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Message #908 of 4034  *NEW*
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Carol  
Washington Tree - Before and After
2/21/05, 2:35pm (Last Edited: 2/21/05, 2:48pm)
graphic
I found the Washington Tree pretty easily on Saturday despite the fact that no trail leads there in the wintertime and it looks nothing like it used to...

Here it is again before...

And here is what's left

I was pretty sad to hear that Washington had collapsed but seeing it for myself was even worse. It was such a beautiful tree... But I guess I'm glad I got the chance to see it before it collapsed.

Now the General Grant Tree moves up to take Washington's place as the 2nd largest tree in the world...

I took tons of pics on my two days of snowshoeing and snow camping, I'll share more soon!

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Message #909 of 4034  *NEW*
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Carol
Larry Levy  
Re: Washington Tree - Before and After
2/21/05, 3:42pm
graphic
Hi, Carol,

There was an article in today's Los Angeles Times about the tree. NPS Biologists are examining the remains of the tree have conluded it is still alive........

Truncated Sequoia Still Has Some Life in Limbs
World's second-biggest tree, the Washington, may be dying. But park officials aren't sure.


By Nicholas Shields, Times Staff Writer


The world's second-biggest tree, a sequoia known as the Washington Tree, has become a fractured shadow of its former self.

But officials at Sequoia National Park say they don't know for sure if it is dying. The tree, which is probably at least 2,500 years old, has lost more than half its 254-foot height in a forest fire and recent winter storms and doesn't have many branches with green growth left.

"We don't know if it's dying or not," said Bill Tweed, chief interpretive ranger at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. "There still are those green branches those could keep the tree alive an unknown number of years but it's not going to be the same tree that it was."

Park officials said the tree, named after George Washington, will probably outlive its human mourners. Some sequoias in worse shape have continued to live for centuries.

Media from around the world have inquired about the tree, which is now 115 feet tall. But park officials want to dispel any notions of its imminent demise.

One group from Arizona was so concerned that it called park officials last week offering to donate miracle tree food that they thought could help restore the sequoia's health. Another caller asked for a piece of the tree as a souvenir to commemorate its death.

"It has been quite heartening for me to see how much people have cared," said Alexandra Picavet, a spokeswoman for the parks.

"One branch with green leaves connected by live tissue to one root" is all that's needed for a tree to be considered alive, Tweed said.

Finding the Washington Tree involves effort. It takes about an hour to drive the 17 miles of twisting road from the park's entrance to Giant Forest. A paved road leads to the world's biggest tree by volume, the famed General Sherman, and from there it's a 1.5-mile hike through deep forest to the Washington Tree.

In its prime, the Washington stood more than 254 feet tall, with a base circumference of more than 101 feet. But a lighting-induced fire toppled nearly 20 feet of the tree's crown in 2003, and last month's winter storms reduced its height by another 120 feet.

The tree has shown increased signs of aging. A distinctive branch used to curl outward into the shape of an arm flexing a muscle, but since the lightning fire, a massive chunk of the sundered branch now lies about 20 feet from the tree's base.

It is also scarred with thick black vertical lines. Through a fire-induced opening at the tree's base, sunlight and snowfall can be seen.

In 1999, researchers were allowed to study the tree and rappelled about halfway down its hollow core.

Tony Caprio, a fire ecologist and dendrochronologist for the two parks, said the 2003 fire helped form the tree's hollow core. He said that before 2003, the last known fire the tree experienced was in 1864.

Caprio said sequoia bark has evolved to become very fibrous. He said the trees have many air pockets that create ideal insulation for surviving fires. He added that the wood from a sequoia is not highly flammable and that their towering height can protect the crown from catching fire.

Officials said the Washington Tree's exact age won't be known until death has occurred and they can check for sure. "Sequoia time is so different from human time," said Jody Lyle, fire education specialist for the parks. "With the life spans of humans and these trees sometimes we want to imagine they are the same."

Tweed said the tree can die naturally in two main ways. The shallow root system for most sequoias, only 5 to 10 feet underground, can give way, causing the tree to fall. He said this is how about 90% of all Sequoias die. Or a fire can damage a tree so severely that it dies. Tweed predicts the latter will happen to the Washington Tree.

The successor as the world's second-biggest tree may live in the neighborhood. The 267-foot-tall General Grant, in nearby Kings Canyon, could earn that designation but it might have to wait for centuries to pass.


firmed it is still alive.....

