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.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

1268. Headwaters, Biomass, Pulp Mill 

Headwaters was given a report card this week by the Wilderness Society and the World Resources Institute as part of annual monitoring of the National Landscape Conservation System.. Middling poor grades were given mainly due to underfunding, understaffing, lack of a role in the agency’s state managers team, and a perceived slow rate of restoration projects. It seems the marks are more about the National Landscape Conservation System of which it is a part, and the fact that local BLM folks are not on the state level team. Seems like Arcata has done an outstanding job in the area. They are gaining donated land and smaller budgets at a rapid pace, and we probably don’t need too much of an annual report on these parcels beyond progress reports, as this distracts from the staffs ability to work on other projects, including King Range, Gilham Butte, Table Bluff, Mill Creek, the last three all relatively new purchases and all requiring management plans. We’d rather see the restoration get done before funding dries up, which consists primarily of putting roads to bed and stand management of second and third growth timber into a mature condition.
The article seemed to think there was very good but shorthanded staff, which has been my experience as well. All of our public lands could use more money and personnel at the local level. What we don’t need is knee jerk reactions like the recent closure of National Forests for ALL activities without an impact statement, including berry picking, Christmas trees and mushrooms. Luckily it didn’t last too long but suppose you were planning to go, then cancelled your season, and then it was back on again, it was part of your livelihood and had planned all year for it. We fear the harvest of mushrooms will accelerate before their true role in the forest becomes general knowledge, and conservationists will have to battle the economic impacts of restrictions again.
For an article describing one North Coast road closure project, go to and see this months article about Humboldt Redwoods State Parks project in Bull Creek, and remember some of these areas have ten miles of old roads per square mile, which also gives some idea of planning and costs involved in removing the old roads, which are a leading cause of habitat degradation for our coastal streams.
More ideas for the Forest include fire risk reduction and the need for sustainable energy sources. Bhiomass power plants got a push this week. There are actually half the number of them compared to a few uears ago.In Beating the bushes for biomass John Driscoll of the Times-Standad talks with Steve Jolley of Wheelabrator, a biomass company. As a forester he sees the need for landscape wide management over the entire forested landscape in California. This is one of the big problems we are facing- what to do with all that explosive vegetative growth from increased CO2 and warmer wetter weather? Biomass can be an eager consumer of products such as thinning, timber stand improvement, fuel load reduction, “fire-safing” rural properties and payment for small amounts could make a big difference in the rural economy as well as encourage more work in the landscape. Hopefully a percentage or clients becomes efficient enough to use these methods on public lands, which we have said are in danger of overprotection from fire as well as deer and invasive species.
This kind of work could go on for nearly forever, and you can’t ship the jobs out. Combined with the current objectives of the Forest Service and other federal landowners with an understanding of the need to protect the glomalin based water system healthy is a promising future for people, the landscape, habitat and the wildlife
Another possible contender for this product could be the pulp mill. The Times_ Standard reported Evergreen Pulp Mill was granted an interim variance on their lime kiln. We hope the electrostatic precipitator (scrubber) can do the job but it sounds expensive and only maybe going to work. It would be a shame to see that mill fail to operate after all the improvements since 1990 and the effort put into the bleach free paper. Humboldt needs help reducing waste, fire risk and increasing rural incomes, and these projects could do it. We realize larger contracts are probably the rule of thumb, but we need less boom and bust and more focus on the long term on millions of acres of forestland. I imagine they are mainly chip buyers from the mills but chipped brush by the pickup full is worth what? Who gets the branches and leaves? How much oil can you press out of ceanothus? What other trees can provide biofuel as well as habitat?
Time will come for many new products to come from our forests. Each new cycle of human activity focuses around some aspect unrecognized in the past, then suddenly found to be very useful. Naative Americans use forest products far differently than we do. The people after us will as well. That’s why we have to leave it better than we found it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

