Copyright 2005 to 2009 by Mario Vaden - Images include Stout Grove in header and Hyperion redwood at top right
September 2, 2007
Fire & regeneration
October 10, 2007
Old trees, fungi, seedlings
October 11, 2007
October 12, 2007
October 16, 2007
Hiking & Phytophthora
November 8, 2007
November 26, 2007
"1st Underwater Mushroom"
January 1, 2009
Bohemian Grove Redwoods
January 27, 2009
National Geographic Redwoods
This is sort of my notepad on forests. Random thoughts and interesting information encountered. Not updated much, but has some stuff I don't want to loose track of.
The original inspriation for this page was the realization that forests are not renewable resources, but are replaceable instead.
Forestry is an extensive collection of skill, knowledge and science. And forests are none of those: merely big plants with trunks, and other life, that cannot care about facts, erosion control or fire fighting. Forestry is confined to the minds and actions of people.
The decisions surrounding Pacific Northwest forests should surpass mere consideration of just trees or lumber products. Responsible and sustainable forest management decisions must include:
2. Reproduction of animals and plants
3. Jobs related to forests
4. Human residence
5. Food harvested from forests and streams
6. Recreation and tourism
7. Health and safety issues
8. Natural landmark preservation
9. Prevention and use of fire
Responsible forest management should not exclude and of those. Each forest may not involve each aspect, but each aspect should be accomodated somewhere within Oregon forests.
Decisions about Oregon forests should be on middle ground between environmentalism and income generating logging. They can neutralize each other, and both have ideas and benefits to offer.
Image: Hyperion, world's tallest | Winter 2008
Years ago, my thoughts about forests and logging were affected by the phrase that trees are a renewable resource. As time passed, I spent more time in forests and the value of the phrase deteriorated.
As years passed, additional experience provided more opportunities to work with soil, walk in forests, review my training, compare information and learn more. In time, I reached a new conclusion that our forests are not renewable – not within one lifetime. Individual trees may be a renewable or replaceable resource, but trees do not make a forest. Trees are part of forests.
A forest is soil, insects, microorganisms, wildlife and habitats: a living community of plants and animals requiring a century or centuries to become established.
In the ancient redwood forests of the Pacific coast for example, the upper canopy is like its own garden, with soil on big limbs and shrubs growing far above the ground. That natural garden is part of the forest, an expanded habitat.
I am not a tree hugger nor extremist. I am not against all logging or for saving every tree. My ideas are between. And the way I look at this, at best we may be able to influence the initial stage of forest development, and intermittently interject our own forest management. In the long-run, Earth or nature can eventually produce another unique forest in the place of the old one.
When tree planting crews go to work, they are not performing reforestation, but individual trees. They cannot install a forest to replace the forest that was destroyed if it was clear-cut. Even in 30 years there will not be a forest like the forest before. It may take 100 to 800 years to see a maturing forest environment.
There is a big zone of opinion about forest stability, regarding whether or not people need to work on a forest to keep it stable, due to things like foot traffic or recreational equipment which can increase erosion or destroy vegetation. Another aspect is whether or not people should work on a forest to keep it stable. Sometimes natural conditions can kill a lot of trees or wildlife. People may decide to intervene to slow down those changes in a forest. For those reasons and others, we need to agree on an acceptable conditions of stability for each individual region of forest land.
One feature of an established forest is natural erosion control. Erosion is reduced by the growth of vegetation and the accumulation of old foliage and plant parts as they shed to the ground. This is apparent in many old forests in Oregon and Washington.
Trees collect a lot of rain, mist and snow on foliage. A 200’ tall tree will hold more water on the foliage than a 10’ tree. Within a large forest that means that thousands or hundred thousands of gallons of water may not drop to the ground and flow to streams. The foliage helps prevent rivers from becoming overfilled. The foliage does not stop all the rain from reaching the soil or streams, but can buffer water movement. Foliage can reduce erosion and soil compaction. Rain drops can erode soil and compact soil. Foliage reduces the speed of rain and becomes a shock absorber for the forest soil.
