I have always known that the loblolly pines at Little Piney are special, but it’s nice to have my idea confirmed by experts. Texas Forest Service Forester, Gretchen Riley, and Certified Arborist, Vince Debrock of Heritage Tree Care came out to measure our largest pine to see if it qualified as a Texas champion.
Here are some photos of Gretchen and Vince and our big loblolly pine. Put your cursor on each one to see the captions. (The orange fencing is in place temporarily to protect the trees from root compaction or accidental damage. See Warning–Gas Pipeline for more of that story.)
Texas Big Tree Registry
Gretchen measured the circumference, height, and spread of our tree to calculate its total score. It happens to be the tenth largest registered Loblolly in the state and second largest in Bastrop County! You can see the results posted soon at the Texas Big Tree Registry. If you have a big tree of your own you can enter it for consideration for the Big Tree Registry by emailing Gretchen through that same website.
Another Special Tree–“Twin Sisters”
When I first saw this tree, I knew I wanted to live at Little Piney. I named this tree for my mother and her twin sister, Loyce. I think of them every time I walk by this tree.
Loblolly Pines and the Lost Pines Region
The Lost Pines is a narrow strip of loblolly pines separated from the vast Piney Woods of East Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma by about 100 miles. The Lost Pines forest is thirteen miles long, and 75,000 acres in total land. Unfortunately, almost half of the forest has been touched by fire. Most of the pines in Bastrop State Park and other forested areas were destroyed.
We are fortunate to still have our old loblolly pines–for now. In the not too distant future, climate change will take them. As drought intensifies pine beetles will invade the trees in their weakened state killing them completely in a short three week cycle. Like many others, I feel deeply sad and somewhat hopeless about the reckless destruction of our Mother Earth including the trees in my back yard.
I feel a little bit encouraged by something Gretchen said as we walked around Little Piney after the tree-measuring looking at all the trees both old and young. I asked Gretchen if she could tell why my oaks were dying. Drought was the answer. She said all the old trees will die because they can’t adapt to the harsh dry climate at this point in their lives. Here’s the encouraging part–she believes the young trees sprouting and growing at Little Piney will be able to adapt. The hopeful message here is to think about the future. Flag those little trees before you mow and protect them from the deer. If they aren’t sprouting on their own, plant some. The youngest trees are our healthy forests of tomorrow.