Glomalin and Conservation in Humboldt County The 1996 discovery of the soil glue glomalin is changing our understanding of the impact of elevated carbon dioxide, while giving important clues to forest health, watersheds, revegetation, wildfire and carbon sequestration. Here I share what I have found so others may read and draw their own conclusions, and relate it to my own experience, Humboldt County issues and stories from the news.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

224. Global warming 

The current focus on global warming in the last few months still overlooks the ability of soil fungi to act as powerful partners in reducing CO2. There is of course a need to reduce the amount we are putting into the atmosphere but solutions for taking it out aren't even to the science fiction stage yet. Meanwhile the beneficial effects of aerial Co2 fertilization continue to pile up at the CO2 Science site even as Al gore testifies in front of Congress. Major scientific discoveries are being ignored and their potential would have great benefits for the people.
Glomalin was discovered in 1996 by crop scientists working with corn. Work on forest trees in the PNW showed mycorhizzae to be critical to tree health, even survival. Many species of these symbiotic fungi may be found in seedlings. Dan Wheeler wrote:

While identification of mycorrhizae by root formation is still in its infancy,
data published on the Internet has found 7 fungal species colonizing _the same_
.5 cm rootlet! A typical seedling tree has hundreds of sites. A healthy,
100-year-old tree may have several million of those sites.

This was posted in the Agroforestry newsgroup several years ago and included here in #38 with the entire post. Each of these sites is receiving photosynthetic product from their host trees, up to 40% of annual output. Here we see the need for adult trees to work through their productive lifetimes, measured by output rather than mass of wood, and puts to rest the myth of planting seedlings being more productive than allowing trees to grow through late seral stages. Mattias Rillig of the University of Montana showed more glomalin deposited at the deeper levels in the soil in his 2005 DOE study also showing the need for longer rotations if soil building and watershed restoration are going to be considered as an antidote to global warming.
I have seen no real news on any of these topics in a while. On group is going off about glomalin, but claiming charcoal is needed in the soil for the fungi to. This may be true of decomposers, which may be a large percentage of soil fungi in worked lands, but living forests suppress many of these and the carbon comes from photosynthesis, removing CO2 from the atmosphere. There is huge potential here for plant developers of many kinds and an obvious need to reduce harmful practices from emissions to mowing. Increased CO2 can improve nutritional value of crops. No till farming is helping sequester tons of CO2 to farmers economic benefit. An interesting post by Dan said:

In tree nurseries seedlings typically become inoculated with
Hebelomacrustuliniformis. However, according to work done in New Zealand, this
fungusis insufficient to grow trees rapidly. Until it is replaced, Douglas
firseldom grows more than a few inches a year.In 1986-89 I did several
inoculation experiments at a Douglas fir Christmastree farm near Oregon City,
Clackamas County, Oregon. One of the first inoculations was with Rhizopogon
vinicolor, R. parksii, R. villosullus, andR. villescens, Suillus sps, Laccaria
laccata, Laccariaamethystina-occidentalis, Boletus zelleri, Boletus
chrysenteron, and othermycorrhizal fungi. Within 2 years of this multiple
inoculation, most of thetrees were growing 3-8 feet per year! And where a
13-foot Douglas firChristmas tree was removed in Nov., 1990 and replaced by a
22-inch tall4-year-old Douglas fir seedling (where Tuber gibbosum (Oregon White
truffle)was known to be fruiting) that seedling grew between February and
October of1991 at least 9.5 feet. That nearly allowed the tree to reach the
height ofnearby trees. The following year it grew an additional 6 feet, and is
now(1998) nearly equal to its 40-60 foot tall neighbors.Makes you kind of wonder
how much tree cultivation is actually done, doesn't it?
Deja News, Google Redwood Reader #39
With vast new acreages becoming suitable for forest trees in the north and in the mountains we are actually seeing how nature regulates the fluctuations throughout time. It has always been our way to to try to improve on natures work to our benefit. It is time we partnered with nature to tackle this problem before it becomes a geopolitical firestorm.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

