Cooper Creek WMA, GA

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eliahd24
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Cooper Creek WMA, GA

Post by eliahd24 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:39 pm

On Sunday, March 25th, I took advantage of the gorgeous spring weather by traveling the 2 hours from my home in Atlanta to Cooper Creek Wildlife Management Area in North Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest. I had previously read about the area in one of the great online "Sherpa Guides" that cover many different natural areas in Georgia. I knew Jess Riddle had been to the area in the past, so I also was able to consult with him to devise a "plan of action" for the day. To say I was excited about the trip is a major understatement. The daily grind of full time work and full time grad school was getting to me and I very much needed some "forest time". I couldn't convince any other (human) friends to go with me, so alas it was just the puppy and me. All the better :)

Those who know Cooper Creek will tell you that there is a chunk "old growth" forest there. The more years I get under my belt as a naturalist, the less I know what those words actually mean. I expected a couple of remnant (old) trees and knew of some "huge" tuliptrees from online postings, but again, until I saw it for myself I wasn't fully convinced. Boy oh boy was I in for a wonderful surprise.

Cooper Creek is a classic rich mountain cove forest. The area I explored is on a north facing slope above Cooper Creek at about 2500' elevation.
Cooper Creek topo
Cooper Creek topo
The trail system in this area is mostly old dirt logging roads, but thankfully those loggers left a good deal of this cove as God intended it. I should really call this trip report the "Day of the Tuliptrees" as that's where my focus was and that's mostly what I measured and gawked at the whole day. It was truly amazing. Now on to the data....

Liriodendron tulipifera (smallest to largest measured):

11'4.5"
11'10"
11'11"
12'2.5"
12'8" x 129.4'
13'2" (huge fire cave)
13'10"
14'7"
15'5" x 114.2' (blown out top)
15'10"
16'1"
16'3.5" x 127.3' (blown out top, multiple reiterations)
17'5.5" x 157.2' x 91' = 390 Big Tree Points (GIANT! - I will nominate as new state co-champion)
19'3" x 132.2 x 71' = 381 Big Tree Points (I believe this is currently listed as state co-champion)

Tuliptree pictures:
my trusty companion
my trusty companion
14'7" LiTu with blown out crown
14'7" LiTu with blown out crown
15'11" LiTu
15'11" LiTu
381 pointer - gnarly giant
381 pointer - gnarly giant
midslope CBH of "biggest tuliptree"
midslope CBH of "biggest tuliptree"
imagine all the past storms....
imagine all the past storms....
fattest LiTu with 5" tape for scale
fattest LiTu with 5" tape for scale
Now the above tuliptree is the one many online sites (including Sherpa Guides) claims to be the "biggest in Georgia". It's not the tallest (not by far), it doesn't have the most total points (about 20-30 short), and I know Jess Riddle has documented a few Tulips around 20' CBH and over, so it's not the fattest... so it ain't the biggest, right?

This next tree is likely overlooked by many visitors as it is up the slope and a bit off trail from the "biggest". It's smaller in CBH (though 17'+ ain't nuthin' to sneeze at!), but much taller, with a crown that's still intact. I took very careful measurements of both Tulips to get accurate point totals with the suspicion that the "skinnier" one would outpoint the "biggest"... I was right :)
17'5.5" x 157 x 91' = 390 Point LiTu
17'5.5" x 157 x 91' = 390 Point LiTu
midslope CBH
midslope CBH
390 pointer with Ophie for scale
390 pointer with Ophie for scale
Other tree species measured:
Betula lenta 4'0.5" x 85.7'
Betula lenta 11'1" x 102.8' x 56' ("walking" birch, exagerrated CBH)
Carya spp. 111.1'
Magnolia fraseri (probably) 2'9" x 85.3'
Oxydendron arboreum 3'8" x 82.2'
Oxydendron arboreum 5'0.5" x 94.9'
Pinus strobus 10'6"
Tilia spp. 111.9'

And more pictures...

Nice Sourwood:
Big sourwood2
Big sourwood2
Big Sourwood
Big Sourwood
Wildflowers and such:
Squawroot or "bear corn"
Squawroot or "bear corn"
yellow violet
yellow violet
rue
rue
This gnarly "walking tree" was a beauty. Now how would YOU measure the CBH? From the midslope at the ground it's 11'1" and total points = state champ
walking birch, roots exaggerate CBH
walking birch, roots exaggerate CBH
"walking birch"
"walking birch"
This is Betula lenta, right?
Sweet (black) birch... right?
Sweet (black) birch... right?
That is all for now. On my way out on Forest Service Road 33, I passed a nice double trunk hemlock (9'3" and 11'3" CBH's x 140') and a 4'5" x 100'+ double trunk Virginia pine as well... I'll post about those under my forthcoming Sosbee Cove report... also a fantastic site!

