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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.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
The first show was about changes in the Yellowstone River since about 1950. There has been no aspen recruitment in the Park since the 30s, right around the end of federal depradation policies. Aerial photos from them showed a aspen willow treed area along the river and next to it. These areas are grass today, not a stick of woody green to be seen. So there were further riparian effects from this- the banks were falling in, scour had widened the river so that vegetation was at some distance from flowing water. In fact the area looked like a springtime pasture with very short grass and not much else. The area is Park. The decline of the river was worrisome to some Oregon State University researchers, and they tried to figure the problem. There was no contamination , global warming couldn’t account for the difference between in Park and out of the boundaries. Neither did fire answer the question. The problem was solved by the introduction of wolves to the ecosystem. They began by showing how important each kill was to all the other associated life forms, and how elk visited less frequently areas where the wolves were running. In the end, the story turned on elk over-browsintg willow and aspen in the riparian zone.
As the elk browsed their favorite willow and aspen shoots in complete safety and comfort, they wound up denuding the area. Elk aren’tt grazers so the grass remained intact. But the banks of the river collapsed without the willows knitting them together, the river jumped its bank numerous times, widening the scour and filling the pools. Once the wolves were reintroduced, elk didn’t stay in one place as long, so willow shoots, aspen treea and other native plants began returning. The creek stabilized, vegetation reached the edge of running water again, channeled flow began removing sediment and a beaver family appeared where there were none for two hundred years. Beaver need an acre of trees apiece a year for food and building material or they don’t inhabit a place. These beaver came from somewhere else to take advantage of ideal conditions recreated by simply using large predators to keep the animals moving. While some effect is probably reduced browse from the kills, moving the animals is far more effective for the ecosystem. It lightens supply demands in small areas and distributes nutrients from carcasses and dung to a much wider area. Browse reduces fire danger as well, thinning shoots and fuel ladders.
This story is very similar to our North Coast situation in many ways. Deer appeared to be brazen and everywhere when I got here in the early eighties, and they were a known problem for gardners in the hills and edges of towns. A few years later a ban on lion hunting went into effect, and the big cats started being more commonly seen. The lions seem as brazen as the deer, making kills in peoples yards and actually attacking several people in recent years. In my own case I had been fencing live oak and pepperwoods so they would be able to grow above the point where deer can get at the growing tip. Once a tree has done that the deer can’t stop it from becoming a tree. Before that though, they can browse a seedling of those species every year for decades, and the plant will live as a tiny dense shrub. Two years of fencing and they are seven foot tall, probably because the root system has outpaced the above ground portion. This was another helpful recruitment method for large trees.
Nowhere in this story was anything about underground systems, fungi or glomalin mentioned and yet good management always supports pro-glomalin activities. We just wish these guys would go into these studies knowing about glomalin because they could shed more light for the same work in these cases. The effect of returning large marine predators was another interesting story, and again related to destroyed glomalin and ag chemicals impacting fisheries.
The second episode was scarier as an American, revealing for what it showed and just as revealing that again we have parallel research without the researchers seemingly aware of it. First a study of leopard frogs across the US found atrazine in the water in miniscule (one part in a tenth of a billion-.1mcg/L) quantities was causing male frogs to become hermaphrodite, growing eggs in the testes and occasionally even ovaries. Atrazine is a commonly used agriculture product. Healthy frogs were found everywhere atrazine wasn’t being used. Going into the lab, frogs grown with atrazine in the water showed the same defects as the wild ones. Good water, good frogs. AN amazing aside was that higher doses had less effect on the frogs, possibly kicking in self defense mechanisms. At any rate, as the dose went up symptoms went down. Here we are reminded of the German studies a decade or two ago that showed clean water at parts per million were rife with chemicals at parts per trillion, for which the US still doesn’t have a safety limit. Closer scrutiny revealed huge amounts of cosmetics, medicines, estrogen and caffeine in the rivers in the morning as a result of people starting the day in the usual ways. With 75000 manufactured compounds interacting and active at tiny doses, this is a huge problem.
Another researcher on this show studies the effects of tap water. She figured more pollution would cause more problems, so she studied sperm from men from NYC, LA, Chicago and her home town in Missouri. Missouri had the lowest sperm counts and health much to her surprise. Without naming the exact chemicals she found it was agricultural chemicals in tap water had effected all the men there, even those who weren’t in agriculture or particularly exposed to the chemicals directly. Right after the first article and approximately the same portion of the country as the frog hunters(who went everywhere) the story seemed to be screaming Atrazine. We’d at least hope she could use or test the idea.