223. Upwelling, GLobal warming actions 

BBC reporter Jonathan Fildes ran a story on February 17 (, "Winds Devastate Ocean Life" about shifts in the winds that cause upwelling, which stirs up nutrients from the deep into the food chain for all marine animals. For the last five years the annual cycle has acted erratically, providing no food when it is needed and too much when it is not. The excess food decays and uses all available oxygen in the water causing death to all who cannot flee. Dead zones have also been found off Chile, Namibia and South Africa.
U.S. scientists on the West Coast think the timing and intensity of the upwelling are being disrupted. A late season in 2005 meant there was no food for migrating salmon. A massive but late bloom in 2006 triggered a dead zone from decomposition of unused nutrients. There were massive bird die offs from lack of food in some areas.
On February 20 John Driscoll of the Times-Standard wrote "When Come the Winds" ( He provided more local information, explaining we need northwest winds in March and April, which have come in July the last two years, mentioned that Cassins auklet and rockfish have been seriously depleted by the variations from the norm. Fog and redwood trees are also mentioned as an effect of upwelling by Troy Nicolini of the National Weather Service in Eureka. A result of this has been the coming together of different scientific disicplines learning to forecast these events and make predictions about abundance, similar to the way agriculture does it now.
Al Gore seems to have convinced people global warming has arrived. Many people are now trying to battle the problem on every level from giant corporations to local town meetings. Still no mention of restoring the soil by using fungi to store carbon dioxide in the soil, or to recognize the importance of large trees as the true absorbers of carbon dioxide, or that it is a resource that should be hoarded by landowners. In fact failed carbon credit schemes and calls for short rotation logging show a deep ignorance of the basic workings of the landscape, as does mowing grass instead of growing woody perrenials. W3e would like to see more emphasis on restoring the landscape and creating natural. It will take a big load off the need for technological solutions, as called for by Richard Bransons 25 million dollar prize, and contribute to a profitable and stable landscape as well. "Branson Launches $25 million Climate Bid". ( The prize is for capturing at least one billion tons of CO2 per year. While several schemes for capturing and storing CO2 are mentioned there is no mention of capture for further use, either.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

222. Lions, Murrlets and the Lost Coast 

The horrific cougar attack on Jim Hamm and the heroic life saving defense by his wife in Redwood National and State Parks last week brought lots of attention to cougars and the Park. An excellent piece on cougars there by John Driscoll of the Times-Standard on Sunday, February 4, 2007 ( includes a Park video well worth watching for anyone interested in these large cats and their behavior. They seem much less bothered by humans than usually reported. It must be noted that the attacking cat was a first year female, who seem to be the problem in the majority of the human attacks. There hasn't been a killing of a human by a lion in Humboldt since 1890. All the usual steps to avoid confrontation and stave off attacks were well reported on TV and the local papers and even in the national press.
While the lions are increasing in numbers, the marbled murrlet seems to be diminishing rapidly in the parts of its range thought to be safe for them, beyond logging. No explanation is currently available for the precipitous drop off in numbers in the Aleutians or Alaska other than major changes in ocean nutrient cyclingor possibly predation by ravens and/or bald eagles are a possibility, the ravens presence directly the result of development encroaching on old growth forests. The USGS was doing the survey for the administration which is tryting to ease logging restrictions imposed by the decline of the birds in the mainland US in the early nineties. Jeff Barnard, AP environmental writer via Yahoo, February 6, 2007.;_ylt=Au1EMnI3gquSPiNlgUsUCg3MWM0F;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MzV0MTdmBHNlYwM3NTM-.
Bennett Barthalemy wrote a nice three part article for the Northcoast Journal(one part every two weeks January 4, Mattole to Spanish Flat, Jan 18 Spanish Flat to shelter Cove, Feb 1Sinkyone State Park) about hiking the Lost Coast. It gives a good feel for the area and plenty of useful information for those seeking a good hike. It describes the beauty of our region as a wilderness and hikers destination. We hope to see Humboldt redwoods state Park and Gilham Butte eventually tied in as the Redwoods to Sea. (

