We are Tree Hunters

The Eastern Native Tree Society is a chapter of the NTS focusing on the trees and forests of Eastern United States and Canada. This forum is for discussions of the ENTS chapter itself including meetings, events, and operations.

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edfrank
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We are Tree Hunters

Post by edfrank » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:39 am

ENTS - We Are Tree Hunters

Members of the Easter Native Tree Society are “Tree Hunters.” We are a group of outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, climbers, adventurers, artists, and scientists obsessed with exploring the forests and woodlands of the world. Unlike the causal hiker, we are hunting trees. We are looking for:

1) Large and magnificent trees, the forest monarchs;
2) Ancient trees that exhibit the characteristics of great age;
3) And unusual trees with character.

On a broader scale we are hunting for stands of trees that:

1) Include a groves of large or exceptional trees;
2) Remnant patches of ancient or old growth forests;
3) Stands of trees that represent unusual assemblages of tree species or growth patterns, some of the elfin forests of stunted trees growing on exposed mountain tops might be one example.
DSCN0394b.JPG
One major goal of the Eastern Native Tree Society is to introduce others to the greater forest experience and to share with them the passion of forest exploration we all feel. We collect these trees by noting their locations and accurately measuring their size. If the height and girth measurements of the trees we locate do not meet certain quality standards, then tree simply can’t be counted as part of the collection. We use topographic maps, air photos, and GPS units to note the tree locations, measuring tapes to measure girth and crown spread, and a combination of laser rangefinders and clinometers to measure tree heights. These procedures for measuring girth, crown spread, and height are outlined in our “Tree measuring guidelines for the Eastern Native Tree Society.”

Why are we hunting trees? We explore these sites because we enjoy being in the forest. We are searching for big trees. We have the thrill of discovery when we find a big tree. Even if we don’t find a new height record, we always find something to pique our interest. It is that sense of discovery and exploration that drives us. We are those intrepid explorers setting out against the blank slate - exploring the forest marked "There be dragons here." A second factor is that with this type of field research there is a chance for an individual to make a contribution to the field. The tree hunter is not just another nameless cog in a larger machine, but has a chance to make a meaningful contribution to science on an individual basis. People have a genetic imperative to explore their world. Searching for big trees and documenting notable patches of forest allows the tree hunter to fulfill that imperative. The tree measurements are worthwhile in themselves as a scientific endeavor. The measurements allow the tree hunter to make a contribution to science as an individual, to participate in a larger cooperative team effort, and to give back to the community. They also serve as a validation to the individual of their own individual accomplishments or accomplishments as part of a small team. They are something the tree hunter can point at and say. “I explored that patch of forest, I measured that tree.”

What can we learn from our efforts? Mankind has been associated with trees and forests since they first existed and have been utilizing trees that entire time. We have learned volumes about growing trees and timber production. But there is still much we do not know. We have been using basic forestry measuring trees for wood volume for hundreds of years, and these measurements are adequate for those purposes. However, even today we do not have height measurement data that is accurate enough to characterize how tree height changes within a species with variations in latitude or elevation. We do not know how large many common species of tree can grow to be. We have even less of an idea of the maximum age that can be reached for all but a handful of tree species. You can’t hope to understand the broader processes that are taking place in our forests if the only information you have on the forest are productivity estimates for the commercially valuable fraction of the tree species that might be present in that forest. You can’t properly manage or conserve a resource if you do not understand what it is that you are managing. Recently ENTS members documented the largest eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadiensis) ever found in the GSMNP in western North Carolina. Most of these trees have since succumbed to the invasive insect the hemlock wooly adelgid. The government and private landowners can not hope to manage forest resources adequately in the face of invasive insects, diseases, and similar threats if all we know about them is timber production statistics. Our data can help answer some of these questions.

We share much in common with groups interested in geocaching, with peak baggers, and hikers, but with our own twist. We are not trying to locate caches of items hidden by others, and found by hundreds of others before us, we are trying to find our own big trees and find our own unique patches of forest. Sure we share our finds with other tree hunters, but the overall goal is exploration of the new rather than the repetition of what others have done. Peak baggers are climbing mountains and locating impressive faces and vistas from topo maps and air photos. The go out into the field and capture these locations. Tree hunters share much of the same process. We talk to people and our over maps and air photos trying to find patches of old growth forest to visit. The difference is that when we go out into the field, we are always unsure of what we will find in terms of trees, whether we will find an ancient giant, or young grove regrown after the latest round of logging. Peak baggers know they will find a mountain peak. Hikers enjoy the walks through the forest, the scenes before them. They may take photos or simply commune with the forest and the feeling of the primordial. Tree hunters share these experiences. Perhaps more of the hiking for tree hunters is off the trail, but the experiences are similar. Tree hunters also bring back measurements and similar information about the places they visit. This is something that can be shared with others and archived for the future. The degree to which an individual simply experiences the forest versus the number of measurements they might take varies from trip to trip and from individual to individual. But the process of mentally cataloging the forest allows one to see things that otherwise would pass unnoticed, and brings forth a deeper, or at least different, connection with forest than is achieved through a casual passage along a hiking trail.

