A job nearly completed

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dbhguru
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A job nearly completed

Post by dbhguru » Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:28 pm

ENTS

This past week witnessed a blitz of tree measuring from yours truly. I was determined to fulfill a self-appointed mission. On Monday and Tuesday, Monica and I stayed at Cabin #6 in Mohawk Trail State Forest, which allowed me to complete my goal of relocated and measuring all 150-foot white pines in the Pocumtuck Grove of Mohawk Trail State Forest as part of the greater mission of confirming all 150s in Mohawk. After each visit to the Pocumtuck Grove, I kept thinking I had completed the mission, but then doubts would set in. Why? Because the tightly packed grove is a bear to measure. It tests every measuring skill that I have developed over the years and points to gaps in our tree measuring methodology where trees grow very close together. Most trees in tight clumps don't get measured.

On Monday, I started out looking at the Pocumtuck Grove basically through the same eyes, i.e. to say with the same set of mental filters operating. This means that I had conditioned myself to see the trees in the Pocumtucks through past mental imprints that reinforced for me which I thought were the tallest. However, on this visit something moved me to climb a hill and examine the grove from an entirely new perspective and at a significantly greater distance. From my new position, I could not see the bases of the trees, but I could see some of the crowns better. One tree stood out. It appeared much taller than my perception of it from the road below. It wasn't a new tree, just a new perspective. I went down to the tree and put an orange marker on it at 6.7 feet above its base. I then went back to my distant perch and shot to the crown and the orange marker. After doing the calculations and adding 6.7 feet, I got a little over 157 feet. Wow! This was 5 feet above my last measurement. I then realized that from my closer perches, I simply was missing the tops of some of the trees.

To shorten the story about my long and labored effort that lasted the rest of the day, I eventually confirmed eight more 150s! I felt simultaneously elated and embarrassed and the tallest tree in the grove turned out to be a 158.6 feet. How could old Dbhguru have missed eight of the sixteen 150s for so long? That will be the subject of future emails, but it happened. I confess.

Well, after a wild Monday, on Tuesday I set about measuring pines across the road and uphill, trees that I had assumed to be in the high 130s to low 140s, because of a couple of measurements of trees near the edge of the road and some untested assumptions. Before I was finished, I had confirmed trees to the heights of 152.9, 148.1, 145.0, and 143.8 feet. Here again, I had been applying a faulty mental filter and had to find a way to see the stand through new eyes. It is close to a Zen thing, I guess. So, by Tuesday's end, i had confirmed 9 new 150s in mohawk, bring the count to 104. Was I finished? Nope.

Yesterday Monica and I returned to Mohawk and I settled the question about a former 150 in the Cherokee-Choctaw Grove. It is officially a former 150, i.e. o longer part of the club. That brings the total number of 150s in Mohawk to 103, prior to the growing season. Actually, I have one last tree to visit - the Oneida Pine. It has been part of the 150-Club for years, but I haven't remeasured it. So, if it fails, the number will be 102. Either 103 or 102, it is a much higher number than I had been projecting. I had thought we would go into this growing season with at most 95 pines in the 150-Club. I expect that we'll exit this growing season with 112 150s. Maybe more.

So, the pre-growing season’s confirmation of the 150s for Mohawk is complete. I can now contemplate the meaning of the concentrated effort. I have lots of thoughts on the matter, most not very profound. But perhaps a few merit consideration by not only my fellow Ents, but DCR, Massachusetts environmental groups, State friends groups, and others.

I routinely tout the superlatives of MTSF to officials of DCR, forestry professionals, environmental groups, state friends groups, personal friends, and the people in the groups that I lead on interpretive walks. Others have come to expect to hear tree numbers pitched and re-pitched by me. Those who know me best, recognize that the engineer side of my brain is compulsive about accuracy. I loathe approximations, rounded numbers, etc. – i.e. the vacuous reporter approach to numeric information that substitutes a general term like “hundreds” for a precise reporting of say a number like 110. I regard it as a way of trivializing the importance of accuracy. In some vague way it purports to convey that broad generalizations carry meaning, weight, and perspective that precision obscures. In my humble opinion that is pure hogwash. For example, one may state that the Alps are thousands of feet high. That conveys some information, but “thousands” can mean two thousand as easily as it can mean fourteen or fifteen thousand. In terms of mountain wisdom, there is an enormous difference between two thousand and fifteen thousand in terms of geology, climate, amount of oxygen, plant and animal communities, visual impact, etc. Well, enough from the soapbox.

I’m never quite sure how the numbers I present are received by DCR officials, except those whom I know well, but I can say the higher up the ladder I go, the more nondescript the response I expect. The uppers seem confused on how to react to the information they are receiving, as in: is he telling me the truth; why haven’t my people told me that; is there any significance to what he is saying; should I care; can this information embarrass me? There have been exceptions, but they are that - exceptions.

