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.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

109.American Chestnut Breeding Program choices 

I belonged to The American Chestnut Foundation in its early years when I lived in New York. The story of the chestnut can teach us many things, and may yet make a comeback with human assistance. I was always of the opinion that, since the infection entered the bark as it began furrowing in spring from new growth as it ages, it should be possible to genetically modify the tree not to furrow, or at least cause it to delay years into the future allowing for annual cropping and plentiful wood and glomalin production. The hybrids cannot replace the precipitation and root zone activity of a tree three or four times their size. There may be much to share with SOD researchers as investigations continue.
Chestnuts are one of the great economic opportunities to agroforesters. The long lived trees commercially cover only 400 plus acres in the U.S., all in California. Yet they represent a large swath of wealth acrosws Southern Europe form Portugal to the Balkans with the crop harvested by hogs and turned into pork. Together with olives this culture has existed for thousands of years and provided annual income and a stable landscape the entire time. Today they would probably be grown in walnut fashion because good use of mountain agriculture continues to defy machinery. Instead a pastoral model is needed, such as harvesting with hogs. The very methods of old time gully fighting annual mast crop agriculture constitute good glomalin management. Indeed, PL was founded on a loan guaranteed by hogs eating acorns under an oak tree. Chestnut is also a tough and durable wood with similar weather resistance qualities to redwood, and sells for over twelve dollars a board foot.
Early HUmboldt settlers brought chestnuts with them and planted them with success. I have heard of quite a few trees but all the ones I see have been claimed to be American but are too small in the tree and too large in the nut. NEvertheless they grow well here. When I first moved here I wondered if it woould be worth growing seed trees but the emphasis at the time was hybrids that could survive in the infected regions. Later discussions with Bear creek Nursery indicated the climate needs to be hot and moist for the blight to spread naturally, and that we only have cold and wet and hot and dry. So even if a tree does get infected it won't be virulent enough to spread to other trees or escape across the landscape.
At any rate, tanoak is halfway between oaks and chestnuts but it remains to be reported whether or how susceptible chestnut is to SOD, or tanoak to blight, which is very closely related to SOD. The prophalytic action of truffles on certain decaying fungi like fomes that eats Douglas fir may also yield new secrets from the forest subsoils. We cannot stress how much still needs to be learned. Number 80
Message: 1 Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2005 13:00:25 -0000 From: "John Klinkel" > Subject: Still growable? Hi, I am new to the group but damn glad to be a part of it! I have always been fascinated by Chestnut trees and I have also wanted to know; if one were to very carefully manage a small acreage in the former range of these mighty trees, would it be possible to grow saplings and raise them to maturity, or is Chestnut blight simply to pervasive and widespread at this point? Thanks!!--John. ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ Message: 2 Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2005 09:01:49 -0500 From: "Thomas M. Pugel" > Subject: Re: Still growable? John, It would not be possible to grow American chestnut trees to mature trees but a good number of them will grow long enough to produce seeds. This is an important part of the efforts to breed blight resistant trees. The American germplasm will be needed for breeding for decades to come. I would encourage you to grow an American orchard. Tom Pugel
Hi, John, The blight is still out there. If you are within the former range, odds are your local woodlands still contain live rootstock which keeps sending up shoots which survive some number of years, and then are hit by blight again. However, don't give up. There is a group which has been breeding pure American Chestnut stock for blight resistance, and they've been making good headway. They are called the American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation or ACCF (). Years back, they started colecting material from the many scattered "survivor trees" - pure American Chestnuts that contracted blight, but fought it off. These trees exist, but are so scattered that they could not cross-polinate and reproduce on their own. In crossing these trees, they were recently getting about one in ten with blight resistance (which is the ability to form a raised, non-lethal canker, rather than the normal sunken one that kills the tree). A couple of years ago thinned their orchards of the trees that didn't seem to be effectively transmitting resistance, and are hoping to get much better rates of resistance out of the current nut crops. (You can get nuts or seedlings from them.) One of their growers, or "cooperators" (that's what you'll be if you participate) turned up a tree - in his first batch of seedlings! - that has displayed an unheard of level of blight resistance, fighting off blight for the first time when it was pencil-thin. Even the Asians usually die when they contract blight that young, but this tree has thrived and grown vigorously. (Look at , and .) Anyway, a fully blight resistance pure American Chestnut seems within reach, and your assistance can help make it happen. (And also make you the first on your block with full-sized American Chestnuts! :-) There is another group that has been working to restore the chestnut, namely The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF). They are much better known than ACCF . However, they are using quite a different approach to achieve the same goal. They are outcrossing to Asians, then repeatedly crossing back to Americans with an eye to retaining blight resistance but getting all other American traits. I think that, given that the ACCF approach promises to be successful, it is preferable to the TACF one. Aside from lingering concerns about the potential for "throwback" Asian traits cropping up in TACF trees (which they deny can happen, and I'm not qualified to comment on), I expect that their trees will face some legal barriers in future restoration work on public lands in that their legal status as a native tree will be open to question. The ACCF trees will not face such obstacles, nor will there be any reason for concern, justified or not, that non-American traits might appear down the road. Anyway, take a look at the ACCF site and let us know what you think! Good luck, Jill
Message: 1 Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2005 23:02:03 GMT From: " " > Subject: Re: Digest Number 80 There is a third way. Genetic engineering. The State Unviersity of NY has already created a blight resistance American elm. They are taking a gene from wheat that reacts strongly to cankers and emits hydrogen peroxide (promoting callus growth). So far, two nuts and one tree (nuts & tree with different techniques). They hope to add additional genes as well. This gene is expected to be dominant so half of the offspring of a single gene tree (and all of those from a doubel gene tree) will be blight resistant. An easy way to bring blight resistance into an existing, surviving population. Find a sapling, graft a blight resistance sprout onto it. Release it (cut down the competition) and wait a few years. Since chestnut is not self-fertile, the grafted branch will be teh dominant or only source of pollen. treat the tree for blight and get 4 or so nut crops. Repeat with the offspring and graft them into other trees. Soon, a 3/4 & 7/8 local tree. OR you can take my approach. I have arranged to ship 1,000 nuts from Upstate New York (Nyjk Jarvik in Old Norse/Icelandic) to Iceland. Prior shipments from Ontario (60) & Maine (120) have done quite well. Alan

