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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.
Sunday, May 30, 2004
The state proposes higher fees, less red tape. The timber industry opposes the hike while environmentalists see a rollback in protections. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-me-forest29may29,1,5504215.story?coll=la-news-environment By Bettina Boxall Times Staff Writer May 29, 2004
This article Saturday was about the new forestry regulations being considered in the budget and will be before the Legislature next week. It lowers protections and raises fees on an over regulated industry because the basic principle of sustainability is not recognized. No where does the issue attempt to fix the basic problem of environmental degradation. The industry is crying foul n increasing fees, landowners are looking for less regulation so they can take larger profits. The State expects about $10 million in fees- to allow easier business as usual. They could do better selling carbon credits on state land. If they were real smart they would broker with anyone who cared to participate via 100 year conservation easements specifically with small and medium private landowners to not cut large trees so the glomalin soil layer and surface water zone can be restored.
The big danger with less regulation is the continued creation of sediment and fine dust by land clearing and glomalin destruction. Select cutting with a very light footprint must be the maximum for prevention of stream damage. Fines from blowing dust are as big a problem as more visible damage. The problems of rivers and fish and wildfire all merge on this single concept of plant glue keeping soil n place and storing water in the ground. Legislators need to realize that we have an obligation as global citizens to protect the earth, as Americans to improve natural resources, and as Californians determined to leave a thriving natural community that creates stable jobs through good stewardship.
Good land management practices are required to maximize the investment from planting to thinning. Limbing to prevent fire ladders and lopping to prevent fuel load would be preferred in the pre-commercial thinning stage. This alone will create some small diameter wood from the large acreages of cut over land naturally seeded or planted. Most landowners of young Douglas fir may get a commercial thinning just as the canopy closes. Once the stand characteristics are set, no cutting should be needed after the canopy closes. If the land is storing five tons an acre at a dollar a ton a year, that would be a decent income from land that can still be used for many other purposes, including increasing wildlife habitat, fixing the hydrological cycle, and recreation.
Special care must be taken care of the soil floor of the forest, and this might be a good place to look at changes because this is the problem. A lot of time, research, changes in practices and energy have not stopped sedimentation after logging because the nature of the aggregates dissolving is/was unknown. You must keep the fungi in the soil alive and protect them from rain and ultraviolet. Lands without canopy and disturbed floors should be exempted from payments until the canopy closes back in 35 years or so, and should be subjected to covering the exposed areas with landscape material. Large amounts of forest land too steep for logging can be improved and kept as paying operations without cutting them.
The forest floor is releasing large amounts of stored carbon dioxide whenever the ground is turned up. This has been quantified in agricultural systems but not for forests. IN agriculture, the carbon is built up only a few years before it is plowed and CO2 from destroyed glomalin is measured. Forests and glomalin both have much longer life spans than that and we can be sure much of the global warming issue has been caused by destroying this substance around the world, and is in addition to the amount released by the vegetation itself.
California, always the nations leader in futuristic planning, could do well to examine these issues. First, we provide rural people income to steward their land in the American tradition. We earn non-budgetary money with long term security for land holding agencies, schools, preserves, parks, everybody. We create a vast amount of wildlife habitat. We get a handle on sediment. We raise the moisture level of the forest in a general way, provide more surface water and put water in the creeks in late summer. In the end we will have restored the salmon runs, where it all began. We can target timber harvest regulations tailored to those who opt out, maybe only certain or dedicated landforms could opt out. This would certainly decide who or what was sustainable. Remember, large amounts of small diameter will be created shaping young woodlands into working reserves fire treated and spaced for maximum glomalin production.
When a tree reaches maturity, its life in the forest as an adult begins. Its role feeding the fungi and helping create the environment for his type to survive is an essential role to all that lives in that forest. Its role producing hydrocarbon aerosols has just begun. This is the age we now call “second growth” and have expected our timber industry to be moving toward. No one ever had a plan to grow BIG trees. They are essential to any real economic picture of a healthy forest system.
The state will have no problem recruiting easements from private and agency landholders. Someone put on a tie and go sell the states carbon storage potential in a way that creates jobs that last forever and restores industries crushed by ignorance.
Saturday, May 29, 2004
In the book Tree Crops by JR Smith he envisions an Institute of Mountain Agriculture where forests would be replanted with selected or grafted superior trees that yielded annual crops as an alternative to destructive logging practices. His twofold concern was erosion and annual income through improved trees. He was certain we are moving into a time of fewer wildernesses but more reforested lands being managed in a way we would call sustainable today. He gave many examples of this type of agriculture, practiced in many places but with a focus on drier areas. He showed the role of the hog in mast agriculture. He also showed plainly how trees were the key to preventing erosion. HE thought groups of people trained to graft superior nut trees would give farmers enough incentive to grow trees without resorting to cutting them. It is hard to remove the source of annual income, and timbering becomes less attractive. The owner can still harvest it on any given day anyway, so the wood in large producing trees is like money in the bank.
Poor hill folks had denuded the mountain lands for farming and wood products. After a few years the corn failed. More land got plowed. The first places eroded badly sliding into the lands below and being carved into gullies by running water. Smith hated gullies and noted successful defense and recoveries wherever he saw them. He also has some interesting ideas for retaining rainfall in the root zones of planted trees.
Many years of research may finally be paying off for the American chestnut as a forest tree. One hundred years ago this summer the chestnut blight Cryphonetria parasitica was first found at New York’s Bronx Zoo, probably hitching a ride on Asian chestnuts there. The disease spread quickly through the air, on birds, and in rain, killing 3.5 billion rtees by 1950. The 120 foot straight grained tree made up as much as much as a quarter of the Eastern hardwood forests before blight reduced them to stump sprouts that succumbed to the disease at the age when the bark begins to furrow. Decimated by blight in the first half of the century, standard breeding of resistant relatives or between survivors and new methods of inserting fungal resistance into the trees seems to be paying off. Introduction of an European virus is also being studied. Plenty to do but finally progress!
American chestnut grows straight clear rot resistant wood that could compete well with pressure treated wood. Chestnut fence posts were still good when I was in Shenandoah National Park in the ‘70’s, fifty years after the land had become park. Chestnut trees hybridized from resistant Chinese with American timber form should be available in 2006.
Chestnut trees are scattered throughout Humboldt County. I know of two in Eureka, some in Ettersburg, Cuneo Creek, and supposedly American chestnuts in Willow Creek. I say supposedly because most of the trees are not the American type but one of the other Castaneas, European, Japanese or Chinese. All these forms make larger nuts than American trees. Chestnuts are a 4 billion dollar industry worldwide but there is only one commercial farm in the US - and its here in California.
Speaking with Carlton Hanson of Bear Creek nursery in Washington several years ago, he told me chestnut blight did not do well in the West because it prefers warm moist summers. Ours are too hot and especially dry. Individual trees that showed signs of the disease fight through it, and it is not virulent enough to spread from tree to tree. With a half ton of nuts a year at a buck a pound and wood worth twelve dollars a board foot, there are opportunities.
Blighted species in the US include elm, butternut, white pine and Port Orford cedar. Most dendrology books list tanoak-Lithocarpus- as midway between oaks and chestnuts. There are some similarities between tanoak and chestnut that might be helpful for Sudden Oak Death. It would seem if we have success with one we might be able to apply it to the others.
I belonged to the American Chestnut Society in the seventies. In many ways it was similar to the restoration consciousness that arose around here. People were saying “Look what they’ve done to our beautiful forests. It is important to remember that a large number of healthy trees were cut once it looked like the trees were going to die. The disease made the wood worthless, so large scale cutting went on in order to get the wood while it was still good. Lots of erosion followed.
I think we what will learn about caring for trees as well as making better trees will lead to a greater ability to live sustainably in the mountains, and this in turn will lead to more people choosing a rural life that is in harmony with the systems that sustain life and culture. In a future article I will describe the mountain man of the future -the technopeasant.
Friday, May 28, 2004
Humboldt County is a special place for people trying to restore the natural balance. It will be a special place for people studying the recuperative power and ability of natural systems. In many ways the problems we face are relatively simple and obvious, and they have the ability to become fractals of recovery for larger regions. In my own case, a small tributary of the Mattole in steep terrain and heavy rainfall had been roaded, logged, and burned causing all kinds of residual damage going on for decades. As massive of a problem as it was, it still is only sediment from the landscape and not toxic or contaminating materials. The same is true for air quality. We have little ozone or dry nitrogen emission output over the landscape and so escape some burgeoning problems around urban areas. The accelerated recovery noted for CO2 is helping repair but some things are too far-gone for vegetative recovery. My own property will continue to shed material from unnaturally vertical walls for a long time unless some massive terra-forming is considered practical or doable. Even then faults, instability and heavy rainfall will keep things moving, but in the summer there is now shade and fish in places and the creek hasn’t jumped its banks in a few years.
Back in the eighties a friend of my brother came to visit us here in Humboldt. He had grown up with my younger brother, they went to school and more importantly hung out together. His family had relocated to the US from Haiti in the Papa Doc days, and his Dad and uncle had a car dealership in the city (NY). He related his experiences from visiting family there. He said unofficial ruffians ruled the streets and kept the people in line. Several coup-de-tetes had occurred in the past. When we asked about the forests he said they had been cut down a long time ago so there was no place for rebel fighters to hide. He said the army regularly cut the re-growth back, and that the poor fought over every stick that was cut to use as firewood. The people were not allowed to live in the mountains; they had to be in the towns.
