Our Shrinking Watershed

Rich McGuiness armich at cox.net
Mon Apr 19 00:47:58 EST 2004

Larry Caldwell <larryc at teleport.com> wrote in message news:<MPG.1ae1f7a31910217498ada5 at news.west.earthlink.net>...
> In article <97682ad.0404092225.444ca03 at posting.google.com>, 
> armich at cox.net (Rich McGuiness) says...
> >  Development and land use practices have decreased the watersheds
> > ability to handle precipitation before it becomes runoff, at which
> > point it is no longer an asset in the watershed. It can only create
> > destruction until it joins a larger body of water. We have made this
> > worse by focusing on draining the land for agriculture, development
> > and in road building. We now have runoff even in very small events
> > were once it took massive rainfall to overwhelm the storage capacity
> > of the soil. Runoff is always a problem on steep ground, almost always
> > creating some kind of disturbance to the ground between its source and
> > its target outlet. Runoff increases as water conditioning land use
> > decreases, and as the soils ability to store water is diminished and
> > destabilized.
> >   Forests should drip and be moist year round. 
> This is a typical attitude among people ignorant of the range of forests 
> in North America.  One of the great environmental tragedies is the 
> encroachment of juniper in arrid regions.  If a juniper canopy 
> approaches 40%, the ecology of the area is completely destroyed, and is 
> unable to recover on its own.  Fortunately, grazing leases holders in 
> the West are addressing the juniper control problem.  Otherwise, it 
> would be completely ignored by the federal government.
> Trees are fierce competitors for available water.  Far from dripping 
> year round, many forests use nearly 100% of the available moisture.  
> Trees kill each other competing for moisture, and the dessicated fuels 
> feed fire storms that bake a water impermeable layer into the soil.
> The best approach to watershed management varies widely, depending on 
> local conditions.
Hi Larry, Thanks for responding. After years of lorking here mainly
because of Dans posts ( I own heavily impacted California Doug fir
land so his posts had lots of info)I wanted to get some respomse to
this idea. The report on glomalin explains so much that has trashed
this landscape(Humboldt County)as well as regionally, and impacted
rivers and fisheries desparatly. Application of glomalin knowledge
gives us manament tools and hopefully a demonstrable carbon storage
mechanism that improves the ecology in many many ways. Higher rates of
CO2 in the atmosphere are propelling growth changes across the globe
whether it is warmer or not. Woody plants are taking advantage and we
can channel this fact into accelerated recovery of eroded lands and
diminishing watersheds, but thats bad for ranchers and reindeer who
are losing grass. Most introduced annual grasses are shallow rooted
with little fungal activity. Perrenial grasses are fungal symbiots,
condition soil to retain moisture and will not sustain sizable herds
for any legnth of time.
 I agree trees are fierce competitors for available water. My point is
that  trees condition the root zone to the depth and extent of the
roots and mycorhizzia, where glomalin production has aggregated the
soil and hyphae extend in three dimensions a little further every year
for the life of the tree or trees supporting that fungi through carbon
exchange. So the age of trees affects an areas ability to absorb
precipitation, locally changing available water resources, which in
turn fuels competition, available ground moisture, runoff and
associated erosion, fuel moisture content, ET rates, and river flow at
the bottom of the watershed and so forth.

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