Juneau Nature

Natural & cultural history of Juneau & Southeast Alaska

Juneau Nature - Natural & cultural history of Juneau & Southeast Alaska

Juneau-area Landmark Trees

Landmark Tree stand on Peterson Creek, Douglas Island. At 200 feet, this is one of the tallest known trees in the CBJ.

Landmark Tree stand on Peterson Creek, Douglas Island. At 200 feet, this is one of the tallest known trees in the CBJ.

As you might expect, our highest-scoring Landmark Tree stands are on the central and southern Tongass. But we’ve measured 10 sites within the City and Borough of Juneau. One, on Cowee Creek, ranks 31st of 71 Tongass stands; others rank 52 through 71, in the bottom quarter of the pool. Northeast of the blue line on the map below, most alluvial Landmark Tree forests have tall but relatively young trees. Stands are almost pure spruce, with dominants roughly the same age. Where the Little Ice Age was most pronounced, increased flood frequency and severity apparently removed the all-aged alluvial stands with stronger hemlock/blueberry component that we find more commonly to the south.

71 Landmark Tree sites color-coded for substrate type. Dot sizes are scaled to overall stand score. CBJ’s largest trees are smaller than those of the central and southern Tongass.

71 Landmark Tree sites color-coded for substrate type. Dot sizes are scaled to overall stand score. CBJ’s largest trees are smaller than those of the central and southern Tongass.

The Landmark Trees stand score is an ‘index of majesty’ that may have little to do with ecological value. What most alluvial spruce forests share—regardless of tree size—are berries and salmon who attract bears and myriad other visitors. Forested salmon streams export annual surplus to neighboring terrestrial and marine habitats. We call this streamside forest the heart of the Tongass.