Headwaters Forest Video Available

Larry Caldwell larryc at teleport.com
Thu Sep 11 02:30:34 EST 1997

In article <341662EC.72F6 at luckymojo.com>,
catherine yronwode <cat at luckymojo.com> wrote:
> David Underwood wrote:

> > Excuse me, but try telling that to the people in Salem Oregon after
> > their water supply had to be shut down twice last winter because of 
> > silt from clear cutting in the watershaed.  

Yeah.  Well, I happen to live in Oregon, and also happen to know that
the water supply problems in Salem last winter were due to the most
severe flooding in over 30 years.  Once upon a time they thought it
was the flood of the century, now they've decided maybe they happen
more often.

Anyway, the watercourse of the Santiam River (where Salem gets its water)
filled up completely, and the river cut a new channel in several places.
The silt came from the flood, not logging operations.  Salem's watershed
is a protected zone, owned by the city, and no logging has happened there 
in decades.

> Look at the forest to the 
> > west of Mt. Shasta and see what kind of trees grow there after the 
> > topsoil has eroded away because of clearcutting. Go to any clearcut 
> > and look at what used to be streams and spawning grounds, look at the 
> > scrub brush that grows there now and then come back and tell us how 
> > wonderful clearcutting is.

OK.  Just like the Salem thing, you generate what you *think* nature is
like, not what is actually happening.  I've seen plenty of clear cuts.  
They're bare land for the first 15 years or so, then close over pretty
quickly.  The scrub brush you abhor is a necessary habitat for almost
all animal life.  Topsoil can be preserved by just hydroseeding grass
seed over the area and keeping a careful eye on road construction.

It doesn't do any good to try to justify your position with misinformation.
If you want to preserve old growth as a monument, a park, or as habitat
for some sensitive species, feel free.  Opposing clear cuts because they
are evil is stupid.  
> I have to agree with David that in most of the West, clearcutting has
> been a disaster. The steep terrain and the yearly cycle of dry summers
> and wet winters (no steady rain through the year, as there is in the
> Midwest and East) lead to erosion. The soil washes off before new trees
> get a start and then the productivity of the land for forestry is lost. 

This is the conventional propaganda, but has little to do with reality.
Undisturbed soil can accept over nine inches a day of water infiltration.
If you run equipment over the soil and compact it, you reduce that
absorption drastically.  Even one pass with heavy equipment will reduce
infiltration by 80%.  Anywhere you leave a track you leave a surface
water course that potentially causes erosion.

Selective cutting requires equipment to run all over the place, dodging
around trees.  Clear cutting allows using a line to snake the trees to
a landing for loading, instead of driving to each tree.  If you set up
a high line, you can almost completely eliminate compaction of the 
harvested area.  After you pull out, waterbar the roads to move water
onto undisturbed soil, and you have a nice clean operation.

> I have seen photos of fly-overs of land in California that was clearcut
> 15 years ago and still has no young trees on it, just scrub. And this
> was land that was "managed" -- where real efforts were made to replant. 

And I'll bet this was USFS land.  The feds were the last to get with
the reforestation program, and the most sloppy about tending the trees
after they were replanted.

In truth, a south slope in the long dry summers represents a real challenge
for reforestation and afforestation.  You can't just plunk a million seedlings
out there and come back in 20 years.  You have to suppress grass around the
seedling for 3 feet, you have to provide shade in exposed areas, and often
you have to add a soil amendment to hold moisture near the seedling roots.

Looking at a photo doesn't tell you jack squat about the land management.
The managers may be leaving the scrub as shade for the young seedlings.
It may be the area was never replanted, was replanted at the wrong time,
and maybe the managers just screwed up.  Maybe you should think about
protesting the management of public lands.  If there was a forest there
before it was logged, they should be obligated to put a forest back.

Don't forget that there were always bald mountains and bare spots in the

> This thread has given rise to a lot of anger, which is unfortunate --
> but one thing is becoming obvious to me; Folks in the West have seen
> irreparable damage done to watersheds and topsoil by clearcutting. They
> really can;t take much more of it. 

