Alexander Preserve

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Erik Danielsen
Posts: 857
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Alexander Preserve

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:54 pm

A bit upstream from Zoar Valley on cattaraugus creek's north branch, Alexander Preserve is a privately held preserve that is open to the public but intentionally not widely publicized. As such it is less visited than much of the Zoar MUA. Alexander features a number of geological and botanical points of interest- and some which are both; in the sloping transition zone between the floodplain forest and the higher plateau, sliding layers of earth have produced a number of "split trees," halved and spreading at their base while remaining unified trees up above. I'll discuss more of these features with a topo for context in a future post. In the meantime, I'll share some photographs and measurements from today's quick visit.

Alexander's old growth is mostly located on a high plateau with more exposure and probably poorer soil and moisture than the terraces of zoar valley, and as expected does not produce specimens of such impressive dimensions as those found in zoar. I expect the heights to max out under 130', with most of the canopy between 100-110' tall, though the floodplain forest could hide some surprises. Nonetheless it's a beautiful forest and similar in terms of species diversity. Today I did aim to find and measure superlative individuals but also biased towards trees with easy views of their crowns, as time was limited. There's a lot more to measure and a mosaic of different species associations to discuss. Today's measurements:

Eastern Hemlock- many old specimens present
114.23' very thin, young tree
110.68' 5.87'cbh
102.35' 8.33'
Black Cherry- the only old specimen observed
113.14' I measured circumference and somehow did not write it down. It did exceed 9'
White Pine- only old white pine observed, still vigorous up top but undermined by a large wound at its base
113.06' 9.35'cbh
Sugar Maple- many old specimens present, very dominant in some areas. Lots of maple snags and deadwood as well
105.32 9.84'cbh
White Ash- also the only large, old specimen observed, under heavy attack from insects (probably EAB) and declining.
104.64 10.47'cbh

Some of the hardwoods would yield greater heights in leaf, as my rangefinder strongly dislikes reading from bare branches and forces me to measure well below the highest points at times. Beech is also numerically dominant though suffering heavily from bark disease. There are also sections dominated by tuliptree and some dominated by red oak, mostly younger trees (seemingly 80-150 years for canopy trees, not old-growth). There's a strip of forest along the top of the cliff's edge where weather and slope exert a greater influence and very old red and white oaks with intermediate-to-open-grown form are scattered among smaller hemlock, young bigtooth aspen and the occasional stunted white pine. I measured the girthiest of each oak species- a red oak at 13.52'cbh and a white oak at 11.19'cbh, both with impressive volume to their spreading forms. Also present are bits of very old-looking, deeply weathered wood suggestive of chestnut remnants, and... sure enough, a pile of spiny husks led me to a very nice american chestnut, probably a root-sprout but the largest I've met at 71' tall and 3.74'cbh. Nearby are a few other chestnut root-sprouts, all less than 5' diameter. I'll certainly be scouring the place for more chestnut once leaf-out makes it easier.
Attachments
Chestnut deadwood?
Chestnut deadwood?
The base of the chestnut
The base of the chestnut
Clues to chestnut!
Clues to chestnut!
A beautiful cucumber magnolia
A beautiful cucumber magnolia
The oldest-seeming section is well into dominance by beech, hemlock, and sugar maple
The oldest-seeming section is well into dominance by beech, hemlock, and sugar maple
The girthiest northern red oak present
The girthiest northern red oak present

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

Re: Alexander Preserve

Post by dbhguru » Sun Apr 05, 2015 6:11 pm

Erik,

Good show. I enjoyed your post and it makes me thirst to get back to western NY to enjoy some of those exceptional places.

You mentioned not being able to get a reliable return from your laser rangefinder from the tiptop of some of the trees you measured. That happens to all of us this time of year. Although not perfect, here is a solution that gets you closer.
Screen shot 2015-04-05 at 5.37.08 PM.png
In the diagram L = distance to the point you could hit
∂1 = angle to tiptop
ß = angle to point you hit with the laser.
h = height of missing tip part.

If the tip leans in your direction, you over-estimate the remaining height, and if the tip leans away, you underestimate. In either case, if you have binoculars with good depth of field, you can estimate the angle of lean from the vertical and multiply your initial result by the cosine of the angle of lean. You'll probably be within inches.

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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Erik Danielsen
Posts: 857
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Re: Alexander Preserve

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Apr 05, 2015 7:45 pm

Thanks for the useful geometric tool! Unfortunately it may be the case that I am not entirely able to make use of it- my measurement instrument integrates the rangefinder and clinometer and gives both readings simultaneously, but only produces any reading at all if the rangefinder can get a reading. Having a quick distance and angle reading right next to each other in the viewfinder has proven very handy for doing many readings in a short time (like for some survey plots I've assisted with) but it also doesn't provide the same precision as the more popular instruments used by this community- just whole yards/meters and whole degrees. I look forward to upgrading my instrumentation in time but this little Bushnell is doing the job for now.

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