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Message #910 of 4034  *NEW*
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Larry Levy
Carol  
Re: Washington Tree - Before and After
2/21/05, 4:00pm (Last Edited: 2/21/05, 4:02pm)
graphic
Thanks, Larry. There have been a few articles that I have seen, this one came out last week and was quite critical of the NPS for letting that fire burn the Washington Tree... So I think the NPS is trying to get out their side of the story as evidenced by the article you posted (BTW, I work with and know Bill Tweed, Tony Caprio, Alex Picavet, and Jody Lyle quite well)

Want to save giant trees? A chain saw can do wonders

By Thomas Bonnicksen

John Muir called the giant sequoia ``the noblest of a noble race.'' These massive trees, the largest in the world, grow only in the Sierra Nevada. Huge sugar pine and other large trees surround them. ``They are giants among giants,'' wrote University of California professor Joseph Le Conte when he saw the giant sequoia forest for the first time in 1870.

Today, seven times more trees than is natural crowd this irreplaceable forest, and each year it becomes denser. The forest is unhealthy, and the fire hazard is extreme. Yet we have done little to solve the problem.

Now some are suing to block a plan by the Forest Service to deal with the wildfire situation in the Giant Sequoia National Monument. This modest plan calls for removing too few trees to offset even the number of new trees that grow each year. To be effective, the plan should remove more trees to halt excess growth and substantially reduce the number of existing trees.

It seems some people have forgotten the McNally fire of 2002, which burned 151,000 acres and came within less than a mile of the sequoia groves. Jim Paxon, speaking for firefighters, said, ``If fire does get in the Trail of 100 Giants, we won't be putting firefighters in there to try to stop it.''

30 years of research

I know this forest better than most people do. I began in the late 1960s as a ranger in Kings Canyon National Park working on the first prescribed fires and interpreting them to the public. I also conducted research with my colleague Edward C. Stone, a University of California-Berkeley professor, on this forest over the next three decades. Our work forms the basis for the Forest Service plan to restore the monument.

In the 1960s, the Park Service cut intermediate-sized trees before using prescribed fire. It knew that prescribed fire is a crude tool that can cause more collateral damage to a forest than good. The most recent example is the damage it caused to the George Washington Tree. However, a chain saw in the hands of an expert is surgically precise. As A. Starker Leopold, professor and former chief scientist of the National Park Service, said, ``A chain saw would do wonders.''

Unfortunately, some environmentalists stopped the Park Service from cutting trees, and decades of destruction by prescribed fire followed. They would rather see forests burn than cut individual trees to save whole forests.

There are twice as many intermediate-sized trees (up to 30 inches in diameter) today as there were in the historic forest because of 125 years of excluding fire. Prescribed fire cannot reduce the number of trees this size without severely damaging the forest.

In addition, few people realize that unnaturally thick litter that now covers the ground generates so much heat when it burns that even a small fire can kill large trees by cooking their roots. The loss of thousands of huge trees from prescribed fire has become rampant in national parks.

Stone and I warned the Park Service about this terrible loss in 1976. The Park Service conducted a study that shows we were correct. Nevertheless, the destruction continues because they ignored their own study and us.

Now the Park Service has added the 3,000-year-old Washington Tree to the list of casualties from its prescribed fires. This is the second-largest tree in the world, named after the father of our country. Even so, the Park Service refused to protect it from a fire it deliberately let burn.

Watched it burn

The fire took six weeks to reach the Washington Tree. The Park Service had plenty of time to act. Instead, it chose to stand back and watch the fire destroy its top and largest branch. This weakened the tree so much that a recent storm broke it in half. It will probably die.

How could the Park Service let its own prescribed fire destroy a national treasure and many other giant trees? It could have saved all of them. It takes only a few minutes and a garden rake to clear thick litter from around a tree to keep fire away.

I cannot speculate on why some people would rather see huge trees and whole forests killed by fire rather than use 21st-century knowledge and tools to prevent the destruction. I just know that the anti-management philosophy is no justification for sacrificing national treasures.

Let's use common sense and the best available science to make decisions about our forests. This is not about politics. This is about protecting our national heritage.

THOMAS M. BONNICKSEN is professor emeritus of forest science at Texas A&M University, visiting professor at the University of California-Davis and visiting scholar at the Forest Foundation, which is supported by the California Forest Products Commission. He wrote this article for Knight Ridder.

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/10895565
.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp&1c

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The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com
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Message #911 of 4034  *NEW*
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Carol
Larry Levy  
Re: Washington Tree - Before and After
2/22/05, 1:30pm (Last Edited: 2/22/05, 1:32pm)
graphic
Thanks for the article, Carol.

I remember years ago, being in the Jr. Ranger program in Yosemite...Ok, stop laughing! Anyway, they said that in Muir's day you could stand on a ridge and look down through the trees a long way, now due to overgrowth, you can't. The result is, if they get a fire, it "crowns out" and burns everything in sight. This was about 1969. I am sure its not better now, though I don't think they were doing prescribed burns back then, just chain saws.