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

221. Greening of North America and Humboldt County 

CO2 Science ( magazine had a new summary for research illustrating the greening effects of carbon dioxide enrichment on the overall vegetative response. Several methods and trails of observation are included which show continued heightened plant growth to higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere, including increased alkalinity in the Mississippi Basin.
Satellite studies show plant response across North America. Although dates did not vary for trees with experimental and normal amounts of CO2, rates of growth were much higher in enriched atmospheres. Satellite photo comparisons are revealing that tundra shrubs are covering new ground in northern Alaska.
Another study in fairly remote regions show increased radial growth of ponderosa pine since 1950, just the kind of result we are looking for. the researchers also found the best response in the poorest years and most stressed environments. Spruce trees in aburned over environment were compared for a similar time span but with older trees growing in a 299ppm atmosphere while young trees grew in a 346 ppm ambience. The trees grown in the more recent atmosphere grew much faster and had a much faster response to drought.
We agree with CO2 Sciences conclusions but we await the recognition of the role of mycorhizzia and other mycelium in fixing carbon in the soil, and how that leads to rebuilding the water holding capacity of the landscape and eventually to the health of rivers in the arid and seasonal precipitation regions. We hope our readers will support their ongoing efforts.
Meanwhile voluntary carbon trading and a shift in focus continue to lead to more groups thinking in terms if carbon forestry, which sounds good but still doesn't include the thirty to forty percent productivity being deposited by fungi in the soil.
AP reported through Capar Star-Tribune ( last week that the Nez Perce had planted 5000 acres of trees on land converted to agriculture but deemed marginal. The tribe found tree planting a better idea, and if they can be paid for carbon storage it will certainly help them. We see our idea slowly becoming a reality and some are saying it will be the largest commodity market in the country in a few years. Prices are still low- four dollars a ton, and they are talking of new plantations above ground only. The tribe hopes to get twelve dollars a ton and is reluctant to sign long term agreements too soon.
Our studies show large old trees sequester far more carbon far quicker than new plantations, just by sheer number of molecular transactions, and deposition in the soil still unaccounted for. The science needs fixing, that is clear. And yet people are beginning to find potential profit even in the flawed models. Just think when you add watershed restoration and improvement, let alone the precipitation interface and flood control.
In Humboldt County, much to no ones surprise, Pacific Lumber and its associates defaulted on a 26 million dollar interest only payment to bondholders, sending the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy court. The company filed the papers in Corpus Christi, near Maxxams corporate headquarters. The company owes most of what it was purchased for, while millions and maybe billions in assets have been sold off. They have eighteen months to figure it out and a lot of little guys get to twist in the wind.
Federal agencies repeated their demand that Pacificcorps include fish ladders in their plans for relicensing the four Klamath dams up for renewal. Advocates are hoping dam removal may become a reality, and the power production picked up by a new generating plant to replace lost capacity. The agencies, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service also indicated the company proposal to trap fish and truck them around dams was not viable for several reasons, including disease from handling and gearing for fall chinook only. We would reiterate, however, there is hope for restoring Klmamath fish stocks to previous decades while there was a viable fishery after the dams were built, and that all eggs shouldn't be in one basket.Times-Standard John Driscoll 1/31/2007

