#113 and counting - MTSF

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dbhguru
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#113 and counting - MTSF

Post by dbhguru » Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:33 am

ENTS,

Yesterday I went to Trout Brook in MTSF to check on the James Madison and Thomas Jefferson Pines. Both are big trees. I had measured them prior to the growing season, but hadn't seen them since. It was time. My early May visit to see the trees had required finding peepholes to see the crowns since the deciduous canopy had filled out. I had both trees measured in the 140s. The Jefferson Pine was confirmed to 12.4 feet in girth and 141.6 feet in height. That is a slight loss in height from my May measurement. Stuff happens.

I had the Madison Pine at 145 feet and some change, but had evidently missed the top. Yesterday I found a better peephole and got the true top. It is 150.8 feet. Yes!! That makes #113 for Mohawk. The Madison pine is a solid 12.1 feet in girth. It joins the Tecumseh pine as the other member of the 12 x 150 Club in Mohawk. Throughout Massachusetts we have 4 members of the club are listed below. I list the dimensions from memory. I might be off a tenth of a foot here or there.

Tree Location Height Girth

Ice Glen Ice Glen 155.1 13.1
Thoreau Monroe 156.6 13.0
Tecumseh Mohawk 165. 12.1
Madison Mohawk 150.8 12.1
Centurion Bryant 150.4 12.05

Shy of a new discovery, the next tree to join the club will likely be Saheda in Mohawk, which is currently 11.8 feet in girth and 166.3 feet tall. It may take several years for Saheda to make it, but barring injury or disease or slowing down from drought, it will make it.

After confirming the James Madison tree as a 150, I got so fired up that I am returning to Trout Brook today in hopes of finding something new that has missed my eye. The Trout Brook watershed covers about 1,200 acres, so there is a slight chance of missing a big tree although there is a limited number of places that can produce a 12 x 150. It is a matter of being more efficient in implementing search strategies. Oh yes, if I should be so lucky as to find another whopper in the Trout Brook Cove, it will become the George Washington tree. Yes, we're going to have the Presidential Pines in Mohawk.

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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Marcboston
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Re: #113 and counting

Post by Marcboston » Sat Sep 11, 2010 2:27 pm

It must be pretty cool to find a whopper no? It must have been a really nice moment the first time you discovered some of these giants.

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edfrank
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Re: #113 and counting

Post by edfrank » Sat Sep 11, 2010 2:53 pm

Marc,

I am curious about Bob's perspective as well. For me, I had visited places like Cook Forests and some other tree sites as a child. I thought they were neat, but thought in my mind that they simply represented what an old forest should look like. To a large degree this viewpoint persisted through much of my adulthood. It really was, in my case, not visiting or seeing these unique remnant patches of forest and tall tree,that was the revelation, but the moment of epiphany in which I realized the significance and rarity of these types of forest patches that marked the change in my perception. It is within the context of that new found perception that an appreciation for the height, age, complexity,and spirit of those forests can be found.

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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Marcboston
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Re: #113 and counting

Post by Marcboston » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:24 pm

Yes Ed, that is exactly what I meant. Finally coming to terms with what you discovered and how rare a sight.

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dbhguru
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Re: #113 and counting - MTSF

Post by dbhguru » Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:39 pm

Ed, Marc, et al.,

I returned to MTSF to remeasure the James Madison pine today. I never let it rest with just one measurement of a new 150. And good thing too. I found a higher sprig by a foot. I now list the dimensions of the Madison pine that honors the father of our Constitution as being 151.8 feet in height and 12.1 feet in girth. As mentioned yesterday, it becomes a member of the 12 x 150 Club.

After the Madison re-measurement, the idea hit me to identify an area of Trout Brook to create the 'Presidential Pines'. We have the Presidential Range of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Makes sense to have a group of presidential pines. So, I sat about identifying the candidates and while I was doing that, I remeasured one of the 149-footers that I had hoped would break 150 at the end of the growing season. Well, guess what? Yep, #114. Later it became the Martha Washington Pine. There will be Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison trees, because these women were very influential.

The tentative nominations of presidential pines follows. The first image shows George and Martha Washington. I selected the Trout Brook Pine as the George Washington Tree, because it is the first 150 in Trout Brook. It also is in a small, but impressive grove - the Mount Vernon Grove. As mentioned, Martha Washington is the new 150. So, George and Martha stand side by side.

