Assessing Old-Growth Forests in New York State Forests and Preserves

Old-Growth Rapid Evaluation (OGRE)

When you think about old-growth forest, you probably imagine huge, towering trees in a place where people have never been. While big, old trees may be the charismatic feature of old-growth, there is much more to it. A forest may have large trees, but they may be of short-lived, early successional species and may be lacking the bryophytes, coarse woody debris, and physiognomy found in old-growth. The State of New York is one of few, if not the only, state to have a legal definition of old-growth forest.

Today, old-growth forests cover less than 1% of forested areas in the East, compared to >75% of pre-settlement forest (Keeton 2006). About 50,000 acres of old-growth have been identified within the Adirondack Forest Preserve and approximately 25,000 acres in the Catskill Forest Preserve. However, using historical logging and acquisition records, Barbara McMartin estimates that there are at least another 200,000 acres of potential, though unconfirmed, old-growth in the Adirondacks (McMartin 1994).

The Old-Growth Rapid Evaluation (OGRE) is designed to provide a relatively quick (1½ hours or less) method to assess potential old-growth forests. The current version of the OGRE is intended for use in forests such as beech-maple mesic forests, maple-basswood rich mesic forests, hemlock-northern hardwood forests, pine-northern hardwood forests, spruce-northern hardwood forest, and related communities. 2018 is the first year of implementing The OGRE. We will refine the data collected and methodologies through use and feedback by DEC and NYNHP staff. Ultimately we plan expand the evaluation of include other forest types and develop a scoring system to quickly determine the most likely old-growth forests of New York Forests, Parks, and Preserves.

OGRE User Manual and Data Sheets (PDF, 1.5 MB)
OGRE Field Form (PDF, 168 KB)
OGRE Cheat Sheet (PDF, 2.9 MB)

If you'd like to report potential old-growth forests anywhere in New York State, you use the New York Old-Growth Reporting Form (Google Form).

Jan. 26, 2021 | Updated Feb. 14, 2021, 11:11 p.m.