Lastly, even as they spread the specter of massive contamination from manufactured products, bioremediation looms into view as a viable mechanism for most all these problems. Indeed if all people disappeared today the ongoing life functions would correct all these problems eventually. Fungi and bacteria are capable of breaking any carbon compound into smaller safer units. The more highly toxic initially the more specific you need to be to start. A good clue was given in that clover grows better in ground soaked in diesel. Not that we want to fertilize with diesel, but we may want to plant clover on terrestrial spill sites. THE use of plants to remove heavy metals was discussed as well, which is what plants do- remove nutrients from the soil. By tying mercury up in plants, or having it respired out prevents fixer bacteria from forming it into the dangerous form methyl mercury. This segment also pointed out the old adage about men who plant trees living longer because they want to watch their work grow. It was a sugar farmer trying to reduce ag runoff by increasing the treed riparian boundary in order to lessen nitrogen runoff harming the Great Reef off Australia.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
This week makes a whole year of Redwood Reader. There has been a lot to talk about and sometimes I feel I am not doing enough to educate folks about glomalin, the purpose of this blog in the first place. We have received very few comments, mostly good work type of comments. I expected to have a website for several key articles but I couldn’t fund it. Blogspot has been really helpful that way- it costs nothing and the archives stay on line so people can go back and research. CO2 Science has similar problems and went to pay for use in December, much to my chagrin but obviously necessary.
In that year I have found a lot of supporting evidence and as a result have been accumulating acute powers of analysis. These traits and abilities from knowledge should be part of every local land use decision, part of general education and a requirement all kinds of land managers. There are no nasty surprises if we understand soil mechanics and act accordingly. This does not preclude all activity, it just asks for smarter planning. We are also mindful of miners, who remove and replace entire ecosystems rather than fixing what is left when they are done.
Before the blog I had commented on HRSP and Headwaters plans with many ideas for resource protection. Then came glomalin. I mentioned it in King range comments as I was studying it, running out of time before I got it all together, causing abbreviated comments on other aspects of that plan. For Gilham Butte, glomalin was firmly fixed in mind. I found BLM’s practices very compatible with a glomalin regulating regime in place. The Plan supports the theory and the theory is carried out as BMPs without ever really mentioning a need to change operations. That is to say, BLM arrived at the same conclusions without benefit of glomalin knowledge as a result of years of observation. This is what we find in many sustainable activities- people unwittingly generating, protecting and taking advantage of the growing power of natural systems.
By now readers know we are critical of everyone. This is because they are all working from ignorance, and we are trying to dispel that. So no one is in the clear, from research scientists to companies and public agencies and private citizens forced to use poorly constructed roads, and making it worse by constantly rearranging drainage on top of watersheds, creating havoc below somewhere between the site and the creek. We also salute some folks environmentalists have trouble with, like grass managers and integrated sustainable farmers. These are the folks inherently protecting glomalin storage by maintaining conditions that generate revenue. We don’t support tree sits because of trespass laws, which we support as land owners. We do believe in civil disobedience to make a point or change law. The problem has been a lack of innovative ideas that would cause the company to rethink its practices, which are a result of regulation and economies of scale. They have done everything asked without benefiting from positive results and are vilified for the results they are getting. Time for something new..
We can see it is in everyone’s benefit to come to grips with this new science. We have pointed out Humboldt is an ideal situation for all the studies that would flow form investigating this. The educational and scientific infrastructure exists, and actually needs some new ideas for impetus.
IN the meantime I will continue to comment on local issues, report science I find, watch water issues closely, point out success stories and restoration plans and projects around the county and the country. This week I sent the first batch of articles to a printer to be published as Best of redwood reader. I am also rewriting this information into a glomalin book, as I believe the basic facts are in now and it is a matter of presentation. Blogs are difficult to lug around so I am anxious to get into a format people can take with them.
We thank our readers and hope they will educate their associates as well. The longer it takes to get the word out the more bad ideas we will have to contend with or undo. Large scale restoration and flood control projects desparartely need this knowledge, as well as developers and regulators in smaller settings but accumulating into huge amounts of impacted urbanized lands.
We read with amusement about Wendall Berry ranting about environmentalists having lost every battle they ever fought due to compromise. Then there was the death of environmentalism book and discussion, and criticism of large environmental groups, who have become big money Washington lobbyists without benefit of an idea outside of crying foul or buying land. We can’t save everything and we are limiting our sustainable choices by failing to understand what makes the system a system rather than a collection of individual species without collective infrastructure.
I read this yesterday and wrote an article but my computer shut down the program and didn’t save it. I thought they were looking pretty good since it looked like they would have regular revenue to help with the debt. I was appalled at the prospect for Maxxam not helping its subsidiary out through rough times. It is one thing on a failing operation but 200,000 acres of timber is going nowhere. The main problems are environmental damage due to ignorance, and we are fixing that. Not only should it loosen restrictions on their own land, it should help get some fuel reduction and TSI logs off federal lands, over protected due to obvious mismanagement on the ground in the past. Palco should take the local lead in finding carbon markets for idled lands, and go to select cuts with minimal floor damage. Less logging means more fire protection and TSI jobs, not less. Another good opportunity is to shift some roaded lands to user fee recreation, especially for orv’s, horses and mountain bikes who would appreciate good access, conditions and opportunities to ride while not damaging Park or other preserved functioning forest lands. We point out timber is historically a cyclic industry with off seasons and bad times.
Lastly, there is a world of intellectual property waiting exploitation for glomalin studies and outreach in order to rewrite regulations, and a crying need for the innovative style of previous generations of timbermen, to whom no problem was too big or unsolvable.
Palco nets $65 million loan
By John Driscoll The Times-Standard 4/26/05
The Pacific Lumber Co. has struck a deal with two lenders to bail it out of a Bank of America loan it defaulted on, the company reported to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week.
