suggestions for deciduous substitution?

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Sun Jan 14 15:44:09 EST 2001

In article <93s5tu$c96 at>,
  lewitt at (Martin E. Lewitt) wrote:
> In article <93q39g$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.
I'd expect that with less than 20 inches of rain per year.
  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?
I think you're right. By the way, some of that brush is probably being
supported by truffles, so it might also be supportive of other crops.
Ceanothus and cercocarpus both have hypogeous support fungus, as well as
pine. <G>
  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?
Ponderosa pine forest (as well as most other forest types) have pretty
complex relationships between species of fungi. At present these are not
well known, except that the fungi found with shrubs often support the
animals necessary for distribution of hypogeous spores. Over 60 species
of animals are known to eat truffles when available in Oregon. And there
are areas here where Ponderosa pine is the climax forest tree.
> 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.
The older Ponderosa pine seems to have some fire protection from the
bark, once the tree has gotten to 30-50 years of age. Ponderosa pine bark
grows like leaves of a book. While the outer leaves probably burn, the
inner leaves insulate the cambium, and the fire often burns out before
reaching living tissue.
> >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.
Pretty important for Canadian north as well. This is the first year the
Iniut's remember the tundra burning, or even thunder storms.
  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.
Quite true. But CO2 is an even more potent greenhouse gas, which is
probably the moderator for atmospheric conditions.
  They invariably stop short causing trouble for
> our ski resorts and laying the groundwork for a vigorous spring/early
> summer fire season.
As temperatures warm, the snow fall will decrease anyway. Especially at
lower latitudes. Just like the northern glaciers are retreating, and the
New Jersey-sized ice mass from Antarctica. Greenland's ice mass decrease
is also alarming. All of these plus assorted weather problems are
possibly associated with increased CO2 emissions. And more people means
more CO2 from cooking fires world-wide. I suspect the SUV popularity may
have something to do with increased CO2 as well...
> >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-
> >resistant.
> 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).
I think chips on roadways are an excellent means of decreasing erosion.
They also grow some nice mushrooms as well. But a recent article from
England about Psilocybe cyanescens growing on chips on a racetrack may
mean dramatic increases in Rocky Mountain "highs." <G>
> >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.
I'd be careful with piles of chips. Don't spread them thicker than 4
inches deep. Great depth creates pretty high interior temperatures, which
can cause them to spontaneously ignite: kind of like storing wet hay in a
>  Wood dries out quickly here.
While it certainly _can_ dry quickly, wood chips protect the soil from
direct sunlight, which allows the mycorrhizal fungi greater access to
water from differences in temperature. Mulching is still good for holding
in water, even in desserts.
> >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 think it's actually a combination of things. Condensation is part, but
a waxy coating on the outside of needles combined with a sharp point on
the end of the needles encourages droplets to form and fall. I have been
in a forest with perfectly clear skies which I've gotten more wet than
during a rainstorm. And Oregon is noted for its rain.<G>
  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?

Daniel B. Wheeler

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