“I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your old-growth down!”

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I just saw these new photographs of the Jim’s Creek logging project on the Willamette National Forest posted on Facebook by Doug Heiken, who has sometimes commented on this blog.

Today, on Facebook, Doug wrote:

“The Forest Service logged the crap out of this old forest in 2008 in order to ‘save’ the old pines which are uncommon on the west side of the Cascades, but the thinned stands became vulnerable to winter winds that wiped out the very pines they hoped to protect. Now they want to log it again to “salvage” the down wood. Thankfully, some of the down trees will be used for stream restoration. Unfortunately, the FS wants to do more projects like this, only bigger. We would rather they focus on thinning young plantations instead of taking big risks by logging old forests.”

In the past, some of us have expressed concerns that ‘thinning’ forests makes them hotter, drier and windier…which aren’t exactly three positive outcomes, especially in an era of global climate change.

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3 Comments

  1. ” … but the thinned stands became vulnerable to winter winds that wiped out the very pines they hoped to protect.”

    We had a similar occurrence around the Trail Creek area on the North Zone of the IPNF. Upon seeing the uprooted trees on my way to one of my favorite cross-country skiing spots, I wondered “would this have happened anyway.” Is there research out there showing a cause and effect relationship between thinning and blowdown?

    I saw a similar occurrence during the fabled spring and winter of ’96 & ’97 in Missoula. I’m pretty sure then the consensus was it took the perfect storm of conditions to create the blowdown event in the fall of ’96. The timing between several days of torrential rains and then a major blow coincided to devastate massive swaths of timber up Hwy. 12 just below Lolo Hot Springs. The same conditions were present in the Trail Creek area this year I discussed above. Torrential early winter rain, followed closely by a major wind storm. My hunch is that the same conditions occurred in this case and were the area not logged earlier the scene depicted in the foregoing picture would be one many downed old growth Ponderosa’s intermingled among tons of the competing seral understory. This is all just a hunch on my part though … which is what I’ll guess for now Mr. Heiken is working on as well. I’d like to see his conclusion buttressed by some research. But hey, in the mean time it’s great PR fodder.

  2. Those thinned units look good for awhile. They made these pine prairie that some have decided that some of our westside forest should look like. But good old mother natural has her own ideas.
    I have seen solid old growth stands, with no thinning, get blown over also.
    Actually from the photos it seems like now they have some real openings, with a little fire once in awhile they can have their open pine prairie.
    Of course I think the best use for those logs now is to send them to town and make something out of them.

  3. What is the land use allocation? I suspect it is matrix. That’s where the timber is supposed to come from. Salvage is perfectly appropriate in this LUA.

    Why do conservation interests love the reserve/old growth parts of the NWFP but forget about the pesky sustainable timber harvest language in the same plan?

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