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Lisha Kill Preserve
gateway to an ancient forest
Niskayuna, New York

PHOTO DYarrow 12/1/01

Lisha Kill
Forest Preserve

Rosendale Road
Niskayuna, New York

First Survey Team Visit
December 1, 2001

Team Leader: Fred Breglia
Assistant: David Yarrow
Data Sheet: LishaKill-ds01

Saturday morning, December 1, two dozen people gathered in the old Niskayuna Grange Hall parking lot on Rosendale Road. After a week of overcast, and sometimes heavy rain, the morning was clear and bright, with warm temperatures in the 50's and no breezes—a splendid day for the first outing of the Eastern New York Old Growth Survey Team. As we entered the core of the deep woods, a bright beam of sunlight penetrated the hemlocks, causing the thin morning mist to glow, enchanting everyone in a beautiful spell that hung with us most of the day.
Aerial Photo
Lisha Kill Preserve
Niskayuna, New York
click to enlarge

PHOTO www.nysgis.state.ny.us

Lisha Kill forest has a balanced mix of species: mostly hemlock, with lots of white pine in some areas, a few pitch pine, numerous northern red oaks, fewer white oaks, and scattered black oaks, some beech, and a sprinkling of black birch and red maple. The lesser species—yellow birch, ashes, hickories, cherry, chestnut, sassafras—are infrequent or largely absent.

Individual trees in Lisha Kill are very old. Around the parking entrance, and the south end of the Preserve, the forest consists of younger trees, but the core of the Preserve is exemplary old growth. On the crown of the bluff north of the Lisha Kill, Fred Breglia and Bruce Kershner dated one large hemlock at 340 years, while most other hemlocks look to be well over 200 years. Most of the white pines appear to be over 200 years old. Many larger oaks appear to be between 200 and 250 years old, although many are possibly only 50 to 100 years young. Red maples are mostly young, indicating a more recent disturbance.
Topographic Map
Lisha Kill Preserve
Niskayuna, New York

PHOTO www.nysgis.state.ny.us

Robert Leverett and Fred Breglia measured the height of several trees that surpassed 100 feet in height. In places, the forest canopy is uniformly between 95 and 105 feet, with emergent white pines rising to between 110 and 125 feet. The largest hemlock had a dbh of 34 inches and height of 111.5 feet. The abundant red oaks reached up to 114 feet in height, white oaks to 106.3, red maple to 102.9, and black birch to 99.9 feet. Diameters typically ran 24 to 34 inches. A lone sycamore in the creek bottom measured 35.5 inches dbh and 108.8 feet tall.
Directions
to Lisha Kill

from Albany:
  • I-90 west to I-87 (Northway)
  • north to exit 6 (NY 7)
  • west 4.4 miles to Mohawk Road
  • right (north) .7 mile to Rosendale Rd
  • left (west) .8 mile to River Road
  • straight .3 mile to
    Old Niskayuna Grange Hall
    on the left, next to fire station

    from Saratoga:
  • I-87 south to exit 6
  • then west on NY 7 as above
    from Schenectady:
  • Troy-Schenectady Road (NY 7) east to Mohawk Rd
  • turn left (north), then as above
    from the west:
  • I-90 (NYS Thruway) to exit 25
  • I-890 to exit 2 (NY 7 east)
  • NY 7 east to Troy-Schenectady Road, then as above
  • Only one inventory transect station was established—this around the largest hemlock that was core dated by Breglia and Kershner. The hemlock was marked by a bead of florescent orange paint on a south-facing flared root. Three 100-foot transects were fixed by compass bearing, and all significant trees noted and measured.

    Our December survey did not provide much opportunity to assess the forest understory. Ground plants and tree regeneration seemed sparse. There were few understory shrubs, herbs and baby trees, presumably due to the ravages of deer browsing.
    for more information
    on old-growth forests:

    www.championtrees.org/oldgrowth/
    However, Preserve Steward Frank Ham claims there are 17 species of ferns, including Christmas fern, whose small leaflets look like Christmas stockings. Ostrich fern flourish along the stream. However, Frank Ham has seen many changes in vegetation in 30 years as Steward. For instance, he no longer finds any gold thread. The Naure Conservancy guide lists wild strawberry, sarsparilla, selfheal, speedwell, fly honeysuckle, white wood aster, spotted touch-me-not, meadow rue, jack-in-the-pulpit, and skunk cabbage.
    for more information
    Patriarchs:
    Lisha Kill may harbor old growth majesty

    Schenectady Gazette, Nov. 18, 2001

    Counting the forests' senior citizens
    Albany Times Union, Dec. 2, 2001

    There is a good supply of downed trees and woody debris, and a few trees with stilted roots. One fallen black birch was 75 feet long, with 85 years of rings counted in one of its upper limbs. Most of the downed trees showed advanced stages of rotting, indicating lack of disturbance for a few decades.

    The December outing didn't afford a good opportunity to assess wildlife in the Preserve. However, we sighted red-tailed hawks circling above the woods. And Steward Frank Ham described numerous encounters with the pair of great horned owls that have nested in the core woods for many years. Undoubtedly, this large acrage of mature forest with its broad meandering stream affords a habitat for many wild animals and birds. We will return in warm weather to assess this aspect of this fine forest.
    Lisha Kill Preserve
    along an ancient highway amid 100 foot trees
    Niskayuna, New York

    PHOTO DYarrow 12/1/01

    The December outing didn't afford a good opportunity to assess wildlife in the Preserve. However, we sighted red-tailed hawks circling above the woods. And Steward Frank Ham described numerous encounters with the pair of great horned owls that have nested in the core woods for many years. Undoubtedly, this large acrage of mature forest with its broad meandering stream affords a habitat for many wild animals and birds. We will return in warm weather to assess this aspect of tis fine forest.

    For the Earth and forests,
    Fred Breglia, 518-875-6935, landisfb@midtel.net
    David Yarrow, 518-330-2587, dyarrow@nycap.rr.com



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