3. When forest trees are allowed to die, fall and remain, the forest gains logs. Larger dead tree matter is called coarse woody debris or CWD, providing resources:
- The decayed logs become nurse | nursery logs where seeds can germinate. The plants grow because the decayed logs absorb and retain rain water and provide some nutrition.
- Decaying logs retain water, erosion is controlled further. One rotted log can hold hundreds if not thousands of gallons of water that will not immediately flow to streams. These logs are like spongy reservoirs: natural cisterns.
- Old forest logs provide habitats for wildlife and organisms like birds, animals, fungi, lichens and moss.
Often, as forests age, moss and lichen accumulation increases significantly on the ground and on tree trunks and branches. This accumulation of moss and lichen increases control of moisture in the same fashion as tree foliage. Moss will hold a lot of water. Again, this regulates the flow of streams: hydraulic regulators. As forests grow, old decaying foliage provides a mulch that can benefit understory plants and further regulate the movement or rainwater.
Coarse woody debris is just one of many aspects mentioned by Robert Van Pelt in the books he has written. One being Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast. Other books by Van Pelt that you might search for, include Identifying Old Trees and Forests in Eastern Washington and Identifying Old and Mature Forests in Western Washington.
Revisiting CWD or Coarse Woody Debris:
Many species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles use coarse woody debris for nesting, foraging and shelter. Woodpeckers excavate nests in dead standing trees. Secondary cavity nesters use cavities after woodpeckers. Many woodpeckers and secondary cavity nesters forage on forest insects, including bark beetles and defoliating insects.
Some species of heartwood decay fungi cause hollow chambers in living trees, which become hollow standing CWD. Standing trunks with hollows are used by Vaux's Swifts for nesting, Pileated Woodpeckers for roosting, black bears for hibernating, American Martens for resting, and many species of small mammals for shelter.
Solid logs provide cover and travel lanes for small mammals. Piles of logs provide habitat in the open spaces formed under snow where martens and small mammals spend much of winter.
There are over 160 vertebrate species that use coarse woody debris in the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington, representing more than 50% of vertebrate species breeding there. For species using standing dead trees, again CWD, birds dominate by number of species. Many mammals and some reptiles and amphibians use hollows and other structural features of dead trees. In the Blue Mountains, 39 bird species and 23 mammal species use standing dead trees for nesting or shelter. In British Columbia, Canada, about 25 percent of vertebrate species use hollow void spaces.
All of this shows that clearcut logging can be nonsense.
Looking at one forest for example, the Olympic National Park of Washington, which needs coarse woody debris as well as root mats of dead fallen trees to perpetuate some shrubs species. Without CWD as a barrier, some shrubs are not able to reproduce. Browsing animals like deer, eat parts of some plants, preventing flowering and seed production. No seeds = no germination.
Another thing to know about orgainic matter, is that too many leaves twigs and branches on the ground, can produce extremely hot forest fires. And for this reason, too much fire supression may have undesireable consequences, where a forest and soil is virtually destroyed instead of naturally modified.
Since the conditions and components of each forest vary one from another, forest preservation and management should vary from region to region in the Pacific Northwest.
Maintaining forests does not need to be done one way. If foresters and wildlife experts combine efforts, Oregon should be able to maintain a wealth of forest land that benefits everyone and wildlife.
Don’t forget the subtle effect of our forests on the culinary profession and export income. Oregon utilizes or exports a valuable harvest of mushrooms each year. Many of these mushrooms come from our forests. There are Matsutake mushrooms, Chanterelles and Morels to name some favorites. Other edible fungi include Russula and Garlic Caps. These mushrooms provide recreation, exercise, income and food for Pacific NW residents.
The Matsutake mushrooms are prevalent in pine forests – elsewhere too. Those are used locally and are an export food also.