The restructuring comes through a five-year $30 million loan from the CIT Group/Business Credit Inc., and a five-year $35 million secured loan with Credit Suisse First Boston. Nearly $11 million went to pay off its revolving credit facility with Bank of America.
Whether Palco's new liquidity could be funneled to Scotia Pacific -- a Maxxam Inc. subsidiary that holds 220,000 acres secured by $750 million in timber notes -- is unknown. But Matt Wirz, with the distressed debt news service Debtwire, quoted a Maxxam official as saying it's highly unlikely.
Kent Friedman, Maxxam board vice chairman, said, "I'd be surprised if Maxxam did that as I can't remember the last time I've seen it put money into a subsidiary."
Also in the April 20 Debtwire story, Friedman said no decision has been made as to how Scotia Pacific will pay $9 million of a total $27 million it owes on its $750 million debt in July, though negotiations with bondholders are likely to step up. With continuing revenues, the company may owe only $4 million in July, Wirz said.
Palco did not return the Times-Standard's phone call.
Wirz said that while some investors would like to see Palco go bankrupt and taken out of Maxxam's hands, he doubts Maxxam would fail to make the July payment and back away from a company that could still make money.
"Four million dollars is not a good reason to go bankrupt," he said.
Palco to shut Fortuna mill
By John Driscoll The Times-Standard
Wednesday, April 27, 2005 -
The Pacific Lumber Co. will close its Fortuna mill at the end of June, saying an unpredictable log supply won't allow it to keep all three of its mills running.
One hundred and one employees were given 60-day notice of the action, some of whom will get a shot at a job at Palco's expanding Scotia mill. It should be in operation this summer.
"The decision to close the Fortuna mill comes after one of the most difficult seven months in the company's history," said Palco President and CEO Robert Manne in a press release.
About 20 new positions are expected to be open at the Scotia mill this summer, a number that could go up with a more stable log supply, said Palco Vice President Dennis Wood.
Wood said that it was anticipated that someday the Fortuna mill property might be sold and made into a retail mall, but that the process for approval of the project was likely to take years. In the meantime, Palco expected to operate the mill.
"There's no connection between the two issues," he said.
The company has been talking with a Sacramento developer interested in building a shopping center at the site for two years and the 75-acre property is in escrow to be sold to FHK Cos.
Developer Fred Katz said when he first contacted Palco, the company said it had been considering moving the operation to Scotia. He said zoning, general plan amendments and design review still await the potential development, which is at least three years off.
The layoffs come after state water quality regulators decided not to hear Palco's request for reconsidering an earlier decision that refused to over turn a decision by the regional water board.
The State Water Resources Control Board wrote on Monday that none of its members has requested an emergency hearing be held on the decision to uphold the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board's limiting the logging Palco wanted to do this spring in Freshwater and Elk River to 75 percent. The state board said it was committed to expedite the matter and hear it in June.
Wood said the approval of those plans still represents a major chunk of the logs it needs, and that, in general, timely approval of timber plans by all agencies is critical.
Last spring, Palco began moving its Carlotta mill's equipment to Scotia, giving 119 employees notice. In January, Palco laid off 38 employees from Fortuna and reassigned 11 others.
Palco unveiled its new $30 million efficient Scotia mill last fall, months after it fired up a new $5 million planer.
Would that this study focused on or included glomalin. What is Dissolved inorganic carbon anyway? The glomalin research talks of glomalin and humic acid. Some CO2 evists in the soil as decaying glomalin or as a product of respiration of organisms. However, the majority of production goes into glomalin which has high repellency properties and is relatively easily destroyed by the forces that provide transport. Runoff may carry some percent of this as dissolved carbon but it seems likely to be a small percentage of the original soil deposit. The referred to wetland articles likewise make no inclusion for repellant carbon products accumulated by biodeposition. This has them thinking large amounts of carbon are going out to sea rather than conditioning the soil where it is.
ReferenceThese Face experiments are the basis of much of CO2 Science’s work. They also make excellent way to nurture seedlings through difficult early stages in difficult country, such as on slides and river bars. They also are the way to do glomalin studies but I’d like to see extended timelines into decades, and depth to the 15 foot or deeper, in permanent forest installations. But then again, maybe ground radar readings of soil moisture can save us time and trouble.
Karberg, N.J., Pregitzer, K.S., King, J.S., Friend, A.L. and Wood, J.R. 2005. Soil carbon dioxide partial pressure and dissolved inorganic carbonate chemistry under elevated carbon dioxide and ozone. Oecologia 142: 296-306.
What was done
In the words of the authors, "free air CO2 and O3 enrichment (FACE) technology was used at the Aspen FACE project in Rhinelander, Wisconsin [USA] to understand how elevated atmospheric CO2 and O3 interact to alter pCO2 and DIC [dissolved inorganic carbon] concentrations in the soil." The experimental setting consisted of three blocks of four treatments - control, elevated CO2, elevated O3, and elevated CO2 + O3 - where ambient CO2 was 360 ppm, elevated CO2 was 542 ppm, ambient O3 was 33 ppb, and elevated O3 was 49 ppb, and where half of each FACE ring was planted with trembling aspen, a quarter with a 1:1 mix of trembling aspen and paper birch, and a quarter with a mix of trembling aspen and sugar maple. The CO2 and O3 treatments were applied over the 2002 growing season, which ran from 28 May to 11 October, during which period bi-weekly samples of the soil air and solution were retrieved from depths of 15, 30 and 125 cm for various chemical analyses in the laboratory.