108.The Riparian Sponge * Bigger is Better 

From Rainwaterharvesting. Dr. Fisher also contributes to Waterforum. My comments are posted at the end.
iqbal zuberi wrote:Dear Dr Fisher and my friends,Thank you for the mail 'the Riparian Sponge - Bigger is Better'. Your observation is very correct and we hope the members will discuss this and try to create awareness on this issue.In most of the developing and less-developed countries the situation is very very critical. It is normal to consider riparian sponges as ' waste land '- greedy land grabbers and 'development-mongers' are leaving no efforts left to convert riparian sponges into housing estates and farmers into crop lands. We sadly see the last traces of waterbodies and floodplains - the lands with water, both seasonal and perennial, succumb in their hands. Our capital Dhaka is an ideal example, we are to face more floods for this but nobody cares.Legal efforts - half-hearted - by the governments and the weak movements of the environment groups are too small to deter the strong hands of the rich real estate and property developers. i would like to draw attention of all the members to come forward and create strong movement to draw attention of global bodies to save our riparian sponges. Sustainability depend on the health of the water bodies.M.I.Zuberi, university of Rajshahi, BangladeshRand Fisher wrote:While this forum is focused on collecting rainwater for domestic use, management of landscapes to protect, enhance, or restore full natural hydrologic function can be most valuable, essential in sustaining stream flow and water supplies, whether for domestic or ecological value and use. The Riparian Notes paper below describes the water capture and release value of the 'riparian sponge'.
Riparian NotesNote Number 5, March, 2004 Steve Nelle, NRCS, San Angelo, Texas
The Riparian Sponge * Bigger is Better
"There is no greater social or political or economic or biological
issue in Texas than water. Many folks have put their water hopes in such
grandiose plans as reservoirs, inter-basin transfers, pipeline projects, brush
control, desalinization and other such "solutions". Yet, there is another large
and mostly unrecognized source of water that can be developed in nearly any part
of the state.One of the attributes of a properly functioning riparian area is
the sponge effect and water storage capacity within the riparian area. This does
not refer to water storage in the creek channel itself, but water detention in
the land. This large absorbent sponge of riparian land will soak up, store, and
then slowly release water over a prolonged period. This riparian sponge can be
managed in a way to greatly increase and improve this storage or it can be
managed in a way to decrease and degrade water storage.The best example to
illustrate the riparian sponge effect is from Bear Creek in central Oregon (12
inches annual precipitation; 3500 feet in elevation). Veteran riparian
specialist Wayne Elmore has observed, measured, photographed and followed the
changes in this creek for the past 28 years. Prior to 1976, the area received no
specialized grazing management. As a result, the riparian vegetation was sparse
and inadequate. Creek banks were actively eroding and the channel was cutting
down. Flow was intermittent and no fish life could exist. During runoff events,
the volume of sediment was high. The size of the riparian sponge was only 3.8
acres per mile of stream and this sponge was storing less than 500,000 gallons
of water per mile * far below its potential.Following a change in grazing
management, including several years of rest, the riparian area began to respond.
In 1985, a specialized grazing plan was implemented to continue the recovery of
the area * both the uplands and the riparian area.By 1996, riparian vegetation
was full and thick. The riparian sponge had increased to 12 acres per mile and
this sponge was now storing 4,000,000 gallons of water per mile. The improved
riparian vegetation was now filtering and capturing sediment and the streambed
was raised by 2.5 feet. An 8 fold increase in water storage! Side benefits were
a return of perennial flow and the return of fish. The rancher has benefited
too, with a tremendous increase in riparian vegetation and greatly increased
grazing capacity. Now the vegetation is properly grazed in a sustainable manner
and riparian functions are maintained.Just think, 12 acre feet of water
(4,000,000 gallons) being stored in the banks and the riparian floodplain on
each mile of the creek. This water is absorbed during periods of runoff, stored
in the riparian sponge and then slowly released for continuous flow in between
runoff events. The shallow aquifer is being continually recharged. This natural
phenomenon can be duplicated on thousands and thousands of miles of creeks all
across Texas. While each creek is different, the principles of riparian
management and restoration work in Texas just as they do in Oregon and other
places. The key to building a bigger and better riparian sponge starts with the
right kinds and amounts of vegetation. If grazing is continuous or if livestock
are concentrating their grazing in the riparian area, a change in grazing
management is recommended. Fencing to create a separate riparian pasture can
alleviate these problems and allow appropriate management. In some cases, a
complete rest from grazing for a few years is recommended to jump-start the
recovery process. In other cases, a change in the timing and duration of grazing
is all that is needed to allow restoration to begin. Rest during most of the
growing season and light to moderate grazing during the dormant season will
allow recovery in many cases.Slowing the flow of water as it moves downhill and
keeping water on the land longer is the key to good land and water management.
Good stewardship by private landowners can be a critical link in helping solve
the water problems of Texas."

This is a really good article similar to my Our Shrinking Watersheds on my blog, Redwood Reader (. 3 in the April 25, 2004 archive. THis issue is the focus of my comcern as I have been restoring savaged creek land in steep, high rainfall area with a devastated landscape the result of logging, fire, road building and resulting landscape insults like debris toreents and slides and sedimentation in the creeks. We have seen revegetation work near miracles. How does this happen?The uplands are restored (riparian is immediatly adjacent to running water in Cal.)very convincingly by the fungal product glomalin, which conditions the soil to absorb water. Glomalin is a product of photosyntheseis discovered in 1996 at USDA Sustainable Ag labs in Beltsville. As trees sink roots deeper and further afield glomalin is produces and then sloughed off into the soil, conditioning it to hold water and air in the root zone. This area is destroyed by exposure to sun, wind and running water, soil compaction and interruption of its food supply. It is protected from natural precipitation by the canopy and duff layers. Glomalin probably acts as a regional soil glue in addition to a microscopic one, adding laandscape stability in highly sensitive areas. THis one little scientific discovery is going to change perceptions in a wide variety of land use issues and even is at the heart of sustainable urban development, wildlife conservation and carbon sequestration. It has alreadychanged the face of US agriculture, as more than a third of crop farmers have already switched to no-till methods that preserve and accumulate glomalin. However, field crops are a relatively isloated environment, and when we apply this principle to forests we are talking thousands of speciies of trees, plants and fungi. We get past this ibn the description of glomalin being a sheath around extending hyphae which sloughs off at the death of the hyphae, settling into a long life in the soil as a glue. A structural biological component is likely to cross many species barriers. Now all the information about forest biodiversity and mycorhizzia foound a place in the equation. So I started a blog to report this, including source articles and articles in the news that could benefit, or that glomalin could be illustrated with. I ahve gotten relatively little feedback. Farmers and grazers count on glomalin maintaining the tilith and productivity of their fields. THis is not the case whereforests produce water. Instead, the mechanical devices of the system, the trees, are removed, shrinking the riparian sponge in depth as well as area. My little stream at 100 inches a year (low estimate) takes in 2.7 million gallons a year per acre. Most all of this is runoff, but each year we retain a little more soil and my creek battered, into seasonality, has been running much clearer after major rain events, peak runoff is slowly decreasing and shaded areas are much cooler and damper than the exposed areas.. This is the problem with illegal logging and stripping for firewood in much of the third world. THe loss is counted in trees and dollars but it is actually in usable water sources prepared and defended by the trees. Lack of this insight is evident around the globe.Much of the development is beyond this already but still we have all the information we need to become truly sustainable. A wealth of information about the rising CO2 levels actually accelerating recovery in forests is extremely encouraging for those who see CO2 as a useful component of agriculture and restoration. Now you can see why a tree planter won the Peace Prize, even if the awarders don't fully understand. One day, glomalin will become general knowledge and we will move into a sustainable future. Funny thing about that too. If we don't voluntarily do this, conditions will degrade to the point we have no influence left, our methods will crumble, and natural revegetation cycles will go back to work with this very mechanism. I am posting for the edification of intersted parties in these global issues. Rich McGuiness