166. Groundwater Recharge and Government publications 

This exchange was in the rainwaterharvesting group as well as waterforum. Mr. Marple gives a lot of useful sources here relevant to the discussion and indeed, useful for most anyone concerned with restoration and preservation of natural resource systems. He points out the loss of control from the expertise point and implies local control has us spending large amounts on unnecessary public works. HE links us to California and Texas state information as well. Water is a big issue and deserves better public input and oversight as well as new lines of thinking altogether. Lastly, I saw an article saying DOI had been ordered by a judge to remove its web presence. The BLM site says it is for security but I sure hope we are not removing valuable public information.
----- Original Message -----
From: WindstarPK@AOL.COM
Sent: 10/17/2005 10:38:59 PM
Subject: Re: [rainwaterharvesting] CAAM's book on RWH Success Story released
> How do you recharge a bore well?
> s yours,
> Pat Kultgen
> Texas
From: ""
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2005 08:58:35 -0400
Subjec [rainwaterharvesting] rainwaterharvesting CAAM's book on RWH Success Story released
Search the Waterforum site with "onsite", "retention", "recharge", "berms", "spreading terrace", "replenish", "furrow dike", "microcatchment", "LID", "Phoenix", "Fresno".

The USDS-NRCS and the US Environmental Protection Agency have covered every aspect of groundwater recharge that will keep bore wells full. RWH is not limited to catching roof runoff as semi-competent of deliberately deceptive Professional Engineers commonly characterize it.
(False and misleading testimony from this profession dominates discussion of onsite retention in many state water plans, those of California and Texas are notable example.)

Many wells will require recharge from adjacent or remote properties. Comprehensive watershed management planning is advocated strongly by all competent planners and wise/conscientious politicians to achieve maximum groundwater replenishment while eliminating floods and pollution.
The Soil Conservation Service was created expressly for the purpose of minimizing erosion through onsite retention of rainwater with a multiplicity of detention-retention-infiltration enhancement techniques.

The US Congress of 1937 recognized that this simplest and least costly of basic technologies will accomplish the most publicly beneficial management of the public's water resource by mimicking natural conditions achieved by vegetation. (With the considerable contribution of 200 million beaver in North America.) For this reason they created the SCS. (This central branch of the US Department of Agriculture was renamed the NRCS by environmental extremist pressure during President Clinton in order to make it "disappear" from the public's radar screen)

In order to provide direct service to individuals from this federal agency, and through it all other federal agencies, the US Congress provided a model Resource Conservation District Plan that all states adopted in a variety of forms so that local residents had immediate control over a State agency that works directly through the Department of Agriculture to implement commonsense rainwater management that keeps bore wells full and streams flowing stably year-round so that reservoirs will not run dry.

Unfortunate for the American public, the apathy of most communities has allowed municipal and county governments to assume the functions of these Districts, even eliminating some of them. With this flagrant abuse of their powers bureaus were dominated by profiteers have prevented the RCDs from performing their primary function of creating Comprehensive Watershed Management Plans for every watercourse.
Additional Information:
Typical Recharge Well
Page 29/73 of volume21.pdf