What was learned
Karberg et al. report that "measured concentrations of soil CO2 and calculated concentrations of DIC increased over the growing season by 14 and 22%, respectively, under elevated atmospheric CO2 and were unaffected by elevated tropospheric O3." In addition, they say "the increased concentration of DIC altered inorganic carbonate chemistry by increasing system total alkalinity by 210%, likely due to enhanced chemical weathering [of primary minerals]," and they note that a mixing model they employed "showed that new atmospheric CO2 accounted for approximately 90% of the C leaving the system as DIC."“Calculatyed concentrations of DIC show these are estimates of theoretical products rather than measured amounts of known products. After that it is a matter of speculation. Perhaps this is the humic acid fraction of total production, but generally these are merely confusing the issue. Increased biological activity could account for a shortage of H+ ions in the soil, giving it a high pH. This may be a general finding and so very helpful in understanding what is going on in the soil.
What it meansAaarrrggggghhhhh! How and why do they jump from the hillside to the sea floor? Sure sediment does that but we know glomalin reverts to CO2, and if you dissolve that you get acid, not base. We are looking for the mechanism that allows CO2 to create water storage and tilth in the soil as the basis of agriculure and forestry, and prevent sedimentation that is dasmaging rivers and fisheries. Carbon depostion will be a fraction of sediment delivery from the same original source because most of the glomalin has reverted. It seems unlikely carbon can be transported without lowering its pH, and that dissolved CO2 would accumulate in sediments since it is already mobile. Some glomalin goes into the water every year in various scour and slide events but most sediment delivery has much of its glomalin component destroyed. As they note, forest aggradations are tying up lots of carbon. Call it inorganic if you like, but it is manufactured by fungi and is an essential component of terrestrial precipitation capture. I like bio-deposition, like ferro-bacteria or chalk or coal. One other thing to think about here- submarine canyon loading and undersea landslides caused ny sediment buildup.
The Michigan scientists state that the CO2-induced increase in soil solution DIC, which ultimately makes its way to rivers that reach oceans, "represents a potential long-lived sequestration reservoir in deep ocean sediments," noting further that it suggests that "aggrading forest ecosystems may be used to capture and sequester atmospheric CO2 through inorganic processes," which have the potential to transfer it to the bottoms of faraway seas. See also, in this regard, our reviews of the studies of Raymond and Cole (2003) and Wang and Cai (2004). And, of course, it is important to note that this phenomenon can be significantly enhanced by increases in the air's CO2 concentration.
Raymond, P.A. and Cole, J.J. 2003. Increase in the export of alkalinity from North America's largest river. Science 301: 88-91.
Wang, Z.A. and Cai, W.-J. 2004. Carbon dioxide degassing and inorganic carbon export from a marsh-dominated estuary (the Duplin River): A marsh CO2 pump. Limnology and Oceanography 49: 341-354.
Reviewed 27 April 2005
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Mycorrhizae, Voles, Owls, Trees and Man
Copyright © 1997, Daniel B. Wheeler
Much has been written about the Northern Spotted owl as an endangered species. But almost no one understands that the species is important to an even less known or understood process which keeps forests of the Pacific Northwest in good health.
This process involves animals, almost all native plants, fungi -- and man.
Mycorrhizal fungi are essential to almost all plant life on earth. They gather water and essential elements, detoxify soils, and assist in protecting their host plants from pathogenic fungi. In the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere, these tiny thread-like organisms spread out from plant roots to form intricate mycorrhizal networks. A single square centimeter of soil may contain a mile of mycorrhizal mycelium. A square inch can hold several miles of mycelium. Unless the mycelium is densely packed together, it is not visible to the naked human eye.
Estimates vary concerning the dependence of plants on mycorrhizal fungi (MF). Most of these can only be guesses, because of the estimated 1,000,000 fungi suspected on the world today, only about 60,000 have been identified in science. Nonetheless, it can be stated with some surety that without MF, terrestrial plant life would cease. Without terrestrial plant life, terrestrial animal life would cease. As one of those animal species affected, it behooves us to learn much more about this relationship.
Many forms of mushrooms are presumed dispersed by wind. The spores drop from mushroom gills onto air currents. This can be verified by the presence of spores at 50,000 feet in the atmosphere.
Many of the essential MF in the Pacific Northwest are underground (hypogeous) fruiting truffles. These truffles can be either ascomycetes, basidiomycetes or zygomycetes. Literally hundreds of species have been described. For instance, "How to Know the Non-Gilled Mushrooms, Second Edition", by Alexander H. Smith, Helen V. Smith and Nancy S. Weber (c. 1981 by Wm C. Brown Company Publishers, Dubuque, Iowa), lists 149 species of the genus Rhizopogon alone. Many species novum still await scientific description (North American Truffling Society, PO Box 296, Corvallis, OR).
