Ed Ritz and I visited Mohawk a couple of days ago and we took these images. The first is of the Joseph Brant pine (11.2 ft x 160.1 ft).
The next shows me at the base of a 142.0-foot white ash. The top of the ash cannot be seen. Although the ash is just 6 feet in girth, the image of me barely visible (right side of tree) shows the exceptional verticality of these forests.
In a recent email to DCR reporting on this visit I wrote the following.
Now for a final commentary. When I trek through these hidden forest sanctuaries, I am constantly reminded of what makes them special - what sets them apart from the vast majority of undistinguished woodlands that form the Berkshire uplands, and in fact, most of the woodlands of Massachusetts. In Mohawk, it isn't the tree species, or their distribution. It isn't the number of rare or endangered plants. It isn't what Mohawk's woods share in common with other DCR properties, but rather, it is what makes Mohawk's forests distinct - their abundance of exceptional trees. In my view, this attribute cannot be emphasized too much.
I am reminded of the report MASSACHUSETTS FOREST RESERVES LONG TERM ECOLOGICAL MONITORING PROGRAM - MOHAWK.MONROE/SAVOY FOREST RESERVE. Although there is useful information in this journeyman effort, from reading it, and other than the mention of the old growth, if I did I not know differently, from the report, I would see nothing exceptional about the forests in the 9th forest reserve. The report is woefully inadequate in its descriptions of the forests of Mohawk, Monroe, and Savoy and their rich cultural history (the old Indian path, the Shunpike, John Wheeler's grave, etc.). When I return from the West, I'll dive into the trail guide for the Mahican-Mohawk Recreational Trail. I have made contact with a source that can take the cultural history to a new level.
One of the addresses responded as follows.
Thanks Bob. Impressive as always.
I know and have read the report you reference with some frustration in looking for more content, as to more details about what makes this place special. I do appreciate your summary of these forests as being a concentration of exceptional examples.
Thanks again for your herculean efforts.
I include the above response to acknowledge that there are people in DCR who very much recognize and appreciate what we in NTS do, do for DCR properties, and what exists in those properties as ecological-inspirational treasures. It would be grossly unfair of me to imply that DCR, as an organization, does not have many employees who value DCR parks and reserves as ecologically valuable and inspirational. DCR employees can be divided into four camps: (1) those who recognize the full range of values in our public forests, (2) those who are just economically focused on the timber, (3) those who are focused on just recreation, and (4) those who don't think much about it at all. I am forever grateful for the members of category (1), and it is for them, as well as the people of the Commonwealth, that Monica and I have undertaken the effort to do trail guides for the great places in Mohawk, Monroe, Mt. Greylock, and a few other properties. It is a labor of love and one that will likely occupy me for as long as my legs will carry me up and down the ridges. The third attachment is a draft of the Great Pines Nature Trail. Monica and have lots of work left to do on it, but getting there.