Regardless of the accuracy of his views on policy, we clearly see the seeds of disaster sown. The Caribbean Sea is notorious for hurricanes and other large rain events. The precipitation interface has been impacted severely and the people moved downhill below the destabilized mountain. Sediment flows no doubt filled the rivers causing them to jump the banks. Huge mudslides buried towns. These are predictable outcomes after tragedy from Mitch, the Philippines and Venezuela’s December 2000. In all these cases poor people living in makeshift shantytowns downhill from deforestation (the reasons vary but the results do not) were swept away in debris flows.
Mitch recorded 72” of rain in one storm, but nobody said it was a once in a hundred year storm. Several years ago here in Humboldt we had twenty inches of rain in 24 hours in Honeydew three times in six weeks, and I had to wonder what is the a hundred year storm. It looked like more rain had done less damage than in 1964, partly because much of the destabilizing cutting in the Honeydew area had occurred before the flood, and we experienced the benefit of re-growth doing its job. This means that, in the long run, changing the timber practices in 1972 is having an overall positive effect, even if it is hard to see at any given moment or at any single site. There is far less land destabilized than was the case earlier in the last century. Local events continue to occur because we can’t replace the timber industry and regulators are still unaware of glomalin as the cause and cure of mudslides. This will change after fact-finding and debate. Once floor preservation becomes the key select cutting with minimal footprints will be the way to go. A slope regulation can allow larger harvests on more stable lands, while protecting a watersheds’ glomalin coverage and preserving stability.
Another story today concerning dust storms in North East Asia mentioned massive deforestation as a cause. What is the connection to Humboldt here? Some of this is reaching us as airborne pollution. Dust from Africa has been found to be loaded with microbes. We often felt the flu appeared to come in with weather patterns bringing storms from Asia. So can we link microbes to dust to flu outbreaks? Can we contain flu by replanting forests and thus reducing intercontinental dust? We may never know without setting land aside and changing the way we work in production areas.
Woody bamboos around the world are rapidly disappearing as forests are harvested. With individuals spontaneously flowering, making seed and dying every 20 to 100 years, there is real danger of cutting too much too fast. This is a special problem for many endangered species that rely on bamboo for food and habitat. More than half of woody bamboo species are threatened. They grow in places around the world except Europe and North America. Species dependent on woody bamboos are facing dwindling forest reserves as human use and development use up the stocks. This is a widespread problem covering many species of bamboo and animals, in many nations on at least three continents. Bamboo is renewable if given enough time and allowed to propagate itself. The long term reproductive cycle fits in well with CO2 storage but does not relieve pressure on forests to provide peoples insatiable needs.
Comments to: email@example.com Donations to: Redwood Reader, c/o Middle Mattole Conservancy, PO Box 73, Honeydew, CA 95545
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
There is a lot of talk these days about climate change, and considerably less about doing something about it. If we don’t take control of the problem, the problem will persist in ways we haven’t even thought of yet. There can be no doubt the weather in some areas has been altered. Yet no article I have seen includes all the things various specialties are pointing out, for better or for worse. Our ability to deal with these issues rather than reacting afterwards puts the carriage before the horse. The earth doesn’t care where what grows, people do. Climate change foretells of political and economic disruption, some loss of habitat, but otherwise it is the endless march of the seasons and species. We must act in our interests or be left in the dust.
There are many dire models being expounded, and the temperature is rising for sure. But it is hard to say it is beyond normal, and a casual reader sees over and over that lots of information is out there that is not being collated or analyzed at some higher level that would put the pieces together into actionable intelligence. Sound familiar? Researchers are operatives for the executive branch but the analyst layer has been left to Congress to fund and regulate, or the courts to halt. Every bit of unfavorable scientific news is challenged on basis of what it will do to industry or the economy. This seriously delays action against threats from a world so complex we can’t tell what action or substance A may do in environment C to lifeform Y. Action gets taken on partial information when the rest of the information is available elsewhere.
So it is with climate change, true enough in itself as an expression. Yet not accounting for carbon dioxide released from soil by development and agriculture has skewed the picture. Rising CO2 is blamed extensively on emissions since the dawn of the industrial age. Some push the date for anthropomorphic climate change to the beginning of agriculture with land clearing and forest burning. Indeed, the Roman warm Period followed by the Little Ice Age also followed a peak and trough effect of expansion and retreat of forests in Europe directly relating to human population. No account is made for reduced land disturbance although it is estimated half the acreage in crops went back to forest, and large amounts of CO2 were returned to the soil.
Massive deforestation began with the Age of Discovery and colonialism. Steel came to the forests of North America and Africa and South America and Australia within a hundred years of each other and land clearing for agriculture went on continuously down to today. We constantly ask people not to do the very things we did to make this nation great. A great deal of carbon went up in smoke, and some was released by the plow, and more was released by sunlight and rain reaching the exposed ground where trees had been removed. And we began reducing the very mechanism for returning the soil carbon.
Our modern technology has made it possible to disrupt the soil mechanisms that blanket the earth. Carbon stored in the ground for eons has suddenly been returned to the atmosphere in huge quantities, and we incorrectly assess much of the blame on the engine when the wheels are probably releasing more carbon than the combustion. Vast acreages of carbon storage have been paved, had their vegetative layer thinned to lawns, had the forest removed and the floor skinned, and wetlands filled. The method to restore it is a known quantity, even if it is not generally known among the people that make decisions. It should be, as it is government science. The government is spending money to tackle the problem, so why is it slow to recognize its own research that is proving itself in crops but has not made it to forestry and absolutely had no impact on development planning here or abroad. We need to put large acreages away to absorb this carbon back. There is no reason to expect third world countries with rain forest to take action when our forests are probably better storage locations due to lower temperature, which extends glomalin life.
There are other problems in the climate change picture. Today’s San Francisco Chronicle has an article about low nitrogen plants in serpentine areas being out-competed by annual grasses that are receiving a boost from “dry nitrogen” fallout from urban smog in the surrounding area. Most native plants are low nitrogen in the first place. Higher nitrogen plants are usually agricultural plants. Dry nitrogen has allowed European annual grasses like Italian ryegrass and wild oats to take over large areas of California grassland that is often perennial bunchgrass or allium family meadows, which exude into the soil chemicals that prevent grasses from sprouting. (When pigs till up an area for these little bulbs, grass comes in thick and tall.) Protein seeking cattle have discovered the nitrogen rich grasses and are being used to reduce the grass. The native plants are not interesting to the cattle and so are making a wonderful resurgence in Coyote Point, at lease, restoring native plants by using oft-maligned cow.
Last week on Nova the story was about fluctuating magnetic fields and the possibility of a pole reversal in the near future. This would seem like it will have some consequence. The magnetic field is set in motion by convection from the earth’s core. Suddenly swarms of activity boil up in the opposite magnetic region until finally the pole flops. Time estimates vary widely but paleoclimatologists have learned an individual spot on the earth may have far more extreme weather in a few years than old models thought was possible in thousands. Solar wind is stripping away the ice caps it can now reach because the weakening magnetic field does not keep the radiation away from the arctic regions. So here is a completely different reason for warming in the Arctic region and higher latitudes and elevations.
Even our ancestors lived in a world where regional climate varied much more than it does now. It seems possible human activity warmed the earth enough to take the extreme points down a little until surface disruption released far more carbon dioxide than remaining vegetation could absorb in a few years. Now add in emissions, so that any progress made is negated, and continued development can only make things worse. We know all of this. What are we going to do? Leaving things alone seems to work wonders, but it has to be justified economically.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
This arrived in my inbox this morning. Our friends at the Salmon Group asked us to forward this around. People- always the biggest threat.
By now many of you have heard about the vandalism at the Arcanum fish rearing ponds on Sunday night. For those of you who haven't heard, someone removed the water supply to the pond holding over 7000 newly marked chinook fry. When MSG staff discoved the damage, all but 740 fish were dead. Other damage to the site made it clear that this was no accident. The Mendocino County Sherriff and Calif Dept of Fish and Game are investigating.
This cruel act struck not only the precious fish struggling to maintain a hold in their ancestral home, but it also struck the community that cares so deeply about restoring native fish and the ecological web that we are all part of. We at MSG are stunned, hurt, and angry that someone could be so hostile toward their community and toward innocent creatures.
Someone out there knows who did this ugly deed. MSG is determined to find out who killed these fish. Toward that end, we are offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever did this. Thanks to community donations, the reward being offered is $2500. We welcome additional pledges in order to make this reward a compelling incentive for someone to step forward on behalf of the fish and the community, and tell us who is responsible.
If you have any questions or information or want to help, please call MSG at 629-3433, Colum Coyne at 923-4710, or me, Ray Lingel, at 986-7665.
Please forward this email to your friends and associates.
For the fish...
Mattole Salmon Group
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Eureka Times-Standard editorial
Saturday, May 22, 2004 - "Whereas, the sacred lands of Tuluwat comprise the physical and spiritual center of the Wiyot world, and there is factual evidence of Wiyot Tribal presence on the island for at least 1,000 years ..." With those words, the Eureka City Council, in part, laid the basis for returning a portion of Indian Island (Tuluwat) to the Wiyot Tribe. The resolution acknowledged "the intolerable historical injustices suffered by the Wiyot people on Tuluwat and elsewhere."
