Breaking with Tradition
Some remarkable redwood photos and stats were withheld after learning about a few people who triggered damage around some redwoods, so the full extent of new discovery has not been unveiled. See more at Screaming Titans.
To help others understand the bigger picture, a few years ago, it was reported that someone took a saw and cut small trees around one of our new discoveries elsewhere near Oregon. It was a pointless waste, removing a future replacement. Furthermore, we realized the team that verifies Oregon nominations, relayed some locations to news outlets. That isn't a good fit for our discovery. Hopefully this conveys why we changed our style of networking.
People inquired if we found coast redwoods exceeding volume of General Sherman. That question is best left unspecified because the Sierra Nevada is prepared for crowds. But given everything found and realized 2013 to 2017, I'm 100% confident General Sherman is no longer the largest single trunk. One reason for not naming a larger specimen is a lingering question of exactly how many exceed the Sherminator. One? Two? So it's more practical to leave the ebb and flow as-is, keeping foot traffic where signs already exist down south in the Giant Forest. If only one clue is offered ... the mystery giant does not rise above 332.13 ft.
October, 2017, I spent some time in the Giant Forest. It is spectacular, yet everthing in there seemed to look smaller and less vigorous than the greatest coast redwoods. General Sherman in particular, doesn't look very vigorous. It may be in a state of decline.
New discoveries are so enormous that coast redwood (genus Sequoia) is practically this millenium's new Giant Sequoia. Imagine a coast redwood with literally zero trunk taper for at least 50 feet. Imagine Sequoia sempervirens matching General Sherman's girth near 50 feet above the earth, but exceeding that diameter at chest level. Then stack on a generous amount of extra height.
We decided not to nominate Spartan (Grogan's Fault) or other ones to American Forests, breaking with tradition. For decades the trend was that big tree hunters nominate new finds. But we see no need to go down that path anymore.
But Spartan would be an actual champ with about 1359 points. Also, if tens of thousands found out the size of all largest coast redwoods in a huge press release, rangers would be inundated with extra activity and questions. A low-key mention is ample for a few others who appreciate some mystery and like to connect their own dots.
Also, Taylor, Atkins and Hildebrant became so accurate measuring, there's no need for climbers. I saw Taylor measure within one millimeter of a tape drop before.
It's worth noting that anonymous leaks caused countless wild goose chases. Plenty of emails have come from people following dead-ends, but we can't be responsible to iron out wrinkles if others a gullible to contaminated hints.
Redwoods people encounter & emails
People often send emails about redwoods they encounter, wondering "does it have a name?" ... "what does this tag mean?" ... "has it been found before?" In a nutshell, almost nobody except Montague or Moore found something noteworthy that Taylor, Sillett, Atkins or Hidebrandt hadn't seen years ago. For example, one coast redwood mentioned by Redwood-Ed and measured by John in 2016 was already trunk-wrapped by Lowell Cottle and myself in 2008, viewed again with Atkins in 2011, and likely by Taylor & Sillett before 2003. That redwood's new name Redwood-Ed seemed appropriate though, because Redwood Ed (Gilbert) is known to flaunt horsepower in his Porsche. This is similar to the 29.2 ft. diameter champ Captain Jack Sparrow found around 2009 with Thomas, then spotted later in 2015 by John.
Unless somebody finds something in a rare size class never heard of, discoverers or researchers may have little interest. 99% of the time people write about redwoods that were already seen or archived. John keeps track of every 18 ft. dbh coast redwood. But an 18 footer list has no more value than the man feels it's worth because some 14 to 16 footers "smoke" the volume of various 18 footers on the list. Pause and think ... there are hundreds of 18 footers on this list, but Adventure coast redwood, one of the 30 largest, must be omitted because it's less than 18 ft. wide.