107.Senator Chesbro and agroforestry 

Congratulations and thanks are in order to State Senator Wesley Chesbro. Shortly after money for restoration was to be cut, Senator Chesbro introduced a new bill for funding North Coast restoration programs, parks, and hatcheries. Many small issues are covered by his bill, and it continues the good work of many people. Redwood Reader does not believe restoration is fundable as a permanent industry but do feel it imperative to cause and allow recovery of fisheries and landscapes. In this sense we support the culvert program, Good Roads, Clear Creeks and other restoration projects aimed at returning the landscape to at least stable. Restoration must lay the groundwork that allows an abundance of all things natural, of which we can use a portion while maintaining functionality of natural systems.
In this light Senator Chesbro's appointment to the Wildlife Conservation Board is even more significant than the new bill. The Wildlife Conservation Board helps the state target acquisitions for wildlife habitat and are responsible at least in part for many local land purchases. They also bring a sense of continuity in an area where the ground may shift after any election. One example is an old BLM worker who first helped create the Core Reserve on top of Gilham Butte in the eighties. He traveled out here and met the people defending the habitat. Standing on the Butte with your back to Humboldt Redwoods and Rockerfeller Forest looking at King Range National Conseervation Area, it is easy to envision the Redwoods to the Sea concept. Years later an opportunity arose to purchase a larger portion of the Butte, he was willing and able to support the purchase as a memeber of the Wildlife Conservation Board. Senator Chesbro, already familiar with many of the issues, opportunities and problems will make an excellant Board member.
Redwood Reader believes that some habitat needs preservation but that habitat is part of a continuum of economic activity on the landscape. Unfortunatly glomalin destruction has been a part of development since the very beginning. Glomalin producing fungi are at the bottom of many terrestial food webs as well as watershed stregnth. We believe farming will benefit from better understanding of mycorhizzia relationships. We hope that JR Smiths model of annual cropping of mast in a semi wild environment will provide economic incentive, deep rooting for landscape stability, plenty of habitat and year round water in the creeks. We need a model that allows for massive trees to do their part of the precipitation interception and storage. We need better understanding of the riparian sponge nad how we can take advantage of it without destroying it.
Development and glomalin production are very nearly opposite sides of the same coin. Old growth forests retain their glomalin and glomalin production capabilities for centuries. Pioneers move over the landscape harvesting animals but leaving the ground intact. Then came settlers who cleared the forest and plowed the ground. Farmers soon found they had destroyed the mechanism that caused fertility and replaced it with fertilizers. Developers later finished the landscape off with paving, roofing, lawns which created runoff, that in turn demanded larger public works to control.
Which brings us to last nights hearing and tomorrows decision on the Thp's for Freshwater and Elk River. I notified all local agencies as well as PL and Humboldt Watershed Council about glomalin. THe Water quality Control Board may be weighing this issue of sedimentation. I notified PL last summer about glomalin and that all the information was on the web to look at themselves, which they said they would do. Chuck Centers comment about standing all the trees back up and still having flooding indicates PL has not kept up with developments in the causes of sedimentation, or of the need for longer rotations, preservation of the forest floor or the function of the canopy in heavy rain events. They show no indication of new thinking, and the old thinking has failed us all.
Hopefully Redwood Sciences Lab is working on this, perhaps in their experimental work in Mendocino, so we can have real time forest science instead on connecting literature dots to understand what you are looking at. MEanwhile a policy of no new damage would seem to be in order on the ground. PL should jump into the science with both feet as there is a wealth of science that needs doing and research dollars could replace some lost timber revenue. It would be to their benefit if everyone was aware of the same information and we could decide what percentage of vegetation removal and ground disturbance is acceptable without cutting loose large volumes of sediment. Many regulatory approaches are out there, their cumulative impact is a struggling timber industry. With clear understanding we can find allowable cuts on steep land, critical habitat, Forest Service lands and less need for preservation of private lands as well as reducing the cost and time consumption involved in preparing THP's.while increasing the need for fire risk reduction and an economical use for small wood. They may also want to go back into intellectual property, which they haven't paid attention to since the welding shop and its patents were sold. We used to kid that a Japanese mushroom company would buy PL and make millions without cutting the big trees. It now appears it will be a Chinese pulp company trying to vertically integrate

