By mid-morning on a snappy early-December day, Jared Lockwood, Arnie Paye, and I were leaving a warm vehicle and trudging off into unfamiliar woods in part of the Monroe State Forest near the Vermont border in Massachusetts. Our mission was to locate and explore an old hemlock stand described to us by friend and old-growth forest expert Bob Leverett, to evaluate its potential inclusion in an old-growth forest documentary film.
First, Old Growth Hemlocks
Small, but older hemlocks
Unaware that there was a trail nearby we could have followed, we instead plunged into thick forest and bushwhacked our way across a steep slope, enveloped in both sun and snow flurries. It quickly became evident that this was an older forest than the typical second growth woods so common in this region. Hemlocks were tipping us off to that fact with their rugged, aging bark. They weren't the largest diameter hemlocks to be found in this forest, yet their bark, trunk, and limb characteristics were clues to their advanced age, likely 200 or more years in many cases.
A hemlock soon to be downed by wind?
One old hemlock we encountered will soon be hugging the ground, judging by a huge crack in its trunk. It's hard to imagine it surviving the winds and snow loads of another winter.
The following is an essay by good friend and guest writer Bob Leverett, a nationally recognized expert on eastern old growth forests.The
text and photos were supplied by Bob, except as noted. Enjoy!
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Profile of a Great New England White Pine
Robert T. Leverett
December 6, 2016
On November 27th, my wife
Monica and I went to the Elders Grove in Mohawk Trail State Forest
(MTSF). We wanted to walk off some of our Thanksgiving turkey,
especially the stuffing, but that was not my only mission.
I wanted to re-measure the huge Saheda white pine to record
its end-of-2016 statistics.
The Saheda Pine
I keep close tabs on the annual growth
of this tree, and was absolutely thrilledto
confirm a height of 171.0 feet and a girth of 12.0. Saheda has
finally arrived! The big Mohawk
pine has the distinction of being the second tallest tree we know of
in New England, and the combination of its height of 171 feet and
girth of 12 feet places Saheda in even more exclusive company. So far
as we know, only one other white pine in the entire Northeast has
achieved the combination of 12 x 170: the Seneca Pine in Cook Forest
State Park, Cooksburg, PA.It is
a marvelous old growth specimen that reaches 12.6 feet around and
174.9 feet in height.