Lybaster Trees and Michigan Stuff

JimiFromMI jimifrommi at
Wed Apr 15 22:30:50 EST 1998

I meant to post this here a couple of days back so, here it is:

In article <6gr98a$84e$1 at>, dwheeler at writes:

>I _think_ you mean the clearcuts of the 60's. The dramatic increase in
>clearcutting began with the space race announced by President Kennedy.
>Unfortunately, the space race was paid for largely by clearcuts

If the Northern Lower and Eastern Upper Michigan White Pine harvest before
and at the turn of the century wasn't a clear cut, I don't know what one is.
This timber totally rebuilt Chicago and western MI after their "devestating"
fire and then some!  Other than sporadic White Pines too inconvenient to get
to (some river banks, etc.) there only remains a couple of Virgin stands (on
private lands, heavily guarded by muskets when the cross-cut saws
went-a-buzzin).  Practically the whole state burned from the tinder tops left
remaining.  Survivors included "junk" Jack Pines,a fire-dependent pioneer
species in MI.   It is amazing to see those scrub trees over 70 ft. tall if
located on a good site.  A sizable amount of Jack Pine is maintained in MI
supposedly for the Kirkland Warbler.  I guess if a bird depends on it, clear
cuts (actually fire is NEEDED to open up the cones) aren't so bad in the
public's eyes afterall.

Trivia:  Between the years of 1860 and 1900, Michigan's "green gold" was
worth over $1,000,000,000 more than California's "yellow gold" mined.  This
harvest was over 200 Billion board feet of timber (more than 1 Billion Trees
cut -- BY HAND!!!)

Much of the second growth is of a highly mixed hardwood/softwood mosaic.
Only (for the most part) extreme habitats result in pure stands of various
species (or lack of) that have so far survived the last 100 years.  In spite
of a low profile forestry management program, (meaning the public in general
has no clue -- including me) most of the wooded acreages look quite good!
Even the private open land (remember, that in the 1800's you could get 80
acres per family member, provided that you "cleared the land" for farming
purposes) is welcoming the addition of trees.

Don't get me wrong.  There is some highgrading going on out there, too.
Whenever a new lumber mill or wood burning energy plant pops up, you see your
share of "selected" tree grabbing or unneccessary tree "mowing".  In any
event, as landowners are many and of varied education and goals for their
property (many consider generations not yet born) I think the outlook for
Michigan's woods on private land is pretty solid.  Who knows about those on
Public lands?

Of course the Sequias and Redwoods out west are spectacular, and an
occassional visit to the Virgin White Pine stands mentioned above or pure
Hemlock stands in the western U.P. is cool.  But I do find much pleasure in
walking in the "second growth" woods of 80-90 year mixed hardwoods, the
occassional Northern White Cedar swamp, and the 20 years since clear cut
stand of Quaking Aspen or Paper Birch (with Pine and Spruce in the
understory, waiting their turn) -- especially with the chance of a Pa'tridge
(Ruffed Grouse) dinner later on that night.

Michigan is truely blessed with its great diversity of trees and shrubs (and
wildlife) due to its widely varied habitat - glacier carved, water sources,
etc.  I guess
I'm lucky to be living 100 years after the "raping" of the White Pines and
the great fires.  I feel more comfortable now with the diverse mosaic of tree
species and age groups in the state being able to persist for a few
generations compared to a state-size monoculture of a single species.  Isn't
diversity the spice of life?  Less susseptible to diseses of catastophic
proportion, more wildlife species, etc.

Finally, would we have as many (or any) Morel Mushrooms in the state if it
were still Virgin White Pine forest?

Its nice to have them (for species / pharmeceutical / aestetics...) but I think
that Virgin Stands (of old growth) are overrated.

>Forests are much more than mere timber reserves. They represent water
>water reserves, CO2 remediation, fish habitat, water cooling mechanisms,
>recreation areas, hiking, fishing, hunting, wild areas for spiritual
>places to watch elk bugle and salmon jump. Is suspect that most timber
>managers already know this. It may be less understood by people who's sole
>direct experience with national forests is on a clearcut ski run which has
>been salted to increase the speed that nature flows past. :(
>Regretfully there is darn little economic reason to keep old-growth at this
>time, with the exception of paltry user fees on some hiking trails.
>to letters to the editor in The Oregonian over the last few months, more
>people are madder about user fees than most other facets of forest
>at this time. And I personally agree with Keith Blatner's testimony  (see:
>where he points out a lack of information and lack of revenue return to the
>national forests producing revenue from Special Forest Products (SFPs).
>Several SFPs provide greater income _without harvesting trees_ than the
>associated trees are worth as lumber. Thus these SFPs, such as salal,
>ferns, fungi, Native American uses, berry harvest, beargrass, and medicinals
>(including taxol and St. John's wart) not only provide greater income than
>timber but also less invasive harvesting methods.
>Daniel B. Wheeler

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