The Landmark Trees Project is an effort to find, describe and understand the most magnificent remaining forests of Southeast Alaska. Founded in 1996 by Sam Skaggs of Alaska Research Voyages, Inc, the project has documented 64 one-acre sites across the Tongass under the field direction of naturalist Richard Carstensen.
Landmark Tree sites are scored according to the dimensions of the largest tree and the wood volume of the surrounding acre. They are also assessed for ecological values such as winter deer and summer bear habitat. Originally conceived as an ecotourism venture which might help to bring trees the same standing as glaciers, bears and whales, (the industry's current advertising icons) the project now involves residents throughout the Tongass who seek deeper familiarity with their backyard treasures.
Landmark Tree researchers have found trees measuring 10 and 11 feet in diameter, and up to 250 feet tall Our highest scoring stand contains two spruces much larger than the official state record. It grows on limestone bedrock (karst), but most of our sites occur on stream and river deposits (alluvium).
Landmark Trees started by finding and documenting the cream of the Tongass big forest. Although that will continue, we have quickly reached stage two; now that we know a lot about the Tongass megaforest, can we provide some way for residents and tourists to experience it first hand? The answer is more complex than we anticipated!