Indeed, Tuluwat is a black mark on the history of the North Coast. It was the last Saturday of February in 1860 when a small band of white men, known to have been landowners and businessmen, used axes, clubs and knives to slaughter between 60 and 200 women, children and elders. Now, 144 years later, the city of Eureka resolves that "Tuluwat will return as a tribal gathering place for all Wiyot people."
The brutal massacre ended centuries of ceremonial dancing and celebrations. U.S. troops gathered the surviving Wiyot people and confined them to the Klamath River Reservation. Over the years, they were moved to other areas. They ceased performing their ceremonies and speaking their language; their culture was almost completely forgotten.
Today, there are more than 300 enrolled members of the Wiyot Tribe struggling to restore their culture and identity. The action taken by the city of Eureka is a big step in helping the members of the Wiyot Tribe reclaim what never should have been taken from them. The City Council, staff and audience all rose for an emotional standing ovation after the council passed the resolution. A few people shed tears of joy.
It will never erase history. History should not be rewritten. It should serve as a reminder of the past and help aim us in the right direction for the future.
The Sinkyones, World Renewal and the Flood
From: Humboldt Redwoods State Park: The Complete Guide, Rohde & Rohde, Miles and Miles, Eureka, Ca 1992 pp. 78-79
“The Sinkyones word for their highest deity meant” the great traveler.” The name was so sacred that it was seldom spoken aloud; instead the deity was usually called “That Man” or something similar. Shortly before he died, Jack Woodman told a story about this figure.
According to Woodman, each year That Man appeared to the Sinkyones shaman and told him when and where to hold the tribe’s dance for world renewal. The shaman then informed the chief, who in turn notified the rest of the people. When the time for the dance came, the families moved to a campground outside a special brush enclosure. After some preliminary ceremonies inside the enclosure, the shaman told the story of That Man who
‘ …made this world and patted it down so that everything would stay in place. But bad men were not satisfied and tore it down, tore up the ocean banks, tore up the trees, tore down the mountains. Since that time we have had sing and dance every year to make it right again.’
Then the songs and dances commenced, lasting three or four hours and resuming on each of the next few nights.
One time That Man visited Woodman. He told Jack that he had come over Elk Ridge, which lay southwest of Bull Creek, and had seen where the white men had peeled tanbark. “It looks just like my people lying around,” That Man said, “lying around with all their skin cut off.”
According to Jack, that Man “looked, he looked, he looked once more and hung his head. He was sad, sad, and he would not look again, he felt so grieved.” That Man also “saw men breaking rocks and plowing up grass. He saw all things leaving and going back to where they came from.” Then That Man told Jack that he “wanted to make another freshet from the ocean – make everybody die so the world would come back as it used to be.” Jack argued with That Man, telling him “don’t do that,” until finally nothing more was said about it.
Jack Woodman died in 1929. By then the Sinkyone world renewal dance was no longer danced. The white people who had taken over the tribe’s territory continued plowing the grass and harvesting the tanbark. In 1937 a “freshet” swept the area, followed by even bigger ones in 1955 and 1964. They washed with a vengeance over the old Indian lands, wiping out much of what the whites had grown and built. The Sinkyones were long since gone, and there wasn’t anyone left to tell That Man not to bring the floods.”
Sometimes reading creates its own coincidences, like this one last night. Lolangkok was our regional tribe for MMC. There are some stone artifacts but the land has been so disturbed it is about impossible to say what was there before. Salmon and steelhead had filled the creek. Tanoak was the mainstay of the diet, with managed groves. Aerial photos from the forties of large tracts of large Douglas fir reflect tanbarking as release cutting, and Native selective management of tanbark for food ending. In other areas we see management for Oregon white oak acorns. South and southwest slopes with little or no Douglas fir or side pressure growing into huge round crowns and very short trunks with large acorns. Fungi that attack the wood of this tree are mycorhizzial with Douglas fir. Clean management of the floor was the only way to protect the oaks. Regular meadow burning prevented dead wood buildup, food source for fungi, killed off the host Douglas fir which feeds the armillaria, interrupted insect breeding schedules, and provided abundances of shoots and other necessary woodland resources. Many examples of this unrecognized silviculture remain in the Eastern parts of the county. This is the exact type of thing JR Smith warns of in ‘Tree Crops’, to be aware of- generations of selection and work about to disappear before acorns are recognized as an important crop, and opportunities for men with their eyes open.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
As the science involved in natural resource recovery improves, methods of healing the landscape and its bounty come under review. Outside of lawsuits, the purchase of land for public benefit is about the only way concerned citizens can impact land use patterns they feel are unduly harsh. When public money is used, public access is involved and recreation is mandated. The increased number of visitors often trigger problems of their own. Land comes off the tax rolls and commercial uses are prohibited or regulated. Appointed overseers, whether BLM or Parks, are forced to accommodate many user groups that normally would not be part of resource management whether protection or recovery. Private owners cannot sustain management when plans are tried in court at every turn, and so cashing out to big money environmental groups has become a major avenue of preservation. The problem with this is that the land comes off the tax rolls, stops creating income and providing jobs, needs its own revenue stream for maintenance and/or counts on over extended and overworked agencies to hold title and perform all administrative tasks. Meanwhile large family operations are trying to preserve their stewardship through reduced inheritance taxes and conservation easements. All of this costs money, and often the source is the very resource that needs attention. Local economies are forced to count on tourism as their primary income, and the land cannot pay for the work needed as skilled labor is lost. Customary uses critical to local concerns are lost in the agency shuffle as each agency tries to protect its area of expertise. And long term preservation agreements may block future uses not currently considered.
The environment and climate change are far more related than scientists studying either recognize. Today in New Scientist climate scientists are predicting lower river flows in middle latitudes and higher flows in tropics and the Boreal north due to precipitation changes caused by global warming. The time scale is 300 years. The scientists predict a 4 fold increase of carbon dioxide over 'Pre-industrial levels". Obviously not all the facts are in yet, but we argue against many of these premises.
Carbon dioxide has been rising unnaturally since man first started tilling the ground, cutting forests and diverting water. These activities all destroy glomalin, releasing ground stored CO2 into the atmosphere. Therefore our pre-industrial baseline reflects some agriculture and development and not just natural occurrences. Glomalin destruction is not accounted in any of today’s measures of CO2 sources.
The vegetation-precipitation interface zone has been substantially impacted, as has drainage worked out in the landscape over thousands of years. The ability of the ground to absorb and store moisture will restore itself if left alone long enough. This means we need to protect and rehabilitate these lands in a manner that restores functioning forest, watersheds and streams. It means we can accelerate the process by tree planting, reducing tillage, minimizing ground disturbance in development and recreation and protecting the resource by fuel reduction and moisture retention. It means carbon dioxide is the key to regenerating the lost unknown resource, glomalin. We actively participate in CO2 reduction by restoring our landscape while it helps retain soil moisture from precipitation events. Eventually the forest will reassert itself but the problems remain the same- forest removal if left in production and complete preservation if not. There is no room to allow recovering land to come online without extraction dollar threats.
Quantifying glomalin production, longevity, and accumulation reveals the true extent of forest production from the resource carbon dioxide, and its relation to tree size. Earlier models of wood plus humic acid underestimated carbon storage. This same ignorance has led to massive releases of stored carbon from modern development and land uses. We are paying the price of ignorance. Emissions alone do not explain the rapid rise. The time for running the numbers has arrived. A scale relating time between ground disturbances and the amount of CO2 released from the soil can provide a set of rules to reduce this unexpected source. Baseline references can be established for vegetation types and condition of the land as well as optimum stocking levels for sustainable glomalin production while in timber production. This is the very definition of sustainable forestry.
Baseline references are also needed to determine carbon storage in different vegetative and climatic settings. Every living thing absorbs carbon so we can get a handle on the carbon budget in many ways, with every one participating. Long term storage under conditions that can normally produce income will need a payment mechanism quantified by science and with attractive alternative economic appeal. The Kyoto Agreement will not, through emissions reductions, solve the problem. Global carbon storage awareness, funded by international carbon storage leasing with long period contracts (easements) prohibiting major ground disturbances or commercial logging can make immediate impacts. Acquisition and restoration money saved, preservation of the tax base, the roadless issue and having fisheries restored justify investigation of this emerging market.
Working on planning for Gilham Butte earlier this week I was surprised to see that it was not possible to preclude entry to BLM for mining purposes even when the area has various designations as an old growth biological reserve. The main thing preventing it is management decision and lack of any subsurface minerals worth extracting. It seemed to be saying tearing up the ground is a protected activity even when the primary aim is ecosystem restoration. That will change as technology leads us from one resource to the next over time, like Douglas fir being of low value until plywood and balloon framing brought huge new demands for these products, resulting in the decimation of PNW forests in the last half century. Seen as a principle economic powerhouse in the rural communities, people allowed destruction of related resources in order to derive the benefits of economic surety, without understanding the biological processes actually occurring in those forests. The biological understanding is now at hand and a new day is about to dawn in land use. The folks who fought to save forests, streams, T & E species may have to take a back seat however, when mineral extraction becomes the primary purpose. While the company, Texas originated Weaverville based Master Petroleum claimed it didn't intend to tear up the environment, the vey prop[osal is in contrast to many years of work on several fronts. Entering a wilderness area through a strip mine degrades the experience. Visual resource values are impacted. Noise degrades wilderness and wilderness experiences. Logging to get at the minerals below will come under THP review. One hundred feet is insufficient riparian buffer. Diversion of 100,000 gallons a day from a primary Trinity feeder flies in the face of ongoing water allotment disputes in the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. Add increased runoff from removal of biological precipitation interface and storage system and major impacts are assured, even in the most compliant plans, because the biological interface is not commonly understood or legally protected.
