check my facts

Richard Scott rscott at
Tue Mar 3 00:07:54 EST 1998


Most of what has been written in previous responses is accurate,
although I would question the assertion that it is the fungi that
holds the soil together.

The clearcutting decision is properly based on the environmental
habitat needed for a new forest to become established.  Species that
need open growning conditions need a clearcut; those that can tolerate
shade can be reestablished with a selection cut.

With some species that have a wide ecological amplitude and range, it
gets more complicated.  Whether a tree needs shade or full sunlight is
relative to the site conditions and the species with which it must
compete.  Douglas-fir does best in full sun on the lower slopes on the
west side of the Cascades and in the Coast Range, but does better with
some shade on the east side of the Cascades at low elevations and at
high elevations on both sides.  Shade is usually provided in a
"shelterwood" cut, where 15-25 trees per acre are left for a few years
after the initial cut.

To further complicate matters, the clearcut decision is often based on
other factors, leading to use of clearcuts where shelterwoods or some
other method could have regenerated the forest or protected other
resources more effectively.  These other considerations may include
efficiency or overworked personnel (clearcuts take less work to get
the same volume as other methods) or habits.  And almost all the nasty
things said about clearcuts are true SOMEWHERE, but the only thing
that I have heard said that is true EVERYWHERE is that they are ugly.
And if clearcuts were inherently pretty, hardly a word would be heard
against them, because the SCIENCE says that clearcutting, where
applied properly, is an appropriate method of managing the forest.  

Dick Scott

"Greta Anderson" <squirrel at> wrote:

>I'm writing a chapter on "The Human Impact" focusing on
>industrialization and transportation for an 8th geography
>textbook. In an "Up Close" section, I describe how those two
>factors can interact to make the human impact more intense, using
>the case of the bison slaughter. Before the trains came, the the
>buffalo rug business was sustainable; after the trains, it became
>an industry that completely cleared out the herds. 
>      Then 
>  I make the connection to roads and clear-cutting in forestry.
>Here's what I have. Please check my facts.

>Today, a big issue in the Pacific Northwest is whether we should
>allow roads into old growth forests. Not long ago, the U.S.
>government was building these roads for the logging industry; now
>the industry must build the roads itself. Because building roads
>is costly, the logging companies try to cut down all the trees in
>the area the road leads to. This is known as "clear cutting," and
>it's very similar to what happened to the bison herds. 

>Thank you very much. Please respond to squirrel at
>Greta Anderson

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