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Message #913 of 4034  *NEW*
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Larry Levy
Thomas Canty
Re: Washington Tree - Before and After
2/23/05, 2:42am
>I am sure its not
>better now, though I don't think they were doing prescribed
>burns back then, just chain saws.

Yosemite has one of the better fire management programs in the state, I think. They do prescribed burns regularly. Also, when a fire gets started naturally, they contain it, but let it burn itself out. I went to Yosemite three times last year. There were several fires going each time.

San Bernardino National Forest could learn a lesson from this.

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Message #914 of 4034  *NEW*
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Larry Levy
BBlast
Re: Washington Tree - Before and After
2/23/05, 5:36am
graphic
>Thanks for the article, Carol.
>
>I remember years ago, being in the Jr. Ranger program in
>Yosemite...Ok, stop laughing! Anyway, they said that in
>Muir's day you could stand on a ridge and look down through
>the trees a long way, now due to overgrowth, you can't. The
>result is, if they get a fire, it "crowns out" and burns
>everything in sight. This was about 1969. I am sure its not
>better now, though I don't think they were doing prescribed
>burns back then, just chain saws.
>
>

Oh that's cute...Little Larry Levy, our own Junior Ranger boy!

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Eat at BBlast's - - Home of the California Brisket Sandwich!

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Message #915 of 4034  *NEW*
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Thomas Canty
Larry Levy  
Re: Washington Tree - Before and After
2/23/05, 9:49am
graphic
>>I am sure its not
>>better now, though I don't think they were doing prescribed
>>burns back then, just chain saws.
>
>Yosemite has one of the better fire management programs in the
>state, I think. They do prescribed burns regularly. Also, when
>a fire gets started naturally, they contain it, but let it
>burn itself out. I went to Yosemite three times last year.
>There were several fires going each time.
>
>San Bernardino National Forest could learn a lesson from
>this.
>

That's true. I think the NFS is so worried about liability if a burn gets out of control that it clouds their decisions.

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" I lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help.", Psalm 121
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Message #916 of 4034  *NEW*
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BBlast
Larry Levy  
Re: Washington Tree - Before and After
2/23/05, 9:50am
graphic
>Oh that's cute...Little Larry Levy, our own Junior Ranger
>boy!

I told you to stop laughing!!!!!! LOL!

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" I lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help.", Psalm 121
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Message #917 of 4034  *NEW*
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Larry Levy
BBlast
Re: Washington Tree - Before and After
2/24/05, 5:49am
graphic
>>>I am sure its not
>>>better now, though I don't think they were doing prescribed
>>>burns back then, just chain saws.
>>
>>Yosemite has one of the better fire management programs in
>the
>>state, I think. They do prescribed burns regularly. Also,
>when
>>a fire gets started naturally, they contain it, but let it
>>burn itself out. I went to Yosemite three times last year.
>>There were several fires going each time.
>>
>>San Bernardino National Forest could learn a lesson from
>>this.
>>
>
>That's true. I think the NFS is so worried about liability if
>a burn gets out of control that it clouds their decisions.

IMHO, the NFS is more controlled by the administration in office than what would be "good" for the forests and the trees...


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"All human arrogance and ego can be expressed in two words. 'You Should'. "
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Eat at BBlast's - - Home of the California Brisket Sandwich!

www.signatureclaims.net

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Message #918 of 4034  *NEW*
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BBlast
Larry Levy  
Re: Washington Tree - Before and After
2/24/05, 9:33am
graphic
>>That's true. I think the NFS is so worried about liability
>if
>>a burn gets out of control that it clouds their decisions.
>
>IMHO, the NFS is more controlled by the administration in
>office than what would be "good" for the forests and the
>trees...

You're probably right, unfortunately, everything with any administration boils down to politics.

It seems like they never let the people who have degrees in forest management make decisions, and that's not just this administration.

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" I lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help.", Psalm 121
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Message #1761 of 4034  *NEW*
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Carol
Carol  
Re: Washington Tree - Before and After
8/3/05, 1:09pm
graphic
A recent article on the Washington Tree...

A beloved giant bowed
Washington Tree a shell of its former self after standing tall for centuries.
By Tim Sheehan / The Fresno Bee

(Updated Monday, August 1, 2005, 6:05 AM)

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK -- On a summer afternoon, finding a parking spot is a challenge near the General Sherman tree.

Paths near the famous sequoia in the Giant Forest are clogged by visitors from around the world, oohing and ahhing in various accents and languages as they jockey for positions to photograph the world's largest tree.

But about a mile and a half away by trail, all is quiet at the world's second-largest tree.