John Adams is a 150, as is Madison. However, the Jefferson Pines is not. But it has the largest girth at 12.4 feet. I had named that tree last year and saw no reason to change the choice for the author of the Declaration of Independence. The Jefferson Pine totally dominates its space. In fact, all these pines except one dominate their space and perhaps thats the reason I chose them. The Washington Pine doesn't dominate the space, but George gets a whole grove. At least that's the way it sits now.

Any Ent who would like to come to western Mass and help me select the presidential pines is most welcome. Nothing about the choices is set in concrete. Current choices can change. I'm happy for the whole thing to be a voting situation. Now to the images.
GeorgeAndMarthaS.jpg
JohnAdamsS.jpg
JeffersonPineS.jpg
JamesMadisonTreeS.jpg
JamesMonroeS.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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edfrank
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Re: #113 and counting - MTSF

Post by edfrank » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:05 pm

Bob,

Nice idea and you have a great start. There are several non-presidents who could use a tree if the theme of the grove is more about our nation's founders than strictly presidents. I would like to suggest Benjamin Franklin - one of my favorites, and Thomas Paine. Also being in Massachusetts maybe native son Paul Revere.

There are many themes out there that could be used to name groves or areas. I would offer these ideas to anyone who might be interested. I would like to see a grove named for Poets, one for writers, one for painters, one for scientists, and one for musicians also. These would focus on those who had a notible contribution, or thme based on nature, the trees, or the environment.

I have argued in the past that I do not care for trees being named, but there is merit on the other side of the argument as well. So if the trees are to be named, I think the names should be inspirational.

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: #113 and counting - MTSF

Post by dbhguru » Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:31 am

Ed,

Yes, I hear you. It is a better way to go -- perhaps The Founders Pines as opposed to Presidential Pines. The spirit of Benjamin Franklin needs a pine, and I doubt that I would have thought of extending the naming venture to Paul Revere. I have my work cut out for me, don't I?

ENTS,

As a note to all my brother and sister Ents, despite appearances, I have no compulsion to name trees in order to honor people. I do admit to enjoying the honoring of my fellow and lady Ents this way. But it is more of a little insider fun game. Primarily, the naming thing is a way of bringing an extra layer of protection to the trees, and don't worry, we definitely don't put signs on trees. They don't need name tags. The named trees stay largely anonymous except to the Ents faithful and a few tuned-in state officials, conservation property managers, and private landowners. But for those state and federal folks higher up the ladder, who probably will never venture out to visit a single tree, from their lofty perches, the theme idea seems to make the trees and groves, somehow more worthy. Officials are less embarrassed supporting the protection of a tree or grove, if it is named - even if unofficially. God forbid they would ever be called a tree-hugger. Yes, their thinking is very anthropocentric, but if that is what it takes, so be it. I must go with the flow.

Marc,

To address a question you asked, I get an enormous thrill out of discovery. First, it thrills me to find an outstanding member of a species being what it was meant to be, achieving what it was meant to achieve -- as opposed to being coerced into what humans would make of it. I revel in the wildness of wild trees, their authenticity. For me, discovering a tree that has achieved 'tree greatness' is like finding the child genius in the class. In my case, I am attracted to the white pine as a species. I think of Pinus strobus as holding in its boughs the former glory of all New England, and in achieving of maximum proportions, chronicling the majesty of the pre-settlement forests. I especially see the white pine in this exalted light when it reaches stately proportions and grows in an environment where it clearly rules, thrusting its crown high above the hardwoods. Our state forests that are located in rural settings allow the pine to be experienced in this way. City park trees have a tougher time carry the theme.

I feel quite different about the cookie cutter trees in the 1930s plantations that we commonly see in the Massachusetts state parks. However, as a plantation breaks up and the trees began to express their individuality, it is time to relax. When approaching a great tree like the Tecumseh, Saheda, Thoreau, Grandfather, Jefferson, or Madison pine, if in the proper mental state, one can feel their immense energy fields. Whether the result is awe, inspiration, or just the acknowledgement of the existence of a darn big tree, it is qualitatively different feeling from experiencing that cuddly little planted specimen in the park or cute little ornamental pear tree in the front yard.