Even for experts these species are difficult to recognize. Alexander H. Smith noted he had the largest collection of unidentified Rhizopogons, in addition to the largest collection of identified Rhizopogons in the world.
Because these fungi fruit underground, they rely upon animals to dig them and eat them. Without being eaten, truffle spores cannot be dispersed.
Only very recently have any species of Rhizopogons been cultivated. Almost no MF have been reliably cultivated. Yet in nature, they are common with healthy trees.
Compounding the problem of cultivating MF is that as trees mature, the MF associated with them change. MF found with young trees, for instance, are often species of Martellia, Hymenogaster, Hysterangium, Endogone, Barssia, and Rhizopogon. But after full canopy is reached (usually about 5-15 years from seedlings), other MF suddenly become common, including Tubers, Radiigera, Melanogaster, Leucogaster, Balsamia, and Alpovas. Finally, the MF needed for old-growth forests vary greatly with slope, rainfall, elevation, and tree species. Most tree nurseries are located at low elevations, then planted at higher elevations. If these nursery-grown trees do not develop new, high-elevation MF quickly, they often die. This death has previously been attributed to "transplantation shock."
In the Pacific Northwest of the United States, the most common dispersal agents for truffles are small rodents called voles. Chris Maser in The Redefined Forest notes voles are the most common animals west of the Cascade Mountains, with potentially over 500 animals per acre of forest. Almost no one has actually seen voles, and in the 1970's, the California Red-backed voles was listed on the Endangered Species Act. By careful research, Chris Maser has shown that not only are these animals not endangered, but are an essential part of the forest health through their dispersal of truffle spores. Maser notes that each vole produces about 300 fecal pellets daily, each of which contains over 100,000 spores. Each spore is capable of inoculating a new tree with several species of MF.
Another important dispersal animal for truffles in the Northern Flying squirrel. Studies have shown that during six months of the year, the flying squirrel eats almost nothing but truffles.
As MF spores can pass through a mammal's digestive system without harm, it also appears that the spores pass through birds digestive systems with equal ease. The major predator of both Northern Flying Squirrels and California Red-backed voles are Northern Spotted owls. Unlike other owl species, these owls have short-stubby wings, appropriate for flying through dense forests with multiple forest canopy levels, which most other owl species cannot do.
Finally, the Northern Spotted owl is also a prolific hunter. Each day it flies up to 40 miles in its quest for food. And each time it defecates or regurgitates a pellet, it effectively inoculates a new area MF species. By constantly sampling prey in many areas, it effectively disperses hundreds of MF species. Almost none of these species has been cultivated to date.
A related link: OREGON WHITE TRUFFLES
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Glomalin is invisible and hard to detect but its impacts are everywhere. We easily see its effects when we squeeze a handful of topsoil. The soil sticks together and feels slightly damp. If you go down to a creek and grab a handful of sediment from a pool you find the material is lighter in color and has no stickiness to it at all. Glomalin is the key ingredient in clods and dirt bombs. If you take a handful of topsoil and bake it dry, it decomposes back into the sediment that constituted its origins. This, in a nut shell, demonstrates the properties of glomalin- dark coloration, stickiness, moisture holding and soil binding.
The vast majority of plants associate with mycorrhizzia fungi in a symbiotic exchange that benefits both parties. At this point it becomes useful to see the functioning forest as a city of individuals paying to build an infrastructure to support its diverse population at the present and with enough reserves to maintain itself through times of moderate stress. No individual can survive this process, it must be done as a team, which is why Douglas fir without mycorrhizzia are dead trees.
Let us say we are at a denuded site and are trying to bring it back faster than it will by itself. Morels are fruiting wherever the surface was turned and the mycelium interrupted. Seeds are falling from trees and blowing around from forbs, grasses and sub story plants along with molds, fungi spores and pollen. Soon seedlings are hooking up with rhizopogons in dense stands that immediately compete, drop needles and duff, and process enough soil to hold water through the annual dry season. The competition is stiff and there are losers all along the way from needles to branches to trees. That is the strategy for the builders of this city. The dead material creates the all important duff that protects subsoil processes and allows water infiltration into the root zone storage system. It also allows more light to the growing above-ground members that are the factories and farms of the city. The more photosynthetic product available n the system, the quicker it produces canopy and duff, which slow precipitation and direct it to the subsurface system, and the faster roots and fungi grow, expanding the biologically conditioned soil region. Each individual species is like a separate business depending on aspect, climate, soil and other conditions, but the currency is one, and all contribute to the overall health of the system, a biological Gross Domestic Product of carbon dioxide fixation and water retention. Fully functioning regions have nearly disappeared from industrial lands but are abundant in parks and to a lesser extent in private hands. We need new rules protecting against disturbing the forest floor.
The root zone is growing every day because the fungi are foraging throughout the soil zone depositing glomalin as they go. The more glomalin is deposited the more water the ground can absorb and hold into the next dry season, and allowing for summer stream flows. This then is the function of time in glomalin issues, because it is a buildup of bio-deposited material created by both tree and fungi with a rate of decay. The bigger the tree and root system, the more molecules of this that are produced and the healthier the forest system is.
