Will's Alaska Adventure

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dbhguru
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Will's Alaska Adventure

Post by dbhguru » Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:07 am

Will,

We look forward to hearing about your searches for worthy trees in the Alaska outback. I'm sure if you lived there, you'd rewrite every big tree record within a year's time. That is almost a given. Is Don Bertolette hunting big trees with you up there? Don is Alaska's champion tree program coordinator, so I presume he has some inside leads. However, rumor has it is that he and Rhonda snuck off to southern California where it is warm. I can't point the finger at Don, though, since Monica and I spent those three weeks in the Hawaiian Islands - not exactly a hardship assignment. I saw some snow on the tops of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea from a distance, but guess that doesn't count for much when you are viewing distant snow fields from the comfort of 70 to 80-degree temperatures, sipping on a mango, coconut, papua, and orange smoothie, watching scantily clad folks wade into the Pacific, and being soothed by the mellifluous sounds of ukuleles. In my defense, I did measure some pretty significant trees on both the Big Island and on Kauai and managed to land NTS a forest research site on a private 40,000-acre ranch. Not too shabby.

What species are you looking at up there in Seward's Icebox besides black spruce? Are you seeing anything that would excite us down here in the lower 48? Just wondering.

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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Will Blozan
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Re: Will's Alaska Adventure

Post by Will Blozan » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:39 am

Bob/NTS,

My main three targets are black spruce, white spruce and balsam poplar. Unfortunately balsam poplar and black cottonwood overlap along the coast so I can't be too sure what I am looking at and range maps don't offer much help. There are a few eastern trees here like quaking aspen, balsam poplar, white and black spruce, and paper birch (although called Alaska paper birch)- and the mountain hemlock looks like Carolina hemlock.

Todays plan is to head to Valdez to scout some leads from several folks for white spruce and balsam poplar. However with the impending 15+ inches of snow coming we may forego the trip. We will decide in the next hour or so. Black spruce will be hard to spot when mixed with white spruce and covered in snow. I have yet to see the older floodplain terraces where black spruce is said to reach "large size". But I am fairly sure I have seen some big ones at the fringes of permafrost lenses. I have been following another car in a caravan so it was not easy to stop.

It is interesting to have only 5-6 hours of usable daylight. Yesterday the sun rose at 11:20 am and set at 3:45 pm. Fireworks went off at 5...

Indeed Don is out of state but plans to be back in a few days. We intend to meet up in Anchorage where I hope to hand him some new nomination forms! I should have internet most of the rest of the trip so I will post anything I find.

Will

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Don
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Re: Will's Alaska Adventure

Post by Don » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:09 am

Bob/Will
'Tis true, Rhonda and I have flown off to warmer climes, and spent valuable time visiting aging family members and old friends.
This week, our focus has been measuring height, circumference and crown spread of central coastal vines, grape vines introduced as far back as a century ago to this region...our equipment? Wine glasses of varying shapes and dimension. We've also sought out hop vines, but our success has been limited to their product, go to Firestone-Walker Brewery website and scroll down to Proprietors Reserve, to see what lies ahead of us this morning...:-)

Will
Per previous discussion, we'll be returning on the sixth, and will contact you very shortly thereafter...congrats on the three nominations, despite the untoward weather we've had so far this winter, they'll be warmly received!
Don, Rhonda, and Mason
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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dbhguru
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Re: Will's Alaska Adventure

Post by dbhguru » Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:11 pm

Will,

I can't quite visualize the tree landscape in which you are looking for new champions. Help us out. Are we looking at 50 to 80 foot tall trees that are 5 to 7 feet in girth? What's the largest that you expect to find and where are you likely to find them? Alaska obviously has some exceptional trees such as the black cottonwoods out on the Aleutians (I think) and of course the troubled Tongass NF at the extreme southern end of Alaska. But my understanding is that those places are very hard to access. I just can't get an image of where the best stuff is and how hard it is to get there versus the nice stuff and its accessibility versus the scrubby stuff. Enquiring Ents want to know.

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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Will Blozan
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Re: Will's Alaska Adventure

Post by Will Blozan » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:25 pm

Bob,

To sum things up, I am a bit out of my element here even though there are only a handful of species present at any given time. I took a plane flight over vast areas of spruce forest yesterday and that really put into perspective just how friggin' many spruce trees there are- and how they really don't differ much in size. The black spruce is really throwing me for a loop. My simple goal is to recognize them at highway speed so I can scout easily. The ones on permafrost are easy- they are diminutive Dr. Suess-looking trees exhibiting the most bizarre forms imaginable. But the ones at the fringes where the white spruce starts up either don't exist or they simply don't get bigger. Basically, I have become a master at finding white spruce... White spruce is also a highly variable species which does not help.

Today I go out to a site known for tall white and black spruce- according to a local naturalist. He is not feeling well so I will be on my own and I hope I have something to report. However, as you are well aware, one persons big tree is our sapling...