Chanterelles tend to grow in older forest environments, not clear-cut areas. Frequently, Chanterelle mushrooms grow under old trees like spruce and hemlock. One reason; Chanterelle mushrooms are mycorrhizal fungi: fruiting bodies of the fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi are beneficial fungi that grow on or embed onto tree roots, the fungi are good for the tree and the tree is good for the fungi. And this is the case with Chanterelle mushrooms. Chanterelle mushrooms cannot be commercially grown and must be naturally harvested. The culinary supply and export of Chanterelle mushrooms is dependent upon forests and the age of forests. On the other hand, Morel mushrooms tend to grow in the open. In fact, after a forest fire, Morel mushrooms often flourish in vast numbers. This is additional food for thought when thinking about wheter to save, thin or remove a forest.
Tourism and tourist spending should also be considered, along with our own Oregonian enjoyment of natural scenery. How many of us really enjoy looking at barren forest land when we go to destinations?. How we manage forest land can affect tourism and revenue.
To be reasonable, we must accept that people enjoy forests, need resources and also occupy a presence in forests. If we attempt to simply preserve our forests, our goals can be quickly met with defeat. To achieve reasonable decisions, we cannot manage just trees. We must manage soil, species populations and recreation. If we effectively manage all these needs, we probably will not need to manage greed. Proper management should isolate greed.
The next time we need to make a decision or vote regarding our forest land, let’s not jump the gun. We can slow down, take our time and think about each aspect.
In May, 2005, we were on a tour of the Oregon Caves. Installed in the caves were water collection gadgets to monitor moisture in the cave. The tour guide said that some experts believed the cave was drying out compared to previous years. A hypothesis was that vegetation and decomposing vegetation on the hill outside above was absorbing or using more water than in the past.
The tour guide mentioned that forest fire has been supressed in the park, and that the resulte would be a heavy cover of vegetation and organic debris reducing water available to the cave. Apparently the people responsible for the park were planning to do a controlled burn of the ground cover vegetation and debris. That sounded sensible. Not neccessarily for preserving the vegetation, but for preserving the national monument of the Oregon Caves. That's a good example of adapting forest management to a special need Who knows, maybe the cave would dry out anyway had it not been found. But at least the people managing the area are thinking about multiple aspects and alternatives.
You can find a few photos of the Oregon Caves in the photos: see menu.
Additional Forest Comment Entries
September 2, 2007..... Read an article in the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune paper yesterday, dated August 30, 2007. The title was "Explosive Lesson" and the article was about forests, forest fires and ecology, related to forest fires of 1987 and how the forest has developed. It pertained mainly to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. One person interviewed, was Dale Perry, an ecologist who was previously a forestry professor at Oregon State University. Highlights of the article were that Madrone (for reasons unknown at this date) helps to fixate nitrogen in the root zone of a Douglas fir. Perry said the fire also gave a boost to knobcone pines, which "depends on fire" to release seeds from cones.
The article mentioned that hardwoods are more resistant to forest fire and can buffer or slow down the progress of fire. Apparently, this was new to them following 1987, and I'm not sure why it wasn't more obvious earlier.
What I find useful about that fact, is how we can use hardwoods to divide conifers in forests. When we provide reforestation, maybe some areas should be reforested with hardwoods as barriers. Another person interviewed was Dominick DellaSala, another forest ecologist from Ashland, Oregon. DellaSala said that many foresters view hardwoods and shrubs as competition for conifers, and may want to eliminate the hardwood / shrub understory. DellaSala said that there is a symbiosis between hardwoods, shrubs and conifers.
Apparently the fires are good for the snow brush, the seeds of which can remain buried for hundreds of years. The heat of the fires helps to initiate germination. The snow brush is also a nitrogen fixer for soil.
October 10, 2007..... This is something I found on a site Current Results, and the info was from the Canadian Journal of Botany 82(11): 1671–1681. The information fits what I've read about mycorrhizal fungi...