Sunday, February 20, 2005

106.Glomalin and Cumulative Impacts 

106.Glomalin and Cumulative Impacts
THere has been a lot of talk about cumulative impacts of multiple logging in watersheds spread out over the years. From almost any point in Humboldt we see stripped hillsides and meager rivers. This issue is hotly debated as improved methods have reduced surface erosion to some extent, and regeneration appears solid. Why then do the streams fill with silt causing flooding and scour in relatively small rainfall events? Why are so many area streams going dry late in the summer? It is obvious something unexplained bt current knowledge is happening. It could take a long time to figure it out. Luckily, we have a model we can look to with fewer variables, and larger ecenomic impacts. Commercial farming.
Farmers, like foresters and tree growers, have known of the role of fungi in keeping their holdings productive. Farmers deal with cleared land and single crops, reducing the number of species associated with the main crop to one or a few. Douglas fir has over three thousand fungal associates, mycelia that connect different species of plants. Farmland was turned over every year, destroying most of the years glomalin production and returning it to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Even so, glomalin was shown to accumulate in the field edges where no plowing had occurred for 15 years. They have learned that if they don't plow or otherwise disturb the surface, the cropland will accumulate carbon as topsoil. The topsoil gives tilth and provides pore space for water and air and easy growing conditions for the roots. The farmers need less fertilizer, less fuel, less work and less water for better production from the same acreage using no-till methods. And they are able to sell this carbon storage capacity to companies seeking to offset greenhouse gas emissions..
Forests are far more complex but we can come away with some real insights. Forests are like cities with each individual shaping their own environment collectively affecting an ecosystem. Mycorhizzial succession is similar to redevelopment wherein a piece of land is reworked to achieve higher benefit for the entire system, with each individual dependant on the collective effort, the infrastructure in this case to store water for defense against drought, insects and disease by means of canopy, duff and root zone soil conditioning. It is the canopys job to slow and disperse rainfall and guide it into the root zone. The duff further slows precipitation absorbing and filtering it, while protecting soil organisms and the conditioned soil in the root zone from erosive and detrimental forces.
Multiple species and individuals colonize the area constantly improving or repairing their system. Failure to do so leads to widespread decline and lowered ability to adapt to threats or maintain defense. In order to accomplish this trees are taxed a percentage of their photosynthetic product, which is used by the fungi to collect nutrients. It is then shen from the living fungi as refuse, gluing soil particles together creating pore space, thus biologically conditioning the soil. The systems develop relationships with understory species and animals that contribute to and depend on the total system and acting as decayers, seed dispersers, fertilizers and so forth.
In this sense development nad clear cuts do incredible damage to the soil system, with the result that it is easily eroded in winter and dust in the summer, watersheds handle less and less precipitation, ground water disappears from headwater areas. Just at a glance, 25 feet of sponge material will hold more water than eight or ten feet. What happens to that loss of capacity in a heavy storm? What happens to that reduction of stored water in a drought? How will forests fight insects with sap if they are short on water?
Roads contribute by collecting and concentrating precipitation, diverting it from its natural swales, removing duff and liquifying glomalin saturated soil when discharged down the hiillside causing various forms of erosion, all of which contributes sediment to the stream system at the bottom of the watershed. Road use also creates a lot of dust, which is washed into the streams early each winter as fines, which act as cement in the stream botton making it unsuitable for spawning habitat.
As time goes by these cumulative impacts add up to a very reduced capacity for the forest to defend itself. There are stories from Germany that tell of people picking up every stick and leaf in the forest. the result was total loss of those tree species in the third rotation. THe loss of organic litter is the stated reason given today, but in light of glomalin several other scenarios present themselve, such as insufficient soil moisture or loss of mycorhizzia.
ONe other cumulative impact of glomalin destruction may be global warming. When science realizes how much carbon was stored in the landscape and set free by development, much of the current analysis will be found wanting. The good news is that higher CO2 levels accelerate plant growth, especially in the root zone and sugar production. We see this as a new resident repairing his living space as fast as possible, and taking advantage of the aerial fertilization of CO2. This gives us the advantage of rapid revegetation but now realize it takes a long time to create a forest and that preserving growing systems must be the regulatory goal.
Glomalin made money for the farmers. It could make money by reducing the amount cut per acre while expanding the amount of land available to select cut. There is potential for carbon storage but we can predict industry denial until a lot of published science gets out there.. Positive management by reducing fire risk allows many kinds of activitty not detrimental to the overall health of the system. We note the condition of Eastern forests that have grown up after development, especially parks and other protected lands and wonder how much glomalin could accumulate naturally (it does have a life span) when unhindered. It seems likely that this would cause more carbohydrates to be trapped belowground than rotting surface vegetation, and that glomalin molecules may have promise as a synthetic or producable fuel. While there is a ton of research to be done, actionable rules of thumb that answer those gut feelings that something else is going on come easily, once the role of glomalin is accepted.
In the age of computers we can count anything once we have something to count and compare. The discovery of glomalin allows us to quantify forest production and its conditionning ability, storage capacity, rate of growth, and yield of water as well as timber. Development or other land use can be seen as a percentage of total glomalin production with pavement and housing as complete loss and other uses a percentage. This is all factored over time, steepness, soil type, precipitation rates and vegetative cover and we can guesstimate the rate of absorbtion and loss of soil moisture, and eventually derive allowable levels of disruption that don't create further damage to the system while providing economic uses. That is finding the sustainability capacity of the region. In this sense water bearing is a real result of careful management and is able to be improved over time with our new knowledge.
Glomalin destruction is the root cause of the cumulative impacts we see aroound us. Cumulative impacts are the sum total of sediment cut loose over years once the soil glue holding it in place is destroyed by removing vegetation and exposing the soil to water, wind and sunlightt. We witness sedimentation, landslides, flooding, dust, forest decline and lowered surface water availability when the vegetation is removed and the forest floor disturbed. In this region short rotations of second growth mean the forest will not be able to renew the water holding capacity and the system will continue to deteriorate. Desertification is complete collapse and the ultimate cumulative impact. We cannot control the weather but we must take better advantage of it.
It will take a long time to return to pre-Colombian conditions, like steep landscapes and sediment filled rivers. We can however, educate people and ask for minimization of glomalin destruction, We can push awareness of glomalin as a greenhouse gas control and try to enter the storage market. We benefit from preservation because it allows mature forests to operate as mature forests providing the benefits we expect but find increasingly rare in our forests. The regrowth of this system is what we are trying to accomplish in the vague term ecological restoration. We need to educate people that land needs to be set aside for these purposes, and that horses and bikes and ATV's all negatively impact the very factors of production. We will tailor recreational and commercial land uses to take advantage of the natural systems in a way that minimizes harm. Industry will need to be exempt for exploitation of natural systems but we have regulatory know how, acceptable limits, and in the case of carbon credits, opportunity cost.

105.Cattlemen Honored 

Redwood Reader salutes Humboldt/Del Norte Cattlemen. They make their living as land stewards and have been at the forefront of many of the issues we are dealing with, such as sustainability, maximizing the benefits of natural systems, inheritance taxes, coho restoration, habitat and riparian protections, the General Plan and private roads. All of these are landscape wide issues and they directly impact their finances and their ability to sustain that income. Humboldt cattlemen have had the opportunity to see what happens when too many animals are on the landscape, here and elsewhere, just as some early timbermen were determined not to destroy the forests they believed would last forever. Many have working the same acreage for generations, demonstrating sustainability. Cattle and dairymen are innately aware of consequences of glomalin destruction since overgrazing is one way to diminish the landscape in future years. Some areas save on stored feed in the summer if the soil moisture remains later in the year. In any case the need for a replenishable supply of grass is their economic lifeblood. Glomalin management requires the same thinking as the dairyman who needs every square inch of his property in grass, or the cattle and timber man saving trees because his cattle need watering places in the hills. Glomalin is at the heart of either type of operation. These folks probably know more about soil moisture than foresters.
When we come to identify all of the players in the glomalin story, and they will vary in all kinds of habitat, we will find places left alone the longest will be the richest in biodiversity. This will be true even in those areas grazed continuosly. The soil moisture won't penetrate quite as far as in woodland but there should be a decent amount of buildup in the soil. We see the results of good stewardship and recognize it without even fully knowing how or why or what is happening . Other issues will be proven such as the importance of relying on perrenial grasses. THe annual grasses have taken over a lot of range land providing good feed into the summer. Cattle are then forced to find moister areas where there is green grass or be fed hay. A shift back may give feed later into the year and improve landscape water resources. Since both of these benefit the rancher economically there is a good chance of being put in their toolbox of management choices.
Glomalin has saved crop farmers millions of dollars. Here so far it is a threat to business as usual. When we work within guidelines that promote glomalin we wind up sustainable, which may not convert enough landscape into dollars for some.
I have been talking and demonstrating how glomalin impacts all kinds of environmental issues. Now I will try to expand my thinking into user friendly activity ratings. We need a whole ton of research for hard numbers but trends and rules of ttumb can give us some mighty insights, and we can go forward on some issues and feel good about a few others. Again, we salute our cattlemen and their strenuous efforts toward sustainability, and their recognition of their role in related issues such as coho recovery, and as being part of the positive general trend for our profitable and stable landscape goals and we hope to supply them and others information that will enhance their operations

