On Salvage Logging

One thing I learned at last night’s Eagle Creek Fire Forum was that people still have some misperceptions about salvage logging. There is logic that says that after a forest fire, salvaging the standing dead helps the area recover, and when I’ve asked specifics, I hear about thinning such that there isn’t another fire and vaguely that scientists say so.
Folks, economics is a science, and it isn’t about forest health.
From the perspective of making cash, salvage logging in an area you can’t normally log is going to make you more money than having not harvested timber. If you need to have people working in burned property, salvaging the standing dead will make it safer for humans who don’t want to watch for falling trees.
But it’s not good for the ecosystem.
Recall the ecosystem was burning from lightning strikes during dry, windy seasons long before humans started managing the land (also with fire). After the burn, insects went after the dead trees, birds went after the insects, fire-evolved plants grew in the new meadows that were a habitat for small mammals, resin-hardened pine cones opened and seedling trees grew in the partial protection of the old guard scorched trees, while fallen dead slowly decompose into soil -each different species of tree returning a different set of building blocks. “Forest” isn’t a noun, it’s a process.
That’s the logic piece I’m really missing. If the dead trees aren’t allowed to rot in place, how are the minerals supposed to return to the soil for the next cohort of young trees?
In tree farms, they deal with this by adding nutrients when they plant the young trees (one hopes). In salvage logging, particularly in national public spaces like our Gorge, they can’t do that – really, the rains would wash the chemical fertilizers into the Columbia River more or less immediately, and they’d need to keep unprotected hikers out of the landscape even if it was flat.
So salvage logging is good for the pocketbook and steals from the future of the forest.
They’s a bill proposed to allow salvage logging not only in the Gorge,but in National Parks and other public land without those pesky environmental studies or public input, getting some value out of a natural disaster (which somehow includes not only fire, but rainstorms and windstorms -we get those for 5 months every year here). I’m opposed to it because Science.
And also because I love the forests of the Gorge. The Eagle Creek Fire was a mosaic within a 49k acre boundary, less than 15% actually burned. That means there are patches of burn among healthy trees -in 3-5 years, those will be meadows in the woods. As opposed to eroded cliff faces.
This might warrant a call to a senator.

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YNP: In Memory of Trees

As we left on vacation, I called my mom, and mentioned we were driving to Yellowstone again.
“But you’ve been there before” she asked.
Yes, many times. We’ve been going every six years or so.
“Why?”
Well, in 1988, you may recall, much of the park burned. The fires were in the news all summer. We’ve been watching the forest grow back.
“It’s been 30 years, love, I’m sure it just looks like forest now.”

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ScienceOnTap: It hurts!

Science hurts. Well, last week’s lecture was all about pain. Not only was it uncomfortably hot, and the Gorge on fire, but this was our last scheduled night at the Clinton St Theater, unairconditioned yet cozy in the SE neighborhood.

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Books and moods

“Ain’t it funny how a melody
Can bring back a memory
Take you to another place and time
Completely change your state of mind”

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ScienceOnTap: Microbiome and You

Occasionally, we get a scientist drunk. We put them on stage, put a beer in one hand and a microphone in the other and see what happens. Then we take questions from the bar crowd. This week’s victim was Dr Lisa Sardinian, who knows all about what we don’t know about the gut.

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John Day & The Marquis de Lafayette on a Roadtrip

Exploring eastern Oregon has not been higher on our list of adventures because
* There’s so much to do in Cascadia
* There isn’t a lot of information on it
* The high desert.
Really, we have several ecosystems in which to bike, hike, and kayak within 2 hours from home, why would we drive 6 hours often? We read a lot, and very little had surfaced about why to visit the eastern part of the state worth crossing the high desert – which is a hardship for me. I like gloomy portland, with its regular 5 months of cloud cover every year, and sun and I do not get along.

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Quake Party

Picture eight people gathering in a NE Portland home with piles of survival gear. The grill is hot, and a stack of foil wrapped potatoes sits next to a container of egg salad and a bowl of salad. The background music is eighties hair bands, and folks have brought canned goods and full backpacks.

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