Private Drinking Water Wells

EPA Search Result

Group url:
Rainwater Harvesting and Purification System

Saturday, October 22, 2005

165. California Resources under attack 

California continues to make decisions apparently based on poor understanding of mans interactions with nature. The article
California Landslide Part of Ancient Problem ( points out the La Conchita for study, and came to the conclusion it was an ancient active slide area. These localities are generally known, and that brings us back into real estate versus natural phenomena discussions like the earthquake, tornado and hurricane population centers, amongst others. The article shows many slides are not man made, and suggests buying out homeowners and creating park and beach. Even more impressive is the description of the rock, very similar to our own, and the effects of water as precipitation and as springs.The fact that landslides are regularly occurring a year or more after very wet weather should be a source of interest to several fields of study.
Federal judges are showing their anger over the "accidental" cutting of 290 trees in a biological reserve near the Biscuit Fire salvage logging site in southern Oregon, failure of agencies to implement fisheries protections and water allocation for the Colombia and Klamath River salmonid populations. In the West we are now seeing judges rule in favor of the environment over and over by the very nature of the proposals and practices that caused all the legislation in the first place. And the conservatives rail against it but what are they conserving by allowing business to run amok with our resources?
The Governor vetoed three important North Coast issues last week deciding the North Coast Railroad Authority would not be able to make the train run profitably, and cut its funding by five and a half million dollars. By all accounts the Upper Eel River watershed is difficult, dangerous and fluid landscape to try to build a railroad on. We heard in the late eighties South Fork ridge was an old railroad right of way, and have always wondered about a possible route inland instead of coastal. It probably goes through some protected areas but a study of routing may make a public discussion a reality. There is little use of the railroad when it ran (last in 1997), mainly timber, and it is hard to see a lot of other uses, except maybe gravel or water which probably would be cheaper to barge. Humboldt could then join the I-5 corridor and ship and receive goods by rail much more regularly, and that would justify port expansion. (My cousin was one of the Coast Guard Sea Marshals who came up last year to prepare local law enforcement for possible hostage attacks against cruise ships coming to Humboldt Bay. We had a good visit afterwards, and they left. When the ship got here, it couldn’t find the mouth of the harbor and passed by on its way north. No ships have come in since then.)
Thursday Senator Wes Chesbro tried to address this new problem caused by the governor’s veto for the salmon restoration work. It is truly troubling that the tidelands lease money has been taken just when it is about to produce extra revenue. Anyone doing restoration work over the last two decades knows funding is an up and down item, and I am personally knowledgeable about projects being okayed and then not funded, or even having funding taken away after approval. We have always seen our private property as our purchased mess and know some parts of the job will be way too big for us, and probably for anyone trying to justify the expense of repair from ignorant and destructive practices. Sen. Chesbro has said he will present a bond issue to continue the programs in order to assist the fish and retain expertise in the restoration industry.
This is about the same thinking as on the railroad, with the concern not about making a profitable business but rather the fact that business use has to justify the expense or repair and maintenance of miles of railway in harsh conditions to keep the railroad from sliding into the river. As the senator said, the Northcoast Railroad is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.
The Governor also vetoed salmonid restoration funding meant to replace lost revenue from tidal wetlands oil drilling in the deal that allowed it off southern California. The money had been instrumental as matching funds for a variety of restoration projects and was the basis of the so-called restoration industry. We believe restoration will always be massively under funded for the amount of work required, and that that funding is part of a peace dividend the nation cannot afford in time of war. For these reasons we think restoration is a limited opportunity to make the big corrections and map out essential work always realizing the plans may remain good ideas for long after any particular funding cycle ends. We have always done restoration as volunteers with a commitment to a piece of land and have only asked for professional insight, help with permitting since the state has restricted most of the activities that would allow landowners to fix stream habitat on their own, and at some point machine work. We have made homes for many trees, mainly our own but with an MRC planting. We believe if we label restoration as an industry it will make a tragic disappearance during tough funding cycles, and continuity of purpose is critical in an industry where often times doing nothing is a totally acceptable part of the process in many years, as the landscape heals itself.
Another veto would have regulated the number of crab pots any boat can manage. It is a compromise number intended to protect small boat owners and local fleets. Removal of the pot limits allows big boats to out compete smaller ones and deplete the resource faster. Like the Atlantic waste fish food surveys of the eighties, larger boats lead to collapse of many fisheries just by the size of the catch enabled by the larger newer boat design but by the size of the catch needed to pay for it.
All of these issues directly affect employment and revenue for Humboldt County. We do not see any suggestions or ideas forthcoming form Sacramento. We did get a significant boost from transportation projects recently awarded. With the decline of state and federal payment plans on many levels, the service sector will also see a hit.
It is time for new thinking in terms of resource management and land management. Paying for people to grow big trees, and selling this mechanism for carbon sequestration would alter the focus of many dedicated landowners. Another concept worth going back for a look is the water bag sales. Instead of contracting, just sell full bags if and when you have them. The concept needs work but water is a valuable commodity, and we generally have more than enough. Generally though- clients should not have any claim on any water not considered excess. The only truly sustainable industry is in intellectual property, where the forces of nature interact with the human intellect unleashing creativity in a myriad of ways.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

