Recruiting new citizen tree scientists

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pattyjenkins1
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Recruiting new citizen tree scientists

Post by pattyjenkins1 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:57 am

As many of you know, I've been trying to figure out how to move the TCI "Citizen Science" initiative forward. Here's where things stand:

I just had a VERY helpful conversation with Steve Galehouse. He helped me decide that:

1) The centralized database that TCIer Paul Giers has created of all the state and national champ trees is not a duplication of effort in terms of having a site to collect tree information. We will now work with Mitch to see what kind of possibilities there are for using Paul's database as a feed to the NTS database, of course respecting its requirements for measuring methodology, etc.

2) Rather than hosting the TCI citizen science initiative on the TCI website, it will be better to create a new website, which can appeal to a broader base of tree enthusiasts than just recreational (and occasional professional) tree climbers. With that in mind, I just secured the domain TreeRangers.org. Cool name, eh? Steve's suggestion. It's staggering how many other possibilities there are for what can be done with such a website. Steve had some great ideas, including reaching out to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to create a "Tree Badge" for measuring trees, Virtual Geo (Tree-o)-Caching, and Tree Trails.
Bob: Thanks for your suggestion of paring down Will's "Tree Measuring Guidelines." Ed, I hope Bob's nomination of you for the job is okay with you. I have the March 2008 revision of the Guidelines. It's 30 pages and daunting for me, a college-educated non-scientist. I can only imagine the thoughts that might go through someone's head who has never dealt with this kind of document. It will be great to have a brochure at whatever point it's ready. Unfortunately, there are only two photos of the workshop Eli did, and neither shows Eli teaching or using a measuring tool. Bummer.

3) The new website can also house the "Learning About Trees Directory" that I've created. This will enable anyone who's studying any aspect of trees to tell about their research and get help (observational, samples, data, locational) from anywhere in the world.

Now on to web design, implementation of ideas, publicizing, etc. Anybody who wants to help is invited.
Patty Jenkins
Executive Director
Tree Climbers International, Inc.
Get High / Climb Trees

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Will Blozan
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Re: Recruiting new citizen tree scientists

Post by Will Blozan » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:27 pm

Patty,

Here is a YouTube link about the SINE method done by the late Colby Rucker. I think we could redo it with more quality and simplicity but it works.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WFUpbv8Mhg

Will

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dbhguru
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Re: Recruiting new citizen tree scientists

Post by dbhguru » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:49 pm

Patti,

We're at your service. From what you and Steve have discussed already I'm sure we can help bring some of the ideas to fruition. The actual steps needed to measure the height, girth, or crown spread of a tree from the ground are simple, and can be learned by anyone with the interest. We just have to work on the steps and reduce them to teh absolute basics. I'm confident that we can find ways to make measuring challenging, competitive, or just plain fun and are happy to do it.

The reasons why the measuring process appears so complicated in the very many communications a newcomer might encounter on the BBS falls largely into five categories:

1. More involved measurements such as projected crown area, trunk volume, and trunk and limb volume, basal footprint

2. Reducing measurement error to below some threshold value such as +/- a foot

3. Comparing different measurement methods in terms of the accuracy that can be expected from each

4. Identifying situations that present special challenges and engineering methods to handle them

5. Determing the location of points on a tree in 3-dimensional space such as the location of the absolute top relative to the base.

These five areas need not be the concern of the beginner. Best that they aren't. Sticking to the three common measurements is plenty for most tree measurers. However, from the above, anyone looking to push the envelope has a fertile field to deal with.

A question arises as to why anyone, wanting to keep it simple, would want to go beyond the straightforward measuring guidelines that we will produce for you. The answer can be supplied in a single word - credibility. There are so many mismeasured trees out there and some many people who have done the mismeasuring that debates, arguments, competitions are bound to occur. In a very real sense, it is about excellence and whether or not that is important. If ball park approximations are okay, then traditional tree-measuirng methods may suffice. But that isn't what NTS is about, and when someone is claiming a new champion through the use of a problematic technique, whose measurement is to be judged right?

What makes this field especially challenging for NTS these days is that, as you know, NTS is not the first group to be in the tree-measuirng activity (business, avocation, hobby, obsession, etc.). Groups and individuals who have been about tree measuring for years or decades have as much right to have their say as we do. But as you have no doubt gathered, the record they have left is not exactly sterling. On challenging trees, errors committed by timber professionals and amateur big tree hunters can easily be in the tens of feet with one tree height having been mismeasured an eye-popping 67 feet. And the tree was listed in the National Register for a time. We seek to distance ourselves from such silliness. That is why we in NTS will not except measurements from other sources until they have been qualified.

By now, you may have gathered that trying to improve the quality of tree measuring requires conflict resolution. Prides get in the way.

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: Recruiting new citizen tree scientists

Post by pattyjenkins1 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:20 am

Good news! This is exactly what we hoped would happen. Yesterday I got an email from a friend who went to Eli's "Tree Measuring Workshop" for the Atlanta Tree Climbing Club. Alan is an experienced climber who lives in Nashville. He went on Ebay (for the first time) and bought himself a clinometer and nikon laser rangefinder. He says he should soon be "an ace tree measurer."

Anybody else who wants to do a SINE measuring workshop? Send me a date, time, and location, and I'll publicize it.
Patty Jenkins
Executive Director
Tree Climbers International, Inc.
Get High / Climb Trees

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dbhguru
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Re: Recruiting new citizen tree scientists

Post by dbhguru » Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:01 am

Patti,

That is very good news. When I return from the West, Michael and I will begin that series of promised discussions on tree measuring. But just a small preliminary. The key for a person using the sine method to grasp right off is that four measurements are taken: the distance and angle to the crown and the distance and angle to the base. The sine of the top angle is multiplied by the distance to the top for height above eye level and the sine of the angle to the base is multiplied by the distance to the base to get height below eye level. The two components of height are added together to get the total. That is it. That's the sine method. If the base is above eye level, the the height to base is subtracted from height to crown to get full tree height.

Most of the other information we present about the sine method is to help the measurer quickly identify which of competing tops is the highest and to provide information on where best to position oneself to minimize angle and distance errors resulting from instrument error. We talk a lot about the size of the error one can make from different combinations of factors. But that is all icing on the cake. With respect to measuirng height, still at the introductory level and beyond the above, we discuss how to measure trees using the tangent method, the method of similar triangles, and a combination of the sine and tangent methods. But the beginner need not concern himself/herself with all the extra stuff. In fact, best not to. It can make the subject appear to be way too much.

Admittedly, it starts to get interesting, or dicey, if the new measurer is challenged by someone of the old guard on methodology. That is when one may want to delve deeper. The stronger one's math background is, the quicker one comes to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each method. Tape and clinometer users may still make arguments for the adequacy and sufficiency of their method, but as Steve Colburn of LTI said a couple of days ago, it is all about understanding and using the right method, and method translates to mathematical model. So to be able to defend one's position, one eventually has to delve deeper into the math, and that is where NTS comes in.

I'm really excited about appealing to the recreational tree climbers as a group. The desire to find and document champions seems to be a natural companion interest. I think NTS has struck it rich in our developing association. Andrew, we're in your debt, buddy.

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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