After a long talk with Ron Hildebrant, it's evident more coast redwoods were found many years ago than we realize. Ron's exploration exceeds whatever author Preston conveyed in his book. When I heard how long Ron has been exploring and where, I realized some of the new finds may be repeat finds. Richard Preston focused so much on Sillett and Taylor, that Hildebrant and a couple others were pushed-aside in regard to the meat and potatoes of exploration. Yes .. there will be a couple of big remnants somewhere. But I think the chance of a new 30,000 cu. ft. to 40,000 cu. ft. coast redwood is about one percent. And the chance for a 50K (+) is like 1/50th of 1%
Other species may offer a chance to taste new discoveries. Locally, I am on the city tree committee. After our December 2017 meeting, several of us drove to a local brewery restaurant. One of the men shared about Sitka Spruce they just measured. The height exceeds 300 ft. The diameter surpasses 25 ft. by more than just inches. Knowing who they are, I can take that report at face value. It appears that Sitka Spruce may fall just behind coast redwood and just above giant sequoia in terms of American Forests points. I don't know whether this spruce will be nominated. But I believe there are more out there - Picea sitkachensis of redwood proportions. If newcomers to discovery will fine-tune their identification skills, it may open the door to new noteworthy finds.
If you read my book review, you know Preston's writing was a blackout of G. F. Beranek, who just released his 5th hard cover coast redwood book. Beranek spent the greater part of his life in redwood country, and like Ron, visited countless groves. But aside from his technical skills, most redwood
connoisseurs around the world have no clue how much area Beranek explored. When we couple Beranek and Hildebrant with Taylor, Atkins, Van Pelt and Sillett, the acreage covered is exceedingly broad. If Redwood National and State Parks would carry Beranek's books, people would be even more familiar. Fortunately, Humboldt Redwoods State Park is much wiser and carried several of his book in their visitor center
Along this narrative of old discoveries, it's worth interjecting that the huge coast redwood Juggernaut is not a new discovery, but a pre-2012 repeat find. A lot of people seem confused because someone interjected that name to another redwood Spartan (Grogan's Fault).
Finally, Atkins figured out how to use LiDAR to explore for largest redwoods. LiDAR is easier to use for locating tallest redwoods and other species. But there is a way to use the data to hunt for the largest volume coast redwoods. Atkins started showing me how he could use the LiDAR data for big redwood hunting in 2016, about two years after finding the likes of Spartan or Enterprise. The parks are vast, so even the handful of unexplored slivers will take a few years to mop up. Going beyond 2017, I expect a few tidbits of discovery. but expect minimal update changes. The remnant finds are so few and medium now ... it reminds me of people "scraping the bowl" when their stash depletes.
Regardless, Enjoy your adventure and "stay thirsty my friend" !!
Inside scoop about permits
Redwood National and State Parks rangers said they prefer permits for activity like wrapping tapes around trunks or using rangefinders to gather data. I applied for 2 research permits in 2014 and 2015, then wrote a report for each year. Several discoveries were found before or after, and I am not obligated to keep those undisclosed. But I limit the locations to myself and a handful of exploring friends. These days I priimarily take scenic photos which do not require a permit. A good number of other people are searching and data gathering. Dozens of them. Virtually every one decided to stay under the radar and skip the permits altogether.
I can't blame those other people for bypassing permits. It's a long story, but In 2015, someone with first-hand knowledge confirmed a "ranger" told the location of an undisclosed (at the time) research project redwood, and apparently contrary to park policy. This confirmed emails over the years about someone on the parks' payroll breaking policy. The net effect boils down to people boycotting permits to hopefully better-protect their discoveries.
Permits can have good purpose and I won't discourage you from getting one. But I can understand why some people choose those as a last resort.
$1000.00 donation for the Grove of Titans
In 2016, a letter and check was sent to the Department of Parks and Recreation to help contend with environmental impact at the Grove of Titans in Jedediah Smith park. For their purpose I am listed as the sender, but a large part came from someone we can express a big thank you (Mark Graham)
The donation can be for signs, trail or other needs. I added extra cash to the check to compensate for gofundme's fee and the final contribution matches every penny given. Photos showing impact are provided on my Screaming Titans redwood page. More about this on another page called Impact to a Grove
Information about Trees vs. The Crystal Ball
January 2018, John posted online "I predict that wet years after big droughts will yield the most casualties in the future". This speculation stems from just 6 novice recreational years exploring part time. In the context of redwoods, I realized this prediction may "knee-cap" the understanding of other people, assuming the context is stability. Nobody should consider that sort of divination based on merely one storm year following 2 drought-like years. If a handful of 350 footers fell around 2017, the only certain part is that storms cause collapse.
