Nature "untrammeling" itself

Discussions related to forests, trees and aesthetics that do not fit well into the other forum sub-categories.

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

Post Reply
User avatar
PAwildernessadvocate
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:31 pm

Nature "untrammeling" itself

Post by PAwildernessadvocate » Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:14 pm

I got a kick out of what this tree did:

https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofAlleg ... 3651261843

Before:
OlympicW.jpg
After:
Olympic2.jpg
I hope they don't rebuild the structure. (Technically there's not supposed to be any permanent developments allowed in designated wilderness areas.)
"There is no better way to save biodiversity than by preserving habitat, and no better habitat, species for species, than wilderness." --Edward O. Wilson

User avatar
RayA
Posts: 210
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:21 am

Re: Nature "untrammeling" itself

Post by RayA » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:15 am

"The legend of Mick Dodge" at work ??

User avatar
jamesrobertsmith
Posts: 906
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:32 am

Re: Nature "untrammeling" itself

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:33 am

Nice shelter!

I've noticed that the Dept. of the Interior often makes exceptions on how the wilderness aspect of designated areas is interpreted. I have seen them put in bridges in wilderness areas where there have been drownings, or which are at high risk of drownings. (Weminuche and Linville Gorge). I've also seen them take bridges and structures out of wilderness areas.

But that was a really cool shelter. I'm in favor of the "untrammeled" aspect of our wilderness areas, but it's sad to see some of these buildings fall in.

User avatar
Don
Posts: 1569
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:42 am

Re: Nature "untrammeling" itself

Post by Don » Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:30 pm

James/Ray/PAW-
Having worked for both USFS, and the NPS at Forests and Parks with designated Wilderness Areas, I know that there are 'exceptions to the rule' (...untrammeled...). At the Grand Canyon, for instance, it is being considered for designation of official wilderness, and as such, bound by wilderness rules. That said, there are pre-existing structures (prior to the "being considered for designation") which are allowed to be retained, maintained but not replaced. I can think of a number of things: 1)lookout towers that were taller ponderosas with metal ladders going up the tree, with a minimalist platform at the top for spotting wildfire/smokes; 2)old cabins that have fallen out of use, although I was alllowed to occupy one with a 'vegetation research crew', after we'd thoroughly cleaned it (health and safety issues), after which time, it reverted to no use and unmaintained access; 3)primitive road system which won't be maintained, but will be acceptably used for non-motorized passage.
In the Sierras, back in behind June Lakes Loop, I was assigned the task of replacing a failing log bridge in the wilderness area, with a metal bridge which had been partially damaged at another site (avalanche) and repaired, then helicoptered in. This kind of action doesn't just get to happen on some bosses decision, but only after a process of considering the minimum impact solutions. Here it was thought that the minimal time involved in a helicopters delivery of the bridge was acceptable.
I don't suppose everyone on this forum agrees with the above decision(s), but I can say that they were done with benign intent, having known the players...the least acceptable reasons for my own perceptions are those decisions that end up being based on litigation or threat of it...with apologies to any lawyers in our forum and elsewhere, we live in a far too litigious society~
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

User avatar
Ranger Dan
Posts: 120
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:45 pm

Re: Nature "untrammeling" itself

Post by Ranger Dan » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:31 pm

I concur with what Don has said. I was a Wilderness Ranger and trail crew leader for the USFS in Washington state. We had a couple nasty old shelters like the one pictured, and wished a big tree would fall on them. We couldn't take them down because of their "historic" nature, that is, they were more than 50 years old! Tin cans, glass fragments and other mid-20th century crap from old fire towers the FS had deliberately burned down years ago (and never bothered to clean up the mess) were also "archaeological resources".

Structures existing prior to Wilderness designation can be maintained. Thank goodness, because who wouldn't want the trails, along with bridges, and erosion control structures maintained? The latter are, after all, to help limit the damage caused by human presence. New structures like this are allowed. An argument for trail shelters and privies is that they limit human impact by reducing the impacts of scattered campsites. (To that point I personally tend to disagree.)

Also, chainsaws have been allowed in cases considered "emergencies" in Wilderness along the Appalachian Trail, as an example, following major storm blowdowns. They are allowed during fire suppression, along with other motorized equipment including bulldozers. "Let it burn", unfortunately, is NOT policy in many, if not most, Wildernesses. New trail construction is also allowed, after careful considerations (NEPA work), of course. I've done some.

In the good ol' boy southern National Forests, though, where ignorance and backwardness are sacred traditions, resentment against Wilderness designation by Forest managers has been so high in some places that Wilderness management policy has been essentially total abandonment. Trails maintenance has halted, allowing the formation of multiple user trails circumnavigating around fallen logs, and erosion has gone unchecked.