The value placed on and an understanding of the information I pass to DCR recipients says much about bureaucracies and how they work, about organizational hierarchies, and about personal priorities, sensitivities, interests, and visionary talents. So far, Massachusetts DCR officials have conflicting scores on how sagely they deal with the numeric information on Mohawk’s trees that they’ve received through their filtered channels or directly from me. I still have hope that DCR, as an organization, can come to fully embrace the meaning of Mohawk Trail State Forest. I know that some within the recreational arm do. One person, my friend Tim Zelazo is fully as appreciative of Mohawk’s treasures as I am and determined to see justice done. I think there are others on the recreational side who are equally impressed, but most on the resource side (the Bureau of Forestry) are clueless.

Exactly what is the significance of Mohawk Trail State Forest? If challenged to explain in depth why the 6,500-acre property is special, can I make a convincing case? Well, let’s see. To begin with, Mohawk Trail State Forest is located in one of the Bay State’s most scenic regions. The region is relatively unpopulated by Massachusetts standards and consequently can be consider a wildland. That gives Mohawk a good send off. But what makes a forest special: big well formed trees; champion trees; outstanding statistical measures; species diversity; rare species; strong genetic populations; lack of invasive species; old growth; aesthetic combinations of forest features, such as a mix of meadow and forest, stately trees, picturesque rocks, waterfalls; limpid pools, etc.; scenic vistas; historical features; cultural value; Native American connections; solitude and lack of trash and other eyesores left by careless hikers and campers?

Mohawk has all the above attributes. In addition, it exhibits some of them in abundance and near the top of the comparison list for not only Massachusetts, but for New England, and in a few cases, the entire Northeast. And as a last attribute, Mohawk represents the most concentrated expression of raw white pine power that I know of in New England. The great whites rule, reminding us of the pre-colonial New England. There are many picture perfect pines in mohawk that impact the visitor individually and as gestalts. And the statistics confirm Mohawks preeminence. Its count of 103 white pines exceeding 150 feet is second in the Northeast. This statistic alone makes Mohawk exceptional. So, the case for Mohawk is so easy to make that it can be safely declared to be the Forest icon of Massachusetts - without fear of exaggeration.

Are there negatives in Mohawk? Yes, there are a few. The proximity of Route #2 introduces some noise pollution. The campground along the Cold River can introduce congestion, but only in the area of the campground. There is an old dump that needs to be cleaned up near the confluence of the Cold and Deerfield Rivers. But these negatives do not reduce the overall value of Mohawk.

I will conclude with some images from this past week.

The first image is of Monica standing among the Council Pines within the Pocumtuck Grove. The shiny spots at the base of the trees are our identification tags. The pines you see are 140-footers.

of
MonicaInThe CouncilPines.jpg
The next image shows rocks and forest in an area that Monica and I think of sacred space. The image is on Thumper Mountain, the little mountain with the big heart.
SacredSpace.jpg
The third image shows Monica and my grandson Devin in the Council Pines. I'm starting Devin out young.
MonicaAndDevinInCouncilGrove.jpg
The last image looks up into the crown of one of the 160-footers - the John Brown tree. I have shown this image before, but wanted to conclude with an image that speaks to the scale of the Mohawk forest. Enjoy.
JohnBrownsCrown.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: A job nearly completed

Post by edfrank » Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:59 pm

Bob,

Congratulations on the new finds and of learning to see with a fresh eye the trees that you have visited many times before. With the threat of MTSF reaching 112 trees, I guess Dale Luthringer and the other western PA ENTS will need to re-evaluate the groves in Cook Forest State Park to keep you firmly in second place. I hope you will expand on you ideas of seeing the same trees with a fresh eye.

Seeing the Forest Anew - continued http://www.ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=144&t=369

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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Lisa
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Re: A job nearly completed

Post by Lisa » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:33 am

Bob,

I'm curious about whether the 150's you tfound at the Pocumtuck Grive were all tagged tress. Susan and I were unsure where that grove actually ended. We tried to cut it off when the number of hardwoods was greater than the number of pines. Did you find many that were worth measuring that did not have tags?

Lisa

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dbhguru
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Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:34 pm

Re: A job nearly completed

Post by dbhguru » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:55 am

Lisa,

Here is an extract of pines measured in the Pocumtuck Grove since the remeasuring blitz began.
PocumtuckPines.jpg
You can see the 150s without tags. They are all within the area that was tagged. I expect that people have removed some tags and others have worked their way out. The tags are very valuable and will become increasingly so, because as you know, the Pocumtucks are very accessible and can provide a lot of volume increase data.

Thanks again for all the work that you and Susan put into the job of tagging the pines.

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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