LTI’s Impulse 200 LR Measures Tree Height with Michael Taylor

by scolburn 4. May 2012 08:08
Re-measure of Tall Sugar Pine

Re-measure of the Tall Sugar Pine near Tiller


(A personal accounting by Steve Colburn, Director of Sales, North America for Laser Technology)

I had the opportunity to meet up with Michael Taylor this winter, coordinator of the National Register of Big Trees for California and discoverer of many of the world’s Tallest Trees. He drove up from Northern California to join me across the border in Canyonville, OR. After a quick cup of coffee and an enthusiastic conversation about his latest measurement project - detailed surface modeling of giant redwood trunks - we were headed east towards Tiller. Making the proper left at the Y and entering the Umpqua National Forest, we followed the signs (rare for the site of an official Tall Tree) and arrived at the Tall Sugar Pine.  Species Pinus lambertiana, notable for its wispy top, sweet sap and large cones, the sugar pine grows only here in the mountains of Oregon and California, extending south into the Baja of Mexico.

Michael went straight to work, mounting his Impulse 200 LR on a survey staff with legs and handing me a prism pole to carry. Instinctively, he walked off down the trail we drove in on, searching for a good view of the top of the tree.  When one vantage point didn’t pan out, we reversed direction and settled on a spot a few hundred feet down the road.

Re-measure of Tall Sugar Pine
Tall Trees are measured for their total Vertical Distance from the very terminal leader at the top (often tricky to identify) to the average ground level at the base. Some trees that have a pronounced lean may be longer than other upright trees but lose out as the Tallest.

After measuring a Vertical Distance to the terminal leader and recording it, Michael placed the prism pole on the next bend in the road and measured to it as well. We then carried a Level Loop survey, leap-frogging the prism pole, down the trail back to the tree. When the elevation changes were all totaled up, we arrived at 255’ – confirming other re-measurements of the tree and conflicting with the posted height of 265’. This discrepancy could be due to subsequent damage to the top or to an unverified initial measurement.

Michael points out that the heights of trees are a dynamic thing, always changing and need to be re-measured using accurate equipment and methods. The Impulse 200 LR, with its superior accuracy and durability is a must for serious tree height measurement.

We had a little time to kill before leaving the area so we set out on a quick scouting trip for giant Sugar Pines. Michael says that there must be more big ones hiding in this valley, as he jumps from the truck with his trusty TruPulse 360 in VD mode, quickly checking tall tops in the distance.  His excitement is contagious and I find myself craning my neck and peering through openings in the canopy in search of a tall one…

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