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why so few hardwoods in the PNW?

dwheeler at teleport.com dwheeler at teleport.com
Fri Aug 7 22:32:39 EST 1998

In article <MPG.1034fe454daf3d4698970b at news.teleport.com>,
  larryc at teleport.com (Larry Caldwell) wrote:
> In article <35C97FEB.E092D7F1 at forestmeister.com>,
> redoak at forestmeister.com says...
> > So, your oldgrowth forests are on average about 50 years old? <G>
> No, on the *average* our old growth forests are about 100 years old.
> Some protected groves are older than that.  Of course, since we have
> started vigorous fire suppression in the last 50 years, our forests have
> gotten a lot older.  At least the ones that haven't been logged have.
> Prior to modern fire suppression, the PNW had fire storms of biblical
> proportions on a regular basis.  A half a million acre forest fire was a
> common thing.
> All the doug fir forests are fire regrowth.  Doug fir won't reproduce
> under a shade canopy, so you either have to burn it down or cut it down
> to get a doug fir forest.  The true old growth forests in the PNW are
> spruce and cedar, which are almost all within a narrow belt about 40
> miles wide near the Pacific coast.
Sorry Larry. On Vancouver Island it does regenerate when an old-growth (5'
diameter) tree is removed. Old growth have considerable canopy width, and
removal of even a single tree *can* create conditions suitable for natural

> > Wow, they sure must grow fast with all that rain to get so big in 50
> > years.
> Yes, they do grow fast.  A doug fir forest is about done growing in 100
> years.  By 120 years, fir no longer grows any taller, and the rings get
> pretty narrow too.  While a 20 year old tree is putting on half an inch
> to an inch a year diameter, a 100 year old tree will only grow a
> sixteenth of an inch a year.

I have observed differently at Vic Em's Tie Tree Farm outside of Oregon City,
Clackamas County, Oregon. Here Vic took overstory trees 120-150 feet tall
out, which allowed spindly, understory Douglas fir to suddenly spurt. One
stump I saw had about 12 rings per inch diameter before have canopy cut, to
3-4 rings per inch, or less. Thus it makes little sense to clearcut such
areas when the understory trees (already 30-50' tall) fill in so quickly
afterwards. BTW, Vic manages this tree farm mostly for telephone poles. When
I saw him last, he had just dropped precisely a 120-foot pole, managing to
basal prune several trees ti 40 feet at the same time. Not bad for someone
who then had just celebrated his 78th birthday.

> -- Larry
Daniel B. Wheeler

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