Thursday, February 10, 2005

104. Conservation Easements 

Sundays Chroncle had an excellant piece on conservation easements and how they work. Conservation easements mainly apply to private lands but not necessarily so. In the future, conservation easements may also allow for the long term storage of carbon dioxide and water production rather than as timber or farmland and without threat of development. They may also be alternate income for steep or otherwise difficult land to operate on.
I mentioned last week Headwaters Agreement appeared to be a conservation easement. That means the restricitons provided stay with the Title of the land they are on, and as such would not be subject to lifting those restricitons in eveny of bankruptcy or change of ownership. Conservation easeements require a group to hold these easements into the future and funding to ensure compliance. In the case of Headwaters, the taxpayers purchased the timber outright but also agrreed to allow logging under certain conditions. I do not believe our government intended to allow these restricitons to fall by the wayside just because a heavily indebted company goes bankrupt. The People wanted to be sure the remaining timberlands were not devastated isolating the Headwaters, and they have paid for it in the deal they made.
Conservation easemennts are playing a larger role as we try to preserve the landscape and retain sustainable activities. Acquisitions continue in the area as well as the easements. A large sum was recently paid to maintain several large landowners operations in the name of sustainability. But the concept is generally vague. The users of second growth examine the product of a forest but not the condition of the forest it came from. The long range effects of activity are not considered. And opportunities to take positive steps are missed entirely. Longtime landowners have learned how to maintain their operation into the future but they are always at risk of new owners or a change of heart resulting in a new round of disturbance. Conservation easements protect landscapes into the future and allow people a say in how their land will be managed far into the future.
If we consider the damage to a watershed in dimensions we can see lots of reduction in capacity. Roads, buildings, pavement, lawns, pasture, farmland, riverbars and logged forests have all had thier ability to infiltrate and store water diminished. In all cases glomalin has been destroyed and released back to the atmosphere, returning topsoil to silt and clay. Each activity after that then is a matter of degree of restoration of the original water storage mechanism the local ecosystem survived on, and the time since that the glomalin zone has had to regrow itself. Thus buildings, roads, and pavement have zero infiltration or storage. Mowed lawns probably have a small retention factor, whereas unmowed perrenial grasses have a considerably larger precipitiation interception volume and a deeper root zone. It takes a lot more rain to flood a field of deep grass than a lawn, and more still for brush. Similarly, farmlands have reasonable amounts of glomalin storing water. In many area, however, the repeated ploughing nad tilling were destroying glomalin as it wa sproduces each yar. The newer no-till methods should be allowing the land to absorb larger quantities of rainfall, diminshing the ever present flood threat. In each case the watershed has beeen reduced in capacity in the third dimension.
Thus watersheds lose a lot of capability when logged. Clearcuts reduce an areas capacity to near zero, and cannot contribute to the summer water needs of its creek. They are releasing ground stored carbon and should be accounting for it. Short ortations do not allow trees to regrow their root zone to full capacity, you cannot replace two hundred or more years of soil conditioning in fifty years. Smaller trees intercept less of the precipitation to percolate and allowing runoff to occur before the ground is saturated. Mindlessly directed drainages then will cause failure between the collection point, often a road, and the creek at the bottome of the watershed.Runoff is always a negative in our perfect world and what we strive to avoid. Runoff causes most watershed instability and sedimentation problems. General ignorance of this is leading to a dessication of Western forests in the corrent drought cycle. The trees have survived thus type of drought in the past but their resiliency has been compromised by their reduced water reservoir. Select cuts keep the reservoir more or less intact depending on the amount of ground disturbance and canopy removal. PL's old method of one entry every ten years and always with an eye toward leaving a functioning work area is why they survived until the eighties. Current methods, regardless of how many scientists they are paying, does not understand the twin problems of carbon release from ground disturbance and depleted water storage. A general degradation of their properties is occurring that is new to them because old management neverr cut this hard. They had seen it before and were watching it happen all along the coast.
Watershed restoration measns replacing the capacity to intercept sotore and retain water late in the year. The natural world uses fungi to condition soil to accept and hold water where it is available to many life forms. To be effective the watershed must have some percentage of functioning capacity remaining and an ability to preserve and grow subsoil capacity and aquifer recharge areas. Trees and fungi do this best. Rather than wood quality, the most important function of secend growth is restoration of the root zone through carbon fixation in the soil. The second growth trees are forced to spend a lot of energy replacing wood and green processing cells in the leaves. Excess growth is needed for sloughing as duff in order to protect the subsoil from running water and raindrops. Douglas firs' strategy is mass germination with everybody crowding in close contributing to the new soil zone. As the trees grow competition thins the trees out. They are recycled into the duff layer and the general carbon budget of the forest. It is the accumulation of glomalin from all of these trees that allows a few to survive the frirst few years, eventually thinning thenselves to a few large trees per acre, but with millions of mycorhizzia working the enironment trading carbon for nutrients with the soil and producing droplet froming aerosols.
Being from Long Island I watched development eat up our farms and woodlands. Eventually the county began buying development rights from crop jarmers, only allowing them to sell to other farmers. But grape growers and horsemen changed the face of farming there anyway, although open space was maintianed. Similarly, long term preservation of our forests and farms can also help in the global warming situation. Indeed, carbon credits with conservation easemenets should be marketable for carbon storage. The beauty of this scheme is we get to restore watersheda nd fisheries and get annual income from it simply by maintaining it and keeping fire risk in check, allowing occasional select cuts or commercial thinning. Conservation easements can project the leases far into the future and may be made available entirely on the open market, or through an agency. A scale of pay for infiltration thus emerges with percentages paid generally on the type of groound cover, easily demonstrated by vegetation layers on GIS maps.
Accelerated regrowth is also possible with innoculation of seed trees with many types of mycorhizzia rather than the one or two currently used. Reports of annual growth in excess of five feet is reported for Douglas fir innoculated at planting time with a mixture of fifity or so species of fubgi. This is far better than grafted trees and even rivals redwood stump sprouts. The essential need is to restore the two way pumping of water and carbon products as fast as possible on as wide a range as possible. Active capture improves our natural systems and so should be sought rather than suffer from failure to act or have it imposed out of necessity. It also does not require the complicated processes involved in pumping CO2 into deep underground storage where the ability to trap it is not even known, and for tens of millions of dollars. We can do better with that money, and the gas can help us. THere is a lot to learn but practical solutions to a variety of local and global issues are finally at hand.

Stewards of the land Conservation easements keep farm and ranchlands, vacation
hideaways in the hands of families and away from the paving contractor