Friday, January 19, 2007

220.NC Land Trust, salamanders, NEC and PL bankruptcy 

North Coast regional Land trust recently made an agreement with the Nature Conservancy that will help it preserve more North Coast operating lands of a rural nature. They said it would help with expertise and resources and help develop a plan to protect other environmentally key properties. While the Nature Conservancy may add some clout, they were investigated for allowing some members to trade up for better parcels several years ago, in a series printed in the Washington Post. Further confusing the issue is the Times-Standards reporting of conservation easements by owners not to develop property. This is actually agricultural set asides where landowners are paid not to develop or sell to developers, fairly common back east and south of here. Conservation easements are set up by the landowners as decisions not to harm property in specific ways and an endowment is necessary for someone to guarantee compliance. Both types of measures are attached to the Title of the property and are supposed to stat in place into the future. One problem conservation easements have had is not having partners to hold the easement that survive in perpetuity. Agricultural set asides are government deals and so long term compliance is more of a sure thing. But even then, when they saved the remaining truck farms in Suffolk County by paying to keep the land as ag land, farmers sold out to vineyards and horse breeders, defeating at least part of the original intention. Open space was still preserved.
Land Trust Teams Up With The Nature Conservancy, Times-Standard, Jan 12, 2007
Then the Land Trust applied for funding for studies and planning from federal funds available for non-County purchases for four purchases worth several millions of dollars. JIll Geist said she'd like the Planning Commission involved while government was named as the reason for higher prices in the first place by Roger Rodoni. Part of the money was to be used for easement costs, which should not exist in straight forward purchases, so something isn't clear here, unless they are talking about utility and right of way easements.
Conservation Funding Approved By the County Times-Standard, Jan 17, 2007
It looks like the Northcoast Environmental Center's Board has made an astute selection choosing Greg King to pick up the pieces after Tim McKay's unexpected demise. He was a very advocate of seeing the need to protect Headwaters Forestand has founded two non-profits, Smith River Project and Siskyou Land Conservancy, and has written for the Bohemian and Lake County Record Bee. He seems to have the skills needed to reinvigorate Tims dream. Good luck to him.
Environmental Center Names New Chief Times-Standard Jan 19, 2007
An interesting scientific issue was in the news as a decision to list a salamander closely related to another was issued.The ruling said DFG could not delist one species just because a close relative is seemingly abundant. The real issue here is how far genetics will be applied in creating new species as happens often in the plant kingdom. Few plants have the same protections as listed animals and genetic testing could result in many species of small populations with slightly different characterisitics coming out of existing species, raising major problems for policy makers.
Salamander Dilemma:Split or Lump Times-Standard Jan 18, 2007
Last but not least, Pacific Lumber and its subsidaries filed for bankruptcy in federal bankruptcy court in Corpus Christie, Texas, siting the State of California as not living up to its obligations under the Headwaters Agreement to allow it to log enough to pay its debts. The company claims that regulatory agencies have made it impossible to meet their financial obligations and has sued the State of California in December 2006. The state claims non-signatory agencies rulings are relevant and must be abided by.
Palco, Subsidaries File For Bankruptcy Eureka Reporter Jan 19, 2007
Palco Bankruptce Follows FIling of December Lawsuit Eureka Reporter Jan 19, 2007

Earlier in the year, Humboldt County District Attornet Paul Gallegos appealed a ruling in a fraud suit against Pacific Lumber for the same agreement.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