As of yet no air quality standards for re-emission of soil stored CO2 have been put forward, but it is inevitable with the knowledge in hand and the global environment rapidly showing the effects in a variety of ways. EPA must be made to understand how much of current atmospheric carbon dioxide has been put there by ground clearing and disturbance. Until that happens in forestry (it is already well documented in agriculture but practices and concerns so far have not been carried over to development, recreation or forestry), probably the greatest concentrations of glomalin, air quality will continue to suffer.
Mining is a necessary activity for strategic materials at times, and at other times it is the function of economic opportunity. Gold traditionally rises in times of world turmoil, and the price has risen from about $250 per ounce to nearly $400 since gold was determined to exist in 2000 and the War on Terror began a year later. Opportunity enterprises jump at chances to cash out in good market times and carefully rethink plans when profits threaten to disappear. The worldwide shortfall is a political condition and not related to National Defense. The plan is open for comment until August 26. Local governments, agencies, tribes, non-profits and concerned individuals need to respond to this plan, and let it be known downstream and backcountry users can and will fight the plan beyond profitability.
The real problem here is not the company itself, but the archaic laws still on the books that allow biological and environmental destruction in the name of free enterprise. These laws only benefit large outfits, and the Forest Service made a point of removing gold dredgers because of riparian impacts. Our Congressional leaders need to rewrite laws with such profound impacts more often than every 130 years. Legislators legislate due to public pressure. The Forest Service has a mandate to protect the future resources of the country, particularity biological resources as it is in the Department of Agriculture. Government land holders must not be held hostage to destructive practices that benefit the few. Insuring against pit failure dismisses the likelihood of ground failure due to practices already known to cause ground failures, such as tree removal and runoff diversion.
From BLM's Regional Management Plan we find:'The RMP section entitled ÃArea Wide Decisions declares, "No public lands in the planning area are suitable or available for agricultural entry....because of the rugged topography, small tract size, unsuitable soils and lack ofaccess.Ã It follows with the declaration, ÃPublic lands (including mineral reserve lands) are available for mineral leasing and mineral materials sales, and are open to entry under the Mining Law of 1872. All mineral actions must be consistent with Management Area Resource Condition Objectives (1992 RMP p8). The RMP section entitled ÃDeterminations Not Made In This Plan notes the following that apply to this Plan:
Access Routes: Specific access routes have not been identified but access which is necessary to meet the resource condition objectives and fully implement the land use allocations will be required...". This would seem to mean mineral extraction has the highest priority of all, and that it can be argued that access must be provided for it.
In these cases the governmental agencies hands are tied, often to the exasperation of dedicated employees working on the landscape level. Where strategic materials on public lands are concerned, Congress should ensure extraction in the least destructive manner possible. Destructive land use practices in response to consumer driven markets should be outlawed entirely on public lands. In a word, as biological creations, we have much more to gain from protecting biological resources than we do from extracting mineral wealth.
Mineral extraction laws must be brought up to date.
Comments can be sent to Michael Mitchell, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, P.O. Box 1190, Weaverville, 96093. Closing date is August 26.
Rich McGuiness 5/22/2004
Canyon Creek gold mining dredges up nuggets of concern http://www.times-standard.com/Stories/0,1413,127~2896~2165744,00.html
Saturday, May 15, 2004
The restoration of the watershed is dependant on rebalancing the carbon and water cycles. The various mechanisms of the forest to slow and retain runoff are in a shambles, and as a result we have too much runoff and too little water late in the year creating a general lowering of the water table, fewer springs, dried up tributaries and fish nurseries in late summer, dust, lower fuel moisture content and higher temperatures. Creeks and rivers are filled with sediment causing channels to flood easily, scouring the banks for miles and denuding the streams of shade, raising water temperatures. The easiest, fastest surest way to aquatic health is forest maturation and runoff control with the emphasis on infiltration rather than drainage. The fastest way to keep people from doing things is to pay them not to do whatever it was you wanted stopped. We need big trees, and not for cutting.
In the leaves of photosynthetic plants things happen that we now understand. Water from the roots combines with CO2 from the air in the presence of the suns energy. Sugar is produced and oxygen emitted. Without sun, at night, the process is reversed. Roots convert simple sugar into an array of products needed by the tree. Excess carbon is exuded out the root hairs where mycorrhizal fungi feed on it. The mycorhizzia extend threadlike tubes into the surrounding environment called hyphae
Most plants (except the Brassica family) have symbiotic alliances with fungi. These fungi infect root hairs extending the reach of the plant. Fungi are not primary producers. They are symbiotic with primary producers and so count on the trees for nutrition. The plants count on the mycorhizzia to find water and especially phosphorus. The fungi allow the trees to gather nutrients from a much wider area than the trees roots themselves could have done, and create water and air spaces in the soil. It has been said no tree can live without fungal associates.
Succession in Douglas fir forests show types of fungi changing as the canopy closes, from morels at time of devastation, rhizopogons and seedlings, truffles as the canopy closes and chantrelles as the trees get big. The mycelial mats of hyphae have been shown to hold soils together. Mycorhizzia are well understood in crops but less well in forests. In cropland, a few species of fungi are concentrated in the top several feet of soil.
The root area is less well understood but that is changing quickly. The discovery of the working molecule glomalin by USDA researchers Sara Wright and Kristi Nichols at Beltsville should be the last piece of data we need to understand and implement a carbon storing mechanism. This free food allows the fungi to explore the region around itself looking for more host plants, water and nutrients. As the hyphae extend, they exude glomalin, a glycoprotein made of proteins and iron (1-9%) that stores carbon in the protein and carbohydrate (sugar) parts. Glomalin is 30-40% carbon. Glomalin is found on the outside of the hyphae suggesting it seals the hyphae tubes so they can carry water and nutrients and or strengthens the hyphae to cross air pockets in the soil.
Glomalin holds three times as much carbon in the soil as humic acid, previously believed to be the largest carbon storage mechanism in the soil. It is sticky and binds soil and roots, and lasts 7 to 42 years in the ground. Glomalin gives the mycelia the strength to hold landscapes together. Research shows a mass of proteins with an added iron atoms gives glomalin the ability to bind soil particles into tough aggregates, known to farmers and gardeners as tilth a previously obvious but mysterious quality. A similar mixture of proteins and iron has recently been shown to be the glue that holds marine mussels to rocks in the surf zone. This allows more water storage in the ground, more air spaces, and in trees, the prospect that trees will continue to expand their root zone, extending the hyphae, aggregating the soil and storing carbon long after the commercial growth rate has stopped. The amount of soil affected by tree removal is far greater than the surface wasting we see. Swift describes the release of subsoil carbon caused by erosion and suggests glomalin cannot hold soil together after it is impacted by heat, water, or air. Loss of glomalin will eventually be seen as the cause of mass wasting in the hills, whether by clearcut, roadbuilding, compaction, overgrazing or development.
As roots thicken and become woodier the fungi move down the root to the growing tip. Older hyphae die and glomalin sloughs off binding soil particles into aggregates and conditioning the soil. Each year new root hairs expand the root zone and the hyphae move into the new soil area repeating the process. An interesting quality of glomalin is that production of hyphae and glomalin rise as CO2 rises. A rise from a normal 370ppm to 670 ppm, projected for the middle to late century, produced triple the hyphae growth and created FIVE times the glomalin. Old growth would seem to have far more ability to fix this carbon than young forests just in root mass, carbon collecting mast and extensive hyphael networks, as well as rooting deeper into the ground and creating more carbon and water storage volume.
It is the trees job to protect the soil from running water while collecting and processing carbon dioxide. It does this by breaking the falling power of drops into smaller particles, slowing their fall through the leaves and branch, running down trunks, creating a natural mulch of debris on the ground, further the fragmenting the water droplet until it is usable by microbe or hyphae. It also combs the fog for summer moisture
Glomalin accumulates in the soil over years and is a long lived molecule in the soil, seven to forty two years. In a four year field study at Beltsville Agricultural Research Station, glomalin rose each year after beginning a no-till regime, from 1.3 mg/g to 1.7 mg/g in the third year. A nearby control buffer untilled for fifteen years had 2.7 mg/g. Other Mid-Atlantic soils held up to 15mg/g. The highest rates found so far are in Japan and Hawaii, up to 100 mg/g. But glomalin appeared shorter lived in humid tropics in another study in Costa Rica. There is a lot to learn.
The ability of farms and forests to hold carbon has been generally ignored or under recognized. Foresters claimed as much carbon went into a tree came out again when it is cut, all the carbon would return to the atmosphere through eventual burning or decomposition. Some studies show 150-300 tons of soil organic matter per acre, but glomalin was destroyed or ignored in earlier soil carbon testing. It is now known most carbon in the forest lies in the duff and soil, although there is plenty in wood too. The main players here are decomposing bacteria and fungi. Beneficial bacteria live inside hyphae shielded from predators.