- Serena Herr, Special to The ChronicleSunday, February 6, 2005
It's a story
you've probably heard: A family owned a cherished vacation retreat, where the
kids spent summers and traditions were born.
But when the property passed to
the children, its value had skyrocketed, and whether because the heirs couldn't
afford the taxes or one of them wanted to cash in, the land had to be sold.
The family lost not only the property but also a piece of family history,
while the land was subdivided and buried under an avalanche of new houses.
That could have been Dr. Frances Conley's story. Last year, Conley inherited
her parents' cabin and 191-acre redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains and
faced an estate tax bill she couldn't pay.
"This is land my folks bought in
the early 1960s, and they enjoyed it tremendously, every weekend," she said. "By
the time it was reappraised, the estate taxes were astronomical. I truly loved
this piece of land, and didn't want to have to sell it."
Instead, Conley
took advantage of a little-known land-protection technique called a conservation
easement. Conley agreed to legally donate the rights to log and develop the
property -- which she didn't intend to use anyway -- to the nonprofit Peninsula
Open Space Trust, which is based in Menlo Park.
Because the forest land
could no longer be commercially logged or developed, its appraised value
plummeted, and so did the estate taxes. In addition, Conley received a
charitable deduction and her property tax bill went down.
Deeded as open
space forever
But the main thing for Conley was that she preserved the land.
"My siblings have children and grandchildren, and it was important for me to
save it for the next generation to enjoy," said Conley, a former professor of
neurosurgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine. "We can still sell
the land, but the conservation easement goes with it forever, as part of the
Virtually unheard of before 1970, the conservation easement has
emerged in the past two decades as a white knight in the battle to save open
space and agricultural land. According to the nonprofit Land Trust Alliance,
nearly 2.6 million acres nationwide have been protected through easements held
by local and regional land trusts, compared to just 450,000 acres in 1990.
But what often is overlooked is the tremendous benefit that conservation
easements can offer private landowners who want to keep their beloved land in
the family and make sure it continues to be used as a retreat, a farm, or a
ranch, rather than a golf course or a housing development.
Reaching back
from the grave
"A large percentage of landowners would like to control the
use of their property from the grave," said John Gamper, director of taxation
and land use for the California Farm Bureau in Sacramento. "A perpetual
conservation easement is the only way to do that." It provides a legal framework
within which the family can create a clear statement of intended use.
of the best things about conservation easements is how flexible they are," said
Paul Ringold, the open space trust's director of land stewardship. "You can
structure an easement any number of ways, taking into account each landowner's
Conley's easement, for example, sets aside a family-use area where
she or her successor can build a single house.
Another recent easement lets
POST build a public trail connecting the beautiful 624-acre Redgate Ranch to
nearby park land south of Half Moon Bay.
In that deal, landowner Greg Jones
donated about 60 percent of the easement's value, and the trust paid cash for
the remainder. "Until six months ago, I thought easements were mainly for really
rich people to get a tax deduction" said Jones, who with his wife and two young
daughters grows red oats on the farm and uses it as a weekend retreat. "I didn't
understand it as a good tool for people to protect their land and realize some
of its development value."
Now, said Jones, "This land will always be farm
land. It won't ever be condos. Having grown up on a ranch on the coast, I feel
good about that."
One area where easements are especially effective is
agricultural conservation, because they protect the land while keeping it in
productive use. In California, where farmland is expensive to keep and
attractive to sell, it's not easy for farmers and ranchers to pass up the chance
to develop.
Millions of acres paved
According to a recent study by the
University of California Agricultural Issues Center, Californians pave over
about 50,000 acres of productive farmland each year, or about half a million
acres each decade. To put that in perspective, all the state's cities together
make up just 5.5 million acres.
One of the most successful programs is
operated by the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, which during the past 25 years
has used easements to protect 36, 000 acres -- almost 35 percent -- of Marin
County's farmland. Trust projects include such well-known Bay Area brands as the
Straus organic dairy and the Robert Giacomini dairy, makers of Point Reyes blue
"Given the very high prices of agricultural land because of our
proximity to the Bay Area," said Executive Director Bob Berner, "there is no
question that using easements is the only way we could have protected so much."
He wouldn't get any argument from Frank Long, half a state away in the
Sierra foothills. Long, 76, is a second-generation rancher who, with his wife
and two sons, has raised cattle on 3,100 acres in Mariposa County for 54 years.
Long says he looked around his property about six years ago and didn't like
what he saw. "All the way around us, the land is zoned for 5-acre lots," he
said. "My whole ranch was under residential zoning in the new county plan, so
sooner or later, someone was going to say, 'Look, all that land is zoned
residential.' And neither I nor my boys would be here to protect it."
looked into donating an easement, but ultimately figured out something better.
He worked with the San Francisco Trust for Public Land, the state Wildlife
Conservation Board and the local Sierra Foothills Conservancy on a complicated
deal to sell the development rights to about 90 percent of his ranch for almost
fair market value.
To pay for the easement, the San Francisco trust got a
$1.425 million grant from the state's oak woodlands conservation program. The
land qualified for the grant thanks to Long's stewardship: Most of the ranch is
covered with mature blue oak woodlands, making it one of the largest contiguous
areas of blue oak habitat in single private ownership.
"It helped us
financially," said Long, who paid off two mortgages. "But my main goal was to
have this ranch stay as a working ranch in perpetuity, even after I and the boys
are gone. I've always been a rancher. I like the work, the freedom, the strong
relationships I've built with my neighbors. It's great to drive out and look at
the calves with their mothers, or to look at the stars, and it's real quiet out
Long's easement stipulates that the land must be used as operational
rangeland no matter who owns it. The Sierra Foothills Conservancy is legally
bound to enforce the easement. His sons can keep the land, sell it to another
rancher, lease it or donate it to the land trust, but the conservation easement
goes with the deed.
"People are coming up here from San Jose, selling their
homes for big money, and buying 160-acre parcels for a home site," said Long
with exasperation. "Ranching is becoming residential. But you just can't take
all the good land out of production. This makes sure at least some rangeland
will stay that way."

Conservation easements
What they are:
Easements are voluntary legal agreements between landowners and conservation
organizations that permanently limit the use of land to protect its conservation
or agricultural values.
People grant easements because they want to protect
their property from inappropriate development while retaining ownership of the
land. Easements allow landowners to continue to own and use the land and to sell
it or pass it on to their heirs, often with significant tax savings.
they work:
When you donate a conservation easement to a land trust, you
agree to give up some of the rights associated with the land. For example, you
might give up the right to build on the land, but keep the right to continue to
grow crops on the land. Or you might give up development rights but keep the
option to build one house on a low-impact site.
The land trust is
responsible for making sure the easement's terms are followed. The trust
monitors the property on a regular basis to implement the conditions of the
easement and ensure that the property remains in the state prescribed in the
Source: Peninsula Open Space Trust

Find out more
American Farmland Trust
(916) 753-1073

Founded in 1980 by a group of farmers and
conservationists, AFT is a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting
agricultural resources. It provides technical assistance to landowners, private
groups and public agencies..
The California Farm Bureau
(916) 561-5500
California's largest farm
organization with 89,000 members, the farm bureau is a nongovernmental,
nonpartisan organization seeking solutions for land-use, economic, and social
issues faced by farm and ranch families..
State Coastal Conservancy
(510) 286-1015

Created in 1976, the
conservancy is an independent state agency that protects, restores and enhances
California's coastal resources. It protects and enhances land, helps resolve
land-use conflicts and provides technical and financial help for land-protection
projects in the coastal zone..
Land Trust Alliance
(202) 638-4725
Established in 1982, LTA is a
membership organization providing training and information to land trusts. A
good resource for finding a local land trust in your area..
The Trust for
Public Land
(415) 495-4020 <>
Founded in 1972, TPL is a national land conservation organization that
preserves open space for public use. The trust specializes in conservation real
estate transactions and joint ventures with government agencies and local land