The result of this is awareness of the impacts of human activity on natural systems. Keeping glomalin protections in the background as the essential condition maker for biological processes in the natural world colors or guides our thinking on vegetation management, access, roads, repairs, fire risk, thinning and TSI activities, invasive species, recreation opportunities, sediment and the stability of in stream projects based on upslope conditions. We find it an essential element in all planning for terrestrial natural resources.
It is often said it takes a thousand years to create an inch of topsoil, and that millions of tons blow away every day. It may be true it takes that long for complete mineralization of the duff layer, but soil is created in a few years by fungal deposition of glomalin. It blows away when the glomalin is destroyed or unprotected. Duff is created annually. The role of wood as a carbon source in the soil is overstated and is more important for bringing in decomposers that deposit glomalin from secondary sources rather than directly from photosynthetic products, increasing biodiversity and recycling nutrients for other inhabitants of the city. We can also see it will take a long time for those seven seedlings to evolve into a city because their rate of building has been hampered by lack of supply- of glomalin. They aren’t even planted as close as their direct seeded cousins that grow in dense thickets at first, the collective effect of many individuals restoring the system faster than any individual will be able to do for decades.
Many large restoration projects are being proposed around the state and across the West. All of these projects, from the lower Colorado to Owens River and the LA River as well as our own Eel and Mattole Rivers are being restored through purchase of property and riparian tree planting.. We have talked about all of the issues involved. We want big trees and removal of glomalin and/or water blocking structures whether pavement, roofing or structure, and the recognition watersheds need to function for rivers to be healthy, and that glomalin is the key ingredient in functional watersheds, and that watersheds need to be grown far from the riparian zone as well as in it to work correctly.
The first one we have already shown by the difference between topsoil and in-stream sediment from the same source. This clearly shows glomalin is absent from material deposited in the creek whether before or after it got there. Sediment is transported by moving water and to some extent wind and is not a natural occurrence in temperate rain forested areas.
Our next demonstration illustrates the three enemies of glomalin, light, water and air. For this we need samples to test, an inorganic control and artificial events replicating the concepts. We will use a conventional oven, infrared lights and fans to recreate those conditions. Our first tests visually demostrate glomalin presence by simply squeezing the topsoil together. Then samples are carefully weighed and recorded.
The first sample is held in a block and the fan aimed at it until it dries and the clump becomes soil particles ands begins to blow away. The time is recorded for all samples. The second sample is held as a block and running water run on it in a container until the block has lost its integrity. The third sample is held as a block under the light until it loses its characteristics.
The second set of samples are ground quickly to thin layers and the tests repeated with times recorded. This will demonstrate the protective nature of the glomalin system in the soil and the rapidity of collapse when conditions are impaired. This demonstrates glomalin “starvation” from entropy as opposed to rapid destruction from land use activities.
A third set of samples should be refrigerated in dark covering as a block to weigh over time for loss or increase in a control.
A fourth set of samples should be of sand and subjected to the same experiments. No amount of added water will make the sand sticky,
These simple tests demonstrate the presence of volatile organic products in the soil and their enemies. At this point it is not possible to quantify water loss versus glomalin loss since the same conditions release both materials as gases. A suggestion for a simple test would be to heat a sample in a retort. Capture the escaping gases in condenser to reliquify the water, and capture the carbon dioxide after it passes through the condenser in a balloon. Water and carbon dioxide can then be measured and should add to the material left to the original weight. We then have a useful tool for easy comparison of many samples that can be done at any depth or time period..
These are some simple ideas we can use to demonstrate the presence of an invisible and hard to detect substance in the soil. We may see it wash away if we put a sample in a tight mesh bag and swish it around in water until the water runs clear. Weigh the remains, dry, reweigh. This material will not clump back up either. We have removed the soil glue.
Saturday, April 02, 2005
A new study by the feds show what seemed obvious through local history-steelhead and salmon roamed far inland b3efore the dams were built. This study was done as part of informantion gather ing for FERC for basing a decision on license renewals for four dams in the Basin. THe dams have choked off hundreds of miles of spawning habitat since 1917. We note this is a peer reviewed paper from US Fish and Wildlife, BLM and NOAA, all DOI agencies. The dams provide enough power for 75000 homes. The Klamath was the third largest salmon run in the US after the Colombia and Sacramento Rivers before the upper reaches were truncated as spawning habitat. Many of the lakes problems are the result of poor management of glomalin in their watersheds. I found this report just hours after yeasterdays article about the Klamath.
By JEFF BARNARDAssociated Press WriterApril 1, 2005, 9:21 PM ESTGRANTS PASS,
Ore. -- Based on a review of historical and archaeological evidence, a group of
federal biologists has concluded that salmon definitely spawned in waters far
above a series of hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River that have blocked fish
since 1917. The report comes as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
considers whether to grant the utility Pacificorp a new license to operate four
dams straddling the Oregon-California border as they are, or go along with
Indian tribes, commercial fishermen and conservationists who want the dams
removed or altered to open access to hundreds of miles of spawning habitat.
