500-Year-Old Ponderosa Pine Trees Discovered Near Joe’s Valley

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U.S. Forest Service image courtesy of Bill Broadbear.

In the first Manti Happenings monthly newsletter for the 2022 year, it was announced that a recreation crew had discovered 500-year-old ponderosa pine trees in the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

A forest recreation crew had noticed an old trail on one of the ridges that is located above Joe’s Valley that was not found on any of the forest’s maps. While exploring the unmapped area, the crew also noticed that there was a considerable number of large, live ponderosa pine trees.

Some of these trees were more than 50 inches in diameter. The crews returned later in the fall with a pair of 24-inch increment borers and collected a dozen tree cores to be delivered to the office for evaluation.

From there, the cores were mounted, sanded and dated. It was discovered that a few of the largest trees were more than 500 years old. The Forest Service announced that this data can be used by foresters and ecologists in their efforts to learn about past conditions.

It was explained that increment cores may be utilized to date fires, droughts and other natural disturbances. For example, in this set of cores, trees consistently produced fire scars that dated back to about 1770.

With conditions allowing, the crews hope to continue to visit the site and collect data on species composition, morality rates and understory diversity.

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