219. Humboldt Forests' Changing Face 

We have stayed away from most of the stories that seem to illustrate global warming in the news, glaciers melting, Arctic sea ice disappearing, comparisons to other geologic ages, changing seasons and plant and animal apparent responses. Our issue has been the discovery of a mechanism that nature has used for as long as life has existed to regulate climate so that it will support life. This knowledge may give us an opportunity to correct a serious situation before it explodes out of control and we find ourselves in real trouble as a species, let alone the economy. It is difficult to believe such well researched and publicly available knowledge is barely trickling into the discussion. It must be a sign of the times to ignore the science and stay the course, while the munincipalities struggle with local environmental issues rather than establishing a national deterrance for a probably man made problem. More evidence of the soils ability to store carbon comes from the current issue of CO2 Science Magazine (
Meanwhile, in Humboldt, the face of the timber industry is changing. Palco closed most of its facilities and sold off some of their lands. They sued the State over the right of the Water Quality Boards to regulate operations agreed to in the Headwaters deal, claiming the Water Boards have no authority since they were not signatories to it. The State says the company was not exempted from any regulations. The Water Quality Boards are restricting the amount of harvest in Elk River and Freshwater Creeks, and Palco has said it needs those rates to continue profitable operations.
Meanwhile, final issues are being settled as the Eel River sawmills Employee Stock Option Plan case was resolved with a relatively small payout for the ex-employees. Both companies blame difficulties in getting logs and a lack of demand for timber products due to softness in the housing industry.
Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos, surprisingly, filed an appeal of the judges decision regarding the fraud suit concerning timber harvest rates in the Jordan Creek area, which he claims were made purposely misleading to allow higher rates of cut in unstable drainages. In this area, too, Palco claimed the need for higher harvest rates to stay economically viable.
Meanwhile, Green Diamond, Simpsons land use division, released their HCP for 400,000 acres of California lands and had it published in the federal register. They seem to be taking the current trends into consideration by tackling resource issues from the start. I recommend browsing their website at
Sudden Oak Death has arrived in Southern Humboldt. Several eradication projects were completed this year. We doubt they "got it all"and that this is just the beginning. We fear the loss of good usable wood, especially black oak, may instigate a cut to get it before it rots on the stump, as in the case of the chestnut blight earlier last century.
The first carbon credits I know of were bought by the top pollution control officer and her deputy to offset traveling to Nairobi, Kenya for a conference on the Kyoto Protocol..( It amounted to $140 dollars. A San Francisco based outfit called Pacific Forest Trust ( manages the 2100 acre Fred M. van Eck Forest Foundation through an easement agreement dating to 2001. They just began selling the credits in November but it promises to bring long term income to well managed forests well into the future.
Finally, an article about the tallest redwoods and two guys, Michael Taylor and Chris Atkins, who are measuring them appeared in Yahoo on January 4, 2007. They are in the process of finding the correct heights of all the tall trees, which tells us there aren't many left. Their descriptions of good locales are helpful to people looking for good redwood growing lands. They count 36 redwoods over 360 feet and four over 370 feet. Unfortunatly, their laser range finder only came available in 1995, after most of what was left had been cut or included in harvest plans.

Monday, January 01, 2007

218. Stamens again 

The two articles in the Sentient TImes covering Paul Stamens new book Mycelium Running both advance our arguments while falling short of total understanding. Heis statements about carbon export do not explain the process of that export, which is what we have been calling glomalin destruction. He suggests, for example, innoculated wood chips to restart the massive fungal networks destroyed by logging and agriculture. He seems to think much of the carbon is harvested and burnt off. Our studies show much of it remains in the soil after these processes but is subsequently lost in erosion that follows these activities. However, either glomalin is a component of All mycelium rather than just mycorhizzia or we are looking at decomposers and missing the essential carbon storage process in glomalin formation and deposition. The descriptions of the massive amounts of fungi in the soil are very good.
His descriptions of spongy water bearing soil are right on and the catastrophic loss of higher mammals as carbon export continues. He also includes sequestration of heavy metals in the soil as the are absorbed into the fungi. The ability of these to improve our biosphere is clear to him but the exact mechanism is still just out of sight. For this reason I recommend his book although I have not read it yet. I have read his earlier works and can see the evoltion in thinking. And it gives ideas on the nature of mycelium networks but lacks the insight of the role of mycorhizzia in the formation of glomalin and its deposition. He hints at a Gaia but fails to see how the fungi actually create the needed environment that allows the great diversity in fungi and plant life.
His realization of the trouble in Singapore is similar to my own recognition of the loss to ecosystems of mowing grass short instead of allowing plants to restore the atmospheric carbon balance with the ability to replenish soils simply by aiding the plant half of the mycorhizzia symbiosis. Where to start is exactly where nature will start when man is gone- by leaving things alone to allow plants and fungi to process earths' elements as they have always done.
This should all be good reading for Al Gore, and I hope he will continue to learn as well as educate the people on these vital subjects that allow for action instead of simply an overwhelming sense of impending disaster.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?