Besides being the focus of intense political battles over allocations of water
between fish and farms, the Klamath River is a keystone for setting annual
salmon harvests in the Pacific Ocean. The need to protect weak Klamath runs this
year is forcing sharp reductions in the commercial chinook harvest off Oregon
and California. Allen Foreman, chairman of the Klamath Tribes, said he hoped the
report would increase pressure to restore salmon to the upper Klamath Basin by
settling any doubts that salmon were once plentiful in rivers flowing into Upper
Klamath Lake, the source of the Klamath River. "If more people recognized"
salmon had been in the upper basin "the willingness (to restore salmon) will
come then," Foreman said. The peer-reviewed report, "Distribution of Anadramous
Fishes in the Upper Klamath River Watershed Prior to Hydropower Dams," was
compiled by biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of
Land Management, and a hydraulic engineer from NOAA Fisheries. The report will
be included in Fish and Wildlife recommendations to the Interior Department,
which will decide whether to demand fish passage as part of a new operating
license for the dams, said John Hamilton, a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist
who was lead author on the report. PacifiCorp wants to relicense four dams built
between 1917 and 1962 that produce 147.2 megawatts, enough for 75,000 homes and
1.7 percent of its total output for 1.6 million customers in six Western states.
PacifiCorp has put the cost of fish ladders and fish screens on the dams at $100
million. The report was based on historical newspaper articles and photos, and
fisheries, ethnographic and archaeological reports. The greatest amount of
evidence was for chinook salmon, both the spring runs that were once a leading
source of food for tribes, and fall runs that are key to setting ocean fishing
seasons. The report cited historical accounts, fisheries reports and salmon
bones excavated from an Indian village to establish chinook clearly spawned in
the Sprague River. Historical accounts and fisheries reports were cited for the
Williamson River. Substantial information also showed that steelhead, a prized
sport fish, reached the upper basin and spawned in the Sprague, Williamson and
Wood rivers. Coho salmon, a threatened species figuring in water allocation
battles, spawned in tributaries above Iron Gate Dam, but not as far as Upper
Klamath Lake, the report said. "It confirms what we have been saying all along
-- the Klamath was the No. 3 salmon-producing river in America historically, and
the Klamath dams divided it in two and killed all the salmon that once spawned
in abundance above the dams," said Glen Spain of Pacific Coast Federation of
Fishermen's Associations, which represents California commercial fishermen.
Pacificorp feels chances of restoring salmon to the upper basin are low due to
poor water quality in Upper Klamath Lake and degraded habitat in the Sprague
River, said spokesman Jon Coney. "If Upper Klamath Lake were in the same shape
it was in 1850, I think it would be a different ball game," Coney said.
"Unfortunately, the lake has degenerated so much in the last 100 years, that
from our research fish passage wouldn't necessarily lead to a sustainable
population of oceangoing fish." Most salmon passing through the lake would miss
the summer months when water quality is worst, said Curtis Knight of California
Trout. The world-class trout fishing in the Williamson and Wood rivers shows
they have lots of prime habitat, and the Sprague is benefiting from several
Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.
Recent reports from the Klamath River area illustrate the extent of converging ignorance and greed.
Klamath Fisheries Council has said this is a bad fish year because low flows killed adults and juveniles in separate incidents in this breeding cycle three years ago. THis is opposed to a year of abundance in the Bay Area rarely seen before.
Numbers of seals, sea lions and whales continues to increase, all salmon feeders.
Salvage logging in burnt areas of the Siskyous has been allowed without floor protections. This means tremendous amounts of sediment are about to be cut loose in the watershed. This would be a good place to demonstrate walking machine harvesting. No green trees should be cut so that glomalin production can be maintained where possible, and seeding the worked areas while the personnel are there should be included if they are let in there at all.
The GAO is looking into the Klamath Water Bank. The Water Bank has no hard numbers and guess at availability of groundwater and idling lands. These are proglomalin actions but done in ignorane and hope rather than science. GAO finds no science in water decisions.
Ignorance of aquifer refilling is not at hand, yet it is obvious that if you let water stand over porous ground recharge will occur. Vegetation helps keep that a possibility. The vegetation also creates the surface water zone which retains water rather than draining it into watercourses as a problem.
The Federal Government has allowed farmers to make the calls on up to 85% of water distriibution to many California cities and munincipalities, allowing them to sell their surpluses, which are owned by the People of the State of California.
Drought conditions appear in one year of below average rainfall. Ecosystems bank more water than that for just such emergencies, two to three years worth. This is the declining effect that allows insectsa nad disease to explode when conditions are right. This shows us the real state of current conditions: the landscape is drying out due to land management practices.
Restoration of salmon runs is considered an "industry" because it brings money and jobs. Really it is a repair job that should be permanent, a one time effort, and anything less is suspicious use of taxpayer money. Watershed restoration is a matter of undoing past bad ideas and waiting for the fix to grow in. It should start at the top of a watershed and work its way to the stream.
Dammed rivers may increase flows by strict adherence to glomalin rules in the areas below the dams. This should be studied by GIS since it is likely there is enough land and precipitation to change current flows by better management of the downstream watershed in rivers like the Klamath and the Eel, provided we stop going backward.
