Ordway Grove in Norway, a 10-acre forest with old-growth softwoods. This pine is estimated to be 315 years old and stands more than 138 feet tall. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

NORWAY — Some of Maine’s oldest white pines got a check-up last Thursday, as Maine Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Jan Santerre joined Oxford County District Forester Michael Richard and Consulting Forester Merle Ring to take measurements of trees within Ordway Grove in Norway.

Ordway Grove is a 10-acre forest buffered between downtown Norway and the shores of Lake Pennesseewassee. It passed through the hands of several stewards who protected its stand of pine and hemlock for generations until 1931, when it was donated to the Twin Town Nature Club.

The trees were measured as part of the Oxford County Registry of Big Trees program, according to Education & Outreach Coordinator Jean E. Federico.

“The Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District started the Oxford County Register of Big Trees in 2012 and we have been monitoring Ordway Grove since then,” said Federico. “We are constantly looking for the 67 Maine trees native to Oxford County. Anyone can nominate a tree and if it becomes listed as the largest in the county they receive a T-shirt, a great tree identification book and a certificate.”

Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Jan Santerre demonstrates her clinometer, a devise that is used to determine tree height.

Santerre brought a digital clinometer, a handheld device that measures tree height.

“It can be difficult to use a clinometer because of  canopy competition around where a tree is growing or if the ground is uneven. It requires you to be a certain distance from the tree,” said Santerre. “There are also variables, such as with these trees, where they are so tall that they sweep and it’s difficult to measure accurate height.


“These pines and hemlocks are typical of old growth trees. The top of the tree is not over the center base of the tree. So they are actually taller than the vertical distance the clinometer can measure. Drones are starting to be used to get more accurate readings.”

“We analyzed one of these pines for age about 10 years ago,” said Ring. “We bored to the center and counted the layers of the core we extracted and there were 305 rings.”

A Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District forester measures a 315-year-old pine tree in Ordway Grove. The circumference of the tree was 11 feet.

Santerre, Ring and Richard updated the stats of the tree, now estimated at 315 years old. The clinometer measured it to a height of 138 feet, not taking into account its sweeping bow. Its circumference was 11 feet and the diameter measured 40.5 inches across.

The softwoods of Ordway Grove date back to about colonial times. They are protected from harvest and development, but there is no cure for age and weather. Many have succumbed and litter the forest floor.  Eventually the trees will inevitably be lost, making the analysis of the Registry of Big Trees a critical project to continue.

“I did lots of research before embarking upon this task, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” said Federico. “Once you get involved, you’ll never look at a tree the same way again!”


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