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Glomalin and Conservation in Humboldt County The 1996 discovery of the soil glue glomalin is changing our understanding of the impact of elevated carbon dioxide, while giving important clues to forest health, watersheds, revegetation, wildfire and carbon sequestration. Here I share what I have found so others may read and draw their own conclusions, and relate it to my own experience, Humboldt County issues and stories from the news.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
This article in the St. Petersburg (Fla) Times shows the threat of development in even our most nearly “saved” landscapes. For example, BLM assured us that King Range was liable to claims under the old Mining Law but it was suspended and that no valuable minerals were to be found there anyway. Under this bill it would seem you could build a hotel there. Many of these properties have severe restrictions on surface activities seemingly meaningless in event of mining or development. Between this and the removal of federal oversight of ESA on private lands there is no landscape not subject to threat once more.
We note the term “sustainable economic development” as a misleading use of words, since sustainability is based on preservation and renewal of natural resources. On the other hand, cities show enduring economic sustainability through trade. Since we know development impacts landscape wide issues such as runoff, habitat loss, urban interface fire zones and loss of tree cover, we cannot call development sustainable in our usual context.
Last week ice core results were reported that showed the highest levels of CO2 in 650,000 years. There is urgent need to adapt to this condition by taking positive action across the landscape. Industry will slow emissions to some extent but growth must be balanced by mitigating measures like no-till farming and open spaces or we run the risk of calamity. In forestry, it has to be understood that the soil-carbon is disrupted by surface activity, contributing to the problem and undoing natural attenuation.
We also point out methane is at an even higher rate, and this too is our footprint. Methane rich water is being spewed out of dams where it originated in flooded vegetation and soils in concentrations 20 times greater than normal. Another source is livestock. Ozone is also implicated. Ozone and methane are mitigated in plants by CO2, although at a penalty in productivity, as shown in reports at CO2 Science.
http://www.co2science.org/scripts/CO2ScienceB2C/articles/V8/N47/EDIT.jsp The simplest answer for rising CO2 is glomalin accumulation. Vegetation will modify climate, and we should expect explosive growth from the conditions we have helped create. As this article demonstrates, productivity goes up as temperatures rise, meaning sequestration will occur at an accelerated rate. While far away set asides may benefit the situation, directed growth in optimal landscapes can have major positive impacts, providing some timber, water, climate modification, regulated precipitation and distribution, erosion control, habitat, fish and jobs while providing recreation. This is why we call for a carbon credit scheme based on glomalin accumulation in which landowners are paid not to cut large trees in exchange for annual payments at per ton per acre rate for long term contracts written into deeds like conservation easements that transcend individual ownership but that would make worthy investments. At the same time we call for planners to recognize the continual loss of glomalin rich landscape (as CO2) and removal from the land base available for subsurface carbon storage and water retention.
In the end rolling back protections on our fraction of functioning glomalin producing areas is counterproductive in many ways. We also fail to allow time to heal the landscape and see the return of the conditions that make this place wonderful.
A congressman who wants to drill in the gulf and weaken the Endangered Species Act offers another bill that puts treasured land at risk of development.
A Times Editorial, St. Petersburg Times
Published November 22, 2005
It could be the biggest land scam ever and the perpetrator is a member of Congress. A bill by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., would allow anyone to claim ownership of public land for as little as $1,000 an acre under the guise of mining it. Instead of digging for gold, however, the owner could develop the land.
Millions of acres are at risk, often near the nation's most treasured natural areas. Not only would taxpayers lose the use of their land, they would also subsidize the purchase.
The House has already approved the measure - which alters an antiquated mining law - even though some representatives probably didn't know what they were voting on because it was hidden in a budget bill. For Pombo, this completes his land-grab trifecta. He is also pushing to open Florida's Gulf Coast to offshore drilling and to allow private land protected under the Endangered Species Act to be developed with little federal interference.
While the mining law has been used to rip off taxpayers for more than a century, Pombo's version would make it even worse.
Since 1872, mining interests could claim ownership of public land for the purpose of extracting minerals at little cost. It led to abuses such as the mining company that extracted $10-billion worth of gold from a stretch of Nevada desert that cost a mere $10,000. Embarrassed by that giveaway, Congress put a moratorium on the practice in 1994. Pombo's bill would not only end the moratorium, but make it easier to claim land with no intention to mine.
Under the bill's language, anyone could acquire public land for as little as $1,000 per acre and use it for "sustainable economic development." Opponents of the bill say that could be defined as condominiums, ski resorts or casinos.
Pombo says his motive is to help reduce the deficit with the proceeds, but that is a ruse. If Congress wanted to raise tax dollars on mining operations, they would impose a royalty, as they do on oil and coal production. In fact, a modest 8 percent mining royalty would raise twice as much as this garage sale of public land.
Several million acres, mostly in the West, already have mining claims, and nearly half of that is in or near national parks and forests, according to the Environmental Working Group. Millions of acres more could also be at risk. "To our knowledge, it represents the largest land giveaway in modern American history," said Dusty Horwitt, an analyst with the group.