164. Deforestation doesn't trigger floods-U.N. report 

164. Deforestation doesn't trigger floods-U.N. report By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent Wed Oct 12, 8:02 PM ET
Reading this Reuters article on Yahoo gave the feeling of the fox guarding the henhouse. Some of these issues are discussed regularly here, and the raison d’etre in the first place.
"There is no scientific evidence linking large-scale flooding to deforestation," the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) said in a report Thursday. We can see the science is not up to date, for there is no mention of soil water storage or aggregation or those functions in relation to glomalin. that the cumulative impacts of tree removal, especially ancient trees, has significantly impaired the soils ability to store and hold some of that water. We also point out one of the precipitation interfaces job is merely to slow the waters path. Arguments about storm water storage in abundant rainfall areas center on urban runoff. I am sure there will always be floods but this one factor is overlooked everywhere- native vegetation will absorb most of a normal rainfall. Peak events sculpt landscapes. Minor events act like peak events when conditions permit, such as land clearing or new roads altering swale drainages.
Recent reports about percentages of trees in a given area digging for groundwater while neighboring trees of the same species were content with surface water is also an interesting concept. As in any biological community, it makes sense that different individuals have differing strategies for acquisition of necessary components for survival of the species. We already know some species root to bedrock or groundwater, however deep that may be. In many areas these species pin the landscape to the ground. Several of these trees per acre can be the difference between a stable hillside and a disaster waiting to happen.
The authors seem to want us to believe that things are going exactly as they always have. But I disagree. While the picture of a sponge may be true, the modern sponge has been sliced repeatedly by roads and diverted drainages. It is not a huge single piece of biologically connected landscape, it is thousands of bits and pieces, the areas between channeling water into cutting torrents, giving a usual amount of water far less opportunity to be absorbed and greater opportunity to wreak havoc downslope. There is also no scientific literature about the effects of glomalin on landslide activity or in relation to flooding or about glomalin decay and landslides. That is the purpose of this blog- to get the new science recognized for the useful perspective it gives us.
Heavy rain will cause runoff in many cases. The report fails to mention a difference between surface runoff, which cuts, and water running through the biological zone at an accelerated pace. Heavy canopy and duff still operate on the precipitation although it doesn’t get absorbed into the soil.
The authors also lump trees together but we know it takes decades to centuries to rebuild fungi populations and glomalin deposits. Young trees are barely reaching production will not have excess productivity to trade growth for soil conditioning, that would happen once the tree has reached adulthood and become a leading community contributor to the subsoil infrastructure of the ecosystem. Tree roots of little trees won’t do much but slide on down with the mud. Little trees snap off in high wind, or are easily uprooted.
We would like to know how the authors think streams run all year in areas with extended dry seasons if water is not stored or held or delayed in the biological zone. We also point out far more damage is done by development than loggers. Loggers despoil new areas but they can come back. Development finishes them as functional landscapes. Farmers are in the middle- most ag practices diminish the water storage capacity of a landscape by replacing deeper rooted natives with shallow rooted crops, slowly shrinking the glomalin conditioned zone to a narrower band nearer the surface.
It seems there should be tables that show what types of vegetation do what under differing precipitation events. We find these reports regularly thrown out there that seem like poor questions in the first place, and loudly publish doom and gloom debunking any theory that points out modern economic practices are causing socio-environmental problems.
In the end, we have to agree that practices are certainly making bigger messes with smaller storms, especially in the flood plains and populated areas. I do not agree there is evidence of massive landsliding in the geologic record and that it is not a manmade phenomenon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

