Thanks for the ideas! I have been discovering more about what pushes it over the edge. I have a direct light that uses XShadow to make the trees cast shadows (only in a certain area). This has a large shadow map size. When I turn this light off, it does not crash. Also this special shadow only light (actually both a POS and NEG light) was including all the tree zones A,B,C,D,E when only A was needed for shadows... don't know if this would have a memory impact.
Also when I turn off certain of the tree zones, it does not crash... this is probably just because the shadow light has more memory room when these tree zones are not visible. I will also simplify the material on the far zones and see if that helps.
Currently, I am not using MAX9_64 for my pipeline but may try it for this animation. I'm sure that would work as that is the main reason for MAX9_64.