The Washington Tree, with a circumference of more than 100 feet at the base of its trunk, sits a short distance off the Alta Trail in Sequoia National Park's Giant Forest grove.

But the ancient behemoth that once stood 254 feet tall is a partially shattered remnant of its former self.

In January, park rangers discovered that the tree -- named for George Washington and estimated to be 2,500 to 3,200 years old, and perhaps as old as 4,200 years -- had suffered a partial collapse of its hollow crown because of heavy winter snow and wind, reducing its height to a mere 115 feet and leaving only a few sparse branches of live foliage.

It was the second catastrophic collapse of the tree's upper reaches in as many years.

In the fall of 2003, the Giant fire -- a lightning-sparked blaze that burned in the Giant Forest -- damaged the tree, causing half of the shell around the hollow interior to peel away.

But after the latest collapse, with trails covered with winter snow, rangers had to wait for months to make a thorough assessment of the tree's long-term prospects for survival.

"It lost a substantial amount of its live foliage," said Tony Caprio, a fire ecologist for the park. "On one side, the southwest side, there are maybe six small branches that are still alive."

As one of the most massive trees in the world, the Washington Tree has dominated its perch near a granite knob for millennia, surviving countless winter snows, summer droughts and wildfires. But having suffered so much damage in the past two years, can it continue to endure?

"I think so," Caprio said. "These trees are pretty resilient. ... As you walk around, you can see other trees with crown damage that are still alive."

Rangers say few park visitors venture away from the Sherman Tree and hike the trail out to the Washington Tree.

At the tree's robust base, huge shards of cinnamon-colored wood lie in scattered pieces, littering the forest floor for yards around like shrapnel.

Pieces measuring 25 to 30 feet long and yards thick show the scale of the winter's toll on the giant.

Scars from ancient fires mark the side that was the hollow interior of the tree.

Nearby is a large piece of what was the Washington Tree's signature branch -- a thick limb that used to reach skyward as if waving to visitors.

The hardiness of the giant sequoia, sequoiadendron giganteum, is evident in the survival of lesser specimens that have faced considerable challenges during their lifetimes.

Throughout the Giant Forest are other sequoias with broken tops, caves burned into their bases and other scars.

"There are a number of other trees that have gone through that stage, and the branches left alive assume a more dominant role," Caprio said. "All of a sudden you see these small branches begin turning upward."

Bill Tweed, the park's chief naturalist, said the Washington Tree and other sequoias are designed by nature to be stout survivors.

"If you have a live root and a live branch and they're connected by live bark, it can go on living," Tweed said. "Under those circumstances, it's a pretty reasonable thing to say the tree will probably live for hundreds of years."

After a Bee story in February about the damage to the Washington Tree, news outlets around the world repeated wire service reports that the tree was near death. Park rangers say they received international reaction from people concerned about the ancient giant.

"What we saw is that people see the giant sequoia as an icon for nature and how we relate to the world," Tweed said. "People see them as monuments to longevity and endurance, unchanging. ... They are sacred."

"For some people, seeing a giant sequoia change is like changing the paint job of the Sistine Chapel," he added.

Not only is the tree's health at issue, so is its status as the world's second-largest tree.

At its former height of 254 feet, researchers had estimated the volume of the Washington Tree at nearly 48,000 cubic feet, second only to the nearby General Sherman Tree and ahead of the third-ranked General Grant Tree, a giant sequoia in the Grant Grove of neighboring Kings Canyon National Park.

"The Park Service doesn't keep track of those kinds of statistics," Caprio said. "But among those groups that do, there are two ways of thinking -- one that wants the rankings to be changed and another that says it should be measured by what the tree would be if it was intact."

Prior to the recent damage, one could argue that the Washington Tree should be shuffled down the rankings.

Researchers from Humboldt State University and the University of Washington discovered a pit as they prepared to study the tree's complex crown structure.

Stephen Sillett, an associate professor of biological sciences at Humboldt State, rappelled into the huge pit, which ranged from 6 to 9 feet wide and reached from the tree's shattered top down nearly 115 feet toward the base.

The pit's interior walls were lined with rotten, decaying wood and scorch marks from ancient fires.

In their study, Sillett and the other 1999 researchers noted that because of the pit, the tree's actual wood volume was less than than that of the General Grant Tree.

The debate over size records illustrates the personification that humans are likely to attach to the trees, especially those that have been given names.

"People are great at looking at the sequoias in an emotional context," Tweed said. "We're fascinated by size, rarity and longevity."

And while people may have an emotional reaction to changes in the Washington Tree, he added, change is to be expected in nature.

"The purpose of the park," Tweed said, "is to allow the natural things to go on."

http://www.fresnobee.com/local/sv/story/11009246p-1
1771052c.html

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