Fungi consume the carbon products the tree exudes from its roots. They infect the root tips making them more permeable, and extend hyphae into the environment searching for nutrients, especially potassium, and water. These hyphae will infect other plants and take advantage of their roots as well, creating a small network of individuals and species tied together by the transport mycelium. If one host dies there is a backup. Some studies show a conifer and a hardwood, together with forbs and shrubs, colonized by the same species as a regular pattern. These associations could be mapped with C-14, as has been done in Britain to determine plant/fungal networks connected by hyphae.
Most species of fungi focus on a single type of nutrient for which it has developed an enzyme. Glomalin appears to be free of these consumers, although the hyphae that produce it are estimated to live only days to weeks. As a plants hyphae-root network extends through the duff, debris is broken down, successive types of fungi process plant material and leave the residue for the next type of fungi, each contributing to the glomalin accumulation. Douglas fir is known to associate with over three thousand varieties of fungi, 26 species found in one needle alone. In addition, different species of fungi occupy a given area in succession as the area matures: morels on devastated land, rhizopogons help establish young trees, truffles appear when the canopy closes followed by chanterelles as the forest matures,
The one other notable quality for our purposes is the binding ability of the glomalin producing mycelium to soil particles, creating one connected surface able to withstand and even benefit from major rain events while preventing erosion and mass wasting, and percolating rainfall deep into the ground while increasing the soils ability to store that water. This is the water that keeps springs and creeks running late in the summer and early fall.
The fact that trees produce far more carbon than just the wood and crown gives us the right tool to manage our wild lands on an even basis with industry, indeed gives us an opportunity of great consequence, the same way that established rates of growth allowed timber to be seen as an investment. But they only saw it as wood, and not the entire carbon production of an entire forest system with its myriad of subsoil associations, vegetative hydrology and gigantic carbon fixing ability.
Glomalin management has been at the heart of many agricultural developments and programs knowingly or not. Recognition that the most profitable means of production meant destruction of the environment that allowed for that profit is an ancient tale repeated throughout the world and history. Today we see the results of glomalin mismanagement on a landscape scale: landslides, sediment choked streams, habitat destruction, soils that become easily saturated to the point of failing and dry out earlier every year because the porous zone has shrunk and the soil glue is gone, and running water and precipitation cutting directly into the ground.
We can make big changes easily through management that restores forests, fisheries, and water supplies while creating windfalls for any landowner, including parks, governments, agencies, companies, private landowners, and eventually, suburban and urban landowners. The need for restoration dollars would fall drastically and switch from grants to outside corporate funding. The value of picked mushrooms or other special forest products and hunting and fishing leases can increase the per acre annual return. The same can be said for mast crops. Full canopy closure would be a natural result, with zero runoff and prime wildlife habitat created by accident. The need to preserve land would melt away as lands mature into production needing vegetative management and maintenance.
Carbon credit trading is becoming a commodity in the national and world markets. While there may be a lot more to study we can begin managing crop and forest land as one storage unit, rented for a certain amount for an indefinite period. Landowners are equal or classed by vegetation type or age. Using satellite data, take a state snapshot showing veg layers. Crunch this with GIS to produce coverage maps. Let a big power, like the State or Congress, or a created and empowered agency to sell so many acres of carbon sink for X dollars, say $50/acre/year, about enough to pay forest maintenance and land taxes for a year on rural property. We should be able to quantify the amount of carbon stored per acre per year for various management styles and plants as part of the cost of doing starting a new business and giving us a dollar value. Place the veg layer over the property tax maps and pay accordingly. Landowners get paid for all acreage with total canopy or production in no-till and pasture areas. The goal is zero surface runoff, year round flows of high quality cool water paid for by carbon banking.
Who gets the dough? All landowners. Let schools and agencies supplement their budgets. Let good past managers be rewarded. Punish folks who create runoff by withdrawing their annual pay until the canopy closes back over- say 35 years. Directly tie checks to GIS layers. Deduct 1 acre for every 660 foot of 60-foot road and scaling up from there. Building overflow sumps to hold runoff at peak times or using permeable road base, can restore these lands into water productive areas rather than potential land failures. Any development immediately removes that acreage from the payee role. Use a new picture every year. Almost everyone eligible would lose some percentage to open canopy areas whether buildings, roads, rights of ways, streams etc. The threat of loss by fire would entice owners to keep their forests in good order to prevent fuel buildup or other dangerous conditions.
As the foresters noted, the carbon from a tree is mostly returned to the atmosphere when a tree is felled. However, fungi cannot tolerate infrared radiation. Running water and ambient air, which nature protects with a full canopy and duff layer, destroys glomalin. Fungi themselves are destroyed by ultraviolet. 85% of soil carbon is lost to the atmosphere in the year after clear-cut harvest. Therefore select cuts that do not disturb the soil and retain say 70% canopy would not reduce payment. A road to that tree would. Landings take land out too. Every disturbed, unshaded or compacted acre would become unqualified and lose its right to money but select cutting and commercial thinning would still be fine. Similarly cropland can store carbon when no-till methods are utilized. This, however, may threaten our concept of the advantages of organic farming.
The reason for this is the fact of continual cultivation to control weeds disrupts the underground workings of the soil interactions. No-till farming methods preserve the glomalin and actually encourage carbon storage, and have risen to include one third of U. S. cropland. This is the essential role of genetically modified (GM) crops- to survive weed control spraying so no-till methods can be used. I have seen nothing yet on no-till using landscape cloth for weed control.
Higher flows and larger anadramous fish runs will be apparent before the new forestry fully matures. Sport fishing should be a barometer as well as the eventual replacement funding for carbon credits, which should be declining due to less dependence on fossil fuels. Habitat improvements will come easily in the new environment. Stand improvement and protection, fuel reduction and habitat improvement would be done regularly by people trained and paid to manage these resources, creating local jobs and protecting and enhancing every wild land community.
The implications of glomalin are enormous in many fields of science with many aspects as yet unknown. A working model of the molecule will soon allow researchers to analyze this amazing molecule. Research chemists will be sure to see if it is harvestable or has any marketable use. Coal, oil and gas found in sandstone and shale may be more fungal residue than plant material. Stores may be larger than we thought. How deep in the soil can it be found? In hydrology it explains the ability of land to store water, and how to increase the ability of land to hold water. It explains why we need to leave forest land shaded and ground cover intact. It shows us how and why to assist nature in recovery after traumatic events in the woods
“As carbon gets assigned a dollar value in a carbon commodity market, it may give literal meaning to the expression that good soil is black gold. And glomalin could be viewed as its golden seal.” Don Comis,Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
Carbon dioxide emissions from destroyed glomalin are a known quantity in crop land but qpparently not in forests. Glomalin accumulation in old forests has not been quantified but is potentially a major unknown source of the rising CO2 levels so well known by now. It is the most important element in restoring damaged landscapes, collection of it creates biological habitats as well as timber, water and fish resources and the government is paying industry to pump it deep into the ground for a lot of money where it will be removed from the biological cycles for some time. Our ability to secure that resource and do that job is going to go to the wrong concept until we realize we need to pay people to store this resource, and that everyone benefits by its proper management.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Conservation 'needs wider view' By Julianna Kettlewell
BBC News Online science staff
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3707857.stm A study released today concerned unpredictable results regarding wildlife species after stress has removed the most quickly impacted species. They say worldwide focus has been on photogenic species rather than ecosystem preservation, which provides the needs pf many species. They point out that when a species disappears a hole is cut in the food web. Other species may flourish for a while with less pressure in compensation but eventually the species itself is forced to face the changing conditions. More extinctions do not provide the initial freedom from competition or predation. No one can tell which species will compensate and which will decline as stress escalates.
Anthony Ives and Bradley Cardinale of University of Wisconsin at Madison said unpredictability of outcome was the principle reason to protect ecosystems rather than individual species. "We can't just go out and conserve one species," said Bradley Cardinale, the other co-author, "because we have no idea what species may make the community resistant in the future; we would be prudent to conserve as many as we can."
Restoration of landscape wide habitat can only occur if we have many people are convinced there is a plan that will work, will not hurt them legally, financially, or by regulation, allows their own use of private land within the law, and can benefit them economically. Simple suggestions, regular preventative maintenance and a floating scale of regular payments, based on acreage in glomalin production, the forestry equivalent to fallowing, can produce these benefits as a by product of positive action.
Focusing on managing forest for glomalin means using large old trees to secure carbon dioxide products in the soil, giving adhesion and pore space to the soil, and enabling it to store water. As mycelium and hyphae create a network of individual plants and multiple species, habitat is created for larger animals. The longer the area is undisturbed , the greater the habitat is allowed to rehabilitate and evolve into niches. Management calls for insuring the working asset, the forest against fire, disease, drought, theft, and trespass. Restoring the water content of the ecosystem reduces risk of the first three. In addition, explosive growth of less desirable species and successional pioneers calls for hand release toward species that can from a canopy with enough shade to suppress competitors. It is the next step in getting the biological house in order. Once canopy is established species preferential treatments can increase the value of the lumber being grown, but it is essential fire danger be reduced as part of the program whether timber is a goal or not.
