Old Growth
NY Map
Tuliptree Cathedral
Green Lakes State Park
Fayetteville, New York

PHOTO FBreglia 5/4/02

Green Lakes
State Park

NY Route 5, Fayetteville, New York

Fifth Survey Team Visit
Saturday, July 20, 2002

Team Leader: Rob Henry
Assistant: Tom Howard
Other Participants: Dean Fitzgerald, Milton Bieber, Clifford Blizard
No Data Sheet

The newly formed Central New York survey team explored two new areas of old-growth at Green Lakes (see map):

  • Brookside Trail
  • Hernia Hill Bypass
  • The survey team met at the Golf Course Clubhouse, and walked into the old-growth on the same route as on 5/4: from the Maintenance Building, down the orange trail to the Tuliptree Grove above Round Lake. We were in old-growth as soon as we reached the route leading from the Clubhouse, and walked from there to the magnificent grove dominated by Hemlock and Tuliptrees, which was the setting for the 5/4 workshop. This grove, which is only a small part of a much greater old-growth forest, could be called the "Tuliptree Cathedral" to suggest at least a hint of its extraordinary grandeur.
    Tuliptree Cathedral
    Green Lakes State Park
    Fayetteville, New York

    PHOTO DYarrow 11/17/01

    We walked from there across an open area cleared for power lines, and into the forest on the other (east) side. This forest, which was not entered on 5/4 or any earlier surveys, is also old-growth! We explored this vast, primeval forest, which is centered on the Brookside and Hernia Hill Bypass Trails. The terrain is rugged, with many deep untouched ravines descend through a landscape from which it appears no trees were ever cut.It is the most primeval landscape I have ever seen in central New York. Most of the forest on Brookside and Hernia Hill Bypass Trails is in poorer, rockier soil than in the Tuliptree Cathedral and areas close to Round Lake, yet the trees are huge.
    John Livingston
    Green Lakes State Park

    Rob Henry
    Eastern NY Survey Team

    Tom Howard
    Eastern NY Survey Team

    Like nearly all the other Green Lakes old-growth, it is dominated by ancient Sugar Maple, Beech, Hemlock, and Basswood. Huge Sugar Maples, nearly all of them healthy, at least 250 years old, tower everywhere to heights that easily are well over 100 feet high. Most large Beech trees dead or dying, and many gigantic Beech logs are lying on the forest floor.

    Ancient treefall pit and mound topography is extremely well developed everywhere, and coarse woody debris of all sizes is extemely common. Moisture is plentiful, as ferns are abundant. And in one case, moss ascends over 60 feet up a giant, ancient Sugar Maple.

    We estimate now that the Old-Growth at Green Lakes covers over 800 acres! And we have not seen all of it!
    Old Growth Sugar Maple
    Green Lakes State Park
    Fayetteville, New York

    PHOTO FBreglia 5/4/02

    We are not the first to note an extraordinary area of old-growth at Green Lakes. An authoritative source from the 1970s (Alton A. Lindsey and Linda K. Escobar, Eastern Deciduous Forest, Volume 2, Beech-Maple Region, Publ. No. NPS-148, Washington, DC, U.S. Dept of Interior, National Park Service, Natural History Theme Studies No.3, 1976), on p. 37, refers to 960 acres of old-growth beech, sugar maple, hemlock, and tuliptree at Green Lakes.

    The Green Lakes Old-Growth Forest is one of the largest accessible stands of old-growth Sugar Maple in the entire United States!

    This is one of the most extraordinary old-growth sites in the Northeast, containing some of the largest, tallest, and oldest trees in the entire region. It is also one of the largest areas of old-growth climax Sugar Maple-Beech forest in all the Northeast. Most of this forest has not even experienced a significant natural disturbance in many centuries! And in most sections, it appears that no tree has ever been cut. Such virgin forests covering hundreds of acres like this are exceedingly rare. 800 acres of old-growth have been confirmed, and it seems entirely likely that the 960 acres cited by Lindsey and Escobar in 1976 will also be confirmed. At least one more visit is needed to confirm this additional old-growth; it is extremely likely that about 50% of the entire land area of Green Lakes is old-growth!

    The average age of the old-growth trees seems to be about 250 years; with the oldest trees from 400 to possib1y over 500 years o1d! Oldest trees should be Sugar Maple, Hemlock, Beech, and Yellow Birch.

    Green Lakes is the finest old-growth site in central NY, and one of the best old-growth sites in the entire Northeast

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