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Pam Wrestles With Loggers

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Blog |

If this brings to mind images of Pam, the mighty mite, with braid flying, pummeling some hickory shirted, red suspendered, shagged panted, tobacco chewing, tin hat wearing brute in a mud pit on a log landing – you might want to think again.    Loggers – human You see, there are two types of loggers in our woods – the familiar human ones (who we enjoy and appreciate) and the mechanical data loggers that we use to take hourly water temperature readings in the forests’ various creeks.  Pam is wise enough not to pick a fight with the two legged loggers, but come January she does roll up her sleeves to get the upper hand on wrestling the past year’s data out of the cigar shaped loggers.  There is much that we learn – and can learn from tracking the rising and falling lines of temperature data – “how are the patterns the same from year to year?”  “How are they changing and what might explain the changes?”, “What can the ‘loggers’ tell us about the impacts of our stewardship choices?”, “Do our springs run the same temperature year to year, or is there variation?”……….. Logger – non human, with the logger wrestler So, the wrestling goes on – and we thought you might like to know. (note – If anyone ever wants to help us with analysis of our many years of data, we’d love some...

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Battle Field Clues – Scarlet Ribbons

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Blog |

Standing on a winter’s day in this cool forest, surrounded by 12″ fir trees, it is all too easy to forget that not long ago this was the scene of a heated battle.  The only clues are the shreds of faded marking tape emerging from the tree bark and fluttering from long dead limbs.          Pausing to add fuel to the saw I am using to limb the fast growing trees up to eight feet, I recall the scene on the hot August day twelve years earlier when we bent low to tie the bright red flagging on what were then a struggling, small seedlings.   400 tress per acre x 12 acres.  Contrary to our normal, zen-like approach to forest work, we were involved in a battle.  And it was a hot, sweaty battle that we weren’t winning or likely to win.  We were trying to persuade this twelve acre former pasture that it wanted to once again become a forests, but the aggressive, invasive scotch broom was overwhelming both us and the vulnerable fir seedlings.  Row by row, Pam and Peter, with the help of two hardworking teenaged helpers worked through the hot afternoon spotting smothered seedlings amongst the engulfing broom, marking their uppermost branch with a foot of plastic scarlet ribbon, and then cutting a six foot circle of broom from around them to liberate them for another year of growth.  We worked against the odds, but today the trees reach to over thirty feet and the vanquished remains of the broom rots away in the shady undergrowth.  Our too helpers have grown much as the trees have.  Daniel Barnes is happily married, has his own crop of seedlings (kids) and teaches school in Wyoming, and Emily Keeler is a thriving adult working with Growing Gardens helping low income Portlanders learn to grow their own food. Good forestry should not be about battles and force, but these faded bits of flagging curling out of the bark of the tree on this January afternoon reminds me that sometimes battle is called for, and that with the right help you can work against the odds to win.  ...

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Taint Normal – Spring in the Spring – In January?!

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Blog |

What’s wrong with this picture?  It was taken on January 14th in our Mt. Richmond Forest.  If you look closely, you will see fresh green shoots of skunk cabbage rising up from under the 38 degree waters of a spring. This winter of 2015 is headed toward being one of the strangest ever – and now underwater skunk cabbage, leafing out less than a month after the solstice, will be added to the...

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A Ghost No More – The Third Rule

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Blog |

In our forests we are mindful of what we consider “ghost species”.  These are species that were part of these ecosystems in the recent past, but no longer are.  We wonder about a number of things with these missing pieces of the puzzle – including how the functions of the forests are different because of their absence.  Until recently, Western White Pine, was one of our ghost species.  Though this beautiful pine was never dense in the Coast Range, it was once widespread throughout the Coast Range.  That all changed in about 1900 when, so we’ve been told, a blister rust accidentally came to North America hitch hiking on nursery stock that was shipped to Vancouver BC from Asia.  Before long, the White Pine of the Coast Range became a ghost species.  Thanks to ongoing research and selective breeding, a rust resistant line of pine is now available.  Since about 2005, we have experimented with reintroducing the pine to our Timber forest.  As shown in this photo, they are thriving – growing well and successfully dodging the deadly munching of elk and deer.  Much more work remains, but, for now, we are pleased to be able to shorten our list of ghosts by one species. One of Aldo Leopold’s most oft quoted suggestions is that the first rule of intelligent tinkering is to hang onto all of the pieces.  We expect that he would not object to our extending the idea by proposing that the second rule of intelligent tinkering is to know as much as possible about what all of the pieces are – and were, and a third rule of working to appropriately restore pieces that have been lost. So, here’s to banishing one ghost and welcoming the pine back into the mix!  Now, what ghost is next?...

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A Hopeful New Year

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Blog |

In the world of forest stewardship, we continuously encounter events in the forest that run the gamut from encouraging and hopeful to discouraging and depressing; that just goes with the territory.  Because one ongoing battle (so much for zen!) is trying to keep our precious baby cedar seedlings from getting munched by the plentiful elk,  it was more than heartening to usher in the new year with the discovery of this pair of thriving cedars – doing just what they are supposed to do, but almost never do. Eight years ago, we logged a 1.5 acre patch that was badly infected with laminated root rot.  The following winter, two things happened: a strong wind storm blew down a number of trees along the edge of the area, and we planted the entire area is rot resistant species – cedar, maple, and alder.  In the photo you see a pair of cedars, planted in the crater of a large root wad, that have been missed by the elk and soared to a wonderful six feet.  What does hope in this new year look like?  It looks like...

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