The old concept of growth slowing meaning decline in older trees is no longer the issue. Big trees have far more ability to produce sugars for mycorhizzia than newly planted ground or second growth. . Groups of big trees create the late seral conditions so many threatened species find diminishing. Ground disturbance and loss of food cause lots of CO2 to be released when they are removed. It could be an air quality issue. Additionally, they maintain large reservoirs of soil moisture, numerous root and fungi connections, a sprawling network of associated species, which form the landscape into a single carbon based water-centric system.
Long term glomalin production based conservation easements are a great way to restore habitat while reducing atmospheric CO2. Packaged into large contiguous blocks of land across public and private ownership that produces steady annual income, we create large blocks of habitat under corporate sponsorship. This model provides water, shade, habitat, proactive response to man-made environmental problems, stream restoration and fisheries recovery, cash payments to citizens and agencies, and an opportunity for corporations to compensate for emissions. Hopefully declining emissions will reduce the need for payments, but we will have restored our damaged watersheds and fisheries through understanding functioning forests by then.
By bringing large acreages together with a single management goal of replacing lost carbon dioxide in the forest precipitation cycle where it belongs we restore the fundamental basis of functioning soils. Restored to their proper place by active accumulation of a pollutant we are truly making the world more livable for many species.
Glomalin mismanagement is one of the most critical causes of habitat loss, as it is the underpinning of every food web. Positive glomalin management creates habitat across the landscape. Glomalin is found around the world and is associated with fungi associated with 85-90% of the worlds plant species, and should be considered in land use practices in other environments wherever soil water storage is crucial.
Prevailing wage and watershed volunteer issue to be clarifiedhttp://www.times-standard.com/Stories/0,1413,127%257E2896%257E2145898,00.html A flap over pay for volunteers has got labor concerned volunteers are not being paid prevailing wages on jobs funded with public money as required by law, unless the projects are completely volunteer. For volunteers and landowners it is entirely distressing. Regulations and concerns from many agencies already influence our ability to take measures needed. People are counting on restoration as an industry to create jobs when they really mean careers. Restoration is not sustainable; it should be a relatively quick fix. Management of restored lands and vegetation control will be the full time jobs, along with pre-commercial, commercial, fire protection and stand improvement thinning, fishing and forest recreation. The mix of paid and volunteer workers allow the matching funding to be met by volunteers under the guidance of knowledgeable paid leaders and staff. No qualification was made in the article about machine time itself- it is far more expensive than the labor. So perhaps the operator gave the only contribution he could afford- a reduced pay for himself. Should he not take the job? How does he make his payments? Should the identified problem not be resolved? The traditional method of paying some skilled positions and leaders should be maintained to maximize restoration efforts.
Finally, no teacher should be allowed to make his students volunteer to his own benefit.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Boy howdy, I haven't even finished reading the papers and I see so many fixable problems it is hard to know where to stsrt. I guess you have to start with stating the premise-rising CO2 accelerates vegetative growth, which speeds soil aggregation through the processes of mycorhizzial fungi, increasing the ability of the landscape to absorb precipitation, control runoff, feed streams and biological systems, avoid flooding and drought, and modify climate through shade and aerosols. Rising temperatures additionally increase growth rates seen in rising CO2 environments. All the science of all the parts is in hand, yet the parts are in disarray like Black Elks broken Medicine Wheel. One good wheelwright and we are up and running in no time.
http://www.co2science.org/journal/v7/v7n19b1.htm Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi: Their Responses to Long-Term Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment ===========================================================================================----
http://www.co2science.org/carbon/carbon.htm Demise of Earth's Tropical Forest Carbon Sink Greatly Exaggerated For starters, Phillips et al. note that "ecological orthodoxy suggests that old-growth forests should be close to dynamic equilibrium;" and for many years, such appeared to be the case, which would suggest that any significant threat to their well-being would manifest itself in reduced growth rates. Just the opposite trend, however, has recently been observed in nature.
In one of the first studies to illuminate this new reality, Phillips and Gentry (1994) analyzed the turnover rates - which are close correlates of net productivity (Weaver and Murphy, 1990) - of forty tropical forests from around the world. They found that the growth rates of these already highly productive forests have been rising even higher since at least 1960, with an apparent pantropical acceleration since 1980, the period of time over which Phillips et al. say liana growth has also accelerated, which suggests that the latter phenomenon has not been an impediment to the former.
Phillips et al. additionally note that several subsequent studies have verified that neotropical forests are indeed accumulating both carbon (Grace et al., 1995; Malhi et al., 1998) and biomass (Phillips et al., 1998, 2002), "possibly in response to the increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (Prentice et al., 2001; Malhi and Grace, 2000)." Consequently, it would appear that tropical trees and their parasitic lianas are both being benefited by the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content, with the ultimate consequence that rather than seeing the tropical terrestrial carbon sink "shut down" in the near future, we can expect it to continue to gradually increase in magnitude.
Reclamatiohttp://www.times-standard.com/cda/article/print/0,1674,127%257E2896%257E2141144,00.html Reclaimation crimps Klamath flows to 2002 levels
http://www.times-standard.com/Stories/0,1413,127~2906~2141143,00.html Who's the real obstructionist here?==============================================================================
A River Losing Its Soul
Along the banks of the Colorado, the Grand Canyon's habitat is still vanishing despite years spent trying to minimize the effects of damming.
1. A linchpin of the restoration program is adaptive management, an approach that is supposed to give officials the freedom to try something different if their initial game plan doesn't work.
But there are so many competing interests on the program's advisory committee - power producers, environmentalists and state water managers, to name a few - that Fenn says it's not easy to adapt.
"I think too many people are saying, 'I don't want anything to happen because I don't want to lose what I got,' " he said. "They're all well-meaning and want to do the right thing, but they have their interests."
2. Playing God is a lot harder than it looks," Raley said. "I'm not aware of a bold move we could jump to on this canyon that would be responsible."
--Fight Over Dam Points Up Water Woes
The project, which would flood a Mexican canyon, would help avert a crisis in Guadalajara. But three villagers refuse to leave.
U.S. Planning for Heavier Use of Southland Forests
The Forest Service will take public comments on the plan for the next three months. It is available at <http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/scfpr> .
Starting with the Arbuscular fungi current conditions are causing rapid increases in vegetative growth. We know this translates into rising glomalin production as hyphae increase thier searching activity sloughing off glomalin as they grow. Glomalin conditions soil to accept precipitation, and stores it as soil moisture in pores created by aggregation. Old growth forests in the Northwest may contain three to five years worth of precipitation. In a sixty inch a year area, that is five acre feet per acre per year, 15-25 acre feet total. Put 800 stems on that acre pulling 25 lbs of carbon a year- about five tons per year. Glomalin has a turnover rate stated as between 7 and 42 years although I know of no studies in temperate forest areas- the rate could be much slower in old forests. So it is a living system replenishing itself as a percentage decays, and catastrophically impacted by surface disturbances. Five tons times 7 years indicates a release of 35 tons per acre, while the upper limit is 220 tons per acre. We begin to see many land use practices are impacting CO2 rates that are not accounted for as causes of rising CO2. We can also see how quickly CO2 levels can be managed through our activities, and that those activities benefit all biological systems in place when we started, largely through precipitation retention. As a result we learn earths capacity to handle these problems is much greater than expected, and that the tools for this transformation are simple and readily at hand.
Waterforum, A Yahoo Group, has had long standing discussions on the Colorado BAsin, and much angst between MWD and certain posters who claimed artificial water practices ain California made all MWD supporters flunkies of a private interest group protecting its power and position by taking stances detrimental to natural systems. The fighting broke down over politics rather than scientific substance, regarding flows and schedules. One thread discussed lowered water tables after tree reomval to raise it. When brush filled in the empty spaces, even less water was available, so it was removed as the cause, and the water table sank again. Big mystery, charges of mismanagement, fixed, flawed and irrelevant data, protectionism of big project syndrome, environment over people, etc.. At no time was it realized the trees were responsible for the amount of ground water there to begin with, although the roles of buffalo, beaver and badgers was discussed. Many small dams on tributaries and land management practices to speed runoff into the reservoirs is causing all kinds of trouble. Lack of sediment in the river system was not one of them. Neither was the natural function of forests to intercept, absorb and dole out precipitation.
The Colorado River system is showing the effects of us "knowing what we are doing." From watershed to river bottom policies are based on greed (human commercial scale needs) and ignorance of natural systems. One oft-mentioned point was that many people who had used groundwater were now on distributed water systems because the groundwater was inadequate or polluted, increasing the need for more storage for distributed water in the form of dams. Many of the small dams are approaching the end of thier useful lives as sediment fills in the catchment. We can see in the article about Mexico, water rich 40 years ago and desperate for water now, how our new insights can be of real value. In many poor regions of the world fuelwood for cooking is a major component of deforestation. Recognition of forests for water needs flies in the face of needing to cook every day. There is no connection made between the two. Regimes of landscape stabilizing, water producing coppice forest can provide quick turnaround from both water table and fuel problems while creating habitat. This is a low tech fix with no infrastructure to protect except aginst trespass, which in these schemes will be a big legal deterrant to unauthorized uses, as well as a job creator.
