Exploring West Coast Forest

Falcon's Tower ~ Oregon champion Sitka spruce

Sitka Spruce at the Oregon Coast

Previous Oregon champ
Klootchy Creek Giant

The Cape Meares Spruce
near Tillamook - a pseudo-champion

OCTOPUS SPRUCE
of Cape Meares explained

 

Discovery of Falcon's Tower spruce
80 feet taller than Cape Meares

 

 

Copyright 2011 - 2017 - Certified Arborist documentary by M. D. Vaden


Falcon's Tower is the champion Sitka Spruce of Oregon, using the point system commonly use across the USA. I needed to disqualify an incomplete measurement by Ascending the Giants performed for the Oregon registry, , explained below. My measurement was the only one based on diameter at 4.5 feet above average grade for both spruce. Recently, Chris Atkins and I discovered a Coast Redwood of champion stature, plus two world record hemlocks. Partly due to the spruce measure situation by ATG, we will not nominated to American Forests. We also learned ATG leaked locations of discoveries to news, in the case of some pines. I consider ATG friends, but that doesn't mean we cut slack about certain things.



 

Several unique Sitka Spruce are shown, among the largest in Oregon. We begin with Falcon's Tower which has the most points. Followed by Cape Meares, Klootchy Creek and Octopus Spruce. These are very large and interesting conifers along the northern Oregon coast. I think other record size Sitka spruce remain in the Oregon coast forests. We moved to southern Oregon and my time will be spent in the coast redwoods. I encourage others to enjoy looking for other champion spruce.

 

Falcon's Tower, Oregon's Largest

The photo is Falcon's Tower near Manzanita in one of Oregon's state parks. Falcon's Tower was discovered May 22, 2011 on the heels of our Tallest Pine & Tallest Hemlock discoveries. I nominated Falcon's Tower for the Oregon Registry, August 2011. This Sitka spruce was mis-measured by the Oregon registry cadre Ascending the Giants. Even though ATG wrapped a fat burl on the other Cape Meares spruce inflating it's points, Falcon's Tower still exceeds by a few points.

Oregon and Nations largest Sitka Spruce at one time

My measuring for Falcon's Tower spruce began May, 2011:

750 points

 

Height - 224 ft.

Circumference - 504 in.

1/4 Crown Estimate - 22 ft.

Total - 750

I located Falcon's Tower on Google Earth and the scale showed that the 1/4 crown spread of 22 ft. is acceptable, much different from ATG's casual eye-balling wandering beneath.

The circumference was 504 inches, diameter 13.51 ft. DBH. The 224 ft. towers over the 144 ft. of Cape Meares Spruce.

There is about 10 feet elevation difference between the high and low sides of the trunk, indicated by the yellow arrows.

Comparison of this Spruce to the Cape Meares Sitka was supposed to be based American Forest system. But ATG failed to measure diameter at average dbh.

The diameter should have been measured about 5 ft. lower than where the man in the image is holding the tape. That is a large above-ground root the man is kneeling on. Instead of measuring at 4.5 ft. above average grade, ATG measured more like 9 ft. above average grade.

The red arrow points to ATG's tape level. The yellow arrow beneath the man marks the average dbh level. It would have taken just a few minutes to bridge the root using something as simple as a pair of plumb-lines.

In other words, ATG did not actually measure dbh diameter. Click images for a extra views.

 

Tall Spruce in Oswald West State Park Measuring Sitka Spruce looking south Measuring Sitka Spruce looking east Showing size of Oregon Coast Spruce Falcon's Tower Sitka Spruce Measuring trunk diameter dbh of Sitka Spruce Measuring upper diameter for largest Sitka Spruce comparison Old Sitka Spruce with moss and extra trunk

 

 

Falcon's Tower was measured September 25, 2011, by the Oregon registry volunteers Ascending the Giants. The crown spread they guessed, wandering and eyeballing. When ATG measured Cape Meares spruce, they wrapped the tape around a big burl which inflated points. But at Falcon's Tower diameter was diminished by wrapping too high. ATG also stated that 1/4 crown points "are not as important" as height or circumference, contrary to our belief that every point is important. This leaves the question why they even bothered measuring.

 

Klootchy Creek Spruce

The Klootchy Creek Giant Spruce below in 2004 while it was still alive. 6 miles east of Seaside, Oregon. Look for a sign on the north side of Hy. 26.

 

Photo of the Klootchy Creek Giant and Largest Spruce in Oregon before 2005

 

The Klootchy Creek Spruce broke in a storm, December 2, 2007.

It was 204 feet tall, 16.7 feet diameter dbh, and over 850 points on the National champion list. It was a co-champion to the Washington spruce near Lake Quinault.

 

The wide base of Sitka Spruce that used to be largest in Oregon Cut trunk end of the previous largest Sitka Spruce in Oregon

As of 2017, the Washington spruce still stands. Lake Quinault has two noteworthy Sitka spruce on both sides. And most motels and gift shops up there can probably tell you where to go to see them if you visit.

As for Oregon's spruce, even the remnants are interesting.

The deck was removed but the lower trunk was left standing. The location is barely a minute off Hy. 26 with ample parking. If you want a good idea what the Klootchy spruce was like before if broke, drive up to Quinault, because that Sitka spruce up in Washington is very similar in size and volume.

 

 

Cape Meares Spruce

Huge Sitka Spruce in Oswald West State Park of Oregon

Oregon champion Spruce replacement and pseudo-champ

After the collapse of Klootchy Creek Spruce, another near Tillamook and Cape Meares became the new Oregon champ by default with 743 points (2011).

Only 144 feet tall, but that was a logical substitute at the time.

Cape Meares Spruce is at Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and National Wildlife Refuge. Easy to find.

The trunk was published 15.27 ft. diameter or 576 inches circumference. But the tape was wrapped around a protruding burl, inflating its points.

In the photo to the right, you can see the tape being wrapped around the large burl.

Crown spread was guessed at 93 ft., but the method used was crude. The team wandered on the ground staring up trying to eyeball a guess whether they were directly beneath the branch tips. I tested the wandering method against a laser rangefinder and found a difference of 15 feet in one spot they stood.

This is said by some to be the largest Sitka spruce by volume in Oregon. But Oregon's largest Sitka spruces haven't all been measured.



Octopus Spruce of Cape Meares Explained

Change of pace here for a moment ...

The multiple trunk Octopus Sitka Spruce at Cape Meares

Enlarge the photo to the right, to see the Octopus Spruce which grows in the same area as Cape Meares Spruce.

The sign for it says that the form is a mystery people have debated about. Almost certainly we cannot know for a fact what happened ... but chances are about 90% that it resulted from a simple occurance. When the Spruce was young with a trunk not much bigger than 14" to 20" in diameter, a storm snapped the trunk, or another trunk nearby fell and broke it, just above a whorl of limbs.

The extended length of the curved trunks (up to 16 feet outward) from the center, connote that it was not just 10 feet tall with 1 inch diameter branches. The branches would have to have been about 2 to 4 inches in diameter, and in relatively good health with foliage. And the branches would need to have already been about 10 to 14 feet long when the breakage occured. This also suggests something else ... that this Spruce was not in a thick grove ... probably more in the open, maybe with just a few others around it. Otherwise, in thick groves, the lower limbs die and decay fairly quickly: evident by the grove you will walk through to see this one. Just look at all the understory stubs in the shady grove.