Forest interactions

Discussion of general forest ecology concepts and of forest management practices.

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Joe

Re: Forest interactions

Post by Joe » Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:42 am

I mentioned above that you might get beech thickets from light thinning because beech is shade tolerant. Also, those thickets seem to me to be more common in high graded stands because the loggers left most of the beech- the ideal situation to get beech thickets. I've seen properties that have been nicely "managed" for several decades. You won't find beech thickets there because the beech was all cut- except for the few good ones with no sign of beech bark disease. Good silviculture results in nice forests. High grading results in hideous forests- ugly and of low economic value. This is why the problem isn't logging- the problem is bad logging with no effort to apply silvicultural science. Because of this you'd think the enviro groups would back up the few of us foresters in Mass. trying to reform the system- but they don't- instead, they've fallen for the current party line that clear-cutting is awesome for wildlife! Yes, even Mass. Audubon! All to encourage the now less common wildlife species that were common when the farms were first abandoned- but which were hardly present here before the white man showed up.
Joe

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dbhguru
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Re: Forest interactions

Post by dbhguru » Sun Feb 07, 2016 11:40 am

Joe,

Regrettably, you are right in your portrayal of the real reasons for our messed up forests. Environmental groups have not been supportive of the best silvicultural practices. But in fairness to them, those from within the timber community speaking for the kind of better forest management you advocate are literally drowned out by the majority that often include big timber companies practicing industrial forestry, professional forestry organizations, and even forestry academics. While I don't think the professional organizations and the academics support high grading, they are not clear about what actually constitutes the practices of high grading. For example, I don't hear them referring to diameter limit cuts as a form of high grading.

We're all good Ents here and interested in understanding the nature and scope of the problems with our forests. Would you give us a little education on the forms that high grading take from the worst examples to more subtle examples, including what the various forms lead to. I'm not asking you to teach us silviculture, but when people look at the aftermath of a timber operation what are some of the visual cues to a job well done?

I recall back during the debates that led to restructuring of Mass public forests into parks, reserves, and actively managed forests, you and a certain X-Quabbin forester with a pretty fair reputation differed greatly on the interpretation of a timber operation in October Mountain State Forest - or maybe it was Windsor. Regardless, I know you will remember the situation to which I refer. What do you think he saw as the eventual outcome of that clear-cut versus what you saw. I know this skirts around some pretty contentious discussions, but I think if we proceed carefully, many in NTS could benefit by a little education as to what drives different management philosophies.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

Joe

Re: Forest interactions

Post by Joe » Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:04 pm

Bob, I'd say the only "enviro" in Mass. that has supported improved forestry is yourself. I know I've cc'd you thousands of times- you didn't add to the conversation often, but when you did- it was significant.

The professional "orgs" and academics certainly don't like high grading- but if it doesn't hurt them- it means little to them. Way too many "forestry people" don't earn their bread and butter by practicing forestry. They aren't going to risk and political and career capital speaking up against this vice- since few would care to join us out here in the real world, without those nice, steady checks from the taxpayers, and while looking forward to decades of retirement with that fabulous pension.

As for diameter limit cuts- I recall the SAF event at U. Mass. in 2005- where a well known academic gave an obscure discussion about diameter limit cutting- implying that it was less than ideal, but failing to point out just how bad it is. Then when Mike Leonard tried to get that speaker to be more forthcoming about high grading- a certain state forestry "leader" told the speaker to not answer the question- at which point the room broke out in applause! Is that crazy or what?

Full scale out and out butchering of forests is now rare- there is a new kind of high grading, what I call polite high grading- whereby they do leave some decent trees, but not many- and they do cut some low value trees but not many. It's a new and improved form of high grading which now makes up maybe half of all logging in Mass. I'd say the other half is an effort by foresters to do decent work- but if they are industrial foresters, they are going to cut heavier- after all, they work for their boss, not the forest owner. They'll seldom leave any good trees over 14" DBH, though they may now try to harvest some firewood. They get to call this long term forestry on the cut plan- though it really isn't, unless done very carefully so that most of the poor quality trees are removed- leaving a stand of low stocking but at least of some decent trees- I'd give this method a minimally passing grade.

