Chautauqua Creek Gorge

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dbhguru
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Re: Chautauqua Creek Gorge

Post by dbhguru » Wed May 16, 2018 4:04 pm

Erik,

New York continues giving. We missed you in our latest Dacks adventure.

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
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Re: Chautauqua Creek Gorge

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat May 19, 2018 12:15 pm

Bob, I'll be hoping to make the next! Hope you all found some good stuff. In the meantime, Chautauqua Gorge has become my great white whale- like the Dacks, most of it was heavily logged, with some areas of small-tree old growth protected by the topography alone- but there are pockets of big trees, and some very promising regrowth, and as yet I've only explored maybe 20% of its potential.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Chautauqua Creek Gorge

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun May 27, 2018 5:09 pm

Saturday 5/26 I got into the wide-open section of gorge marked "B" on the map previously uploaded, approaching from an access point just a little upstream. Unfortunately, throughout this wide section, while soil, topography, and climate are all perfect for tall tree growth, large stumps outnumber large trees and pretty much everything is quite young. The logging roads are overgrown but have certainly left their mark. Patches of worthwhile trees are no doubt scattered around this large area, but with the leaves on I was only able to find one, quite accidentally- up a steep slope along where a tributary enters via steep ravine, a few old-growth white pines with trunk defects were left standing, which are now accompanied by some nice slightly younger mature white pines and tulips, in particular. These are all on a very steep slope which may have made them less attractive to more recent harvests (accessible areas look like they may have been through multiple cuts).

White Pine
138.54' / 12'1.5"cbh former double, most of the girth properly belongs to the single remaining stem however.
126.46'/ / 9'5"cbh
122' / 6'9.5"cbh younger
Tuliptree
135' too steep
123.5' / 7'8"cbh

The tall white pine bumps the RHI10 up to 130.9.
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The new tallest white pine, definitely an older tree than most of the surrounding forest based on bark and slow taper.
The new tallest white pine, definitely an older tree than most of the surrounding forest based on bark and slow taper.

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dbhguru
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Re: Chautauqua Creek Gorge

Post by dbhguru » Mon May 28, 2018 6:57 am

Erik,

Thanks to you and Elijah, we are just beginning to see the real potential of New York to deliver for us. So much left to discover, and I can't think of two better than you and Elijah to be on the job.

Monica and I are currently at a 5-day retreat with Jeannie Zandi, so my communication must be brief. However, come Tuesday, I'll be back in the saddle, and want to discuss the opportunity that we have for our data to have an impact with some very high profile climate scientists. As you might guess, it would be of a ground-truthing nature. Opportunities like this don't come often. Details to be supplied on Tuesday or Wednesday.

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
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Re: Chautauqua Creek Gorge

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon May 28, 2018 2:50 pm

Bob, I'll be looking forward to hearing about it. I've had a tendency to be hyperfocused on height, and so rather than looking at leafout as the end of the measuring season I'm hoping to make it an opportunity to refocus on volume, at least to get a good set of data for trunks and visible crown portions with crowns to be completed when the leaves are back off.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Chautauqua Creek Gorge

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:27 pm

141' White Pine with the 136' doublestem white pine behind and to the right, as seen from below.
141' White Pine with the 136' doublestem white pine behind and to the right, as seen from below.
This morning I was able to make a brief return visit to see if I might be able to scout additional areas of decent trees near the white pine from the last post while the leaves are down. Aerial imagery suggested that the adjacent slope in particular may have additional white pines with large crowns. While I didn't get to the good stuff until I was almost out of time, having a chance to really look at that slope revealed that I walked right past (or above) the tallest trees measured in Chautauqua Gorge so far. White Pine, Tulip, and Northern Red Oak are together very dominant on this slope that leads down into a small tributary stream ravine. Aside from the larger trees, this slope also lacks the numerous cut stumps that are visible in even oldest regrowth stands. This small area of slope may represent primary forest. A small proportion of the large trees (with more stable rooting locations) really do seem fairly old, though most seem younger as well as more likely to topple before they reach old age. Topography may be a driver of the disturbance regime here. Sugar and red maples, cuke, black cherry, white ash, sycamore, yellow birch, beech, hemlock and basswood are all present but midstory or minor canopy components, unlike the more evenly mixed stands on the gentler slopes and uplands.
The upland just above this slope was so thick with lycopodiums you could practically mow them
The upland just above this slope was so thick with lycopodiums you could practically mow them
Anyways, the measurements (trupulse 200B working quickly, heights "not less than"):
145.5' Tulip- now the tallest known tree in Chautauqua Gorge and tallest broadleaf tree in the county.
145.5' Tulip- now the tallest known tree in Chautauqua Gorge and tallest broadleaf tree in the county.
Tuliptree
145.5' / 6.92'cbh
139.3' / too steep
135.5' / 8.56'cbh
133.5' / 7.81'cbh
White Pine
141' / 10.56'cbh
136.5' / 9.35'cbh
136' / 10.76'cbh doublestem
Cucumber Magnolia
105' / 7.18'cbh

