Kerry's forest ideas out of step with sound ecosystem management

Larry Caldwell larryc at
Sun Aug 8 18:28:20 EST 2004

In article <5d02cf45.0408071325.1329df5 at>, hcf32 (O18-C-O16) says...
> Maybe the onset of a 'mineral only' flush most often would be slower
> but the amount of accumulated below ground carbon, larger. Could be
> significant since soil carbon is supposed to enhance soil water
> storage, the real limiting factor in fire prone forests.

Carbon in the soil is not a nutrient for trees or mycorrhizal fungi.  
Plants obtain all the carbon they need from the atmosphere.  Subsoil 
life is destroyed by the fire but not consumed, so the decomposition of 
living matter would provide some nutrients for any surviving plant life.

Carbohydrates like cellulose or lignin do nourish saprophytic fungi, 
like armillaria sp., which can be very tasty.  While saprophytes do not 
contribute directly to the health of trees, they are very active in the 
composting process.  It is the composting process that enhances soil 
water storage, turning buried woody material into a sponge.  

A very hot fire can bake soil organics into an impermeable layer that 
keeps the water from soaking in.  The high runoff from fire scorched 
ground is one of the biggest problems in fire remediation.  If you can 
keep the topsoil on the ground, the impermeable layer will break down in 
2-4 years and allow a recovery of the water cycle.


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