There indeed has been a lot of damage done by careless logging practices.
I've seen logging operations where I'd like to string the operator up
by his thumbs outside a bear den and slather his crotch with honey.  I've
seen others that did a fabulous job of preserving the land under the very
same conditions.  Recently, I saw one of the slobs get fired off a job
and a responsible contractor brought in.

Urban people have been misled about clear cutting.  Perhaps because the
immediate aftermath of a clearcut is so stark, they have come to believe
that it is somehow more injurious than selective logging.  This supposition
is arguable.  Certainly in many cases clear cutting is the cleanest way
to reestablish a healthy forest, in other cases selective logging can be
preferable, and in yet other areas no logging at all is the best solution.

The responsibility and skill of the logging contractor are much more 
important than the harvest technique used.  With the advent of licensed
contractors, forest practices acts and water quality laws it's getting
harder and harder for the shoddy operators to survive.  We're moving in
the right direction.

Very little damage in nature is irreparable.  

> Folks in the Midwest and East who
> have not seen such dameage, because gradiets are less steep and their
> climate offers less extreme conditions of drought and flood, think we
> Westerners are a bunch of whining eco-freaks (or worse, terrorists)
> because we speak out against clearcutting. 

In the middle of a crowd, it can be hard to clarify just exactly what
your reasons and goals really are.  Preserving a native forest is a
noble goal.  Ancient trees speak to something very fundamental in
the human spirit, that has been nearly lost in our freeway society.
I submit that this is your true goal, and that you would be very
disappointed by the results of selective harvest of the same land.
You are not opposed to clear cutting, no matter how much you think
you are.

> To give one more example not previously mentioned of how clearcutting is
> destroying the West: We are losing our native salmon populations now at
> an alarming rate. The Headwaters video that started all of this talk
> contains a good piece by a marine biologist on why clearcutting destroys
> salmon runs. Basically, they have a 4 degree temperature range between
> "too hot to brreed" and "too cold to breed" and clearcutting increases
> water temperature to the point they can't breed. End of story. End of
> species. 

Separate topic, which would require yet another lengthy post.  Sufficient
to say that I have been attending watershed improvement seminars with
the Oregon Coastal Salmon Restoration Initiative (we volunteered to 
fix the problem, thus avoiding listing under the ESA) and the problem
is quite a bit more complex than simple water temperature.  I've been
loaded with hours of lecture and a small mountain of paper on the 
subject.  Every stream habitat improvement needs to be addressed
individually.  There is no magic fix that will solve all problems.
> For those who continually bring up the matter of clearcutting on private
> land being permissible under the laws of the United States, i have this
> to offer: In the West, clearcutting can become a form of industrial
> pollution. The destruction of salmon habitat, the ruination of
> watersheds for town water supplies, the damage done to houses and and
> even entire towns (as with the debris torrent at Stafford) combine to
> make the practice of clearcutting unworkable in much of the West, even
> on private land. Why? Because the streams qnd the land and the homes
> that are despoiled by clearcutting lay on OTHER people's land -- and
> owning land does NOT give anyone the right to destroy adjacent 
> properties. 

This is yet another complex issue not easy to resolve.  Certainly the
lumber industry is not responsible for most of the land destruction 
in the west.  Los Angeles County was the top agricultural producing
county in the United States in 1950.  Now there is virtually no 
agricultural production there.  This is millions of acres of paradise
totally destroyed forever.  If you don't manage your property for my
benefit, why should I be forced to manage my property for yours?  If
you want to convert land to non-historic use by building a city, it
would seem to be your responsiblity to install water filters, or buy
your own watershed.  

The primary cause of deforestation in the west is agriculture, followed
by urban sprawl.  Logging operations cause almost no deforestation.
In your campaign to preserve nature, perhaps you should reevaluate
your focus.

-- Larry

Cave ab homine unius libri.

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