HSU's Natural Resources students are complaining the department is adrift and directionless. (Lumberjack, March 05). Glomalin impacts or is critical to all branches of this area and should revitalize the entire department. Glomalin should be addressed in CCAT as well. We need plenty of new young thinkers to go from exploitation to sustainability.
CDF should be responsible for ALL changes to the forest floor whether logging, roads, development or conversion.
Redwood Sciences Lab will find answers to all the unanswered questions at Caspar Creek.
Forest road building needs tighter controls and penalties for displaced sediment.
An informed populace here, where this is easy to see, will have to do battle with developers and farmers for the foreseeable future. It is essential knowledgeable people are part of the debate or development will either crush opposition, or nitpick it apart into inconsequentiality, and the need for sustainability will not be recognized.
Friday, April 01, 2005
118. UN Report
The new UN report on the state of the environment is a sad testament to our current way of doing things as well as a poor piece of science. All of the scenarios they project are the result of misuse of resources and lack of understanding about glomalin.The state of the earth is poor compared to the recent past but a long way from hopeless. That is because we understand the power of nature and as a result we have new and better tools and methods for sustainable living. We have learned:
Soil is fine mineral particles glued together with fungal residue
Soil is held in place by the soil glue glomalin made by fungi, plus roots and
Soil is grown by glomalin conditioning in a few years.
Pore spaces created by water repelling hold water not bound to the pore
Accumulation creates subsurface water storage in the biological zone.
Trees protect the soil by canopy and creating a duff layer that reduce
impact and protect the soil from sun, wind and water, and direct water into
the storage zone.
Trees collect summer moisture from fog causing it to drip to the ground.
Roots provide structure, anchoring and a framework for fungi to colonize and a dispersion method for glomalin.
Trees, brush, grass and even stubble can allow glomalin accumulation.
Trees exchange a portion of photosynthetic product in exchange for water and minerals gathered by the fungi.
Management actions that retain a higher production rate than rate of decay will be the definition of sustainable.
Glomalin is produced by thousands of fungi as a result of every green leaf, needle and blade of grass that produce sugars photosynthetically.
Higher CO2 rates increase plant growth as well as root growth.
Higher CO2 stimulates glomalin production up to five fold
Higher CO2 causes more efficient use of water and nitrogen by plants.
Glomalin is sloughed off into the soil as hyphae extend and then die throughout the biologic zone. Glomalin growth is revegetation at work. It reduces runoff, stops sediment and keeps the soil moist.
Ground water reappears after sufficient storage necomes available through growth.
Glomalin production areas capture precipitation and reduce flooding and runoff.
Glomalin shows watersheds grow and are growable even in rigorous conditions.
Glomalin can quantify the break even point and opportunity cost in development.
Glomalin stores 25-45 pounds of carbon per tree annually.
Knowledge of glomalin reduces losses to dust and wind as well as running water.
Glomalin is destroyed by surface disturbance, water sun or air
Glomalin decays in 7-45 years (2-15% a year, highest turnover in the tropics)
Destroyed glomalin reverts to CO2. Drowned glomalin decays into methane.
Destroyed glomalin reverts soil to sediment that is easily eroded.
Many natural disasters like floods, landslides and dust storms are results of poor understanding.
Ignorance of the working of surface waters is drying out the global landscape causing many ofthe problems named.
Starved glomalin soils lose their stability after decades as glue content decomposes
Landslides, mass wasting and debris flows are caused by starved glomalin deposits failing in steep and wet conditions, sometimes earthquakes.
Fresh sediment must be grown into the landscape by plants depositing the soil glue or it will find its way into the watercourse at the bottom of the watershed..
Spoils and fill remain in flux in wet weather without new growth, act as dust in the dry
Cuts fail because they destabilize the ground pressure and starved glomalin fails
Root failure is not the final end of legacy damage, glomalin starvation goes beyond that, and artificially steep banks and slopes may easily be centurions.
Mycorhizzia are successional, with many more species apparently associated with early and mid
life than old growth. See them as builders rather than residents.
inoculation with multiple mycorhizzia species will accelerate forest growth.
Nonmycorhizzia fungi also produce hyphae but are not using primary products.
Glomalin sequesters PTEs in soil.
Decay fungi have species specific enzymes for digesting whichever products it prefers.
Most organic toxins have at least one species of fungi that can reduce it by enzymes.
Many species fruit underground and /or infrequently, hosts support many species of fungi.
Wildlife thrives on fungi and rodents are the main predators.
Voles consume their body weight in fungi daily.
Spotted owls predate the voles spreading the spores over a forty mile radius.
Burnt areas with stump sprouting trees fared better than other lands, but ceanothus preferred such areas.
Ceanothus roots are stronger than Douglas fir roots, and it may be mycorhizzial as well as
Aerosol emissions from forests cause water droplets to
condense. ET water can be determined by deuterium tests. We may be able grow
Surely there is plenty of reason for hope here. We can grow soil, watersheds and moisture. We can prevent excessive soil destruction avoiding CO2 release and loss of groundwater. All agriculture and development schemes can be accurately assessed. It gives us reason to believe CO2 is a useful tool to take advantage of while a lot of it is available. Ecosystems will respond to climatic changes but geopolitical divisions will not be respected. It may be the end of the world as we know it, but it won't be the end of the world.