103. Restoration is Not Sustainable 

103. Restoration is Not Sustainable
Looking at the Times-Standard op-ed piece of January 31 and Sen Chesbro's response, we see the historical context of the restoration issue is not even discussed. Restoration began as local landowners trying to restore fisheries and their own private non-industrial timberland, much impacted by bulldozers in the Douglas fir boom.
Douglas fir was pretty much useless until balloon framing and the extraordinary needs rising from WWII. Balloon framing called for plywood and strong timber that wasn't necessarily weather resistant. Douglas firs ability to pee, its inherent strength and the vast amounts available made it a new resource to be exploited. Building suburbs and redeveloping inner cities guarenteed a steady market. The flood of 1955 was a awrning we were not amintaining a stable landscape. The boom effectively ended with the flood of 1964. By then a huge percentage of the county had lost its functioning forests. The county then allowed subdivisions in some rural areas bringing more people ontothe land and making a hodgepodge of ownerships. The back to the land movement brought new blood but the area had less amenities for them than many regions where the infrastructure called for new blood to operate already productive lands. Changes in tax law and Forest Practice rules have slowed the rate of new damage.but were based on observation tempered by the political clout of industrial demand.
By 1980 it was becoming clear fish were not going to return to blown out habitats anytime soon and the need for positive action became clear. Maps were brokenout and surveys conducted leading to documents such as Elements of Recovery published by Mattole Restoration Council in 1989. This group had split off from the earlier Mattole Salmon Group when it became obvious there was a need to stabilize the hillsides before anything meaningful could occur in the stream channels. At the same time, the PL buyout had tripled the cut on their private lands, and sediment was choking off the last two good coho streams in the Eureka area, Freshwater and Elk River. The campaign for the Headwaters began because the People agreed the grove should remain in public trust. Efforts to buy additional acreage were repulsed and replaced with the federal Habitat Conservation Plan and Sustained Yield Plan at the state level. The People entered into the Agreement with restricitons in place that stay with the Deed, not the ownership. This is the heart of the conservation easement approach. Regardless, the prescriptions outlined in the Agreement were meant to protect the Headwaters surrounding lands, and PL was paid handsomely for it. It was not meant to put them out of business but to protect public trust values while allowing economic activity. At some point the private land holders have to be compensateds for not producing.
The public outcry from continuing landscape damage and declining salmon runs together with a national emergence of local land trusts together with conservation easemennts led to a large scale resource recovery movement. Bond issues were passed funding non-budget programs for fisheries restoration. Public and private groups began buying contested timberlands, ranches and habitats, paying very well to protect the land into the future. Landscape fracturing had been a wildlife problem for some time. The combination of purchases, private stewardship and public management of non-timber forests began the process of knitting the landscape back into larger segments such as the Redwoods to the Sea Wildlife Corridor, connecting Humboldt Redwoods State Park through Gilham Butte through private lands to the King Range National Conservation Area and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.
This is a great project because we have protected a stretch of the Mattole headwall to headwall, several entire tributary watersheds in a high rainfall area. and connected habitat totaling a large amount of acreage. Most of the land will be groomed for late seral stand characteristics with fuel risk reduction projects planned. The bad news is that the agreements they are held under prevent commercial forest activity, which means the results of stand improvements are not to be exploited eceonomically. Much of the land has had its natural drainage disrupted and the process still in progress. In these matters earth moving machinery is all that can restore the drainage and stable slopes, but the amount of work to be done is so vast there is no hope of fixing it all. We have to count on natural processes and some will take thousands of years to resolve.
This is incredibly expensive and restoration groups found themselves looking for grants for machine work. Money from agencies was available for those who could put a package together, and timber companies were best poised to take advantage of this. Timber contractors also were most of the available private contractors available to small landholders. Larger owners often have their own equipment. Payments for owner provided resources like boulders, rock armor and logs were well paid for for stream restoraion projects.At the same time folks began looking at the wider picture, resulting in the culvert replacement project and subdivision roadwork projects. Public awareness rose in the Clinton years as the Northwest Forest Agreement restricted logging on federal land, more money was available and salmon were everyones main objective. the expense of THP's and the peer pressure from neighbors shrunk the number of private non-industrial owners willing to log. Those who did often select cut lowering the number of logs per job. Laid off workers were retrained for restoration jobs and often worked for contractors on timber land. Small landowners are swept aside in the vastness of the problem.Restoration began to look like a timber subsidy.
In the coming years restoration will continue simply as a reult of land use and haphazard natural processes augmented by cost effective projects mostly involving heavy machinery and vegetation management. If we view the process as a glomalin management excercise we can divide current land use activities into two broad camps, glomalin producers and glomalin destroyers. Glomalin production accumulates soil moisture, aboveground biomass and topsoil and glomalin destroyers yield runoff and nonaggregated soil particles- sediment and dust. For the accumulators we will focus growth into open stands but after an area has been jump started. Minimal or no ground disturbance, no drainage disruption. We can use the vegetation matter from the original TSI work and have some supply of thinned trees as the stands mature. So we would have some fraction of glomalin still protected, growing and working. For destruction we see logging as a major problem but nearly as intractable as paving and roofin, which create runoff without recourse. Better care of the forest floor will have a major possitive influence and we will end up where the old PL owners left off. Time is a critical element in regrowing the water storage characteristics in our altered landscape. Rotation legnth has far more impact on watershed health than currently guessed and is the underpinning of the effects ofcumulative impacts. We have had a boom for a few years and have learned enough to understand what happened, why, and how to restore it. In a competetive society we must find ways to pay for not using resources.
For this reason carbon storage schemes should be brought into use, paying per ton or per acre per year to manage wildlands for maximum storage time by reducing fire risk. This puts the value of a product in their pockets and gets a management style that benefits people and fish. All of these programs will still be thinned or select cut with care eventually. Investors receive a dividend as well as capital growth, and we are tackling greenhouse gas problems. In this sense restoration then becomes simply the land preparation for an agricultural crop and is capitalized in the cost of doing business.
So we would pay for some percent of intact canopy, say 80%, and unbroken ground 3 ton acre 30 a ton, 90 a year per acre. the price would be set by contract. Glomalin destruction is a time fine-35 years of non payment for destruction of canopy and floor allowing sunlight and rain to hit the surface unimpeded. These are merely suggestions for a way tomove into sustainability for our natural resource industries while preserving small landowner rights and economic opportunity. Salmon thus move from the focus of our work to something that takes advantage of a byproduct of our work- water.
There is a vast amount of research that needs to be done in many fields. The scope of glomalins importance to our entire forest and land use, as well as global issues is so clear it is hard to imagine it being very far off. Perhaps by then we will be restoring the atmosphere.