This raises the RHI10 for Chautauqua Gorge to 131.6.
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136.5' white pine. Most of the large pines had split leaders and/or some contortion to their stems.
136.5' white pine. Most of the large pines had split leaders and/or some contortion to their stems.

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ElijahW
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Re: Chautauqua Creek Gorge

Post by ElijahW » Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:18 pm

Erik,

Congratulations on the new finds. By my count, we currently have eight sites in NY with Rucker Indices exceeding 130: Zoar Valley, Letchworth, Fischer Old Growth, Ellison Park, Robert Treman State Park, Chautauqua Creek Gorge, Green Lakes, and the Vanderbilt Estate in Hyde Park. I think that's pretty good.

Great photos, as well; I especially like the last one, fitting in the entirety of the White Pine.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Chautauqua Creek Gorge

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:34 pm

Thanks Elijah, I had just been wondering about exactly that. I enjoy seeing how most of these sites are a real "team effort" with tulip and white pine leading and at least one other species over 140'- whether sycamore, white ash, hemlock or hickory. A few don't even have any trees over 150'. It's very interesting to think about.

I have to give a recommendation for the Panasonic LX3 as an excellent bargain small camera for tree hunters. Its very sharp and wide-angle lens along with its unusual wide-aspect image sensor feature make it adept at shots like that, and while it was state of the art in 2008 they go for $70-90 on ebay now. It may not be a DSLR, but it fits in my pocket and still takes better pictures than my smartphone.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Chautauqua Creek Gorge

Post by Erik Danielsen » Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:16 pm

Weather hasn't been cooperating with any real tree measuring for the last couple weeks, but on Sunday 3/3 I got out to the gorge once again on snowshoes to do some general scouting. I can reconfirm my impressions from this summer that anything accessible has been logged, probably repeatedly, but there are some terraces in the narrow part of the main gorge with some older trees, often with many tulips 110-140' tall. By species composition and structure I think these are probably all old regrowth. It was a very cold day (I reached for my half-full water bottle at one point to find it frozen solid) so I kept moving and just got some general shots of a couple black cherries that should be in the high 120s, a good size tulip right around 140, a black maple and a basswood in the upper 110s, and a hemlock in the 120s. The best three trees of the day were a white ash at not less than 133', a gorgeous and healthy-looking columnar beech at not less than 115.5, and a particularly beautiful Slippery Elm on a slope about halfway up the gorge. Not much over 2'dbh or 100', but it really caught my eye.
Columnar Beech 115.5', new max height for Chautauqua Gorge.
Columnar Beech 115.5', new max height for Chautauqua Gorge.
Beautiful Slippery Elm
Beautiful Slippery Elm
Further upstream I attempted to scout up a side ravine to some intriguing-looking habitats. This turned out to be very narrow and deep with repeated waterfalls and provide no passage other than ice shelves on top of the stream at the bottom, and when I got to a series of plunge pools I couldn't see the bottom of, which I would have to cross on unstable ice, I turned back. According to the aerial imagery, further up is an additional side ravine and upland full of white pine, as well as a steep unconsolidated slope likely to host some of the same rare plant communities occupying similar habitat in Canadaway Gorge and Zoar Valley. These will have to wait for good weather. I did catch a glimpse from a distance by ascending the ridge alongside the treacherous ravine, and lucked into encountering a black oak on the edge of the ridge. This is right in the middle of one of the WNY range gaps where black oak is absent. Like Bur Oak and Swamp White Oak, the unexpected and undocumented disjunct populations of oaks tend to correspond to other rare plant species and communities. This bodes well for future exploration.

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dbhguru
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Re: Chautauqua Creek Gorge

Post by dbhguru » Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:33 pm

Erik,

Your and Elijah's confirmation of exemplary growth in those western NY gorges has recast our notions of what is exceptional versus fairly frequent. You all have also pushed the latitude barrier for quite a few species. There was a time when I thought that establish pretty firm latitude boundaries for 130-foot hardwoods. It would be very useful for us to all compile lists of our tallest tree for each species along with lat, long, and altitude coordinates.

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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