Edward Frank
treehunter.JPG
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"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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Larry Tucei
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Re: We are Tree Hunters

Post by Larry Tucei » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:56 pm

Ed, Excellent writing! My favorite Para.
Why are we hunting trees? We explore these sites because we enjoy being in the forest. We are searching for big trees. We have the thrill of discovery when we find a big tree. Even if we don’t find a new height record, we always find something to pique our interest. It is that sense of discovery and exploration that drives us. We are those intrepid explorers setting out against the blank slate - exploring the forest marked "There be dragons here." A second factor is that with this type of field research there is a chance for an individual to make a contribution to the field. The tree hunter is not just another nameless cog in a larger machine, but has a chance to make a meaningful contribution to science on an individual basis. People have a genetic imperative to explore their world. Searching for big trees and documenting notable patches of forest allows the tree hunter to fulfill that imperative. The tree measurements are worthwhile in themselves as a scientific endeavor. The measurements allow the tree hunter to make a contribution to science as an individual, to participate in a larger cooperative team effort, and to give back to the community. They also serve as a validation to the individual of their own individual accomplishments or accomplishments as part of a small team. They are something the tree hunter can point at and say. “I explored that patch of forest, I measured that tree.”
Larry

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edfrank
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Re: We are Tree Hunters

Post by edfrank » Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:14 pm

Larry,

We have been discussing http://www.ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=144&t=1733 the question of why what we do as ENTS is not attracting more people. I think it is partially because we are characterizing what we do as measuring trees. That is part of what we do, but I do not think it is the core reason for our interest and passion on the subject of trees and forests. I am working on trying to find a way to express those other attributes of our tree activities in a way that resonates better with those people who are interested in the outdoors, but perhaps not in measurement as a main focus.

Ed
"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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Larry Tucei
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Re: We are Tree Hunters

Post by Larry Tucei » Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:25 pm

Ed, I like the peacefulness and serenity in the Forest. No redlights, no debts, no problems. It is a place to endwind from the hustle of the modern world. The tranquility I feel there is truly like nowhere else on Earth. The natural world the way it should be, simple. Larry

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edfrank
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Re: We are Tree Hunters

Post by edfrank » Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:56 pm

Larry,

You are right about the peacefulness of a forest experience. Certainly a worthy goal is to encourage people to get outdoors and into the woods for their own mental health and piece of mind. We also have an obligation to encourage that children ad teens get outdoors and avoid the "nature deficit disorder" that Richard Louv talks about. In this context I think it is a different prong of the overall problem of the disconnect between nature and the modern urban experience.

For the purposes of the discussion here I am trying to focus on the problem of how to encourage people to engage in ENTS type activities, in addition to other outdoor activities they might enjoy. How can they get value from incorporating our ideas of forest documentation and tree measurement into their existing activities, or how to encourage them to expand their outdoor time to incorporate these activities. The way to do that, as I see it, is to emphasize the personal satisfaction and fulfillment gained from these activities, and the emphasize how these activities open a new window and new perspectives onto the forest system that is not seen by the casual visitor. Toward this end we need to reach out to those people who are already engaged in some form of outdoor activities. Yes we need to encourage more people to participate in the outdoors in general, but the immediate target audience should be those people already exploring the forest in their own fashion.

Ed
"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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Larry Tucei
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Re: We are Tree Hunters

Post by Larry Tucei » Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:38 pm

Ed, I agree. Some people just don't care or maybe don't understand nature and shy away from it. I have tried to influence as many friends, family, co-workers and strangers as I possibly can. If they don't show an interest why waste time on them. Like you say,"Toward this end we need to reach out to those people who are already engaged in some form of outdoor activities. Yes we need to encourage more people to participate in the outdoors in general, but the immediate target audience should be those people already exploring the forest in their own fashion."
Larry

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Steve Galehouse
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Re: We are Tree Hunters

Post by Steve Galehouse » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:52 pm

Ed-

Very well written, and I agree with all that you are saying. I certainly think "tree hunting" has a better ring to the public versus "tree measuring". We as a group like to go "where the wild trees are". I sometimes think people, including myself, need to have some sort of "purpose" to go for a hike off-trail in a woods, and tree hunting is my purpose, but experiencing the woods is real attraction. In a similar manner, I portage to and canoe lakes up North with the "purpose" of fishing, but hiking the trails and paddling a remote lake are the real attractions---catching fish, or finding big trees, is just icing on the cake.

Steve
every plant is native somewhere

Joe

Re: We are Tree Hunters

Post by Joe » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:59 pm

Larry Tucei wrote:Ed, I agree. Some people just don't care or maybe don't understand nature and shy away from it. I have tried to influence as many friends, family, co-workers and strangers as I possibly can. If they don't show an interest why waste time on them. Like you say,"Toward this end we need to reach out to those people who are already engaged in some form of outdoor activities. Yes we need to encourage more people to participate in the outdoors in general, but the immediate target audience should be those people already exploring the forest in their own fashion."
Larry
Most people just can't comprehend that they really are just as much a part of nature as the trees, animals, lakes and mountains. They don't sense that the atoms and energy in their bodies have flowed into them from powerful forces in the Earth and sun.

They don't get that our ancestors swam in the oceans then crawled up onto the land and into the trees- then out to the open to conquer the world. The drama of all this is missing in their lives. It's their great loss.

But as they deny this reality- they'll one day return to Mother Earth in a box or vaporized into the atmosphere. The Earth cannot be denied that last action.
Joe

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James Parton
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Re: We are Tree Hunters

Post by James Parton » Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:07 am

I hunt trees to get to know new ones and introduce them to the world. They do not have to be huge or old to be special to me. Of course, if so, that is nice too. It is so great to enter a forest and document trees, either by measuring or photography ( usually both ) and know that I may be the only one who has ever done that in the woods I am visiting. I find pride in that. It is a service to the trees that we do for them. Get them known and promote their preservation. It is a great pride we should all share.
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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dbhguru
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Re: We are Tree Hunters

Post by dbhguru » Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:32 am

Ed,

Well said. It is important that we periodically revisit the reasons we hunt and measure trees, both for ourselves and for others to better understand the appeal of the occupation. We hunt trees all the time, so the reasons are a given for ourselves, but not to the public at large. The better we can articulate our reasons and describe our craft, the more we will attract others. Good job.

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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