Column, Tree Talk

Bird’s eye view

I never had a tree house as a child and was not exposed to the view from a tree canopy until tree stands entered my life. The look of a forest is completely changed when one is actually in the forest canopy and to go from the land of the root flare and tree trunk to the world of canopy and actual tree crown forces you to change the way one looks at trees and forests. You are in the land of birds and squirrels and the myriad of plant organisms living high up.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to dangle about 170 feet above ground in the crowns of a young western hemlock stand (about 500 years old).

It was a research plot of about 5 acres and every tree was approachable from ground to crown via a construction crane made available for forest crown research. A computer and careful operator could literally put you at any level of any of the 100 plus trees in this study of tree crown dynamics.

A few years later the National Arbor Day Foundation built a tree crown/tree house at their facility in Nebraska City at about the same time that the Monte Verde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica built one of the first canopy walks to get interested folks a different view.

Three years ago the Wild Center in Tupper Lake (established in 2002) built the “Wild Walk” to have visitors visit the canopy of a section of forest on their lands with associated environmental modules to go with it. It has been wildly popular.

In October of this year, during its peak of foliage season, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science opened its“Forest Canopy Walk” at their VINS center in Quechee giving all us local folks a chance to see the world of tree tops.

Unlike a zipline, where the ride is the adventure, a canopy walk focuses on observation and science and an interest in looking at nature from within the tree crown.

So while my quiet efforts from a tree stand over the years have allowed me to see deer, and  black bear, and bob cat, and fox, and roosting crows to name a few ,don’t expect to match that  from a canopy walk (too many people moving at one  time).

What one can certainly see is a forest from an entirely different perspective – a bird’s eye view. And you don’t have to take the tree stand down when you are finished.

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