102. Letter to the Center for CO2 Science 

Thanks for your excellant work in this most important field. I, like you have been preivately investigating issues that led me to your Center. In a sense I ffel I have arrived at a summit and can reach back to give you a hand up. In science we all count on others work, and I have been amazed at how well much of your material supports and enlightens my field even though I am a layman. But you have overlooked one aspect that has incredible implications for natural resource and restoration workers-the role of glomalin in stabilizing land and storing water in the root zone while removing CO2 from the atmoshere.. I came to tjis investigating landslides in Douglas fir regions, so it is ironic that after waiting a year and having you go commercial and spending money I don't have to sign up that I still can't access the plant growth data for it this month. Be that as it may, your work is an essential compilation of evidence, when coupled with several other streams of information, that pave the way for new and realistic forest practice rules, vegetation and stream management and land use in general, since it is the heart of sustainability.
My brother bought steep creek bottom land devastated by logging and flooding in 1977. We average over 100 inches of rain a year but have dry summers. After the great local flood of 1964 large areas were still unvegetated, especially the creek bottom. In 1981 the place experienced wildfire, killing off the few remaining seed trees from the previous Douglas fir vegetation. I moved there in 1982 and we began to try to restore the place which had been a major salmon spawning creek until the flood wracked the entire ecosystem. We planted over 100,000 trees on 120 acres but had a lot of losses. The land revegetated itself anyway in less desirable species. Big storms would wipe away years worth of efforts on the ground.
After moving back into town ( the family had a death and a lifelong injury to a child due to a log truck accident) I began investigating the likihood of eventual restoration by speeding up the natural healing process. Meanwhile massive sliding from properties above ours was destroying our pools and stream habitat. I started attending salmon restoration meetings that were beginning to focus on roads in unstable forest soils, and activists were giving timber companies a hard time with permits for commercial logging. Drainage disruption of natural systems was directly leading to land failure between the disturbance and the creek, every time, every swale. (An eventual sediment inventory was performed confirming this for the entire three and a half miles of stream.) Only canyonn live oak trees resisted this sliding, all other species were simply swallowed up. One that had its root system exposed on one side revealed mases of roots dozens of feet gelow the surface. Reading and observation suggested they may seek bedrock. In any event the volume of soil is massive. They seem to pin the landscape down.
Reading on rooting sytems led to mycorhizzia and things really took off. Regular posts by Dan Wheeler of Oregon White Truffle to newsgroups showed the complexity, variety and abundance of fungi and their necessity for sustainability in Douglas fir forest. His posting of news stories with commentary was very enlightening and inspiring.So somehow the fungi were doing something in the soil, perhaps with mycelia, that held the soil better when trees were growing there, and they were deep in the soil with the oak trees. He and I are both fans of J.R. Smith s Tree Crops, seekng annual return fron trees creating a stable and profitable landscape, and Dr. Alex Shigo, a tree scientist who has some interesting views on forests as systems and an enlightening style, in a chapter of the New Tree Biology called Trouble In The Rhizosphere.
Meanwhile, back in the field, the creek was not running brown all winter anymore. It cleared up quickly after average rains but began drying up in the summer in places that had pools previously. It became clear we didn't want any more disturbance in areas we were trying to protect which wound up with a large purchase of timberland by Save the Redwoods League and BLM with a no commercial timber clause attached to the Title. It lies between Humboldt Redwoods State Park and King Range National WIlderness and Conservation areas. All of these public land managers are hurriedly regrowing their forest while managing fuel load risk without being able to sell the proceeds, in spite of new small sawmill configurations and the need for chips for fuel and pulp. We formed a stewardship group in the neighborhood and carried out tree planting, fuel load reductions, sediment inventory, stream surveys for eight parameters, and commented extensively on all of those plans. But our previously sustainable neighbor PL has been on a n unsustainble cut level since its purchase by Maxxam Corp in 1985. People are becoming very aware of the problems logging and roads cause.
Morer reading led to the next level of awareness: Waterforum newsgroup had some very expert water people discussing watersheds and public centaralization among other exceellant topics. CO2 Science magazine was referenced in one post. Global warming and rising waters were discussed. A random Google search for carbon turned up the first glomalin article and my hair stood up, especially reading its function and what destroyed it. I read all the other articles I could find and e-mailed the discoverer.
This explained what was actually happening in those overloaded swales- the fabric and glue were being destroyed and the landscape unraveling. But in addition it implied that smaller trees had smallercapacity to process CO2, and a lot had to go into growth. So the water storage capacity, enhanced by glomalins properties and functioning on a scale of centuries had absorbed enough water to tide the forest through annual dry seasons with enough excess for rivers to run all year. that is to say, watersheds (root zone surface water) are shrinking in depth across vast stretches of the industrialized world. A lot of glomalin has been destroyed and returned to the atmosphere as CO2 due to development, agriculture, forestry and mining. I can find no reference to this source of CO2 as a cause for rising CO2 levels. Trees and fungi immediately recolonize an area, succession in mycorhizzia as forests mature indicate the same piece of ground is recolonized by many fungis, each depositing its share of glomalin and conditioning a bit of soil to store water. So you may want to overplant an area to kick start the soil conditioning, especially if you plan pole or chip harvesting to thin the forest to a functioning reduced risk area. Glomalin is why revegetation is essential in wildland restoration and forest management. Glomalin makes us see the forest as a natural precipitation interception and retention strategy. Any doubts about ectomycorhizzia being different from vaso-arbuscular forms dissappears when glomalin is recognized as a structural material in formation, then cast off as garbage when the hyphae it supported die, aggregating soil particles and increasing pore space and water storage.
Glomalin management is a key to carbon treaties but more importantly can be seen as the healing power if nature, and the provider of abundance and sustainability. we are ready to move into a new century of research and management practices. This new knowledge cuts across many fields like soils, hydrology, climatology, dendrology, mycology, forstry and many regulatory boundaries and threatens the way a lot of business is done today. It alleviates the need or desirability to preserve large blocks of forest land.It allows us to quantify carbon sequestration while using it to restore and embellish our natural world.
The US has stated the science wasn't in yet to sign Kyoto. They were right but for the wrong reasons. I have offered you a hand p and now we are at the summit. Looking from the height we can see why massive landslides in high rainfall areas cause devastating landslides in the Phillipines, Haiti and Nicaragua. We see perennial native ecosystems overgrazed and replaced by non-mycorhizzial annuals, thus removing the entire water storage system in the Great Basin causing more flooding, drought, water and fire problems. We see glomalin has reformed US crop growing, saving farmers in many ways while allowing them to collect carbon credit money and harvesting. In forestry it has yet to appear. Yet management techniques for BLM, parks and for timber companies with nothing but cutover lands all encourage rapid restoration of watersheds with a measure of risk reduction. We can see how Mediterranean tree farmers were able to stabilize their lands and provide annual incomes from chestnuts, olives and pork for thousands of years. We see the prairie communities and sod as a an other community based on the same ideas. We see clear cutting as completely and unnecessarily destructive, select cutting mandatory and with minimal impacts, the roadless rule should stay in place until a new generation of Best Management Practices in forestry can be implemented, and recreational destruction of the forest floor wasteful.
There are incredible amounts of work to be done by scientists and regulators but we can proceed in a quantifiable manner with hard questions. Dan Wheelers reports on Douglas fir inoculation are extremely encouraging and certainly suggest there is plenty of room to believe timber growing and management will benefit in the long run although there may be resistance to change initially. Glomalin surveys on a grand scale as you have done with the FACE experiments are called for. Quantification of glomalin from many landscapes in various states of development need to be analyzed and compared. Matthias Rillig at U of Montana has published some articles on aggregate s and stability in forest soils in conjunction with Sara Wright, discoverer. New information from universities in the crop growing region is basically repeating each other but there is a lot going on in that area. The grape growers are measuring ground water storage with ground radar. How about checking the old growth? It is ironic that USDA Sustaiable Agriculture Labs discovered glomalin but the Forest Service has no information on it. I asked Redwood Sciences Lab in Arcata to look into forest practices and glomalin.
So Salute! Nothing you ever published disagrees with these points unless you disagreed with it in an editorial yourselves. Your information has solidified my thinking and I am anxious to see the world enlightened to a newly revealed natural law, a gift for the new generations. But you generally quit short of the massive rethinking and realization that can put us on a truly sustainable footing far into the future, and you need to broaden the scope of the carbon storage occurring with long term experiments. To that end I began a blog n April to share what I have learned and to educate people. I have printed some articles verbatim, others are comments on newspaper articles, local and worldwide. I started a website but could not afford the hosting, so I am at, and this letter will be article 102. I have cited you as a reference repeatedly but I only have 500 hits altogether, most for zero minutes. Nevertheless, my aim is to put most of this information available for others to read themselves, the first step in education. Then I write letters inviting people to read. All of the new information is on the web, and alot of it is from people outside the mainstream. As you know, a tree planter from Africa won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, a truly encouraging trend. And once we take care of the hillsides, the fish will return.
I humbly thank you for all you have done, and hope I have contributed to your vision.

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