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#1037883 - 09/10/20 10:05 PM Interesting Take On Modern Forestry Practices
RtndSpawner Offline

Registered: 12/10/09
Posts: 54
Loc: Mason
This is not an endorsement of any type but listening to an interview today with the Republican Candidate for the Commissioner Of Public Lands, Sue Kuehl Pederson, she brought up an interesting comment on modern forestry practices that made sense. Her comment was that modern forestry practices have left us with forests that are too densely populated with trees, more than twice the traditional carrying capacity of the native forests. Not only does this provide extra fuel for devastating fires but it also has another non-intended side effect that causes issues we don't think about.

That issue is when you have that many trees they will use twice the ground water the forest traditionally used. The news today is fires everywhere up and down the coast (using the the same practices). Our late summers are becoming more like Smoketembers.

I'm no scientist but it's not a far reach to make some sort of correlation that these very forestry practices are using so much ground water that it has serious effects on our river flows, fish survival and even raising our summer temperatures just compounding the problem. Your thoughts.

#1037901 - 09/11/20 08:17 AM Re: Interesting Take On Modern Forestry Practices [Re: RtndSpawner]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3548
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
Interesting thoughts. First forest are not forest in the sense of the natural order outside federal lands. They are tree farms which are in reality long term agriculture. The crops ( trees ) are on average based upon 40 year rotations from planting to harvest. Depending on location and the land owner they are thinned at 10 to 15 years to reduce density. This repeats itself again at the 25 year range but this usually dependent on terrain and species along with market value.

Along the coast while the density of fuel is greater than a old growth forest the ability of a fire to utilize it is rather limited even in dry years. This is not the case the farther inland you get and once you get into the forest like those in the Wenatchee it is an issue.

When I started working in the woods in 1970 for forestry thy still utilized slash burning which in reality was a controlled forest fire. What you learned quickly was humidity was everything as the fire simply would stall once it hit timber. For you hunters think about it this way, your out in the open or in 10 to 20 ft tall trees and then you walk into timber. The difference in humidity is just amazing. With trees not being large enough to create a canopy until at least 20 years old the loss of water in the ground is quite substantial. From 20 to 40 years at harvest the trees do much better at maintaining the water in the soil.

So I am not sure I can go with all you put forth. This I do know from working in the woods for 38 years. When you have 50% of the tree farm average age under 20 years old the loss of water to streams is substantial not from the trees themselves but rather to evaporation due to the loss of the tree canopy.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

#1037903 - 09/11/20 08:54 AM Re: Interesting Take On Modern Forestry Practices [Re: RtndSpawner]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5968
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Actually, over the course of a year, a managed forest produces more surface water than old growth. Maybe lower in summer but more runoff. The true "old growth" forests tended to be open with space between trees and very few branches until way up. So, a fire on the ground would not damage the trees and would not get into the crown.

As Rivrguy alluded to, a tree farm is not a forest; it is a crop. 40-60 year old pecker-poles are rather easy to torch from the ground up into the crown. Fire used to occur regularly on grasslands and forests; we prevent them for economic reasons and build up fuels. We also have situations now where it is hotter, drier, more destructive insects, and it all folds into a real disaster waiting to happen.

Years ago I was having a conversation with a Oly NP bio and he said that the tree-ring record showed that the OP burned about once every thousand years or so. Looking at the climate record since the last glaciation, there have drier and hotter periods than we have now. This is just the beginning..........

#1037923 - 09/11/20 10:22 AM Re: Interesting Take On Modern Forestry Practices [Re: Carcassman]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3548
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
While talking to a forester that I went to school with and later worked with about fires he described that well back in time how fires had leaped froged up the coast of Pacific. While the perception of old growth forest forest is that they were all giant trees in reality they were very diverse in age. A real mix of very old to very young when you consider that they went from 400 years old to very young reprod.

CM is correct that young trees really do not hold water until over 20 years old as they have to grow the root structure that has that capability. So young tree farm timber runs off faster ( higher winter flows events ) and lower summer flows due to the lack of root structure and canopy retaining moisture.

The vast majority of fish and wildlife are dependent on the RMZ areas that border all streams. While expanded by the Forest Practice act they are still rather small compared to the functioning RMZ in old growth forest. Then add in that most creek and valleys that are now farm land and cities and towns were once covered with trees that were cleared. Prior to the arrival of settlers very few open spaces existed anyplace as the west side of the mountains was a solid canopy of trees. Heavens the original explorers damn near starved as the forest had little to eat, in human terms, except fish which the natives utilized. Some native populations used fire or other means to create artificial clearings to attract animal life to hunt them. The simple fact is if humans were gone right now in a blink of and eye it would take nature a thousand years to recreate what existed three hundred years ago.

Add to this is the fact that most of us live near or in estuary areas that have massively reduced productivity due to the human alteration of the natural order. The reality is that urbanization is the greatest threat to fish at the present time. Simply put modern human society is not compatible with the natural order that existed in 1780. How we reconcile that is the issue we struggle with as a people. Be it tree farms, farms, or urbanization ( as people move here to enjoy the natural beauty and destroy it in doing so ) WE are the problem. Thing is it is always easier to blame the other guy or as someone I know is fond of saying " it is easy to be a environmentalist as long as the someone else carries the burden and cost but not me."

Edited by Rivrguy (09/11/20 01:13 PM)
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

#1038001 - 09/12/20 10:36 AM Re: Interesting Take On Modern Forestry Practices [Re: Rivrguy]
Steelheadman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/15/99
Posts: 3872
Loc: Poulsbo, WA,USA
Pederson wants to thin out the forrests. The forrests I know are already thinned out too much allowing for more light and heat. Trees cannot absorb as much rainwater which results in more river blowouts. I've seen alot of private forrests near me cut down and they stack the scrub wood in piles like they are set to burn it but the piles just sit. Thinning just contributes to climate change.
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