Serendipitous data following a severe windstorm in an old-growth pine stand
Reliable dimensional data for old-growth pine-dominated forests in the Gulf Coastal Plain of Arkansas are hard to find, but sometimes unfortunate circumstances provide good opportunities to acquire this information. On July 11, 2013, a severe thunderstorm with high winds struck the Levi Wilcoxon Demonstration Forest (LWDF) near Hamburg, Arkansas. This storm uprooted or snapped dozens of large pines and hardwoods and provided an opportunity to more closely inspect these rare specimens. For instance, the largest tree killed in this event, a loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), was 105 cm in diameter at breast height, 39.3 m tall, and if the tree had been sound would have yielded 3,803 board feet (Doyle log rule) of lumber. Gross board foot volume yield was also estimated from two other recently toppled large pines, an 85-cm-DBH loblolly and an 86-cm-DBH shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata), which tallied 2,430 and 2,312 board feet Doyle, respectively. A number of the other wind thrown pines on the LWDF were sound enough to count their rings for a reasonable (± 2-5 years) estimate of their ages. The stump of the fallen national champion shortleaf pine had 168 rings, and counts from other pines toppled by this storm had from 68 to 198 rings. We also searched for a new champion shortleaf pine using a LiDAR canopy height model of the LWDF to narrow our search. This preliminary assessment produced a number of targets that exceeded 40 m in height; further field checking of the tallest of these trees found that these were loblolly pines up to about 44 m. We eventually found shortleaf pines between 37 and 41 m tall, with diameters of up to 85 cm, indicating that the LWDF could still contain the Arkansas state champion.