Joe

Re: Nature "untrammeling" itself

Post by Joe » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:28 pm

Ranger Dan wrote: In the good ol' boy southern National Forests, though, where ignorance and backwardness are sacred traditions
ha, ha....

reminds me of the time (late '90s?) I was showing good old southern boy Bob Leverett a client's forest's near old growth hemlock- when a youngin of the family showed up with a rifle and was very intimidating, though I had been the family's forester for many years- I envisioned a Deliverance moment, when Bob turned on the old southern boy charm- and started raping about moonshine or whatever, and the youngin just melted from the charm....
Joe

User avatar
PAwildernessadvocate
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:31 pm

Re: Nature "untrammeling" itself

Post by PAwildernessadvocate » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:12 pm

The shelter in the pictures evidently was the one at Elk Lake, on the Hoh Rain Forest Trail. I don't support rebuilding this particular structure here since it is a wilderness and there's no real need for it anyway. Scatter the broken timbers in the surrounding forest and let them return to the soil and be done with it. People can just pitch a tent, like I did at Elk Lake back in June of 1997. :)
654244-R1-90-7.jpg
On the other hand, I would support continuing to maintain this suspended bridge over the Hoh River below Elk Lake, on the same trail:
BridgeOverHohRiver.jpg
That would be quite a canyon to try to cross without a bridge!

Another example I can think of is working on a volunteer native vegetation replanting project at high elevation at Upper Lena Lake on the SE side of the Olympic Wilderness. They helicoptered in big pallets of native seedlings that had been propagated near the park H.Q. in Port Angeles. Plus some gear. Would have been quite a chore for volunteers to pack all that in, that was one of the steepest backpacking climbs I think I've ever done!
"There is no better way to save biodiversity than by preserving habitat, and no better habitat, species for species, than wilderness." --Edward O. Wilson

User avatar
Don
Posts: 1569
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:42 am

Re: Nature "untrammeling" itself

Post by Don » Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:49 pm

One of the issues facing those in "wilderness management" is the role of humans in the wilderness. Many consider the Americas of prior indigenous cultures to be a model for modern day wilderness. For many years, our conception of what a wilderness is, should be, came from what we encountered as 'pioneers' as we "settled' America. The open, park-like stands of ponderosa pines that the wagon trains passed through were wide enough to permit multiple teams to pass through, according to historic accounts of the Mogollon Rim of Arizona.

Was this natural, or did prior indigenous cultures have a role in these 'open park-like stands'? The forests of the Grand Canyon provide one window into the past...biogeographic islands such as the Powell Plateau were sufficiently remote and relatively inaccessible during the era of wildfire suppression that began in the early 1900's. Even today, despite the synergistic combination of unusually abundant moisture, warm soils and air temperatures of the 1900's, the fire-adapted ponderosa pine forests there feature open park-like conditions, and "brocolli-like" assemblages of regeneration 'surges' filling in 100 year openings. These openings weren't the work of prior indigenous cultures (although their influence can't be discounted), but primarily that of one of the highest incidences of lightning downstrikes in the nation. Frequent, low-intensity wildfires were the rule for much of the Mogollon Rim (largest continuous ponderosa pine forest). Very much the exception then, were the large catastrophic wildfires that increasingly characterize today's SW forests. This was in a large part due to modern man's right-hearted but wrong-minded implementation of wildfire suppression policies on public lands that began in the early 1900's.

First to see the error of their ways (early notice served by this fellow Starker Leopold, perhaps set on the right track by Aldo Leopold?) National Park Service (first with Yellowstone, and shortly thereafter at the Grand Canyon) in the 1980's began experimenting with reintroduction of low-intensity, increased frequency wildfire regimes. Essentially this was done by creating "burn plans" that operated within rather tight constraints once lightning had brought about an ignition. This was known acronymically as a WFURB (utilzing wildfire for resource benefit), and were in their second "rotation" at the time I retired there in 2007.

It may be too simplistic to think that wilderness should be 'not managed'. PAWs provides some good examples of ways to minimize 'trammeling'. The perception of 'trammeling' came about I think in a time in which few were visiting the wildernesses and fears of excess impact hadn't materialized (unfortunately, it was the Sierra Club that first popularized the wildernesses of the West, with many high density/impact outings, in the name of popularizing "Muir's world") especially with the surge of backpacking beginning in the mid-1900's. I had experienced the Western wildernesses prior to the implementation of the permit policies, and initially resented it. But the more popular hikes were soon characterized by deepening braiding trails, profligate fire pits, and unsanitary conditions around streams and waterbodies. Where I had casually dipped my Sierra cup into alpine streams and tarns, drinking to my fill, I now must carefully filter and decant water to prevent giardiassis. I learned the hard way, the error of our ways.

Some of the wilderness management tasks I was involved with included vegetation management around trail systems...in the Kenai Fjords National Park, hikers in their all encompassing need to set speed records in their ascent/descent to/from the Exit Glacier, they had run roughshod through significant sections of switchbacks...I and volunteers carried biodegradable jute matting rolls and T-bar fence posts to repair vegetation, and control traffic to trails. A quick side note: placement of signs of authoritative articulation were 'frisbee-ed' off into the wilderness...revised, educative content-based signs remained and were observed, for the most part. I also monitored trail counters (some infra-red activated, some ground vibration) to better sense relationship apparent carrying capacity to traffic.

That was in the early 1990s, today the foot of the Exit Glacier has retreated significantly...yep, climate change oriented. Human caused? You tell me...
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

User avatar
jamesrobertsmith
Posts: 906
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:32 am

Re: Nature "untrammeling" itself

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:49 pm

In 2012 I was very, very happy for a metal bridge over a wide, deep, rushing creek in the Weminuche Wilderness in the San Juan Mountains. If not for that bridge I don't know if I'd have been able to cross at all.


Click on image to see its original size

Post Reply

Return to “Unclassified Aesthetics Discussions”