When Jack Sobon and I started to hunt down all 140-foot white pines in Massachusetts in the early 1990s, we soon thought we had found them all. We believed that there would never be very many. Well, here we are in 2010, and we've confirmed 114 great whites in one state forest. Since last September, I've confirmed 231 great whites over 140 feet in Mohawk and have many left to go in that height range. It starts to sound like 140-footers are common as houseflies in Massachusetts, but that is far from the case. Just cruising around the countryside, the odds of encountering a 140-footer, unless you know where to look, is exceedingly remote. None have been found in eastern Mass. Only 3 have been found in the huge Quabbin Reservoir. There may be one in Petersham, MA. The simple reality of their scarcity makes places like Mohawk truly extraordinary. Yet when Jack and I began the original documentation process, Mohawk was known simply as a nice place to camp.

Raising public and public official awareness of the existence and importance of these rare gems will fuel my engines until I reach the point where I can no longer be out there hunting and measuring. In the interim, looks like The Founders Pines have to all be identified.

As a few final comments, I am always wary of over-describing a place or specific tree. My engineer-mathematician side continuously searches for ways of conveying the place a tree, grove, or site occupies in the larger scheme of forests and trees. Over time, my relentless search has allowed me to paint pictures of places that resonate with people once they become sensitive to the descriptions. I don't always score 100 though. For example, for the casual woods-walker, the Quabbin Reservoir in central Mass seems pretty special. Quabbin advocates aren't always pleased with me when I describe it as a pretty ordinary woodland. So, unless I want to be ignored, I'd better be armed with plenty of ammunition.

Until fairly recently, I thought I was fighting too strong of a headwind in getting real recognition for places like Mohawk and Monroe and even the Bryant Homestead and Ice Glen. But increasingly, I hear people speak of the Jake Swamp white pine. Through endless repetition, if nothing else, the message seemed to be getting through. But recently, there was a quantum jump. The State has developed an incredible display of the great trees and forests of Mohawk and Monroe at the Western Gateway Heritage State Park. Considering the almost non-existent budget, it is world class, and let me be clear, the display is far from my doing. Two great Ents Timothy Zelazo and Robert Campanile are responsible for that eye-popping display. True, I took Tim to the trees, but then he photographed them and Robert did the rest. The great tree beings do speak to those who know how to listen, and Tim and Robert have demonstrated acute tree hearing.

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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James Parton
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Re: #113 and counting - MTSF

Post by James Parton » Sun Sep 12, 2010 7:25 pm

Bob,

Yes, when I approach a great tree I can feel it's great energy field. I can sense a presence. You seem to be more sensitive than average to a trees aura. A large tree has a concentrated energy field that often can be felt above the general field of the forest. Outside of the general feeling of freedom and aloneness the field is what makes me feel so refreshed upon leaving a forest. It permeates my very being. One can tell it's absence or weakness in areas of high tree mortality. Like dead hemlock groves. It feels in ways worse than a graveyard.

Naming trees is cool as long as a lot of thought is put into it. It should be someone that the tree would find honorable.

James
James E Parton
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New Order of Druids

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dbhguru
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Re: #113 and counting - MTSF

Post by dbhguru » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:12 am

James,

Your last statement is packed with significance. It has set me to seriously reflecting on the process of naming trees. We should be trying to think like a tree. From the tree's perspective does the name we're considering mean anything. Of course it is speculation generated inside a human brain, but very thought provoking.

From now on when thinking about naming a tree, I will have Ent Brother James's Forest Commandment #1 uppermost in mind. Let's see, how does it go? Oh yes: Whenst naming thy tree, think thee not of thy self, or of thy worldly desires, but of thine holy tree, of its experiences, and then choosest most wisely, least if thee choose inappropriately, Treebeard will drop a limb on thy pointy head. Oooh, that'll make me think.

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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Lisa
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Re: #113 and counting - MTSF

Post by Lisa » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:47 pm

Bob,

Do you have a record of the measured diamters for tagged trees at Mohawk? I'd like to re-measure as many as I can this spring /summer and calculate the growth rates. I think we did the first measurements in 2001, so we could look at a ten year growth for some of the trees.

Lisa

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