163. Chronic Wasting Disease 

Tom Stienestra (San Francisco Chronicle, September 29, 2005 reported on the state monitoring efforts for Chronic Wasting Disease, a spongiform encephaly disease found in the U. S. in deer and elk herds. It is similar to so-called mad cow disease. This has been a growing problem, notably Wisconsin, for several years. Infected animals have been found in nine states so far, California not one of them.
The monitoring consists of urging hunters from Zones X (Northern California east of the Sierra Crest) and C (Northern California east of I-5) to bring their animals in for free testing at selected sites during hunting season several weeks ago. (October 1 and 2).
This is part of a national effort to control the disease. Wisconsin has ahd 471 positives out of 75,000 tested in the last three years. This year New York and West Virginia were added to the roll of states with infected animals.
The article finishes describing CWD as a neurological disease with unknown means of transmission. Deer lose weight “then deteriorate with tremors, disorientation and difficulty swallowing.” However, without really doing any extra work, we know from the PBS series Nova’s episode “The Brain Eater”, several very troubling threads are spun together here. One is the occurrence of spongiform encephaly across species barriers. Most diseases do not easily infect other species of animals with the same level of virulence but spongiform encephaly has epread it over seven hundred species in the mammals. This is the great danger of the avian flu, because humans, diseased birds and host vectors like bats and civets are all incubators of more virulent strains of these diseases.
Virulence can be multiplied by repeated thinning with antibiotics, each generation multiplying the number of surviving pathogens. Thus SIV, usually innocuous in man, was made far more powerful by repeated use of syringes during polio vaccinations in Africa until HIV resulted. As with avian flu and West Nile virus we see a majority of carriers unaware, a small percentage with minor symptoms and a very few with disastrous consequences.
The cause of the disease is a new vector called a prion, which is essentially a misfolded normal protein, which cause plaque lined holes in the brain, thus spongiform. Mad cow was shown to have originated in feed supplements for cattle, particularly bone meal. It was thought infected cows had been ground up and passed along. Now it turns out the source may have been human bones collected by fertilizer salesmen downstream of the Ganges, known for Hindu burials. This would turn the original source back to humans, as with the original East African disease Kuru, which was shown to be spread by ritual cannibalism.
As for the state monitoring efforts, we would think testing would be either mandatory or free, especially for deer which is usually hunted for the freezer, but that a better sampling might be made from roadkills, extending the season and the range of sampling.
California has had a lot of West Nile this year but nationally numbers are way down. Sometimes invasive species run into more trouble than first expected. Sometimes it takes native conditions several years to weed out threatening newcomers. Repeated drought will kill any plants not accustomed to it, for example, even if they thrive initially under favorable conditions, or before natives recognize a new food source. Still, as third largest biomass by species, humans can expect a lot of life forms to see us as food, and derive newer and better ways of getting at it.
The history of our species lies not only in our genes but in our immune system. Generations of resistance to specific diseases that protected the survivors of those diseases and epidemics have made an increasingly powerful human immunity to many microbes. There is evidence of epidemic that thinned the human population to perhaps a few hundred about 80,000 years ago. It was part of the Eve story, of a survivor memorialized in mitochondria DNA.
Further down in the article it is reported trapper Dick Seever and his crew had reduced the pig population at Henry Coe State Park. The stated reason is to allow oak seedlings to reach maturity to provide acorns as food for “hundreds of other species of wildlife and birds.” I think the number given of California wildlife as acorn dependant was about seventy in the Oaks and Folks publication of the Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program. I personally have been trying to figure out how and when white oaks regenerate- I haven’t seen a sapling on my place in twenty plus years, and I have no pigs or sign of deer browse. Smoke may be a critical germination factor for some species, as reported earlier in the year and noted in this blog. Even so, bigger predators keeping them moving may be a better answer than repeated thinning hunts.
California reservoirs are in good shape this year: “Lake Oroville, 45 percent full a year ago at this time, is 82 percent full. Others in great shape: Whiskeytown (99 percent full), Pardee (98 percent), Tulloch (92) and Englebright (92).
Other major lake numbers: Shasta (67 percent full, 108 percent of normal), Trinity (78 percent full, 110 percent of normal), Bullards Bar (74 percent full, 119 percent of normal), Folsom (68 percent full, 116 percent of normal), Camanche (74 percent full, 117 percent of normal) and New Melones (80 percent full, 147 percent of normal)” Some slight rain has come in already this fall, and my creek has had water in it all year for the first time since around 1987 or so. We hope others are seeing similar effects this year, and that a wetter pattern allows regeneration of the landscapes water storage system and accelerates the accumulation of glomalin.
One last California resource note in the article mentioned closure of the commercial cabezon season as limits have been reached. Then he tells us “cabezon is the one of the sweetest-tasting inshore coastal rockfish.”

