Objectivist ignorance about the environment

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 15 07:00:23 EST 2004

jmh <j_m_h at cox.net> wrote in message news:<8w8zc.20632$Qv1.8475 at lakeread03>...
> Larry Harrell wrote:
> > 
> > I've also seen some of those middle-aged pine stands that are starting
> > to show some old growth characteristics. However, those weedy hardwood
> But what exactly is that "old growth" characteristic?

There are many stand characteristics that are acheived with age. Many
of these types of characteristics promote forest diversity and will
support endangered species. Many of those important species are
totally dependent on this kind of forest.
> > species still populate the understories. Thankfully, the USFS has
> > generally stopped harvesting big hardwood trees in the bottomland
> > stands. One can only imagine what those major streams and rivers
> > looked like before the cotton farming transported soils into
> > streamcourses.
> What's the big difference between hardwood and softwood as
> they relate to the larger environment and ecology?

The obvious difference is very apparent back east where oaks dominate
and acorns are a plentiful food supply. There is way too much
complexity for me to adequately cover here. I'd suggest some research
into buying a propaganda-free (both sides) book about forest
ecosystems. I can't suggest one but, a good bookstore is probably
loaded with many titles (propaganda-full) on the subject. "Ecosystem
Management" is a relatively recent concept that still has yet to
completely fill out.
> > 
> > Before the "old growth" issue can be settled, it first has to be
> > defined. Mostly, "old growth" is defined by diameter or age. Diameters
> > are more easily quantifiable than age but, that definitely changes by
> > region and species. A 22" dbh pine in the Black Hills is as old as a
> > 60" dbh redwood, sometimes. I'm not for liquidating our old growth
> > but, I'm also not for locking it away. Modern logging technology can
> > "pick and pluck" individual trees with very little impacts on the rest
> > of the forest. I might be going out on a limb <G> but, there's no need
> > to cut any of those ancient "legacy trees" (40"+ dbh) that are
> > essential to a functioning ecosystem. With all the unhealthy forests
> What does dbh mean? What exactly is the role of these
> "legacy trees" that is essential to a functioning ecosystem.

dbh=diameter (at) breast height (4.5 feet)

Legacy trees will eventually turn into massive snags that cavity
nesters can use. Sometimes rare birds like ospreys and eagles will use
one for 10-20 years. When those snags fall over, they still are used
on the forest floor by many different organisms, which we also don't
completely understand.
> This was the basic question I asked initially, which
> resulted in the inclusion of a couple of new NGs--
> which I think you two (dstaples and Larry Harrell) are
> responding from. While I'm not advocate that all
> old growth be cut it's still unclear what the
> ecological necessity for protecting such areas
> is as long as sufficient other areas of younger (but not
> new) growth exists. If it helps, my initial question
> was: Given 100,000 acres in which 10% will be cut and
> the existence of a contiguous area of old growth amounting
> to 10% of the whole forest, does it matter what ten % is
> cut? If so what's the difference in the ecological impact?
> jmh

Usually, the way that old growth is cut is VERY destructive. Those
trees can make a big mess, especially when they're all cut. Given the
fragmented bits and pieces of our remaining old growth and the
endangered species that are dependent specifically on that type of
forest, we cannot do the same kind of wholesale cutting that was done
in the fairly recent past. I'm ok with "picking and plucking"
individual trees as they die, if the stand has excess snags.

Now, I ask you this question: Why should we log old growth when there
are MILLIONS of acres of forest that need thinning and restoration,
resulting in lumber and jobs? In my work assignments to many different
National Forests across the country, this is the reality that I see.

Larry,      forest sculptor

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