~Eli
Attachments
5" wide tape for scale
5" wide tape for scale

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Cooper Creek WMA, GA

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:25 pm

I haven't been to Sosebee Cove in quite some time, but I'm planning a hike there in May.

Nice poplar. I get tired of various folk claiming "biggest in the State", etc.

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Rand
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Re: Cooper Creek WMA, GA

Post by Rand » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:02 pm

Made a stitch of one of the big tulips for you:
c-stitch.JPG

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eliahd24
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Re: Cooper Creek WMA, GA

Post by eliahd24 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:24 pm

Rand- you ROCK! Thanks so much for doing that. I haven't figured out how to stitch photo's on my Mac at home and my work computer sucks.

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Bart Bouricius
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Re: Cooper Creek WMA, GA

Post by Bart Bouricius » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:08 am

Eli,

Just wondering how large an area all these fat geezers were crowded into?

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eliahd24
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Re: Cooper Creek WMA, GA

Post by eliahd24 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:18 am

There were two main coves that had the concentration of fatties and gnarly old trees. They were separated by maybe 1/4 mile of trail going over a pine ridge. Each cove was probably 20-30 acres or so. Very open and spacious- easy to walk around, with a nice herb layer. Hard to say actual size as I was mostly following the trail, but zigzagging up and down hill when big crowns and trunks caught my eye. I found a Forest Service watershed assessment document that list the Cooper Creek watershed as being about 25,000 acres in total, with 6% (1500 acres +/-) meeting the "old growth minimum age"... whatever that is.

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dbhguru
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Re: Cooper Creek WMA, GA

Post by dbhguru » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:04 pm

Eli,

Super information. Georgia continues to produce for us, thanks primarily to you, Jess, and Will. I hope you'll be able to make it up the north Georgia frequently in the coming months.

In terms of miscellaneous claims of the biggest member of a tree species, you have to consider the sources and move on. They can be funny, mystifying, and frustrating - all at once. I spend way too much of my time explaining to others why this or that source of information on big tree statistics is unreliable. Most bum sources are easy to deal with, but then a few aren't. For example, here is what the prestigious Silvics of North America, Volume 2 says about the eastern cottonwood.
Growth and Yield- Eastern cottonwood is one of the tallest species east of the Rocky Mountains. Heights of 53 to 58 in (175 to 190 ft) and diameters of 120 to 180 cm (48 to 72 in) have been reported (17), as have age 35 stand volumes exceeding 420.0 m³/ha (30,000 fbm/acre) of sawed lumber (5,10,14,22).

17. Read, R. A. 1958. Silvical characteristics of plains cottonwood. USDA Forest Service, Station Paper 33. Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 18 p.
I doubt there was ever an eastern cottonwood on the planet that reached 175 feet, let alone 190, yet that is what is being asserted in North American Silvics, an absolute bible of good information about species of trees - except maximum dimensions, where it crashes and burns. Hard to explain that to the uninitiated, though.

Eli, we are privileged to have you as a member of the most advanced tree measuring group in the country in terms of documenting the dimensions of individual trees. Eventually, you'll see others quoting your numbers and also mixing them in with numbers from other sources. The more you read reports and assertions of others, the more you'll find yourself shaking your head. Be prepared.

Again, great report.

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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eliahd24
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Re: Cooper Creek WMA, GA

Post by eliahd24 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:27 pm

As always, thank you for the kind, informative, and inspirational words Bob. I was a long time lurker on NTS before actually getting the gear (laser and clinometer), getting trained (aka- reading the NTS files and meeting Jess), and actively participating. I benefit greatly from past posts by numerous members and therefore make an attempt to create good, usable posts for fellow NTS. I'm honored to be a member of NTS and wear my "badge" proudly. Thanks for helping to create and sustain such a fantastic, necessary, elite (in terms of our work), and fun organization.

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Jess Riddle
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Re: Cooper Creek WMA, GA

Post by Jess Riddle » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:48 pm

Eli,

Glad you made it to the "Valley of the Giants". My dad and I nominated that tallest tuliptree as a state co-champion in the late 90's, so I'm glad to see it has weathered the storms well over the past few years. That sourwood is exceptional for north GA, and that's a cool birch (and tall for GA).

Jess

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bbeduhn
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Re: Cooper Creek WMA, GA

Post by bbeduhn » Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:45 am

Eli,
How certain are you that bigsourwood2 is actually a sourwood? I've never seen balding to that extent on a sourwood before. Is that the same tree as the other sourwood picture? If not, could it be black gum? Either way, it looks like it has some serious age.

I would measure the black birch directly above the root flare.

That site is loaded with fine tuliptrees in many different stages. Nice report!
Brian

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