Bioremediation, forests and fungi

truffler1635 at truffler1635 at
Tue Oct 24 12:49:54 EST 2000

In article <39F5B27F.A4F10A6C at>,
  "Mike H." <mhagen at> wrote:
> The woods in question is a community forest, mostly located within the
> 100 year floodplain of a major northwest river. The property is mixed
> hardwood/douglas fir/redcedar with some old homesteads that have gone to
> serious brush. Quite a few side channels run through the area, lending a
> special charm but severely limiting access and usability. This isn't
> seen as a problem. Even before the regs required it this was reserved
> simply for salmon habitat and production of large woody debris. This
> buffer benefits the property holders via flood protection and avoidance
> of the hidden costs of levee maintenance and flood relief. It's also a
> functioning wildlife corridor.
> Another portion of the woods could be devoted to extractive wood
> production, but the 'owners' feel less need to follow the industrial
> model. Among the major long term goals are canoe log production -
> western red cedar, of course. A management mandate is landuse planning
> for "seven generations". No kidding. I've advised them that canoe logs
> may require seven times seven generations but my impression is that if
> that's what it takes, they'll do it.
> Much of the forest could benefit from a careful sanitation - selection
> cut or a good understory burn. With present air quality law its unlikely
> that they'll ever get clearance for a burn but they remember their great
> grandfathers lighting the woods. Back then they had bear grass, more
> berries, camas and it was easy walking under the trees.  The mushroom
> production was a means to use the culled hardwood logs which had no
> commercial value above firewood. It may still be a viable idea when the
> time comes.
The economic method of management for the forest you describe, based on
my own observations of a major NW river drainage forest, may be to plant
_more_ trees to control brush. I'd suggest whips of willow or Black
cottonwood of 20-24 inches, cut from the tips of straight branches during
the winter while trees are still without leaves, and planted by simply
jamming them into the ground wherever another tree is wanted. It is
possible to brush a site by hand using machete and pole pruner (to cut
basal stems of blackberries, pole pruners have a lot going for them),
allowing cottonwood or willow access to light. Both of these tree species
grow rapidly, causing brush death due to lack of sunlight. I'd plant
willow close to water where flooding occurs often, and cottonwood at any
elevation higher than 10 feet above the water line during a flood. Both
trees are favorite foods of beaver, which are probably desirable for
salmon habitat. However, the beaver will take some of the conifers as
well. I've seen them kill Western redcedar, Western hemlock and Douglas
fir if they have insufficient brush/maple/cottonwood/willow to keep their
teeth eroded.

If brush removal by mechanical means can be used, I'd regenerate Red
alder via seeds on exposed mineral soil.

Red alder, willow and Black cottonwood can grow 6 feet per year, which
most brush cannot compete with (except the ubiquitous Evergreen
blackberry). All three grow a number of economically important fungi. And
except for Red alder, all regenerate quickly from root scions.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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