"Douglas-fir seedlings ... near old-growth patches benefit by acquiring more ectomycorrhizal fungi. ... they attach to tree roots and enable ... hosts to take up soil nutrients. ... retaining trees within cutblocks contributes to maintaining the site's diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi. ... in Coastal Douglas-fir and Coastal Western Hemlock ... zones on southern Vancouver Island, were all logged using variable retention. Two years after planting, the greatest number and diversity of root fungi were found on seedlings growing 5 m or 15 m away from retained patches of mature trees, compared with seedlings at 25 m or 45 m distance. Fungal inoculation appears to decline with distance away from source trees. ...forest's history is also important. ... Seedlings in cutblocks that previously held old-growth forest had a higher proportion of root tips covered in ectomycorrhizae. ... a greater diversity of fungi occur in seedlings on old-growth cutblocks. Of the 41 distinct looking fungi found on seedling roots, 20 are common to both types of stands, while 14 are unique to harvested old-growth and 7 are unique to harvested second-growth sites"
There is more to keeping some big trees in forests because we like looking at them. The benefit of retaining established trees exceeds our visual pleasure.
October 11, 2007..... Read an interesting page today, by a man named Tom Bender, in Nehalem, Oregon (Architect, feng-shui practitioner, strategic planner, writer, editor). The details of his background indicate that any facts he presents, are likely to be reliable, regardless of how he might elaborate upon them.
Here's a couple of bits that I "walked away" from the page with:
"Forestry, ... has become caught in a gridlock between those who wish to preserve a resource and those who want to maximize the immediate benefits from it. ... a new perspective is now emerging which appears to offer substantial benefits to all parties. New scientific evidence indicates that proper long-rotation forestry, with cut cycles from 180 to 240 years, can provide dramatic increases in timber and financial yields, while restoring the ecological health of the forest system. (Wigg, Mark, 1989, "The Economics of Sustainable Forestry", Society of American Foresters.)" and
"The non-timber product value of forest lands, which far exceeds that of timber production, has been ignored and damaged by past practices ... Forest Service studies in 1989 and 1990 showed tourism, hunting, and recreation producing $122 billion vs logging revenues of $13 billion - TEN TIMES AS GREAT! (New York Times, "The Great Tree Robbery", Sept 17, 1991.) ... "A Forest Service study on the Salmon River in Idaho showed that a $14 million logging operation resulted in a $100 million salmon revenue loss. (Williams, T. Op. Cit.)"
The page also made reference to "German forests have also suffered decreasing productivity from repeated harvesting (Plochman, 1968) which is potentially tied to loss of soil fungal health."
It was nice to see read an article like that, which referenced forests from areas like Germany, Japan, etc..
October 12, 2007..... This morning, I read a page from the Oregon Forest Research Institute about clearcutting. It mentioned that clearcutting was desireable in parts of western Oregon, because Douglas fir tree seedling grow better in full sun. And, avoiding clearcutting in Eastern Oregon was preferred, to provide some protective canopy. The article ended with Landscape diversity, mentioning that a diversity of harvest methods provides a mosaic of forests (context: statewide, Oregon), and that scientists say the worst approach is to manage all forests the same way.
November 8, 2007..... "Old-growth" Poison-oak noticed a couple of weeks ago while hiking through the redwood forest on Hatton trail which connects with Hiouchi trail. On that last hike, I found several poison-oak vines well over 100 feet tall - the tallest near 140 feet. And those had stems of about 2" diameter - much smaller than the poison-oak on Hiouchi trail with a 4" diameter stem. Later in my hike, I found a fallen tree that was cleared from the trail, and it had a 2" diameter stemmed poison-oak which had been cut clear of the trail, showing the growth rings - about 70 years worth of rings. Measurement and counting of the rings leads me to believe that the 4" diameter vine on Hiouchi trail may be upwards of 180 to 250 years old. Much younger than old growth trees, but certainly old-growth for shrubs.
November 26 , 2007..... This week, news of a new mushroom has been circulating. Hydrologist Robert Coffan discovered an underwater gilled mushroom in the knee-deep waters of the upper Rogue River, near Shady Cove, Oregon. The discovery was in summer of 2005 - release of the news was not until recently. This is apparently the first known underwater mushroom.
The gilled mushrooms, are in the main current of the clear, cold river in early July through late September. Coffan apprached mycological expert and adjunct professor Darlene Southworth at Southern Oregon University. Southworth, retired SOU biology professor, was skeptical at first. Although impressed by underwater photographs.
