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 > Seeking expert opinion: thinning vs prescribed burns

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agesilaus

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Posted: 09/06/19 09:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Supposedly the original forests on the continent were such that settlers could drive their teams and wagons easily in between trees. Of course those trees were behemoths. And I've read that uncut tropical rain forests are somewhat similar.

On the east coast you can see a small patch of original forest at Joyce Kilmer park near the GSMNP. It's south of the NP. It is steep landscape which explains the tree's survival. It has 5 and 6 ft diameter trees tho. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest


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Tom/Barb

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Posted: 09/06/19 09:29am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Naio wrote:

This is what PNW forests are supposed to look like.

Notice all the downed wood that is rotting to create new soil. Leaving most of it to rot, with occasional fire that liberates other nutrients and, as someone said allows different seeds to germinate, is what is required. Note also the large old trees (and their thick layer of ancient lichen) that trap moisture.

Removing wood in any form, whether clearcutting or thinning, destroys the soil. This can be to a greater or lesser extent depending on what equipment is used, but the fact is you are taking a lot of carbon out of the system and where is that going to be replaced from?

We got into the fire suppression game because people thought that if they suppressed all the fires, then they could remove the wood themselves and use it for lumber. That has not worked out. It has led to billions of acres of forests that are fire prone just because they are young.

Young forests are made of kindling. Trees with thin trunks, lots of brush, a forest floor that is missing its foot-deep layer of damp rotting wood, a canopy that is too thin to retain the moisture and shade the ground.

I don't know what the solution is. I suppose we could desalinate a lot of ocean water and hose down the forests every couple weeks to replicate the water retention that old growth parent trees would have provided. That would be insanely expensive and probably have some kind of negative effect on the oceans.


Little known fact: When clear cutting is done a certain amount of slash must be left on the ground to protect from erosion. And the law requires the area be replanted with in 4 years.


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Naio

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Posted: 09/06/19 09:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I do see a lot of major fires in the western pnw, where the old growth forest looks like that. I see the fires in the young stands, which is 95% of the coastal forest now.

That is the point.


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Tom/Barb

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Posted: 09/06/19 06:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Naio wrote:

I do see a lot of major fires in the western pnw, where the old growth forest looks like that. I see the fires in the young stands, which is 95% of the coastal forest now.

That is the point.


There has been one major fire west of the cascade range that burned off a bunch of land near Newhalem 3 years ago, but it was terrible dry. and the fire burned in very steep terrain. I know of no other.

East of the mountains OH Hell yes! every year.

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Posted: 09/06/19 08:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What the heck? If that's the only fire you know about west of the Cascades, then I don't feel that this can be a productive conversation.

dieseltruckdriver

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Posted: 09/06/19 09:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well, living very close to the very first timber sale in national forest history, I have to say that proper management is possible, and it is not as negative as some would have people believe.

An article from a state university.
Anyone who has been to the Black Hills might find it hard to believe that nearly the entire forest has been logged, but but it has, responsibly.

The news releases some organizations put out would try to convince people that logging means clear cutting, but that isn't normally the case.


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ppine

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Posted: 09/07/19 07:30am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Tom/Barb,
I studied forestry at UW. The West Side is definitely different than other drier forest types in eastern WA and other part so of the western US. Large fires on the West Side occur infrequently, but can cover a lot of acreage due to the accumulation of very large amounts of organic matter on the forest floor. In old growth forests, it is usually not possible to travel through them except by walking on fallen dead trees.

Over 90% of the nutrients in a tree are in the foliage. Decaying organic matter adds little in the way of primary and secondary nutrients to the soil profile. Decompostion ties up primary nutrients especially N making it unavailable to the plants through nitrification.

Your idealized view of Douglas fir/western hemlock West Side forest is overstocked with a large amount of organic matter on the forest floor. It is not what a managed stand should look like.

ppine

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Posted: 09/07/19 07:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

time2roll wrote:

Only way to get it right is to just stop managing and accept what nature brings.
JMHO


Take a good look at Yosemite. It has been protected for 150 years. The forests in the Park are in the worst shape of any place in the western US. Mile after mile of standing dead. Fire suppression and the exclusion of logging has created a tangled mess and many recent large scale fires.

Naio

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Posted: 09/07/19 09:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

agesilaus wrote:

Supposedly the original forests on the continent were such that settlers could drive their teams and wagons easily in between trees.


You must be thinking of forests back east. They were heavily managed by native people, including periodic prescribed burns, selecting for nutbearing trees, etc. That open, parklike atmosphere was not natural.

In the PNW coast range, which we were just discussing, settler wagons were limited to traveling one mile per day. It took a group all day to clear 1 mile of forest in a path wide enough for a wagon.

Tom/Barb wrote:

Little known fact: When clear cutting is done a certain amount of slash must be left on the ground to protect from erosion. And the law requires the area be replanted with in 4 years.


Those laws were pushed through by environmentalists relatively recently. Most of the west was clearcut with no requirement for replanting, and slash was burned.

Now that most of the western forests have been clearcut multiple times, it is very difficult to find any soil in which to replant the trees. I worked in reforestation and have much experience with this. There's a lot of bare exposed rock that used to be forest.

dieseltruckdriver wrote:


Anyone who has been to the Black Hills might find it hard to believe that nearly the entire forest has been logged, but but it has, responsibly.

The news releases some organizations put out would try to convince people that logging means clear cutting, but that isn't normally the case.


In the PNW, which we are discussing, clearcutting is the norm. In other regions, it is not.

Tom/Barb

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Posted: 09/07/19 09:44am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Naio wrote:



Tom/Barb wrote:

Little known fact: When clear cutting is done a certain amount of slash must be left on the ground to protect from erosion. And the law requires the area be replanted with in 4 years.


Those laws were pushed through by environmentalists relatively recently. Most of the west was clearcut with no requirement for replanting, and slash was burned.

Now that most of the western forests have been clearcut multiple times, it is very difficult to find any soil in which to replant the trees. I worked in reforestation and have much experience with this. There's a lot of bare exposed rock that used to be forest..

During the 1800's there were no laws on timber cutting, and the forest were clear cut and left to replant by Mother Nature. It wasn't until after WWII that any conservation ideas were implemented.

Your idea that all soil is gone can simply be disproved by observing how well the replanted areas do.

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