All of which brings us back to Humboldt County. The Trinity-Klamath haves, with water behind infrastructure, demand economic benefit at the expense of natural resources. They have no plan to live within the limits of available water, which is much lower due to practices in the surrounding watershed from farming, development and logging. Fisheries are suffering mightily from inadequate flows. Various release schemes all omit some critical part of fish life cycle, and they keep bouncing these "fixes" around the calender with unpredictable consequences. The one side is keeping all the water they have. The other side insists they give it up. They are fighting over a diminishing resource which is readily replenishable. Without looking at a amp, we can be sure the watersheds above and below the dams are some fraction of what they once were, just in porous surface area, let alone in hte third dimension. Downstream habitat can be refurbished by improving watershed health for maximun water absorption, allowing more precipitation into the river later in the year. An impacted river should look at every available square foot of ground as a potential water source. The same is true of the Eel. Heavy impacts below the dams assure rapid runoff in developed areas, diminished area for precipitation interception, less conditioned soil for storage, a general drying of the ecosystem and the reason UNEP put this area on its map of desertification in a decade or two. It seems we may be able to really improve rivers and fisheries by rebuilding the damaged ecosystems downstream regardless of what they do upstream. A good example is the culvert replacement program, which open many miles of spawning habitat and in some cases improve the flow of sediment. Making water conservation a top priority will definitly have an impact. Then we could use additional flows to improve quality as needed without threatening the fish first.
The last article in a way relates tro what we said about creating more habitat for murrelets- a balance of recreation and preservation of functioning natural systems completely ignores the ability of the landscape to provide new opportunities. All public land agencies have recreation components in thier mandates. Protection of natural resources also has an important role. The definition of destruction of natural resources will change once glomalin production becomes accepted by agencies, and it will always be important to provide recreation opportunities. Areas of glomalin protection/production/preservation can handle low impact recreation indefinitly. Surface cutting sports like ohv's, mountain bikes, prospecting should be funneled into landscapes that can already bear the load. The prospect of converting large areas of forest into glomalin/water production areas leased for CO2 storage vastly increase opportunities for wildlife, a major component in recreation for many people. More suitable habitat may provide relief for endangered species, lowering protection and easing restricions, but only within the new management guidelines. Distributed ownership with a funding source and options assure us creative business types will keep the rent and still find income opportunities compatible with our sustainable vision.
One last note on this article: their general plan for four southern California National Forests is available for public comment for the next 90 days. Good advice on public comments, links to NEPA,etc.You can link directly to a downloadable version from the above site. Just a mountain of other useful information as well.
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Commentary: Murrelet report sparks debate over bird's future
The battle over habitat was on the front page again today, this time in regard to marbled murrlet protections. Local environmentalists are alarmed over possible extirpation of the species in California, Oregon and Washington within the next forty years, as reported in a new study by 16 biologists working under contract from three Oregon timber companies. The report says murrelets and their old growth habitats deserve protection. They want every possible old growth tree protected. Timber industry analysts are wondering why a species abundant in other parts of its range should be protected at all. Fish and Wildlife Deputy Director John Engbring statement that “there is little more that can be done on private land” but that private property protection, the Northwest Forest Plan and the large number of birds elsewhere provide opportunities for recovery.
This is a good example of what is wrong with today’s regimen-there is no quantifiable hope for the future and is again an example of how managing for carbon storage can incidentally solve some of our current problems. Northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets and salmon all benefit from a management scheme in which large trees are necessary for forest to function as carbon pumps for the fungi in the ground. As rising CO2 becomes more of a concern globally it becomes more apparent rent should be paid for people to leave large blocks of trees working for extended periods. Corvid threat indicates these areas should be closed canopy with minimal openings, including roads, and can be a management goal in newly refreshed habitats. Long term contracts with opt-in clauses for industry and agencies and conservation easements for privately held lands would ensure return of large tracts of lands to late seral characteristics in one or two generations. Habitat must be available to fill or there can be no increase in numbers. King Range NCA should be watched for the return of nesting marbled murrelets as it is recovering habitat and can be a useful indicator of improving conditions.
A similar region wide effort well under way is the culvert replacement program. This gem is reopening many miles of habitat for coho and steelhead. Unfortunately, much of this habitat is also impacted with sediment from various land use patterns. In order to successfully take advantage of the improved situation, it would be worthwhile to implement a program of stream channel recovery, with methodical pool and riffle construction where needed. One visit per creek, initially, with the size of job depending on many factors. Opening of this much habitat could be reason enough to use hatcheries with wild fish (many of which die in streams that dry up annually) to ensure successful re-habitation as well as genetic variability.
In many ways Humboldt County is still recovering from past land use patterns. One area is the diminished capacity of our watersheds to dole out their moisture over the whole dry season. I have shown how this is directly tied to glomalin formation, and that glomalin production increases with tree age, rising CO2 and temperature increases. This means the tools for recovery are at hand, but we are still calling them unsolvable problems. Taken together with ignorance of CO2 emissions from glomalin destroyed by ground disturbance, the picture of global warming becomes encouraging for natural resource managers.Global emission problems are our tool for healing the landscape. Timber companies will always have reason to work the woods but it could switch from fiber to carbon very easily if profitable. Long term rotation or storage contracts, say 100 years, would provide the stable economic background for recovery. Rewritten Forest Practice Rules reflecting canopy and floor protection c could usher in a new era of sustainable forestry in its broadest sense. The main source of logs would become commercial thinning as part of glomalin management or industry’s opt out holdings. This matches up well with the focus on second growth. Second growth must be allowed, in recovery areas, enough time to restore the water holding capacity of the soil, especially in steep areas. High production zones in relatively flat and stable areas could opt out for shorter rotations. Advances in fungi research will assure continued improvement in the industrial sector as well as in the natural landscape.
Possible management schemes include glomalin forest reserves, mostly already in public hands; glomalin production zones, where recovering forest is set aside primarily for carbon storage; glomalin repair areas where high glomalin production plants are introduced in order to restore growing conditions (pioneer species), and other glomalin producing zones such as grasslands, wetlands and desert.
Environmentalists and resource dependant industries must widen their view of the future. Managed lands will become the norm. This means jobs. Jobs take money but it is possible to tap into corporate money and take some pressure off public money, and keep those lands on the taxrolls. Management must be put on a sustainable, scientific basis or our tools for recovery becomes bones of contention, denial and perceived economic injury.
Tax deductible donations can be made to: The Redwood Reader, Middle Mattole Conservancy, P.O.Box 73, Honeydew, Ca 95545 The Middle Mattole Conservancy is a California recognized 501c3 non profit engaged in conserving and restoring natural resources.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
Here in Humboldt County, without large metro areas, we had some horrific events like the flood of 1964. Much debate has swirled over the causes, and the Forest Practice rules of 1972 were introduced. There was snowpack and a warm period, heavy rain, and one other factor to consider: abnormally high tides blocking the river mouths from emptying into the sea. Instead, the water backed up in the rivers to an amazing depth and scouring the banks for many feet from the channel and for miles up the rivers and tributaries, which is why it is so hard to reestablish shaded areas along the rivers for summer.
Massive caterpillar logging since WWII had removed canopy, radically altered drainage on the ground, choked the river and streams with sediment and reducing their capacity. Runoff was created on a massive scale. Altered and overwhelmed drainages carved into the ground and carried huge portions of the landscape with it. The soil is a marine sediment with barely a rock in it, liquefied in hundreds of areas causing slides, debris torrents and mass wasting. Huge amounts of sediment poured in from devastated tributaries, filling ancient sturgeon holes forty feet deep in the main rivers, and altering our Chinook, coho and lamprey runs. The study site is a tributary of the Mattole River and just over the hill from Humboldt Redwoods State Park. HRSP is an interesting aside. Save-the –Redwoods bought large groves of redwoods to protect into the future back in the twenties. The location in Bull Creek was in the lower river, and private property shared the watershed with them. Massive tractor logging went on in the upper watershed, above Cuneo Creek on Big Hill. When Big Hill failed, and the other upper Bull Creek and Panther Creek areas, the water took out hundreds of huge ancient trees like toothpicks. As a result, Save the Redwoods League purchased the Bull Creek watershed headwall to headwall for the park in order to stabilize the landscape and prevent further harm, to this limited resource. HRSP General Plan currently includes Bull Creek Restoration project, including pool building and tree planting which may well be a model for other impacted watersheds.
Glomalin accumulates over years making soil porous and decreasing water repellency. It is destroyed by sunlight, running water and ambient air. When it is destroyed, it reverts back to CO2. For this reason I believe the amount of CO2 contributed by emissions is overestimated, and the amount of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere by farming, logging, roads development and construction needs to be quantified., all of which also alter the grounds ability to absorb water. Remember, glomalin was only discovered in 1996 and is only now being regarded in non-crop situations. Even for crops, though, glomalin is changing practices to use no-till methods, storing carbon while decreasing irrigation and runoff. I think they will find more glomalin in undisturbed forest than anywhere else.
Glomalin also gives us hope for the future, as it is created at a much higher rate in enriched CO2 atmospheres. That is to say, the more CO2 in the air the faster our watersheds will be able to heal themselves, increasing their precipitation retarding properties above ground and below increasing the storage capacity. Glomalin is created even faster when temperature is increased. This is a real management opportunity for planners. Break out the maps and see where you have altered the soil structure through roads, farms, logging, development. As in all watershed issues, you need more trees, and in this way you can actually shrink the size of a hundred year flood.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
State and Federal officials are gearing up for a potentially dangerous fiire season in California again. Two main causes for concern are fuel loading from a five year drought in Southern Cal. where last years fires only destroyed about 5% of beetle killed trees. Sudden oak death in the Bay region has killed thousands of tanoaks in haevily forested and urban interface lands. The little funding needed to reduce fuels has not been appropriated, and fuel reduction projects are a tiny fraction of what needs to be done.