Southworth witnessed the mushrooms found by Coffan, and discovered others during an August visit to a stretch of the north fork of the river a few miles from Woodruff Bridge in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. "There are no known gilled mushrooms living underwater," Southworth said. "And this is not a slime mold or anything like that. These are regular gilled mushrooms.
We believe this is a new species". The mushrooms are about 10 centimeters tall with caps about 2 centimeters wide.
The find was unveiled at the November, 2007 meeting of the Upper Rogue Watershed Association, for whom Coffan had prepared a water assessment last year. Dubbed Psathyrella aquatic, the mushroom is being introduced to the scientific community in a 14-page paper submitted Nov. 9 to the science journal Mycologia. At Oregon State University, Matt Trappe, a doctoral candidate in forest mycology, says Coffan found a unique mushroom. He and his father, Jim Trappe, a retired U.S. Forest Service mycologist were consulted on the find.
"As far as we've determined, this is a first in Oregon as well as a first in the world" Matt Trappe said.
January 1, 2009..... First entry of the 2008 New Year - The Bohemian Grove redwoods.
Not sure why, but I had never heard of the Bohemian Grove until December 2008, nor the Bohemian Club that owns it - both been around for a long, long time.. A rich man's club and a decent size redwood grove with some nice old growth within.
One thing caught my attention last month - a dispute between the club and other organizations over the Bohemian Club's wish to log some redwoods. Recently, the club expressed a desired plan to remove about 1,000,000 board feet per year, from it's forest which is roughly 2,700 acres - about 1/4 the size of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park for comparison.
Some articles relay thiat Philip Rundel, UC Berkeley professor of biology, noting Club logging practices and the fact that redwood trees aren't very flammable, said "This is clearly a logging project, not a project to reduce fire hazard" countering the assertions of the Bohemian Club board in their application for a special logging permit in July 2007.
This is my main thought on this one - I'd have to see the grove for myself to decide who is trying to pull someone's leg and who is shooting from the hip. Redwood trunks may not be very flammable, but the burnt hollows in redwood forest trunks and spent foliage can be rather flammable. Professor Rundel's "noting" seems insufficient.
In a park, visitors may never imagine pruning the trees, but in a privately owned grove, why not? Why not when removal is the alternative? If the concern over bird and wildlife habit is not just blowing hot air.
The image to the right is NOT Bohemian Grove - but an old growth redwood to illustrate what old growth redwoods can look like,
January 27, 2009 .. B.C. Biodiversity
Just found a nifty website called BC Biodiversity. Not all forest, but plenty in it that is forest related. Not much more to say - go check it out. Lots of info and photos.B.C. Biodiversity
And it's my wife's birthday today - Happy Birthday Jan !!
September 26 , 2009 .. Michael Fay Redwood Transect & October 2009 National Geographic ...
The October issue of National Geographic brought a cover story The Tallest Trees: Redwoods. Previous issues in 1964 and 1898 also included the redwood forest of the Pacific coast.
A focal point of the 2009 Nat Geo redwood article is the 1,800 mile trek, or transect, by Dr. Michael Fay, through the redwoods. He was the National Geographic explorer-in-residence.
Mike Fay set out to walk the entire redwood range to study how forestry management is affecting the trees' survival. Both the magazine cover article and film illuminate Fay and his hiking partner's unprecedented 333-day, 1,800-mile trek from Big Sur north to southern Oregon.
Juxtaposed with the challenges of Fay's 11-month trek through clear-cuts, second-growth forest, dense underbrush and soaring cathedral-like old-growth stands, Explorer: Climbing Redwood Giants highlights the work of forest scientist Steve Sillett of Humboldt State University, the first scientist to climb into redwood canopies and pioneer studies of their rich canopy ecosystems.
The article is a fine piece of reading.
Afterward, I found a .kmz redwood transect file online to open in Google Earth, showing the exact path that Michael Fay took through the redwood empire.
This kind of experience is 1,800 miles superior to some opinions based on little if any exposure to the redwoods and the region.Be sure to read this redwood article. You can search for it, or the Michael Fay redwood transect online and find dozens of leads.