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.

Monday, May 30, 2005

137. Timber Wars 

Anatomy is a big word for someone who claims scientific ignorance, as Stephen Lewis points out in his opinion article in the Eureka reporter of May 28, 2005. So it is we can see this article is poorly researched as science and as history. We agree fear is a powerful tactic, and it is no secret that many quotes from Germany can be equally applied by our modern administration and without credits we would be none the worse for wear. Fear based on false information is a more serious charge, and it also stands the test of time. A more enlightening article might be called Sediment Wars so we can skip the scam aspect.
Timber wars have raged in Humboldt since it was discovered. At first companies grabbed as much as they could using the Stone and Timber Act and railroad rights of way. Save the Redwoods League was founded in the twenties by the wives of timbermen. In that decade state legislators voted not to allow tree cutting in along roads in state parks leaving us with Confusion Hill, Highway 36, Mattole Road, Avenue of the Giants and the stretch leading into Crescent City as unfixable situations. Union organizing and busting was big in the thirties here. While things seemed to settle down with the war effort, in reality the bulldozer and plywood were causing a new timber boom. Laws such as the property tax law taxing standing timber at 70% encouraged people to cut 70% of their timber whether or not it was profitable enough to go to market with because it lowered annual property taxes. At our properties at the ends of roads, piles of rotten Douglas fir logs are a testament to this thinking.
All was rock and roll until the warning flood of 1955 when the results of massive road building, tree cutting and soil disruption collaborated into a stew of mud. This had no obvious effect but the flood of 1964 did.
We have learned a lot of lessons from this flood, and it also set in motion wheels that continue to turn today even as forty year old events fade from memory. Massive cat logging and skidding had begun to impact salmon runs, and the canneries were beginning to close. The massive destruction caused a huge drop in property values in the County and the population fell forty percent. To counter this and take advantage of the burgeoning back to the land movement the County Board of Supervisors opened several areas to subdivisions, usually in areas previously roaded by ranchers and timbermen. These newcomers have raised property values and property taxes and brought a more holistic approach to living in the environment.
My friend Carlo Mazzone came here with a group of foreign investors set up by local realtors because there was no American market for the devastated lands. A small charter plane flew them up here and they went to Panther Gap to look at land. Carlo thought it was the perfect setting for an international comedy theatre and so Dell Arte was born. Carlo had students from around the world, and he made them water planted trees as part of their education when the school was in Panther Gap. Carlo was the first person to challenge a logging action that I am aware of, and he did it the Dell Arte way, acting out a heart attack until BLM and ERS went away, then yelling “Comedia Dell Arte!” at them as they drove away. This is in the early 70’s.
At this time the State voted on new Forest Practice rules to prevent another man made catastrophic loss. We are living with these rules today even as science plows ahead. HCP’s are supposed to incorporate new scientific findings but we see they are a quarter of a century behind on mycorhizzia and a decade behind on glomalin, which is inextricably linked to causes of sedimentation and remediation.
We also see the county failing to maintain these private subdivision roads, and miles of denuded stream banks and vegetation free land trying to recover. Meanwhile landslides continued decades after the last Cat left an area, mostly from excessive runoff caused by its concentration but plenty from stumps decaying decades after trees were cut. My brother bought some of this land in 1976 and it cost him 200 dollars an acre with no money down. The parcels were subdivided by Bob McKee and logged by Lyle Rock. Being streamside, this parcel took all the insults in the watershed. A 1964 stream with coho, Chinook and steelhead was reduced to a nearly trickle. Land continues falling away today with no relief except massive landforming operations, but thirty years of tree planting have resulted in a slowly stabilizing landscape. Steelhead are back, no salmon yet, but now some stretches dry up in the summer, another result of ignorance of the role of fungi and its products in a forest.
As creek bottom owners we tried many times to slow down the destruction coming down from above us, but this requires understanding and cooperation from many landowners. There are cost limits. BUt mainly there was an information disconnect- what caused the sediment to be cut loose in the first place?
Pacific Lumbers founders were aware of the destructiveness of clear cutting they witnessed in Maine and the Lake States. Other redwood companies with differing business plans came and went for a century until only PL was viable, mostly because they limited entry and select cut, inadvertently protecting the forest floor with pretty good results- PL lands were the least impacted fisheries in the eighties, especially Freshwater and Elk River and Salmon Creek.
After the purchase in 1985 it was obvious to us living on the roads used by loogers there were more trucks on the road, often imperiling other drivers. On July6, 1987 a young driver working for Don Nolan under contract with PL clipped a redwood near Panmplin Grove. The empty bunk broke off and came into the windshield of an oncoming vehicle. The driver, Sandra Chomicki, was killed. Her 19-month-old son sustained major life threatening head injuries. He went to the Bay area for critical care and rehab, and has been raised in Humboldt since then. He will graduate from Eureka City Schools Independent studies program this month after many years in special education classes and then home school. Many more facts about Humboldt became evident in his case, like testing the victim but not the driver that caused the accident. CHP tried to prove some kind of illegal drugs were involved because they found a baggie with poppy seeds in it, but the butter proved it was from a bagel and the judge tossed the allegation. Testimony the driver had been drinking beer at a party after midnight the night before was excluded.
One of the effects of this kind of disinformation was Citizens Observation Group began counting log trucks, which spread the word about highway dangers of increased cutting. These people were already mobilized on another issue but his legitimized the power of the new settlers. They began trying to slow PL down. Byron Scheer said it would take a purchase, and the Headwaters deal emerged form thin air. As is so often the case, the deal wound up being a great deal for PL’s owners, only pretty good for PL operations, a nice grove for taxpayers but not a protected watershed as envisioned, and a new round of forest regulations from the Federal government in the form of Habitat Conservation Plans. Preservationists were just hippies until sport and commercial fishermen realized sedimentation was the primary source of impacted runs of salmon and trout. All of this was in place before Redwood Summer.
Meanwhile forest mycologists began understanding the vital role of fungi in forests. The sheer numbers and diversity had mycologists gathering information for a century before the roles became known. Then it was mostly the symbiotic role of fungi and trees in mutual assistance in food gathering. Soil scientists studying topsoil discovered a soil glue made of a glycoprotein produced by mycorhizzia, which had the property of binding soil particles, creating tilth, holding water, and vaporizing back to CO2 when destroyed. This alters our thinking on sediment, the role of CO2 in the atmosphere, and methods and meaning of restoring the landscape.
Many local groups started trying to fix their roads wound up as watershed groups because the roads directly impact the creeks, and because they had to pay for roadwork nearly every spring. Much of this roadwork just reinforces good work done under the wrong information causing continued instability rather than fixing it. We cannot ask every landowner to not do anything to their land but we can storm proof roads, reduce runoff, take some roads out of commission and wait patiently for a new form of transportation that has much less impact on the landscape. This is far more important than reducing emissions because emissions are part of the cure while roads remain problematic. So we have Good Roads, Clean Creeks in the Mattole watershed, an attempt to storm proof all the roads in the watershed still being used, and putting some of the worst offenders to bed. These projects cost a lot of money. The longer it takes to do, the less the dollars are worth and the more the program will cost in absolute dollars. Nevertheless, this is a great regional project like the culvert replacement program that will benefit many people AND the environment.
Today science is at hand that will prevent any more cataclysmic events from our forest practices, and allow us to find a sustainable rate of harvest that is environmentally friendly. In the altered forests we are looking at now we see a lot of overgrowth leading to crowding and fuel loading. We see the lack of big trees has diminished the forests capacity to clean the air, store the precipitation and provide habitat and clean water for its denizens. Nationally, progressive projects like the Chesapeake Bay Restoration effort, which has each county imposing rules on every landowner to control and direct every drop of precipitation on his property in a 64000 square mile developed watershed, will be the work of the new century as we go into fully sustainable living patterns mandated by the results of the industrial age.
For these reasons we are glad the General Plan restricted growth to the already developed areas. In twenty years we will be able to build sustainable living spaces that do not sacrifice the environment. Right now either you destroy or preserve glomalin, but there is plenty of room for more development friendly insights that will allow us to achieve most or all of these goals. Some farmers and ranchers, as well as many aboriginal peoples, intuitively know the balance, as it is the heart of sustainability.
Finally, what happens when the voice of science is drowned out by people afraid of a lowering bottom line, who sit on published information while jamming unsustainable plans through on the basis of economic necessity? Who tells the judges what to read? How is new information incorporated into current decision making? How long will it take?
We also point out that many pro-timber people lump environmentalists together. We point out the many non-timber groups around like the Coalition against Toxics, the Pavement Moratorium folks, Ida Honoroff and the clean air people, The Surf Riders, sport fishing groups like Cal Trout, the Audubon Society, and the many river and wildlife recovery and restoration groups and including agencies like BLM, DFG and the Water Quality Control Board.
This is article 137 on the Redwood Reader at