I also followed up on a lead for big white spruce and black cottonwood near Valdez. We braved a blizzard and literally plowed our way up and over Thompson Pass (~2,800'), which fortunately was later plowed. The stand was stunning with massive black cottonwood up to ~16' X 120' (again, saplings relative to what they can do). The spruce grove was absolutely stunning... but not white spruce. My source was correct in that they were big trees but the species was not what I was looking for. Regardless, I had a nice time in a coastal stand of Sitka spruce knee-deep in snow with the largest tree 11'7" X 131.3' tall. At least we now have a sample of this species near the northern terminus of it's native range! I have no confidence we located the tallest or largest in the grove so Don Bertolette will need to return to mop it up.
Thompson pass
Thompson pass
Thompson pass blizzard.jpg (84.41 KiB) Viewed 2859 times
Sitka spruce near Valdez, AK
Sitka spruce near Valdez, AK
Valdez beauties.jpg (149.29 KiB) Viewed 2859 times
Rainforest interior
Rainforest interior
Rainforest-2.jpg (236.06 KiB) Viewed 2859 times
Typical interior scene
Typical interior scene
Rainforest-1.jpg (230.45 KiB) Viewed 2859 times
Aven and the biggest tree we measured.
Aven and the biggest tree we measured.
Avy and biggest tree.jpg (225.16 KiB) Viewed 2859 times
Crown of 11'7" X 131.3' tree
Crown of 11'7" X 131.3' tree
Tallest tree.jpg (243.13 KiB) Viewed 2859 times
Will

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edfrank
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Re: Will's Alaska Adventure

Post by edfrank » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:41 pm

Will and Bob,

To a larger degree these trips to Alaska ad Hawaii can be thought of as scouting trips to assess what you are dealing with in the field. Any measurements are a big plus and a win for both of you. Congratulations, you have adventures to share with the rest of us.

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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dbhguru
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Re: Will's Alaska Adventure

Post by dbhguru » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:38 pm

Ed,

Thanks. Our Hawaii and Alaska explorations make me wonder what is on Puerto Rico and other far flung American possessions. To be honest, I'd never given Hawaii a thought, but that has certainly changed. The big tree, exotic tree, complex form tree possibilities there are endless. And as you point out, every bit helps. We start out with no idea at all and from small beginnings our knowledge flowers.

This coming summer I hope to expand what we know about the Sangre de Cristo old growth as well as extend big tree searches in the San Juans. I also hope to get down into New Mexico and expand our knowledge base there. That humungus Rio Grand Cottonwood near Villa Neuva opened my eyes to possibilities in the greater Santa Fe area.

One more Ohia photo showing Richard Missler and yours truly.
Ohia-bb.jpg
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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pdbrandt
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Re: Will's Alaska Adventure

Post by pdbrandt » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:31 pm

Will,

It sounds like you had a great adventure in Alaska. Thanks for posting the pictures. All good trips include trees in my mind.
dbhguru wrote: Our Hawaii and Alaska explorations make me wonder what is on Puerto Rico and other far flung American possessions.

Bob
I will be in Puerto Rico next month on business and may have some time to measure trees on the northeast side of the island. I'm hoping to get away for a couple of hours to explore El Yunque National Forest. Does anyone know of other areas of arboreal interest in the NE quadrant of Puerto Rico?

Here are a couple pictures of a monster Rain Tree (Albizia saman) I located on a trip to the US Virgin Islands. I didn't have any means of measurement with me on that trip so I don't have any stats on the rain tree.
DSCN1402.JPG
DSCN1409.JPG
DSCN1418.JPG
Patrick

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Will Blozan
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Re: Will's Alaska Adventure

Post by Will Blozan » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:55 pm

Patrick,

Rain trees rule! Here is one I measured the crown spread on back in 1992. It was 155' wide and estimated to be 50 years old.
Rain tree, Paramaribo, Suriname, SA July 1992
Rain tree, Paramaribo, Suriname, SA July 1992
I was in Suriname, SA for six months and, like you, was not into tree measurments at the time nor had the gear. Man, do I wish I was! I do have plans to return (Alaska won out this time) and be assured I will measure the crap out of the place. I actually worked there making labels for the rainforest tree ID walk so at least 40 or so of the ~600 species will be known. I have no doubt the brazil-nut trees will exceed 150' in the park I worked in (Brownsberg Nature Park).
Monkey-pot tree, Brownsberg NP, Suriname, SA
Monkey-pot tree, Brownsberg NP, Suriname, SA
Some species are listed as reaching 60 meters (200') but only a NTS trip will tell.

Will

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mdvaden
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Re: Will's Alaska Adventure

Post by mdvaden » Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:39 am

Will Blozan wrote:Bob,

To sum things up, I am a bit out of my element here even though there are only a handful of species present at any given time. I took a plane flight over vast areas of spruce forest yesterday and that really put into perspective just how friggin' many spruce trees there are- and how they really don't differ much in size. The black spruce is really throwing me for a loop. My simple goal is to recognize them at highway speed so I can scout easily.
Your post reminds me of when we moved to Georgia, and we learned how to spot shark teeth on the beach. It was hard at first, and we found the key was to focus on one thing at a time, mainly the teeth, and not shells. After a few times out, we started to get the hang of it.

I can imagine some trees being tricky depending on the soils and conditions. Like Mt. Hemlock you wrote about. Introduced into lowland areas, they stand out easily due to the color of the foliage. But up in the mountains where they belong, the color is often much lighter ... almost nutrient deficient looking.

...
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200 Pages - Coast Redwoods - http://www.mdvaden.com/grove_of_titans.shtml

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