Yesterday, Monica, friend Marjorie Barrell and I went to Mohawk to revisit some favored sites and look for more hemlock woolly adelgid. I did find a small amount of adelgid on the summit of Thumper Mtn. That's the bad news. Thumper is a small ridge with lots of heart. It is a very aesthetic spot - one of Monica's favorites. Here is a scene going up the ridge.
Monica and Marjorie at the top. It was here I found adelgid on two summit hemlocks. Other trees are in fine shape.
We'll be hunting for adelgid over the next few weeks and trying to determine the extent of coverage, the characteristics of the sites, etc. Everybody agrees that now is the time to catch it and do treatments. NTS role will be to find the occurrences, describe them, and help prioritize the treatments.
The thinning of the crowns of the Mohawk pines continues to be disturbing. So far researchers who have identified the fungi haven't determines the long term impacts. But I am hoping that it will not get steadily worse.According to researchers, the fungi seem to favor extremes, i.e. pines growing in very wet or dry areas. However, my observations in Mohawk is that the fungi are not that discriminating. I see the impact across the spectrum of growing environments. Since I observe the crowns of the Mohawk pines more than any other human in the known universe, Tim is relying on me to classify the level of defoliation for different areas. That is another job for the coming weeks.
On the good news side, we revisited Marjorie's favorite pine. Here are two images of Marjorie in silent communication with her tree.
Naturally, I had to re-measure Marjorie's pine and it is 151.0 feet. It becomes number 128. I evidently hadn't found the top on my past measurement and had the pine at 148.0 feet on March 16, 2010. I don't think it grew 2.1 feet since that last measurement, although close. Regardless, it is now a member of the exclusive 150-Club. I'm glad Marjorie's tree has entered the club. She relates to her tree at a deep level. I was impressed.
I also went over to the Jake Swamp tree and photographed its crown. Nowhere in New England can one witness the view of a higher twig of a tree above its base. While I was in Colorado, Tim Zelazo took a group around inspecting the damage to the pines from the fungus. One person was a U.S. Forest Service researcher who was mightily impressed with the pines in Mohawk, observing that they didn't have ANYTHING in the New England research forests to compare with what he was seeing. Smart researcher. Which brings me to a point:
Now that I'm back and in the swing of things, I am thinking fresh thoughts about Mohawk and its significance. How much importance, value, worth, etc. is there intrinsically? How much is there because of the intense amount of attention that it has been given by NTS? I'm a little too prejudiced to be counted as an objective contributor. But I'm wondering what some of the rest of you think. How much importance can reasonably be given to the elements I report on. You all have seen many images taken in Mohawk and have read the statistics and have a pretty good basis of comparison to other sites in Massachusetts, New England, the Northeast, and the entire East. Is Mohawk Trail State Forest of principal value more because so much of New England has crappy, abused forests as described by myself and Joe Zorzin? Beyond its obvious aesthetic appeal, what value can realistically be placed on Mohawk's reserve of exceptionally tall pines? Examining other potential sources of information about the trees exposes a void. For example, if we relied on sources like the University of Massachusetts forestry school to keep us informed about the exceptional trees of Mohawk Trail State Forest, the place wouldn't be a bleep on the forest radar scope. I'm serious. In the past, Mohawk would have fared little better via official DCR literature. Thankfully, that is now changing, and changing rapidly, but we are obviously deeply involved in the transition, and will likely remain so. I'm so focused in promoting Mohawk that I seldom think about the what would happen in our absence, but I expect a gradual return to anonymity. Then, maybe not. Maybe the ground has been sufficiently seeded over the past 25 years as to permanently change the culture.
Related to the above musings, why have we in NTS had to work so hard to bring this state park-forest into public consciousness? Just wondering? I would appreciate any comments/observations the rest of you would be willing to make. I like to have fresh thoughts when talking to members of the public who show interest in Mohawk, but wonder why they hadn't heard about the place's exceptional trees before.
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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