dwheeler at dwheeler at
Tue Dec 2 23:51:23 EST 1997

In article <34830D39.2FC1 at>,
  dstaples at wrote:
> A quote from "Purple Hearts and Ancient Trees", by Jay Gruenfeld
> CLEARCUTTING:  "....Like the ugly part of the birth of a baby,
> clearcutting is a small part of the total life of a forest, just as
> birth is a samll part of a total human life.  Unfortunately,
> clearcutting can be viewed by the public, and can be a shocking sight
> that makes some people so emotional that they fail to consider:  This in
> the long run is the best way to get the species back which will produce
> the most benefits for humankind.... The forest industry continues to
> make too many oversized clearcuts in scenically sensitive areas-- but
> they are improving."
> --

Pretty prose. While I personally don't care for clearcutting, one has to
admit at least to one aspect where it is beneficial. And for this reason
alone, it is important to keep it legal.

The reason is control of Douglas fir root rot (Fomes annotosum). Once
established, this slow-growing parasitic fungus is capable of spreading
from degrading biomass to living conifers. Almost all conifers are
susceptible to it. One estimate suggested that more old-growth trees die
each year because of Fomes annotosum infection than by clear-cutting.

Ironically, the only known  method to control this fungus is by
clearcutting the affected area.

After clearcutting, the site _must_ be replanted into hardwoods, which
appear to be immune from infection. Planting conifers only prolongs the
inevitable, and spreads the infection further. A single 2-foot diameter
log infected with Fomes annotosum may require 100 years to degrade
sufficient to _not_ infect nearby seedlings.

As if this weren't enough, clearcuts provide everything that Fomes
annotosum needs: large quantities of fresh, large-diameter woody debris.
Perhaps that is why the fungus is so abundant in Oregon. The solution may
be to pre-inoculate certain mycorrhizal fungi with seedling trees. At
least one mycologist has suggested that Tuber gibbosum (Oregon White
truffle) acts like a fungal prophylactic against Fomes annotosum. I hope
he's right!

Daniel B. Wheeler

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