11/3/17 Diary: Settling In and Back to Work




I thought I’d have nothing to report up here! Just sitting around working, but life never seems to fail to be busy.


  1. Maple bourbon? Does it taste better than bourbon (which I heartily dislike) ? Forest management burn, yes! Controlled burn,
    well… occasionally quite uncontrolled.

    Few people realise that many North American aboriginal people’s used to manage their environment using controlled yearly burns. Kept underbrush down and improved the nut harvest from native pecan, hazelnut and walnut trees. I read an article on it included in my book on Pacific Northwest flora identification. The majority of plants from trees to mosses had practical value for at least one tribe to many tribes. Their possible use of different plants is incredible and steadily becoming more lost. 🙁

    1. Yes! I found out about the native american land management while reading about how the early settlers would describe their land as a garden like, without the underbrush between trees. With wood punctuated by fields etc. Well, that’s not what we see today in nature preserves because we don’t manage the land, we preserve it as “natural”. And it turns out our preservation efforts aren’t always that conducive to thriving ecosystems. And indeed are causing our developed land to be destroyed without out of control fires.
      It’s dangerous to deliberately burn, but I think it’s more dangerous not to.

      1. Galane

        My dad went to Germany in the early 1960’s, at the ‘invitation’ of JFK. He drove trucks in the Army. He said all their forests over there were completely clear of brush.

    2. @Jude, well, it tastes like slightly sweet bourbon, but then has a maple syrup aftertaste. Like a reward for suffering the gauntlet.

      And yeah, to both of you, it’s crazy how we’ve screwed things up. First we cut it all down, then we said: there shall be no more cuttings. Both short-sighted. It gives me hope that they’re learning, and maybe figuring it out. Because it’s no longer wild, we live up in it and all around it, and so it is now our garden, and we need to learn to tend it or leave. And Leaving isn’t about to happen any time soon.

  2. Conn M

    I received my degree in Forest Sciences in 1979 (before deciding to go into education instead), so I will really enjoy following your adventures at Sagehen. What’s kind of sad, though, is that what you described about managing forests and fire was known forty years ago, along with many other issues that have been neglected simply because they were inconvenient or interfered with commercial harvesting. Clearing underbrush via prescribed burns or mechanical means is effective, but the former risks property and the latter is expensive. Once we take down the large old growth trees and replace them with smaller trees, we’ve created an increased level of fire risk that can never be totally mitigated.

    1. Galane

      Cutting trees killed by fire, drought, insects, or disease is important to forest health. Some standing deadwood needs to be left for habitat for some species of birds and bugs, but not *all* of it. Too much left and it becomes a disease, infestation and fire hazard.

      A big example of goof forest management can be seen in the area destroyed in 1980 by Mt. St. Helens. The private land owned by timer companies was harvested and cleared, then replanted. Starting at around 2000, staged harvestings started. The land is nice forest, providing good animal habitat.

      In contrast, much of the government owned area that’s been left to its own devices still looks nearly as bad as the day after the eruption. The 2009 post-apocalyptic movie “The Road” was filmed around St. Helens and areas of the Gulf Coast trashed by Katrina. 29 and 4 years later, still looked like the disasters had just happened.

      We know what laissez faire ‘management’ does to forests. Yellowstone park was massively damaged in 1988 by that ‘let burn’ policy. I went there in 1989, saw lots of burned trees and only two animals. A dead deer and a dead bird.

      1. Conn M

        I have to disagree with you about this. The Mt. St. Helens recovery is despite what the logging companies did, not because of it. By removing all of the dead and fallen trees, they removed sources of food and shelter for all manner of amimals, and more importantly took out the wood that would have decomposed and added huge volumes of critical organic matter and nutrients the sterile ash. Despite how pretty it looks to human eyes, it is far less healthy than it would have been had the trees been left in place. As for Yellowstone, you need to go see it now. The impact of fire isn’t something you evaluate a year or two afterward, and the area that burned is now exploding with life. That’s a natural process of rejuvenation.

  3. Prescribed burns and thinning in non-oldgrowth forests can be very good at removing fuels, but clear-cuts expose a bunch of slash . . . and then let it dry in the hot western summers. Sometimes “forest management” is just another word for “harvests.”

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