Also, most 350' redwoods were not fully starved of water during the drier years, and a few tallest redwoods grew height at increased rates, already noted in the Hyperion page. But generally, abundant irrigation natural or otherwise trends toward shallow rooting. Whereas reduced irrigation trends toward deeper rooting. A reduction of water can make trees more stable. Scientific study found roots evolved effective strategies to coordinate complex metabolic and structural demands to acclimate when faced with drought conditions. It requires some energy, but in a nutshell, if a redwood could not cope with drought, falling over 2 yrs. later won't be the symptom or evidence.
Actually, a dry growing season can enable earth to remain firm for a longer period because the first autumn and early winter rains will take time to moisten what is a drier soil rather than saturating the already moist soil of wetter years.
Here is a real experience from 25 yrs. ago which may drive this lesson home:
Beaverton, Oregon's weather cycle is very similar to the north redwood coast with a long rainy season followed by a dry summer season, July - September. In the 1990s a woman called about her back yard after a strong winter storm. From roughly 60 pine trees, nearly 25 were blown almost prostrate or leaning; but not uprooted. She asked if I could "pull" them back. But I suggested leaving the lean and pruning to redirect (lesson learned from years at golf courses). The sprinklers raised a red-flag, so I inquired. She said the trees get extra irrigation. I advised removing the zone or shut it off entirely to initiate deeper rooting and smaller needles (extra water and fertilizers can increase foliage size, which means more "sail" in storms). So I pruned the pines to redirect using existing and new growth, but left the trunk angle alone. She removed irrigation. Then several years later when this back yard grove was even taller, another stronger storm came. None of the 60 trunks budged an inch. Basically, we provided these pines with some extra drought in summer and it did wonders for them. I've seen similar with many species ranging from Japanese maples to hemlocks, using some variation for each kind.
The earlier prediction was speculative, and it's death nail (knell) should be obvious: rain. The winter 2016-2017 was the wettest on record in California for 122 years, and 2nd wettest for parts of northern California. Gasquet saw over 113 inches between October 2016 and March 2017, alone! Add lots of wind (which happened) and tall coast redwoods topple. A fair number of redwoods fell after the onslaught of water saturated the soil months into the wet season. Including the redwood that closed Boy Scout Tree trail, or the redwood that triggered a small earthquake in Prairie Creek. The rain was so great, it not only moistened the soil again during late autumn, but saturated it further. And this is the most common recipe for redwoods to fall over (rain and wind).
In 2018, I plan to record some videos about several misconceptions. Including whether evergreens really stand stonger together than alone, or the notion that redwoods have weak branches. But there you go ... a lesson for evergreen care that you can apply to your own property, park or university campus. Some extra-dry growing seasons may become nature's favor to evergreens.
Sightings of Kings Canyon rangers near Redwood National Park
Rangers of every denomination already know about coast redwoods like Del Norte Titan or Iluvatar. But no rangers from Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Park have ever set foot near any new coast redwood discoveries. If any of you happen to cross paths with any of them scouting in the coast redwoods, feedback via email would be appreciated. It's doubtful they will have a uniform. But if you learn through casual conversation, please share. Even a park sticker on a vehicle near the visitor center or parkway may offer a clue. Likewise for news writers if you learn of any. New discoveries are big enough to reconfigure what is understood about big trees or shift tourism, so there must be people in Tulare and Fresno counties who are more than just a little bit curious (inn the same way that Tom Clynes took a small team to try and ferret Hyperion). The coastal parks are obligated to keep the research report under wraps, and any outside rangers snooping around should be hunting from scratch. So we're not exactly worried about them finding anything.