'Still, state and national officials say the trend in recent years of extremely destructive wildfires in California and throughout the West is likely to continue this season.
A lack of precipitation is a major culprit: Most of the American Southwest -- which includes Southern California -- is in the fifth year of a drought."
What we are actually seeing is continued decline in the soil moisture-root zone. One source said old growth forest stores 3 to 5 years rain , indeed it is the mechanism by which natural systems defend against drought. Repeated insults and changes in drainage combined with lack of understanding about biological preparation of watershed activity n the root zones and forests have left many areas much drier than they would be naturally. Without this soil moisture trees stress and fare poorly and become susceptible to infestation, which many trees defend against with sap, a product of the water table. So we see a viscious circle in which removal and disturbance lead to a smaller below ground reserve of moisture, leading to disease, and then fire again, more drainage changes from fire fighting, larger and larger areas at risk as watersheds shrink. Accelerate forest cover removal, pave and roof a good percentage of it, drain runoff into rivers as fast as possible so no subsoil biological use occurs, watch it create slides when too much water is in the wrong swale or overloads the soils ability to handle it-which doesn't happen without people disturbing it.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of understanding the contributions of fungi in protecting our wildlands and watersheds. It takes hundreds of years to create the soil moisture zones in a forest. It is likely trees do not even really begin producing large amounts of glomalin until the trees are big enough to harvest as "second-growth". So short rotation logging is as much a problem as removing old growth. In either case select cutting is much preferred, preserving the subsoil already conditioned and minimizing runoff. Once forestry offficials and other land managers see these issues through this perspective we will begin to see improvement in California conditions. (See Our Shrinking Watershed). It would be interesting to know how much CO2 is released by our current firefighting methods, as land disturbance releases CO2 into the air in a much bigger quantity than previously realized.
Conditions ripe for bad fire season
Trees killed by oak fungus a hazard to the Bay Area
Glen Martin, Chronicle Environment Writer
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
The restoration community originated around salmon, the one thing that galvanized enough people to make them think in larger contexts. Salmon were quickly disappearing, runs a tiny fraction of those even withn memory. Massive impacts on the land had caused massive impacts on the rivers. Not all the impacts were from destabilized slopes. Culverts along roads following rivers had cut off hundreds of miles of spawning tributaries. Hundreds of acres were now paved or roofed, creating runoff. Scour had denuded stream banks of shade, food and cover; and stripped channels of porous gravel beds and woody debris.
Restoration began in the rivers but it was clear too much water was running through the watershed to expect structures to last. More attention was paid to the failing hillsides and inner gorges, and road training and tree planting became staples of restoration effort. Other efforts centered on slowing timber harvests or purchase for preservation.
All the while the landscape was recovering. The place liked to grow all right. You can practically see it growing in the spring. Everything is nice and green because it is moist and partly sunny-photosynthesis- and that takes carbon dioxide. There is more carbon dioxide around now along with arguably warmer temperatures, and increased plant growth as a result.
This means the fungi are also thriving and glomalin production is much greater in each individual. The larger the tree, the more fungi, more soil stability and thus cleaner creeks and water. Succession in plant species remains totally valid. To this add succession in fungi on a given site-from morel in the open to rhizopogon early and truffles later in the second growth, finally resolving to chantrelles in mature forest. All are mycorhizzial with Douglas fir, are difficult to cultivate, commercially valuable, and glomalin producers. In fact, over three thousand fungi associate with Douglas fir, one 0.5 CM rootlet was colonized by seven species of fungi, glomalin producing fungi associate with 85% of plant species around the world. One cubic centimeter of soil contained over a kilometer of hyphae. Stomas close in elevated CO2, slowing transpiration. Stem diameters jump. CO2 processing is higher at warmer temperatures. The ability to absorb rainfall is steadily increasing, runoff decreasing and high water isn’t always brown. There is more shade and it is much cooler as a result. There is plenty of science to work with and many more questions to resolve. I am connecting the dots from years of asking questions while re-wilding is occurring before our very eyes. And like a bright glaring light in our eyes, understanding floods in and we can assess events and situations around the world as well as forward and back in time, learn to live and work within this system, and harness its benefits for betterment of people and species in different environments around the world. This will be science and agriculture for the twenty first century. Mismanagement of this resource is our trademark on the landscape, it is now our tool for shaping the future.
Tax deductible donations can be made to: The Redwood Reader, Middle Mattole Conservancy, P.O.Box 73, Honeydew, Ca 95545 The Middle Mattole Conservancy is a California recognized 501c3 non profit engaged in conserving and restoring natural resources.
The first thing noticeable, besides the dust, was the short canopy. As we come to a bend in the road there are old bank failures in the creek canyon almost the entire length. The creek has cut deeply unto the marine sediment soil in the recent past. Precipitous cliffs and washouts are everywhere. Pools in the creek are filling in from falling banks. Small rills cut gullies through the meadows, and the remaining hardwoods in the open are falling every time the wind blows. Scalding sun killed many seedlings and radiated blazing heat, even the water in the few remaining pools was hot. We park under several huge old canyon live oaks, and the area looks pretty normal, except there is a cliff seventy-five feet away, and some holes in the ground on this side of it. Tops of young fir and a few alders stick out. The creek is about fifty feet below us.
Following the road down a way the next bend is on an awesome overlook, created by mass wasting. Here it is about a hundred feet down to the creek, but the road cuts back sharply to the right and goes down to the creek. The road used to go straight along this ridge after the fire, the entire property length of half mile, but most of it has collapsed carrying huge amounts of sediment into the creek with it. Now alders growing on the creeks edge, forcing it into a channel for better or for worse, mark the creek below. They fix nitrogen, hold boulders together, add nitrogen leaf litter, create shade, habitat and insect food. Their roots take a beating in winter, so that many die and many are sprouted each year. The other odd thing here was the fact of how deep the creekbed was from the apparent surface of the meadow.
Further up the opposite slope skid trails ran to every stump, or ended in midair as another washout emerged. Several old gullies had obviously carried big water. Big stumps and old logs were still laying around, and the unburnt hardwood forested areas were young, roaded, with stumps but very pretty forest to walk in. Boxing this area in were two washed out side drainages, connected by an old road. This area had been logged, burnt, roaded, destabilized by activity uphill and is the meeting point of two fault lines. The road was mostly rock, creating a two way runoff channel. Both side drainages suffer severe damage between here and where they empty out into the creek below. Far too much runoff was exacerbating these old problems.
Runoff was not a good thing. We are led to believe we can drain any situation and make it work but experience tells us this is not a good thing. Runoff is the result of imperfect precipitation interface. Somewhere more water accumulated than the ground could absorb in however long it was there. What determines the grounds ability to absorb water is the porosity of the soil, which is directly a result of glomalin activity. The older the tree, the deeper and widespread the roots, the more water it takes to reach saturation, the less runoff is created, and the water lasts later into the dry season. It takes a really big storm to flood old growth areas, but these same size storms create lots of road runoff, or intercept natural drainages and add water to the wrong areas, creating destructive torrents.
Glomalin allows us to see the chain reaction caused by the cutting of large tree cover. First, no more fog is captured, and no CO2 captured for manufacturing of sugars. The hole in the canopy allows rain to pound the ground. The ground has been compacted by machinery, exposed to sun light and air, and had channels carved in it by dragging the tree out, so that the rain accumulates as runoff and begins doing damage by carving into the soil and destroying the glomalin and hyphae in the soil, liquefying it. In steep areas slides and mudflows result.
Meanwhile, starving mycelia are beginning to die, unless supported by networked secondary vegetation like brush or select cuts, furthest (deepest) ones first, and the watershed begins to shrink. Glomalin does have a life cycle and so must be replenished or else it cannot perform its function correctly. As the watershed shrinks the ability to handle large events dwindles. Without adventitious tissue, the Douglas fir roots die and begin decomposing. Each year less and less glomalin remains in the ground, and root wood is weakened. After ten or more years no strength is left as the stump rots out and more soil lets go. For this reason stump sprouting species are much preferred for harvest.
In a large rain event under these conditions no canopy exists to slow the rain, and all the rain is in contact at the decision point: soak in or run off, there is no drip or residual moisture lingering after the storm has passed, no duff holding residual moisture or protecting the fungi on the surface. A large percentage of water runs off into drainage, lost to terrestrial ecosystems and delivered with sediment into streams, rather than pure water from springs and headwater areas. Some of the runoff dissolves further glomalin as it runs down slope toward the creek, creating slides as it goes and delivering more sediment to the creek. The creek pools fill with sediment, gravel beds choke and the streambed becomes shallower. In a good rain the creek jumps its banks easily because the land is not absorbing the water and the creek has lost its volumetric capacity. It scours the creek side stripping it of vegetation and becoming a torrent itself moving boulders and the color of chocolate milk, and creating a mess where it meets the river, where large sediment drops out as gradient decreases. Lighter sediment sweps downstream, settling into and filling pools and slow areas.