Retaining Snag Habitat

Here is a view of some other cutting units within the Power Fire. Above the road were tractor units, and a narrow stretch below the road, due to stream buffers, was helicopter yarded. Again, you see ample snag “recruitment”, years after salvage logging. Remember, we were also salvaging some trees with poor live/dead crown ratios. I do know that the marking was aggressive, as I did much of the inevitable follow-up marking, during the summer season.

What is really interesting about the tractor unit is how well the logger’s “alternate method” worked. My logger had a processor/loader, an excavator with a grapple attachment, a dozer and two skidders. The excavator would go out on the skid trails and grab/bundle the logs to orient them where the skidder can “grab-and-go”. Their crew was very experienced and efficient, not making messes they would have to clean up.

6 thoughts on “Retaining Snag Habitat”

    • The deerbrush has the bigger white flowers, and has grown to an average height of 4 feet, in this picture. Where the deerbrush isn’t growing, the bear clover is! This slope is mostly north-facing. I have to think that there are SOME planted trees in this picture, but, they can’t be doing all that well.

  1. A program of regular prescribed burning would eliminate the deerbrush problem, but I’m not sure what that would do to the clover. Regular burning would also take care of the unsightly snags over time, but the current condition of these fuels would likely scorch local soils and streams with an unprecedented amount of heat — I’m guessing there has never been so much pitchy, air-dried firewood in some of these places, ever. (Of course, the snags could all rot and fall over without burning again during the next 30 to 60 years, and then decompose to soil before experiencing a ground fire in the following century or more. That could happen.)

    Forests can be managed for food, fuel, and construction materials — as people have done in the western United States for more than 10,000 years — or they can be managed for timber, as most industrial forestland is today; managed for recreation, as with our national parks and public campgrounds; as wilderness; as wildlife habitat, etc. The key word is “managed,” in order to achieve any or all of these proven goals and objectives. Left unmanaged (or “passively managed,” when decisions are purposefully made to do nothing), (mostly) conifer trees begin invading grasslands, shrublands, pine woodlands, and old-growth stands, ultimately leading to current conditions of unprecedented catastrophic-scale bug kills and wildfires. The proof is everywhere, starting with each forest Wilderness since it was created during our lifetimes.

    If increased salvage to remove excess fuels is not an option; and the use of regular prescribed burns is not an option; then chemicals are the only current solution to manage the forest for desired outcomes — assuming increasingly hot and deadly wildfires are not the desired outcome, of course. Mike Newton, of OSU, is probably the best starting place to discover the best chemical methods for controlling deerbrush and bear clover — assuming you want good survival and growth from planted trees. Then it would just be them and the falling and/or burning snags to contend with.

  2. back to a previous thought, aren’t trees rather than deerbrush better for carbon sequestration? Looking at the volumes it would seem intuitive, but perhaps there are more complexities than I am aware of.

  3. Sharon: Managing trees for carbon is probably not a good idea, and for lots of reasons. One is that when the trees burn up, they release massive amounts of carbon into the air — including a lot of carbon stored in soils, as shown in some of the Biscuit research. A second reason is that after trees burn up, are shaded out, or killed by bugs, most of the rest of their carbon is returned to the atmosphere via rotting. Over time, the forest is carbon neutral; even when considering long-term delays in carbon cycling caused by product manufacturing and use. (I wrote a peer-reviewed paper on this topic in 1991 for the EPA that has been ignored ever since!)

    • I wasn’t getting carried away about “managing forests for carbon”; I am an avid arboraphiliac (I guess I may have made up that word) and was perhaps looking for a rationalization for trees, in addition to deerbrush and bear clover.


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