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RE: [pct-l] Clearcuts

Since I'm responding to a comment sent to the list, I'll apologize to anyone
not interested in the topic.

>> Half the people who work pumping gas 
in this state are walking around with forestry degrees. <<

Does that make them less of a person? I have a Forestry degree and write
software. Am I somehow inferior because of it. I went into Forestry in the
late 70's after thru-hiking the AT and because of the earth movement. My
reasons were much like my classmates. We wanted to make a difference. Most
left, like myself, because there were not enough jobs, and not because we
didn't or don't love the forest.

>>Clear cutting makes harvesting timber cheap and easy on steep ground. <<

The reasons for clear cutting are as much biological as they are economic.
The primary forest in the Pacific Northwest is Douglas Fir. As a species it
doesn't grow well in heavy cover. Hemlock does and is the key tree found in
climax forest in the Pacific Nortwest. It will grow well within a canopy of
Douglas Fir. Overtime it will become the dominate species. There are several
Old Growth Hemlock forest still on Mt. St. Helens.

The key reason that large stands of Hemlock don't exist is due to the fact
that the ecology of the Northwest is based on fire. Prior to mans arrival,
fires used to burn over sections of the forest. Occasionally these were
large, but for the most part they were relatively small. Overtime the entire
forest would be consumed (over a period of several hundred years). Behind
the fire came stands of Alder that return Nitrogen to the soil that was lost
in the fire. After 70 or so years the Alder stands would die out and be
replaced by Douglas Fir. 

If the Douglas Fir stands were escaped the fire long enough they would be
replaced by Hemlock. Clear cutting in its basic form replaces the phases of
fire/Alder/Douglas Fir to a single step. 

As you mentioned, clear cuts and fire cleared areas provide habitat for
large mammals such as deer and elk. The open spaces allows needed vegetation
to grow that is critical to their diet. These plants don't grow in the
forest. After the great Tillamook fire early in the century. The numbers of
deer and elk increased dramatically due to the increase in forage. The
forest offer protection, the clearings offer food. 

>> Many roads are cut in to haul the timber ( which always slide out ).  At 
least on the east side of the state ( around Colville ) timber is just 
thinned leaving smaller trees to grow and no big eye sores. <<

That's true. More damage to streams and fisheries comes from building roads.
They generate significant silt loads. However, these forest roads consucted
for logging are our primay means of access to the mountains. Without them
most of us would have a long way to hike before we're able to get into some
of these pristine hiking areas. So if you don't like forest roads, next time
you go for a hike in the moutains, start walking from home.

The damage to streams from clear cutting is from the removal of the canopy.
This causes significant heat load on the streams which removes the oxygen.
There is supposed to be a buffer around streams, however it doesn't always
get enforced. Normal logging does not disturb the soil as much as it would
appear to the eye. While the ground is visibly disturbed, if the trees are
removed via a Hi-Lead or in air, there is little compaction to the soil.

> >> Helicopter logging just taking select trees would make more sense. <<
Helicopter logging is expensive and dangerous. It is generally only used on
high value species or in sensitive areas. It adds significantly board foot
cost of the lumber. 

>> The bottom line is greed. <<

As to greed, I won't say there isn't greed involved. That's present no
matter where you go. It's present in our own desires and wishes. Let's also
remember no trees would be cut if there wasn't a demand. So while it's easy
to blame all the problems on loggers and timber companies, it's a cheap
shot. If we didn't buy it, they wouldn't cut it. So we should look first to
our own practices before blaming everything on others.

Ron "Fallingwater" Moak

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