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

136. Glomalin content of forest soils in relation to fire frequency and landscape position 

Glomalin content of forest soils in relation to fire frequency and landscape position
Melissa A. Knorr A1 A3, R. E. J. Boerner A1, Matthias C. Rillig A2
A1 Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology Ohio State University Columbus OH 43210 USA
A2 Microbial Ecology Program, Division of Biological Sciences University of Montana Missoula MT 59812 USA
A3 School of Natural Resources University of New Hampshire Durham NH 03824 USA
Low-intensity, dormant season fires were frequent and widespread in oak-hickory ( Quercus-Carya) forests of eastern North America until widespread fire suppression began in the mid-1900s. To assess how reintroduction of fire into such ecosystems might affect the activity of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and, thereby, predict the long-term responses of plants and soils to fire, we analyzed the content of the immunoreactive fractions of the AM-fungus-specific glycoprotein glomalin in soils taken in 1994 and 2000 from three forested watersheds in southern Ohio, USA. One watershed remained unburned, one was burned annually from 1996–1999 and one was burned twice, in 1996 and 1999. In addition, to account for the strong landscape-scale gradients of microclimate and soil that typify these watersheds, we stratified each watershed-scale treatment area into three microclimatic zones (=landscape positions) using a GIS-based integrated moisture index (IMI). In the unburned control, the concentrations of immunoreactive, easily-extractable glomalin (IREEG) and immunoreactive total glomalin (IRTG) did not change significantly over the 6-year interval between sampling times, either overall or within any of the three IMI classes. IRTG content was greatest in the mesic landscape positions and lowest in the relatively xeric landscape positions, but IREEG did not vary among landscape positions. Neither IREEG nor IRTG contents were affected by fire, nor were there significant interactions between fire and landscape position in glomalin content. Both correlation and regression analyses demonstrated significant linkages between soil glomalin content, the density/diversity of herbaceous plants, and soil N availability. Despite significant effects of fires on soil N availability and root growth, we resolved no effect of fire on AM fungal activity at this spatial scale.
Glomalin, AM fungi, Oak-hickory, Quercus-Carya, Forest, Fire
1: Mycorrhiza. 2003 Aug;13(4):205-10. Epub 2003 Feb 6.

Commentary: This abstract of this study shows us low intensity fires do not disrupt the glomalin scheme with respect to herbaceous plants in oak hickory forests. We note mature forests showed little glomalin change. We see that proportions left alone remained stable over the years, and that total glomalin was highest in the wetter areas and lowest in drier conditions, but easily extractable glomalin was constant across the landscape. The fire affected neiither type, although the herbaceous plants remind us we are only looking at the top several feet of soil.
The upshot is that revegetation after low intensity fire restores the glomalin input maintaining the balance of soil and glue. We know high intensity fires bake the soil into sort of a ceramic material and the revegetation scheme must re-establish conditions in the soil for succeeding species. So we find pioneer species like ceanothus after burns and nitrogen fixers in abundance, some species hosting both types of microbial growth. No mention is made of runoff in this study. The linkages between soil glomalin content, the density/diversity of herbaceous plants, and soil N availability underscore our premise and the finding of no effect from fire on fungal activity extremely useful to land managers using fire regimes to mimic natural processes or reduce fuel loading.
We note Matthias Rillig of the University of Montana and a colleague of Sara Wright, as the glomalin researcher most closely involved with forest soils although, many studies are beginning to occur. Salute!

135. Chesapeake Bay Watershed- Urban Runoff Control Comes to Washington 

The Washington Post ran a major story today on the impacts of EPA focusing on unfiltered runoff as a source of pollutants damaging Chesapeake Bay. We have often suspected the East was subject to flooding from impacted watershed functions, pollution being just one of several that also include flooding, loss of habitat and clean air. This story shows the extent of the problem and several solutions that would be of interest to a far wider audience. The intention is mimic the functionality of the watershed after development with a variety of runoff retention and filtering remedies including retention ponds and vegetated ditches, porous parking lots, narrower roads and shorter driveways.
The effort is a switch in Federal policy to target diffuse sources of runoff rather than just water treatment operators. By controlling and filtering runoff onsite agricultural and lawn chemicals, road residue and automobile fluids Chesapeake Bay will become the healthy marine nursery it should be. The action was initiated by lawsuits from environmental groups to enforce a key thirty year old Clean Water Act “ordering state and local governments across the nation to remove pollution from rainwater before it fouls waterways.”
. "In the old days, we paved everything, and the attitude was, 'Let's put a pipe underground to get rid of the water as fast as we can,' " said Carl Bouchard, director of storm water management for Fairfax County.
Faced with stricter federal enforcement, local governments are scrambling to find affordable ways to meet their obligations. Public works departments are rebuilding streams to stop erosion, replacing leaky pipes and retrofitting storm-water ponds. And planners are encouraging "low-impact" techniques, such as the rain gardens in Hopewell's Landing -- mini-wetlands planted with native vegetation to intercept runoff.”
Chesapeake Bay is a 64,000 square mile watershed with dozens of tributaries. Estimated cleanup, much of it to control storm water, is estimated at 30 billion dollars for the entire drainage and about 12 billion in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Colombia. Residents will pay for it either through water bills or property tax assessment.
This has led to municipal engineering, finding ways to treat and deal with precipitation onsite and filter it before it enters natural systems through porous pavement, green roofing, bioswales, vegetated trenches and other onsite retention practices. We point out that many of the landscaping BMPs for this process are in the old Department of Agriculture handbook Water. One method used by several hundred new buildings is deep sand pits below the structure into which storm water is directed, storing and filtering it as it seeps back into aquifers. This is replicating the biologically conditioned root storage zone, and we have the precipitation interface restored, albeit somewhat artificially. Still, we are retaining all precipitation and storing it onsite.
Older neighborhoods will require major retrofitting, but they are planning for it and it will be accomplished eventuall6y. These are important steps into a sustainable future. Local conditions as well as downstream conditions will both improve from this. Debate is going on about what rate to tax for pavement , as we have suggested in earlier columns. We would also point out that forested areas should be being paid for carbon sequestration and that may help defray costs of redevelopment to a more sustainable model. Storm water fees have helped Prince Georges County for fifty years, making the building of rain gardens and other retention devices cost effective.
Developers complain regulations are making building too expensive, but that will always be true. The point is to use the natural resources we are blessed with in a manner that sustains us as well as those resources, and profit in the process.
Once again we see positive action being taken to put even developed regions on a more sustainable footprint that benefits man as well as the natural world. Countless smaller projects are occurring around the world. International leadership that promotes exchanges of ideas and technologies in these fields will benefit all people far into the future. I have been amazed for several years reading Erosion Control magazine at the restrictions on runoff from building sites that came in during the last few years. It is truly amazing to see the same level of retention designed into all homes and retrofitting older areas completely for reasons other than water storage. The future will absolutely be cleaner than anything we have seen in our lifetime. We have noted all the big restoration projects coming up in California and all over the West and would expect the same level of putting knowledge to work. As a result we can expect California State and federal water regulators to enforce the same portions of the law, which will dramatically impact California.

134. Panama Canal and Forestation 

The New York Times reported yesterday on conditions in the Panama Canal Zone, and we find more water-forest problems in a new setting. The Panama Canal uses 26 million gallons of water for each time a ship enters or leaves the Gatun locks connecting the Atlantic to the Miraflores locks on the Pacific Oceans, for a total of 52 million gallons. This water is drawn from Lake Gunta, a huge manmade lake formed when the Canal was built. There may be as many as 40 of these ship lockages a day.
That means a lot of water, especially in an area of dry winters where operating water needs to be stored. But in the last several decades half of the watershed has been logged or slash- and –burned for subsidence agriculture. Loss of water caused curtailment of shipping in 1990-1991 to about thirty a day causing huge revenue and scheduling problems. The Canal is estimated to be a factor in forty percent of the nations economy. This year the people vote on upgrading or expanding the system, for which even more water will be necessary.
This area is similar to ours in that respect, with an inch an hour, six inches in twenty-four hours and a hundred inches a year common, all relatively close to local conditions. What they are seeing is tremendous impacts to water resources from poor land management techniques. They see silt filling the canal and relate it directly to loss of forest cover.
“Rain falls so heavily in Panama that early canal builders described storms as turning the air to water.
On forested slopes, much of this water soaks into the ground and feeds slowly into watershed streams and then into Gatún Lake. But deforested slopes cannot absorb heavy rains. Floods of water run off into the lake, overflow Gatún Dam and run out to sea - useless for lockage. Meanwhile, eroded sediment ends up on the lake bottom, reducing its storage capacity.”
The effect of this is maintenance on a huge scale that directly impacts human needs.
“Between the town of Gamboa and Barro Colorado Island, a dredge anchored offshore drills into the lake bottom, sucking up excess sediment and pumping it through long pipes to shore. The resulting turbulence fills the lake with so much silt that people nearby who rely on it for drinking water have to filter it or use bottled water instead. But the dredging helps maintain the lake's capacity to store water.”

Once again it is clear ignorance has cost native people basic human needs like clean drinking water. Exploring further we find Columbus was the first man to see the area, another Spaniard wrote about the fabulous forest and its 1500 tree species in 1524, and that the jungle remained relatively intact the whole time, including building a railroad and the Canal and its use for about the first fifty years. Problems really started in the fifties with- road building. Probably initiated in WWII, the United States built a highway across the isthmus. Loggers followed the access and soon over three thousand kilometers of roads existed, built by loggers and followed by slash and burn agronomists and cattlemen. When the treaty to turn the land back to Panama was announced people felt they had a right to take advantage of their own land long inaccessible to them and rapidly turned forest into pasture.
In the 1980’s Panama hired Dr. Stanley Heckadon Moreno, of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, to form a study group to contain watershed destruction which was peaking in that decade. By the time the study was complete in 2000 53 percent of the forest had been cleared. The study group realized Panamas future depended on forest and watershed health, and President Eric Arturo Delvalle created Chagres National Park, 250,000 acres of forest, as a national insurance policy. This was approximately one third of the watershed.
The project stumbled in the Noriega years in the eighties and even after his arrest in 1990 smaller watershed parks weree subject to poaching and trespass. Nevertheless, Dr. Heckadon became the first environmental minister. HE points out the importance of banks deciding not to fund cattlemen’s operations in the forest. The return of national ownership from the U.S. allowed the government to protect more resources, and the really big problems have eased. But there is a continuous pressure on a smaller scale that seems inevitable when protecting resources. This is eventually being addressed by educating the people on the critical importance of watershed health so they will see it as healthy system.
To that end a restoration team of scientists are studying and restoring impacted segments of the landscape learning as they go. They are trying to find that balance of functioning landscape system and sustainable usage. We note once again how paying to preserve big trees reduces economic incentive to harvest them, and that carbon sequestration money could go a long way towards that effort, and that glomalin management neatly fills all the gaps and streamlines management objectives. A lot of carbon dioxide will grow back into the landscape, the precipitation interface will reestablish itself and condition the atmosphere with various gaseous emissions for cycling water and causing droplet formation, among other functions. We would like to see the glomalin regime included in the planning and monitoring on this scale. At this point it is just another variable to measure carbon usage and fungal production, as well as growing water storage capacity in the soil and reducing sedimentation in the locks. Habitat and sustainable economics are a by products of good management.
They are plagued by an invasive species of sugar cane that is deeply rooted, fast spreading and growing so densely native species have a hard time getting established. It has served its original purpose of erosion control but now impedes native revegetation efforts.
One suggestion might be to use open top chambers in orchards as in the FACE experiments that would give native vegetation an advantage in the establishment years. Once the trees got started and the canopy started closing it would be more difficult for these types of plants to get the sunlight they need for optimal growth. Done in conjunction with studies this might be an invaluable combination of research and methodology.
The world is awakening to a new vision of how to maintain things we once took for granted but learned were not without end. Land, forest, water, trees, game, fish, clean air all have had a tough go of it in the last two centuries, and increasingly so. We finally recognize we are totally capable of destroying natural systems and are not so good at putting them back, and there is need for better understanding of natural systems so we have less impacts and more benefits for both the system and people. One of the best ways is to seal areas off and do nothing but that is a luxury in most of the real world. By understanding glomalin we can participate in the process to speed it along.
We hope these guys get together with the Papua-New Guineans and UNEP reps studying Kyoto and USDA SAR and bring the new science and need for big trees together with the control of greenhouse gases in a single global program that protects functional forest while providing sustainable benefits such as water, timber and wildlife in a profitable and stable landscape. Glomalin allows us to think this is a very doable change of attitude simply based on better knowledge.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

132. Soil Water Repellency 

132. Soil Water Repellency
With this article I am going back to establish the exact role of fungal mediation in soil problems related to infiltration of precipitation. This article shows the inability of soils to absorb water is a result of various manmade and natural events but is remedial with CO2 and can be fixed quicker with knowledge of how vegetation can take advantage of a problem to fix another problem. Throughout these articles one can sense the role of glomalin in the soil because we know it is conditioning the soil against these very problems and acts faster under elevated CO2 and warmer temperatures. We also see no need to throw up our hands in despair, indeed, it makes us want to get out there and do stuff.
Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment Reduces Water Repellency of Soil Reference
Newton, P.C.D., Carran, R.A. and Lawrence, E.J. 2003. Reduced water repellency of a grassland soil under elevated atmospheric CO2. Global Change Biology 10: 1-4. What was doneIn a FACE study conducted on the North Island of New Zealand, the authors measured the water repellency of a grassland soil after five years of photoperiod exposure to an extra ~100 ppm of CO2. The pasture contained about 20 species of plants, including legumes, C3 grasses, C4 grasses and forbs, and was grazed periodically by adult sheep.What was learnedThere was a significant reduction in the water repellency of the soil in the elevated CO2 treatment when evaluated under normal field conditions. In fact, the authors say that "at field moisture content the repellence of the ambient [treatment] soil was severe and significantly greater than that of the elevated [CO2] soil."What it means"Water repellency," as described by Newton et al., "is a soil property that prevents free water from entering the pores of dry soil (Tillman et al., 1989)," and they report that it "has become recognized as a widespread problem, occurring under a range of vegetation and soil types (agricultural, forestry and amenity; sand, loam, clay, peat and volcanic) (Bachmann et al., 2001) and over a large geographical range (Europe, USA, Asia, Oceania) (Bauters et al., 1998)." Specifically, they note that water-repellency-induced problems for land managers include "increased losses of pesticides and fertilizers, reduced effectiveness of irrigation, increased rates of erosion, and increased runoff," and they report that there are water-repellency-induced problems "in the establishment and growth of crops (Bond, 1972; Crabtree and Gilkes, 1999) and implications for the dynamics of natural ecosystems, particularly those subject to fire (DeBano, 2000)." Hence, it is clear that the CO2-induced reduction of soil water repellency discovered in this study portends a wide range of very important benefits for both agro- and natural ecosystems as the air's CO2 content continues to rise in the years and decades ahead.ReferencesBachmann, J., Horton, R. and van der Ploeg, R.R. 2001. Isothermal and non-isothermal evaporation from four sandy soils of different water repellency. Soil Science Society of America Journal 65: 1599-1607. Bauters, T.W.J., DiCarlo, D.A. Steenhuis, T.S. and Parlange, J.-Y. 1998. Preferential flow in water-repellent soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal 62: 1185-1190.Bond, R.D. 1972. Germination and yield of barley when grown in a water-repellent sand. Agronomy Journal 64: 402-403.Crabtree, W.L. and Gilkes, R.J. 1999. Improved pasture establishment and production on water-repellent soils. Agronomy Journal 91: 467-470.DeBano, L.F. 2000. The role of fire and soil heating on water repellency in wildland environments: a review. Journal of Hydrology 231-232: 195-206.Tilman, R.W., Scotter, D.R., Wallis, M.G. et al. 1989. Water-repellency and its measurement by using intrinsic sorptivity. Australian Journal of Soil Research 27: 637-644. Reviewed 10 March 2004 Center for CO2 Science

133. Forests (Old) – Summary 

133. Forests (Old) – Summary
Co2 Science had this article several weeks ago summarizing previous articles and new results. This is extremely important because so much depends financially upon growth rates and returns. We can now see net production is higher with bigger trees, higher in elevated CO2, and there is no mention of soil exudates although at one point they do refer to forests as superorganisms and measure CO2 retention in the system, leaving a big hole as to where exactly this carbon went. Well, it obviously is going to the fungi in the soil. All of these studies support our claim that forests accumulate and use CO2 for a wide variety of reasons and that more CO2 will benefit most if not all living systems. The comparison of saving big trees to reforestation to control greenhouse gases is shown to be exactly opposite of most current thinking. What we need are FACE and glomalin surveys in a variety of forest age classes because this hard knowledge will allow us to quantify carbon sequestration in a realistic manner. We’d like to see this science discussed at any of the global warming conferences. We point out how the Papua-New Guineans have asked the UN to pay them to protect their big trees, an idea discussed here last year.
Really, how could smaller trees be more effective than a mature tree with an acre of greenery in its canopy producing miles of fungally infected roots running through the soil? And what about the aggregation properties that bind soil particles and prevent sedimentation? And who benefits from big trees- doesn’t this provide everything forest species could want in terms of habitat from shade and cover to water?
For us, then the trick is to protect long lived species and superorganisms from risk such as fire and insect attack. And again, we find trees use stored water to defend against these threats and do so successfully where the superorganism is allowed to thrive.
Forests (Old) -- Summary

The planting and preservation of forests has long been acknowledged to be an effective and environmentally-friendly (indeed, enhancing) means for slowing climate-model-predicted CO2-induced global warming. This prescription for moderating potential climate change is based on two well-established and very straightforward facts: (1) the carbon trees use to construct their tissues comes from the air, and (2) its extraction from the atmosphere slows the rate of rise of the air's CO2 content.
Although simple enough that a child can understand it, this potential partial solution to the putative global warming problem has been under attack for several years by people who seek to address the issue solely on the basis of forced reductions in anthropogenic CO2 emissions (Pearce, 1999). The tack they take in this campaign is to claim that carbon sequestration by forests is only viable when forests are young and growing vigorously. As forests age, say the regulatory-minded pundits, they gradually lose their carbon sequestering prowess, such that forests more than one hundred years old become essentially useless for removing CO2 from the air, as they claim such ancient and decrepit stands yearly loose as much CO2 via respiration as what they take in via photosynthesis.
Although demonstrably erroneous, with repeated telling the twisted tale actually begins to sound reasonable. After all, doesn't the metabolism of every living thing slow down as it gets older? We grudgingly admit that it does -- even with trees -- but some trees live a remarkably long time. In Panama (Condit et al., 1995), Brazil (Chambers et al., 1998; Laurance et al., 2004; Chambers et al., 2001), and many parts of the southwestern United States (Graybill and Idso, 1993), for example, individuals of a number of different species have been shown to live for nearly one and a half millennia. At a hundred years of age, these super-slurpers of CO2 are mere youngsters. And in their really old age, their appetite for the vital gas, though diminished, is not lost. In fact, Chambers et al. (1998) indicate that the long-lived trees of Brazil continue to experience protracted slow growth even at 1400 years of age. And protracted slow growth (evident in yearly increasing trunk diameters) of very old and large trees can absorb a huge amount of CO2 out of the air each year, especially when, as noted by Chanbers et al. (1998) with respect to the Brazilian forests in the central Amazon, about 50% of their above-ground biomass is contained in less than the largest 10% of their trees. Consequently, since the life span of these massive long-lived trees is considerably greater than the projected life span of the entire "Age of Fossil Fuels," their cultivation and preservation represents an essentially permanent partial solution to the perceived problem of the dreaded global warming that climate alarmists ascribe to anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
As important as are these facts about trees, however, there's an even more important fact that comes into play in the case of forests and their ability to sequester carbon over long periods of time. This little-acknowledged piece of information is the fact that it is the forest itself -- conceptualized as a huge super-organism, if you will -- that is the unit of primary importance when it comes to determining the ultimate amount of carbon that can be sequestered on a unit area of land. And it when it comes to elucidating this concept, it seems that a lot of climate alarmists and political opportunists can't seem to see the forest for the trees that comprise it.
That this difference in perspective can have enormous consequences has been clearly demonstrated by Cary et al. (2001), who note that most models of forest carbon sequestration wrongly assume that "age-related growth trends of individual trees and even-aged, monospecific stands can be extended to natural forests." When they compared the predictions of such models against real-world data they gathered from northern Rocky Mountain subalpine forests that ranged in age from 67 to 458 years, for example, they found that aboveground net primary productivity in 200-year-old natural stands was almost twice as great as that of modeled stands, and that the difference between the two increased linearly throughout the entire sampled age range.
So what's the explanation for the huge discrepancy? Cary et al. suggest that long-term recruitment and the periodic appearance of additional late-successional species (increasing biodiversity) may have significant effects on stand productivity, infusing the primary unit of concern, i.e., the ever-evolving forest super-organism, with greater vitality than would have been projected on the basis of characteristics possessed by the unit earlier in its life. They also note that by not including effects of size- or age-dependent decreases in stem and branch respiration per unit of sapwood volume in models of forest growth, respiration in older stands can be over-estimated by a factor of two to five.
How serious are these model shortcomings? For the real-world forests studied by Cary et al., they produce predictions of carbon sequestration that are only a little over half as large as what is observed in nature for 200-year-old forests; while for 400-year-old forests they produce results that are only about a third as large as what is characteristic of the real world. And as the forests grow older still, the difference between reality and model projections grows right along with them.
Another study relevant to the suitability of forests to act as long-term carbon sinks was conducted by Lou et al. (2003), who analyzed data obtained from the Duke Forest FACE experiment, in which three 30-meter-diamerer plots within a 13-year old forest (composed primarily of loblolly pines with sweetgum and yellow poplar trees as sub-dominants, together with numerous other trees, shrubs and vines that occupy still smaller niches) began to be enriched with an extra 200 ppm of CO2 in August of 1996, while three similar plots were maintained at the ambient atmospheric CO2 concentration. A number of papers describing different facets of this still-ongoing long-term study have been published; and as recounted by Lou et al., they have revealed the existence of a CO2-induced "sustained photosynthetic stimulation at leaf and canopy levels [Myers et al., 1999; Ellsworth, 2000; Luo et al., 2001; Lai et al., 2002], which resulted in sustained stimulation of wood biomass increment [Hamilton et al., 2002] and a larger carbon accumulation in the forest floor at elevated CO2 than at ambient CO2 [Schlesinger and Lichter, 2001]."
Based upon these findings and what they imply about rates of carbon removal from the atmosphere and its different residence times in plant, litter and soil carbon pools, Luo et al. developed a model for studying the sustainability of forest carbon sequestration. Applying this model to a situation where the atmospheric CO2 concentration gradually rises from a value of 378 ppm in 2000 to a value of 710 ppm in 2100, they calculated that the carbon sequestration rate of the Duke Forest would rise from an initial value of 69 g m-2 yr-1 to a final value of 201 g m-2 yr-1, which is a far, far cry from the sad scenario promulgated by the cadre of climate alarmists that have long claimed earth's forests will have released much of the carbon they had previously absorbed as early as the year 2050 (Pearce, 1999).
Another study that supports the long-term viability of carbon sequestration by forests was conducted by Paw U et al. (2004), who also note that old-growth forests have generally been considered to "represent carbon sources or are neutral (Odum, 1963, 1965)," stating that "it is generally assumed that forests reach maximum productivity at an intermediate age and productivity declines in mature and old-growth stands (Franklin, 1988), presumably as dead woody debris and other respiratory demands increase." More particularly, they report that a number of articles have suggested that "old-growth conifer forests are at equilibrium with respect to net ecosystem productivity or net ecosystem exchange (DeBell and Franklin, 1987; Franklin and DeBell, 1988; Schulze et al., 1999), as an age-class end point of ecosystem development."
To see if these claims had any merit, Paw U et al. used an eddy covariance technique to estimate the CO2 exchange rate of the oldest forest ecosystem (500 years old) in the AmeriFlux network of carbon-flux measurement stations -- the Wind River old-growth forest in southwestern Washington, USA, which is composed mainly of Douglas-fir and western Hemlock -- over a period of 16 months, from May 1998 to August 1999. Throughout this period, the fourteen scientists report "there were no monthly averages with net release of CO2," and that the cumulative net ecosystem exchange showed "remarkable sequestration of carbon, comparable to many younger forests." Hence, they concluded that "in contrast to frequently stated opinions, old-growth forests can be significant carbon sinks," noting that "the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest can contribute to optimizing carbon sequestration strategies while continuing to provide ecosystem services essential to supporting biodiversity."
Yet another study to ask and address the question "Do old forests gain or lose carbon?" was that of Binkley et al. (2004), who revisited an aging aspen forest in the Tesuque watershed of northern New Mexico, USA -- which between 1971 and 1976 (when it was between 90 and 96 years old) was thought to have had a negative net ecosystem production rate of -2.0 Mg ha-1 yr-1 -- and measured the basal diameters of all trees in the central 0.01 ha of each of 27 plots arrayed across the watershed, after which they used the same regression equations employed in the earlier study to calculate live tree biomass as of 2003.
"Contrary to expectation," as they describe it, Binkley et al. report that "live tree mass in 2003 [186 Mg ha-1] was significantly greater than in 1976 [149 Mg ha-1] (P = 0.02), refuting the hypothesis that live tree mass declined." In fact, they found that the annual net increment of live tree mass was about 1.37 Mg ha-1 yr-1 from age 96 to age 123 years, which is only 12% less than the mean annual increment of live tree mass experienced over the forest's initial 96 years of existence (149 Mg ha-1 / 96 yr = 1.55 Mg ha-1 yr-1). Consequently, in response to the question they posed when embarking on their study -- "Do old forests gain or lose carbon?" -- Binkley et al. concluded that "old aspen forests continue to accrue live stem mass well into their second century, despite declining current annual increments," which, we might add, are not all that much smaller than those the forests exhibited in their younger years.
In our Editorial of 9 Jun 2004, we note that similar results have been obtained by Hollinger et al. (1994) for a 300-year-old Nothofagus site in New Zealand, by Law et al. (2001) for a 250-year-old ponderosa pine site in the northwestern United States, by Falk et al. (2002) for a 450-year-old Douglas fir/western hemlock site in the same general area, and by Knohl et al. (2003) for a 250-year-old deciduous forest in Germany. In commenting on these findings, the latter investigators say they found "unexpectedly high carbon uptake rates during 2 years for an unmanaged 'advanced' beech forest, which is in contrast to the widely spread hypothesis that 'advanced' forests are insignificant as carbon sinks." For the forest they studied, as they describe it, "assimilation is clearly not balanced by respiration, although this site shows typical characteristics of an 'advanced' forest at a comparatively late stage of development."
These observations about forests are remarkably similar to recent findings regarding humans, i.e., that nongenetic interventions, even late in life, can put one on a healthier trajectory that extends productive lifespan. So what is the global "intervention" that has put the planet's trees on the healthier trajectory of being able to sequester significant amounts of carbon in their old age, when past theory (which was obviously based on past observations) decreed they should be in a state of no-net-growth or even negative growth?
The answer, to us, seems rather simple. For any tree of age 250 years or more, the greater portion of its life (at least two-thirds of it) has been spent in an atmosphere of much-reduced CO2 content. Up until 1920, for example, the air's CO2 concentration had never been above 300 ppm throughout the entire lives of such trees, whereas it is currently 375 ppm or 25% higher. And for older trees, even greater portions of their lives have been spent in air of even lower CO2 concentration. Hence, the "intervention" that has given new life to old trees and allows them to "live long and prosper," as Klingons might phrase it, would appear to be the aerial fertilization effect produced by the flooding of the air with CO2 that resulted from the Industrial Revolution and is being maintained by its ever-expanding aftermath (Idso, 1995).
Based on these many observations, as well as the results of the study of Greenep et al. (2003), which strongly suggest, in their words, that "the capacity for enhanced photosynthesis in trees growing in elevated CO2 is unlikely to be lost in subsequent generations," it would appear that earth's forests will remain strong sinks for atmospheric carbon far beyond the date at which the world's climate alarmists have long proclaimed they would have given back to the atmosphere most of the carbon they had removed from it over their existence to that point in time.
Binkley, D., White, C.S. and Gosz, J.R. 2004. Tree biomass and net increment in an old aspen forest in New Mexico. Forest Ecology and Management 203: 407-410.
Carey, E.V., Sala, A., Keane, R. and Callaway, R.M. 2001. Are old forests underestimated as global carbon sinks? Global Change Biology 7: 339-344.
Chambers, J.Q., Higuchi, N. and Schimel, J.P. 1998. Ancient trees in Amazonia. Nature 391: 135-136.
Chambers, J.Q., Van Eldik, T., Southon, J., Higuchi, N. 2001. Tree age structure in tropical forests of central Amazonia. In: Bierregaard, R.O., Gascon, C., Lovejoy, T., and Mesquita, R. (Eds.). Lessons from Amazonia: Ecology and Conservation of a Fragmented Forest. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, USA, pp. 68-78.
Condit, R., Hubbell, S.P. and Foster, R.B. 1995. Mortality-rates of 205 neotropical tree and shrub species and the impact of a severe drought. Ecological Monographs 65: 419-439.
DeBell, D.S. and Franklin, J.S. 1987. Old-growth Douglas-fir and western hemlock: a 36-year record of growth and mortality. Western Journal of Applied Forestry 2: 111-114.
Ellsworth, D.S. 2000. Seasonal CO2 assimilation and stomatal limitations in a Pinus taeda canopy with varying climate. Tree Physiology 20: 435-444.
Falk, M., Paw, U.K.T., Schroeder, M. 2002. Interannual variability of carbon and energy fluxes for an old-growth rainforest. In: Proceedings of the 25th Conference on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. American Meteorological Society, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Franklin, J.F. 1988. Pacific Northwest Forests. In: Barbour, M.G. and Billings, W.D. (Eds.) North American Terrestrial Vegetation. Cambridge University Press, New York, New York, USA, pp. 104-131.
Franklin, J.F. and DeBell, D.S. 1988. Thirty-six years of tree population change in an old-growth Pseudotsuga-Tsuga forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 18: 633-639.
Graybill, D.A. and Idso, S.B. 1993. Detecting the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO2 enrichment in tree-ring chronologies. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 7: 81-95.
Greenep, H., Turnbull, M.H. and Whitehead, D. 2003. Response of photosynthesis in second-generation Pinus radiata trees to long-term exposure to elevated carbon dioxide partial pressure. Tree Physiology 23: 569-576.
Hamilton, J.G., DeLucia, E.H., George, K., Naidu, S.L., Finzi, A.C. and Schlesinger, W.H. 2002. Forest carbon balance under elevated CO2. Oecologia 10.1007/s00442-002-0884-x.
Hollinger, D.Y., Kelliher, F.M., Byers, J.N., Hunt, J.E., McSeveny, T.M. and Weir, P.L. 1994. Carbon dioxide exchange between an undisturbed old-growth temperate forest and the atmosphere. Ecology 75: 143-150.
Idso, S.B. 1995. CO2 and the Biosphere: The Incredible Legacy of the Industrial Revolution. Department of Soil, Water and Climate, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.
Knohl, A., Schulze, E.-D., Kolle, O. and Buchmann, N. 2003. Large carbon uptake by an unmanaged 250-year-old deciduous forest in Central Germany. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 118: 151-167.
Lai, C.T., Katul, G., Butnor, J., Ellsworth, D. and Oren, R. 2002. Modeling nighttime ecosystem respiration by a constrained source optimization method. Global Change Biology 8: 124-141.
Laurance, W.F., Nascimento, H.E.M., Laurance, S.G., Condit, R., D'Angelo, S. and Andrade, A. 2004. Inferred longevity of Amazonian rainforest trees based on a long-term demographic study. Forest Ecology and Management 190: 131-143.
Law, B.E., Goldstein, A.H., Anthoni, P.M., Unsworth, M.H., Panek, J.A., Bauer, M.R., Fracheboud, J.M. and Hultman, N. 2001. Carbon dioxide and water vapor exchange by young and old ponderosa pine ecosystems during a dry summer. Tree Physiology 21: 299-308.
Luo, Y., Medlyn, B., Hui, D., Ellsworth, D., Reynolds, J. and Katul, G. 2001. Gross primary productivity in the Duke Forest: Modeling synthesis of the free-air CO2 enrichment experiment and eddy-covariance measurements. Ecological Applications 11: 239-252.
Luo, Y., White, L.W., Canadell, J.G., DeLucia, E.H., Ellsworth, D.S., Finzi, A., Lichter, J. and Schlesinger, W.H. 2003. Sustainability of terrestrial carbon sequestration: A case study in Duke Forest with inversion approach. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 17: 10.1029/2002GB001923.
Myers, D.A., Thomas, R.B. and DeLucia, E.H. 1999. Photosynthetic capacity of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) trees during the first year of carbon dioxide enrichment in a forest ecosystem. Plant, Cell and Environment 22: 473-481.
Odum, E.P. 1963. Ecology. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, New York, USA.
Odum E.P. 1965. Fundamentals of Ecology. Saunders, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Paw U, K.T., Falk, M., Suchanek, T.H., Ustin, S.L., Chen, J., Park, Y.-S., Winner, W.E., Thomas, S.C., Hsiao, T.C., Shaw, R.H., King, T.S., Pyles, R.D., Schroeder, M. and Matista, A.A. 2004. Carbon dioxide exchange between an old-growth forest and the atmosphere. Ecosystems 7: 513-524.
Pearce, F. 1999. That sinking feeling. New Scientist 164 (2209): 20-21.
Schlesinger, W.H. and Lichter, J. 2001. Limited carbon storage in soil and litter of experimental forest plots under increased atmospheric CO2. Nature 411: 466-469.
Schulze, E.-D., Lloyd, J., Kelliher, F.M., Wirth, C., Rebmann, C., Luhker, B., Mund, M., Knohl, A., Milyuokova, I.M. and Schulze, W. 1999. Productivity of forests in the Eurosiberian boreal region and their potential to act as a carbon sink: a synthesis. Global Change Biology 5: 703-722.
Last updated 11 May 2005

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

131. Papua-New Guinea asks for compensation for forest preservation and Emissions Reductions 

131. Papua-New Guinea asks for compensation for forest preservation and Emissions Reductions
Roland Pease, BBC Science reporter in Bonn
An assembly of nations met under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to plan greenhouse gas reductions after the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012. The normal debates between developing nations and industrial nations was rudely awakened by Redwood Readers own idea presented by Papua-New Guinea, third largest tropical rainforest in the world, pay to preserve forest lands that are working as systems. They arrived at the same conclusion we have, although they would definitely benefit from an understanding of glomalin, because the amount of carbon stored in the ground is discounted and all the carbon is figured to be in the wood. Also, ground disturbance is briefly mentioned as a source of rising emissions, an admission difficult to find in print anywhere.
Native people are able to intuitively sense destruction it takes an electron microscope to see and a laboratory to detect although the results of that are the impacts clearly seen in the landscape and sediment mobility.
“Its position comes down, in part, to the success of the carbon emissions trading scheme launched in Europe earlier this year. A tonne of carbon saved from the atmosphere now comes with a price tag - and Papua New Guinea argues that its rainforest carbon is as good as any coal or oil burnt in the West.
"A tonne is a tonne is a tonne," declared the Papuan ambassador to the UN. But at the moment, there is no way developing countries can trade avoided rainforest destruction on the international market. What is more, the burned wood and degraded land left behind becomes a source of additional greenhouse gases. In the past, however, the complexity of quantifying the amount of rainforest destruction, let alone any change in the rate of destruction, led to the issue being sidelined under the Kyoto Protocol. There may be reluctance to re-open an issue that has been extensively debated in the past. But the Papuans say the response has been strong, and they believe many other rainforest countries are interested in the scheme.”
The representatives from Papua-New Guinea say there won’t be any rainforest to save after 2012, when the Kyoto agreement expires. The article reports a quarter of greenhouse emissions are from deforestation.
Well, here is where U. S. science can step up to the plate and deliver on sustainability. Glomalin research is exactly what the Papua-New Guinea people are talking about. We know we can quantify glomalin production to get a real picture of carbon sequestration with results in tonnage (tonne 2200 lbs, ton 2000 lbs US). One previous post included numbers on the range of 25-45 pounds per tree per year, although this would depend on species, age and physiological traits of that particular system. Still, this is the very Carbon Credit scheme I have called for in the beginning. The need is the same- forested land not scheduled for logging is usually represented as underdeveloped. The tax burden of ownership becomes onerous for people who don’t want to cut their trees, and nobody is compensated for keeping them in natural order as functioning systems that provide clean air, clean year round water, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, all public good benefits. There is no income flow to do maintence or improvement projects.
We hope to see this scheme gain a global following that will lead the world into sustainability based on science and not subject to the pressure of the dollar.

130. New Salamander Discovered in Klamath-Siskiyous 

130. New Salamander Discovered in Klamath-Siskiyous
William McCall, AP reporter, and Yahoo have reported Dave Clayton, leading a Forest Service research team, has discovered a new old-growth dependant species of salamander in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains of Northeast California and southern Oregon. The species is known as Plethodon asupak, or Scott Bar salamander, for the Native American name for Scotts’ Bar. The species was thought to be a variation of the species Plethodon stormi until genetic testing at Oregon State University unveiled a separate genetic lineage for the species, which dates from the Pleistocene era from 10,000 to 1.8 million years ago, and probably survived the last Ice Age.
Besides being a new local discovery, the species has intriguing traits that help illustrate our arguments about forest condtions before and after human activity. This species lives on rocky slopes covered with old growth and mature forest, and is dependant on moisture in the environment for survival since it has no lungs and breathes through its skin. The article states the salamander uses moisture retained by the dense canopy. We know we are talking about a species thriving on moisture retained through our model of the precipitation interface and groundwater storage created by glomalin.
The Siskiyou Mountain salamander and all genetic subgroups was submitted for protected status under the Endangered Species Act to the Administration last year by environmental groups, including Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center: The article will be published in Herptologica, the journal of the Herptologists League (
Salamanders are important indicator species in many areas. They are at the forefront of many California issues since almost all development impacts their habitat. We pretty much find them where development has not yet encroached or has had enough time to heal. As we have pointed out, most human activity results in general drying conditions, especially in seasonally wet regions. Water storage is essential to these sensitive indicators. We also note researchers are alarmed by the disappearance of many amphibians, as well as genetic damage caused by toxins in the environment. The upshot is that their healthy presence indicates habitat in good condition.
We agree that a new four legged discovery is a pretty rare find, especially here, but a new rodent was identified in Laotian markets last week and the reportedly extinct Ivory-billed woodpecker was recently rediscovered in a protected Arkansas swamp. Generally the world appears less explored than we care to admit. We have to wonder if this species is fog dependant in the summer or if it has another strategy such as hiding in the moist ground in high heat. Investigations into this might reveal glomalin or its effects. On the other hand, this would seem like a good place to start looking for glomalins importance in forest communities.
I’d like to point out this blog is indebted to OSU because they are on the forefront of a lot of interting and useful science. The late Leslie Woodruff, of Fairyland Begonias and Lilies, had all his tissue culture for world famous lilies (White Henryi, Black Beauty, Strargazer and their tetraploids) done at OSU. HE told my brother they were the best in the world a few years ago.
Our article about the amazing accidental recovery of the Yellowstone River as an unknown consequence of reintroduction of wolves was done by OSU researchers. My repeated references to mycorhizzia and fungi from Dan Wheeler are also through Dr. James Trapp, an OSU mycologist. We see PNW research station has carried forward this work on mycological significance of fungi, and in general we are learning a lot from them. Kudos and thanks!

Monday, May 09, 2005

129.DFG letter in support of hatcheries 

Director Brodderick
Calfornia Department of Fish and Game
Dear Sir:
I am writing to you today in support of restoring and preserving trout and salmonid fisheries. There is more to do than funding hatcheries in order to make a statewide improvement in fisheries. I think your department spends too much time fixing parts of problems that need better information to be totally effective, and that that information is now at hand in the form of knowledge of the fungally produced soil glue glomalin.
I have been restoring a badly damaged wild land property for a long time, and sediment is my number one problem. Decades after clear felling landslides and debris flows continue whenever we hit a certain amount of rain. Replanted areas seem to stabilize the landscape and we all know it will eventually grow back but some areas have eroded into vertical banks that will take either many, many years or massive land forming to correct.
When we learn glomalin destruction is at the heart of sediment mobility and how to avoid that we come to some clear conclusions- clearcuts are never ok, select cuts are almost necessary to prevent fuel loading, carbon storage is occurring and should be compensated, watersheds are reduced in their ability to absorb and store water leading to summertime river drying, new woods technology with less impacts on the forest floor are needed, like walking feller bunchers, preserved lands need this treatment as well, paid carbon storage lands maintained for minimal risk and optimal growth expand wildlife habitat greatly while providing water for fisheries.
Glomalin was discovered by USDA in Beltsville and is well known in crop science. Not much has come from forestry yet although I have a blog devoted to this issue and I have written quite a few folks about this over the last year.
Glomalin is an amazing example of new science changing our outlook. A simple concept but difficult to detect, it ties the carbon and water cycles together by biological deposition of this material that causes aggregation and pore creation in soils. It shows us CO2 is a blessing and that revegetation is the surest way to capture the healing properties of it. It also tells us massive amounts of CO2 are in the atmosphere from our destructive land practices that are being blamed exclusively on emissions.
I am trying to inform decision makers about this revelation because it is the heart of sustainability, and will continue to operate in this manner long after our species has disappeared. I have been advocating for a high level study to read these few USDA reports and check out the advantages of increased CO2 on plant growth and glomalin production. Glomalin allows us to estimate opportunity cost of any development vs glomalin production and water storage. Glomalin means restoration should be a quick fix that rights the train back on its tracks and not an industry or career, simply good management can maintain it indefinitely. We just won’t do it if people remain ignorant or fixed on the immediate bottom line. We may take some hits getting up to speed but after that we should be able to reopen the National Forests to TSI and fuel reduction that provide smaller trees modern mills are geared toward.
The Northcoast culvert project is an example of why hatcheries are needed even in wildland areas. Many miles of spawning habitat have opened in the last few years that haven’t had fish in years. Some fish are finding them but a few years of stocking them would produce more fishing a lot quicker. Also the poor showing in the Klamath from the fish kills and poor production in the Colombia this year indicate some fish should be added until conditions stabilize. Which brings me back to glomalin.
On the Northcoast, sediment is practically the only pollutant we are dealing with. Sdiment reduction inventories and Redwood Sciences lab indicate roads contribute forty percent of sediment even in clearcutting. Projects like Good Roads Clean Creeks in the Mattole attempt to remediate some of the private road problems but we really need innovative solutions like wheelless transportation or permeable, durable road surfaces and deep rooted but short vegetation for gluing down fills by landscaping the glue back into the ground.
In our efforts we have recommended a commission to study these few documents and see how they apply to all manner of habitat and water issues. The critical factor is how to intercept, direct and store precipitation for year round use and in times of drought. Nature has it worked out, and has now told us how she does it. Glomalin is the key to many big California restoration projects like the lower Colorado, Owens River, Aqua Caliente and Upper Klamath and ongoing efforts in the Eel and Mattole Rivers. First stop the sliding, then build storage capacity to replace what has been lost. Watersheds grow and we should take advantage of that. There is also a point of no return we must protect against when sprawl comes to new areas, or we should write them off from the beginning and create a different plan for that region. Hatcheries for keeping fished streams at a level of recreation is an earmark of urban stream fisheries and an important component of introducing urban youth to nature through fishing at the local river.
I support hatcheries as part of the restoration effort, which should be short lived. It has the potential to create enough local fishing to make further operation unnecessary in ten or so years, given a generalized effort to stop unleashing sediment in the watersheds.
Glomalin is searchable in Google. Many sites don’t mention it, even the PNW mycorhizzia team and Redwood Sciences lab come up empty. My blog is at and contains many links as well as articles explaining, illustrating, demonstrating glomalin in forests and the need for new forest practice rules allowing operations on more acres while providing habitat and water. New science makes better decisions easier. It is doable. Thank you for your time.
Sincerely, Rich McGuiness

Thursday, May 05, 2005

128. HCP's, NEPA, Roadless Rule Under Fire 

128.HCP’s, NEPA, Roadless Areas Under Fire
After a seemingly quiet week spent recovering computer data, today there is a spate of articles relating to our issues, i.e. glomalin is the key to watershed health. It was discovered by government scientists and is slowly making its way to forest practices. These issues go right to the heart of my point, the federal government is ignoring its own science as itprotects industry and removes current protections while the newish HCP concept is falling short across the country.
The Seattle Post Intelligencer is running a huge special report on Habitat Conservation Plans as Washington State debates a 9 million acre HCP. They reviewed thousands of pages of documents and interviewed hundreds of people. Problems are arising from many previous plans, and Sal Steinberg was interviewed for the PL article. Also of interest is a report on the first HCP on San Bruno Mountain. Sal’s article reflects the concerns of many that the HCP was inadequate and there is no way to rectify the situation. These plans are typically for fifty years. Local residents spent a lot of time fighting with State agencies when they had already been cut out of the process.
Grist magazine reports in its Muckraker column article Jagged Little Pill the new energy bill contains clauses that roll back NEPA (National Enviromental Policy Act) restrictions for drilling. NEPA is primarily intended to protect endangered species and habitat. This again is the federal government ignoring its own mandates for the benefit of private industry, and not incorporating its own research into on the ground regulations. The newly passed House version contains seven rollbacks that could allow for massive drilling without a comment period or citizen review. While not expected to survive the Senate and conference committee on the Bill, the repeated attempts on a rising scale bode poorly for the future. Oil has had its run, lets not let it lead us to ruin.
Finally, today the Forest Service announced they would take suggestions from governors for 18 months about opening 34 million of the 58 million acres of unroaded National Forest lands to roads, the first step for mining, logging and development. We know who has the governors ears. This is especially maddening in that roads are known ecodestroyers, as the USDA Forest Services own Redwood Sciences Lab has demonstrated. And they are ignoring glomalin, discovered by USDA researchers.
Time is money. Money forces issues. We need this information at the policy making level yesterday. We will be able to grow the vegetation back but once a species is gone, its gone. Modern research and development should take us off the pressing need to destroy environments to sate business and our oil needs, just like materials science has taken a lot of pressure off timber

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