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

162. Fungi 

162. Fungi
The role of fungi in forests has a long history of study. Fungi are essential for many of the processes involved in forests. The fruiting sporocarps of epigeous types, or those fruiting above the ground, is a better known aspect of fungi. This is what mushroom pickers seek. Some native types favored by hunters include chanyerelles, matasuke, or tanoak mushroom, morels, the boletes and black trumpets. Buyers pay a good price for these of several dollars a pound. Picking is by permit on most federal land managed by BLM and the Forest Service. Most recent management plans acknowledge epigeous mushroom pickers with a permit and season process. Buyers often set up along local roads or in motels, and you can learn a lot talking to them. One fer instance would be learning that there are many useable mushrooms with less culinary value that still bring some pay, like straw mushrooms.
Then there is aspect, association, temperature and time of year discussion. The majority of symbiotic forest fungi are ectomycorrhizia infecting root tissue between the cells. Fruiting occurs after the fall rains adnwhen temperature falls to a certain point in this region. The plant associations are relevant as the host trees can indicate a likely area to search. They produce hyphae and spores while seeking out nutrients in the environment. The short lived hyphae die back in several weeks leaving behind the structural component glomalin. Glomalin is essential to the forest community as tilth producing water retaining aggregator of soils, remaining there for decades. It changes from a structural component of the fungi to a part of the infrastructure of the forest as a whole.
Very little information is available about hypogeous fungi, or those that fruit belowground. Yet some of our most valuable species, such as truffles, are found there. Truffles are an essential part of the forest food web, providing 30-95% of small mammals food depending on time of year, in turn prey for old growth dependant predators, many of which are struggling with habitat loss- northern spotted owl, goshawk, marten, fisher. Truffle inoculation studies have been going on in Oregon for decades but they do not fruit every year, and cultivation has proved difficult, impossible in the lab without host trees.
Truffles indicate healthy subsoil communities, as they disappear after clear cuts as they are deprived of their nutrition source. Truffles are usually found in middle aged forests 30 to 200 years old. Mycology clubs often hold truffle hunts. They reappear after recovery has reached a certain point some time near canopy closure. They actually are part of a progression of types that assist the landscape and vegetation to recover from damage. Morels appear after ground disturbance damages mycelium or after hoist trees die.
Rhizopogons and generalists help seedlings survive hot dry summers. In clear cuts the number of seedlings can be amazing. When we think about the forest rebuilding its water system, we are less surprised. In that first year each seedling is conditioning a tiny circle of soil a couple of inches deep to hold water next wet season. All of them are hosting fungi that are producing glomalin. Any individual tree may be hosting dozens of species, all with slightly different characteristics but all contributing to the system as a whole.
Other fungi have different roles. Especially important are decomposers, again of an amazing variety. Here we find variety important because most fungi create one enzyme, which decomposes one component of plant litter into nutrition. Other species use other parts or other products created in the chain of digestion as fungi make new compounds available after obtaining their requirements.
Some straddle the fence, like armillaria, a decomposer of white oak and Douglas fir. Natives valuing the white oak burnt the ground beneath them for several reasons, but primarily it was essential to prevent Douglas fir encroachment of managed Oregon white oak stands of improved acorns, an invaluable food source. The crowding of seedlings encourages some to die off, and needle drop begins almost right away. These create important opportunities for armillaria to colonize new space, and if there is a lot of downed wood and leaf litter the fungi will be drawn to the oaks. The highly active hyphae will begin attacking the oak, causing rot and eventual death even as the Douglas fir grows taller and shades the oak out, helping to hasten the process. Valuable groves were protected by regular burns, which also controlled certain insect pests and provided forest edge raw materials for native culture.
Reading the evidence for truffles it is not surprising that leave trees are recommended in all cutting blocks, allowing some subsoil processes to continue. Even so, we can expect diminished food supply to impact first users and in turn their predators, causing a general decline in wildlife populations, a slowing of the spread of spores into newly impacted areas and diminishing the number of types. We can be sure it will be a long time before the water storage capacity of the forest is repaired, and that strong storms will cause conditions to deteriorate before they are fully recovered.

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