by the end of the summer.

Third, I spoke with Andrew last week and Will over the weekend about the Annual Tree Climbers Gathering that TCI will be hosting the second week of October 2013. Unlike previous recreational tree climbing events, I am planning for this one to have much more educational, content centered around the theme "Bridging the Gap between Tree Climbing and Science" (or something like that). The fabulous climbing trees and facilities at the site (www.simpsonwood.org) just outside Atlanta can accommodate hundreds of participants.
One of our aims for the conference is to have Will et al. teach rec and professional arborists how to do complete volume measurements. Will has already agreed to come to our conference, as has Cameron Williams, Meg Lowman, Michael Spraggon (UK) and Richard Preston, so far. I have yet to contact Bob "DHBGURU" and Bart, but I hope you both will be among the people to give talks (I hear you're both amazing and dynamic speakers). It is Andrew's belief that recreational tree climbers will be enthusiastic about getting involved, as volume measurements and other data collection represent a challenge and purpose for climbing beyond their own pleasure in it.

Finally, for added interest, on June 30th Eli will be teaching the Atlanta Tree Climbing Club how to measure trees from the ground. The ATCC is a group of (mostly) local TCI-trained climbers who meet monthly. Others will be coming in from Florida, St. Louis, and Nashville. Any of you is welcome to attend and contribute, and of course we'd love to have you!

Have a tree-mendous day,
patty jenkins
Patty Jenkins
Executive Director
Tree Climbers International, Inc.
Get High / Climb Trees

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dbhguru
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Re: Taking stock and making wishes

Post by dbhguru » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:12 am

Patty,

Very, very interesting and most exciting. I really like the direction you are going. I can tentatively commit to October 2013. Do you have the exact dates yet? The only potential conflict is with my wife's concert schedule. However, my interest in the event is definitely there. A strong TCI-NTS connection makes so much sense.

Andrew,

Thanks so much for all you've done to link these two fine organizations, of which you are part. You da man.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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pattyjenkins1
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Re: Taking stock and making wishes

Post by pattyjenkins1 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:22 pm

Yes, Andrew deserves ALOT of credit here. Thanks, AJ!!
October 7-13, 2013. We'll be so happy to have you, Bob! More details to come. Thanks for your comments.
Patty Jenkins
Executive Director
Tree Climbers International, Inc.
Get High / Climb Trees

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pdbrandt
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Re: Taking stock and making wishes

Post by pdbrandt » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:30 pm

Thanks Andrew and Patty for your work to link tree lovers of all stripes, and thanks Bob, and NTS in general, for welcoming tree climbers into NTS. I will be excited to see and be a part of the fruits of this collaboration. The Oct 2013 event sounds wonderful! Please keep us posted on its progression.
Patrick

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