Fort Edwards begins a Tree Ring Study Project, page 2
On Wednesday, July 7th, 2010, Dr. James Rentch, Assistant Research Professor, Division of Forestry and Natural Resources at West Virginia University returned to Hampshire County to guide our first tree boring project. Unfortunately, it seems we chose one of the hottest days of the summer, but, none the less, we began the laborious process of collecting specimens from local trees. The first tree we bored was along River Road on the west side of the Cacapon River south of Capon Bridge where 2-3winters ago a tree came down and had to be cut (2008 or 2009). Last winter we secured a portion of its trunk when it was first cut and now we are asking Dr. Rentch to inspect the tree to see if it is a good specimen. Here you see our team in the field inspecting the tree.
The Selection Process
Big, Old Trees
Dr. Craik's Line
Building Log Sections
We also gave Dr. Rentch three sections of an old log barn that was destroyed by a storm several years ago. The barn was located near North River Mills and was originally granted to Thomas Parker before the French and Indian War. George Washington had surveyed the land for Thomas Parker. To see photos of the dismantling of the barn go to: http://www.historichampshire.org/nrm/building/Baker/recycle.htm.htm
What We Need
After looking at some of the largest and oldest trees in the county, we learned that we are really looking for special trees. Dr. Rentch has characterised them as follows:
1. "We need trees that have developed in a more or less closed canopy forest. Fence-row trees and yard trees may be very big, but they also may not be very old. Their large size is often simply a reflection of the absence of competition and need for height, as opposed to diameter, growth.
2. "Trees growing on poorer growth sites are probably better candidates than trees growing on good growing sites. The difference between poor and good generally comes down to aspect (south and west versus north and east), slope position (ridge tops versus slope toes), and soils (dry shales versus deep loams in bottomlands). This is especially true if our objective is climate reconstruction. We want trees that are sensitive to small variations in climate (on stressed sites) versus trees that have a good life and only occasionally encounter stress.
3. "As far as species, the oaks are generally longer lived and more durable. Of these, white and chestnut oak are the better candidates than black or northern red, although older chestnut oaks are often hollow. Chinquapin oak, although rare, can also be extremely long lived. On extremely dry or rocky sites (barrens) red cedars are often very long lived even though they are not very large. Dead wood on these sites can often extend the chronology well before living trees. Hemlocks can also be very long-lived, however they usually occur on better sites."
A closer look at the various samples supplied by Andy Stump.
Note the fire damaged trees (2 upper left & 2 on right)
The above photo shows both a log slice and a mounted core. The core has been glued in a grove in a small stick of wood and then sanded so the rings show prominently. The effect under the microscope is much the same as looking at the ring sequence of the log section since you would only be viewing a narrow band across the section. To the right is a sample of a chart that is created by statistically comparing several sets of ring data.
Can You Help Us?
If you have trees that match this description on your property in Hampshire County and are interested in allowing us to bore them for samples, please let us know. The process does not harm the trees and will contribute greatly to our base of knowledge. The contact information is as follows: