suggestions for deciduous substitution?

Martin E. Lewitt lewitt at
Sun Jan 14 07:26:38 EST 2001

In article <93q39g$opu$1 at>,  <dwheeler at> wrote:
>In article <93pkmf$1h5 at>,
>I appreciate that, Martin. But regardless of whether you have conifers or
>broadleafs nearby, there will always be the danger of fire.

>The thing that undisturbed forests have over *planned* forests are
>multiple canopy levels, and nearly solid overstory. 

The mature old growth forest here in New Mexico are very open Ponderosa
pine stands.  A lot of brush builds up with fire suppression, so
fires must have come through often before "civilazation".  I don't
know why the climax forest is open here, perhaps the density is
water limited?  Perhaps, brush can grow because they are able
to compete well enough for surface water, but the competetion
for deeper wanter can only sustain a certain Ponderosa density?
Of course the openess could also be a fire effect, any denser
stands are eliminated by the ease with which crown fires can
spread and perhaps once denser stands are eliminated they
don't recurr easily because young Ponderosa's don't are also
vulnerable to fire.

>This shelters the
>soil from direct sunlight, increases fungal productivity, and increases
>the health of the forest while retaining more of the water that falls
>each year. Old growth forests are projected to store at least 2-5 years
>of annual rainfall within their wood biomass. During both hot and drought
>years, this stored water cools the air, decreases fire danger, and
>moderates drought.

This sounds great for the tropical rain forests, but I'm not sure I
want this in the Canadian north.  Water vapor is also a green house gas
and conifers in the winter besides their albedo effect, might transpire
more water.  I need big strong Canadian fronts (cold air masses) with
enough uuumph to push through to New Mexico and relieve our la Nina
year winter droughts.  They invariably stop short causing trouble for
our ski resorts and laying the groundwork for a vigorous spring/early
summer fire season.

>The one thing private landowners can do which is beneficial to their
>safety as well as the forest's is to prune small-diameter dead woody
>debris from living trees, and chip them into sawdust or chips. Small
>diameter debris is the majority of what fires feed on, and at the same
>time the most beneficial material for long-term soil health. By chipping
>the material, you put a greater surface area open to fungal degradation
>close to the soil, where it is recycled quickly, and the nutrients stored
>therein go back to the living trees, making them even more fire-

I like the idea of keeping the chips on the land!  All the neighbors
haul them away to the landfill, I've wanted to intercept them (though
I was thinking of my driveway, not the soil in general).

>Unless you are unlucky to have a *devastation* forest fire, such common-
>sense pruning goes a long way toward fire-proofing your property. But
>anyone who lives near trees of any size has a fire danger, whether they
>know it or not.

Yes, we have to take the place of normal fire in order to avert
devestation.  I wonder if this climate is too dry for evenly
spread chips to work as you describe, they might just bleach in
the sun and blow away.  I might need to compost them in larger
piles to slow humidity loss.  Wood dries out quickly here.

>In addition, a study done at Bull Run Watershed, which supplies most of
>the drinking water for the Portland metropolitan area, found that conifer
>needles, especially pine, spruce, hemlock and fir, "comb" moisture from
>clouds, and can substantially increase the available water in a forest
>even when rainfall or other percipitation is unavailable. BTW, this *
>technology* is being used in the driest parts of Chile and Argentina to
>create enough water to support an ever-growing population and the crops
>needed to support them.

Do you know the mechanism behind "comb"?  Is this condensation?  I recall
quite a bit of dew from my days living in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle
area), it is interesting if needles facilitate this.  Perhaps they make it
drip and get it into the ground, "capturing" more before re-evaporation?

                                    -- Martin

Personal, not work info:         Martin E. Lewitt             My opinions are
Domain: lewitt at          P.O. Box 729                 my own, not my
Hm phone:  (505) 281-3248        Sandia Park, NM 87047-0729   employer's. 

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