The problem is that picking trees to harvest- is a moral dilemma and a severe one because nobody is watching. A harvest can end up looking half way decent if there isn't much slash, with no damage to wetlands, and little damage to remaining trees - but still be poor quality- since forest owners can't tell a good tree from a not so good one. The state service foresters are mostly concerned with protecting wetlands and rare species- not silviculture. So, if I see a really nice, valuable tree that can continue to produce value at a high rate for another few decades- I'll have an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. The angel says, "leave it Joe- it's a beautiful tree and will produce value for the owner who isn't desperate for the money"- while the devil says, "mark it Joe, nobody will care and you need the money since you aren't going to get a huge pension like those state guys!". Thus the moral dilemma. It's easy to do the wrong thing with nobody knowing or caring.

As for October Mt. State Forest- they slaughtered it. I and my friends hiked that forest in high school. Along the roads were wonderful old sugar maples. Many nice plantations were along the roads too- most in decent condition considered they had never been managed. But they went and clearcut all along the roads as far as you can see as if it were industrial land way up north. That Mr. X defended such work- both in that park and in all the other state forests. It's true that these clearcuts will recover and may develop very nicely in 50-100 years- perhaps some should have been clearcut, but not all of it. Some patch cuts might have looked nice among mature forests. I think Mr. X really believed what he said but I think his many years working for the state effected his common sense. If anything, the logging on state land ought to be ultra fussy. I've seen some in recent years and it's not bad.

What's unfortunate is that there is no real freedom of speech in forestry- if you speak up - you're at risk. Serious discussions are avoided. There is a party line as powerful as what occurred in totalitarian nations, in my opinion. That party line worked and still works for many. I suppose this is why reform anywhere is so difficult because reform means some people will have to change their ways.
Joe

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Lucas
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Re: Forest interactions

Post by Lucas » Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:19 pm

http://novascotia.ca/natr/forestry/gis/pdf/fern_rpt.pdf

http://novascotia.ca/natr/forestry/gis/fernow.asp

I saw this report from 1912 today. "Severely culled" was an issue even then. Nothing has changed here.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

wisconsitom
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2016 4:08 pm

Re: Forest interactions

Post by wisconsitom » Tue Mar 01, 2016 1:54 pm

This is a good, nuanced discussion, as any discussion dealing with forest management and its myriad implications must be. For my part though, I'd like it better if the sour grapes attitude towards people that happen to work for govt. agencies went away. Joe, you obviously know your stuff, and from what I read here, you are the kind of consulting forester I wish we had more of in this state. But that said, your continuous whining about the supposed pensions of these or those govt. folks strikes me as petulant and unhelpful. If those types of jobs are so great, why, why didn't you apply for one of them? Was there some fine print stating you were not eligible for such positions? Were you-and you alone-prevented from looking into such work?

Where I happen to live and work, we've got a governor who has been able to turn a conservation-leading state backwards beyond belief, and a big part of this ass's strategy has been to speak much as you are doing here, turning one group of people against another. His goals could not possibly have less to do with conserving natural resources-his buddies are all in private extractive industry-but his words and yours could be laid over each other, there being no difference.

Joe

Re: Forest interactions

Post by Joe » Tue Mar 01, 2016 3:20 pm

wisconsitom wrote:This is a good, nuanced discussion, as any discussion dealing with forest management and its myriad implications must be. For my part though, I'd like it better if the sour grapes attitude towards people that happen to work for govt. agencies went away. Joe, you obviously know your stuff, and from what I read here, you are the kind of consulting forester I wish we had more of in this state. But that said, your continuous whining about the supposed pensions of these or those govt. folks strikes me as petulant and unhelpful. If those types of jobs are so great, why, why didn't you apply for one of them? Was there some fine print stating you were not eligible for such positions? Were you-and you alone-prevented from looking into such work?

Where I happen to live and work, we've got a governor who has been able to turn a conservation-leading state backwards beyond belief, and a big part of this ass's strategy has been to speak much as you are doing here, turning one group of people against another. His goals could not possibly have less to do with conserving natural resources-his buddies are all in private extractive industry-but his words and yours could be laid over each other, there being no difference.
I'd love to get into a raging debate but I'll avoid it here. The truth hurts.
Joe

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