Bill supporters say those seeking to exploit public land by claiming a bogus mining interest would be stopped by federal regulators. That's hardly reassuring. In the Bush administration, the exploiters are now the regulators.
With no companion legislation in the Senate, a final compromise would be worked out in a conference committee that meets in private. Nearly everyone agrees that as a stand-alone bill, the land giveaway would fail. Senate negotiators shouldn't let Pombo do his dirty work under the cover of darkness.
© Copyright 2003 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
CO2 Science Magazine contains this fine article this week. We thank them for making the science understandable and pointing out there ideas along the way. Like me, they are building a scientific basis for better understanding of natural processes. Our point of view concerns the newly discovered glomalin, and we find plenty of evidence to support our theory in here as well. Inclusion in the models may very well give some surprising results. If productivity is higher and emissions and releases reduced, we will see CO2 concentrations fall. It would seem something to be monitoring for crops.
Glomalin destruction, that is, large-scale release of CO2 from the soil occurs as a result of disturbance to the soil, is not currently figured in the carbon budget. Since the Industrial Age started we have seen mass agriculture, logging and development, turning centuries of glomalin back into the atmosphere. Glomalin decays at a rate that would seem to be the soil respiration rate, and thus would only be a fraction of releases from glomalin destruction.
As for temperature, besides adaptability, competition will favor those best suited to conditions as they are. Thus one species-troubling environment is another’s opportunity to take advantage of resources at hand. This may not help agriculture or political boundaries, though. It looks as though temperature will not be a limiting factor locally, with productivity rising with CO2 AND temperature, and that mycorhizzia will be stimulated to produce large amounts of glomalin searching for water, a more likely growth inhibitor. As a community, the very search constructs the storage mechanism insuring less trouble in the future.
Man may be causing other problems here, as the best-suited plants for carbon storage have large economic value. This is where the opportunity lay- in capture and storage of CO2 in the long run by forests, restoring wildlife, fish and water resources while improving air and soil quality and modifying the climate. We must learn to see them for what they are doing and allow them to operate or face deteriorating ecological conditions seemingly beyond our influence.
Finally in the last paragraph we dare to name the mechanism of the negative feedback as glomalin itself, pulled out of the atmosphere and stored in the ground, a necessary component of terrestrial ecosystems and conservator of water throughout the biological zone.
Global Primary Productivity and Climate Change
Volume 8, Number 47: 23 November 2005
Matthews et al. (2005) note that "coupled climate-carbon cycle model simulations have identified an important positive feedback between the terrestrial carbon cycle and climate, whereby future carbon uptake declines under anthropogenic climate warming." Just how powerful is this positive feedback that leads to a decline in carbon uptake? The Canadian researchers say that the first simulation to address this question, that of Cox et al. (2000), suggested that carbon uptake by the terrestrial biosphere would likely decline by over 500 GtC (gigatonnes of carbon = 1015 grams C) as a result of greenhouse gas-induced climate changes, such that the terrestrial biosphere as a whole would likely switch from being a net carbon sink to being a net carbon source around the year 2050.
As time has passed, however, and as the models have been refined, Matthews et al. report that "subsequent simulations forced by a variety of emissions scenarios" have resulted in "widely ranging feedback magnitudes." By the year 2100, for example, the increase in atmospheric CO2 attributable to the carbon cycle-climate feedback has been projected to range from 50 ppm (Govindasamy et al., 2005) to 250 ppm (Cox et al., 2000). The latter of these two numbers represents a CO2 concentration increase that is fully two-and-a-half times greater than what has been experienced since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution ... which is a truly whopping positive feedback at the end of a truly whopping positive feedback range. Moreover, Matthews et al. report that "it has not been possible to reconcile the range of model results," which lingering problem represents, in their words, "one of the most important uncertainties in current simulations of future climate change."
From whence does the highly-uncertain feedback originate? Matthews et al. say that "analysis of model results has shown that most of the additional carbon in the atmosphere comes from the soil carbon pool, suggesting that the acceleration of soil carbon decomposition under climate warming is a key component of the feedback." Hence, as they continue, "attempts to explain the large range of model results have focused on uncertainties in the behavior of heterotrophic soil respiration under future climate change." The genius of their contribution is that they show this assumption to be wrong, demonstrating that "the response of vegetation primary productivity to climate change may in fact be more important than the behavior of soil respiration in determining the magnitude of simulated positive carbon cycle-climate feedbacks." It is the source of their downfall, however, that they continue to assume that the feedback in question is positive, when it more likely is negative.
In moving towards this significantly different view of ours on the matter, we still find much of Matthews et al.'s work to be helpful. They note from the outset, for example - and quite correctly - that "the simulated feedback is highly sensitive to the temperature dependence of photosynthesis, which is currently very poorly represented in global carbon cycle models." They also correctly report that "as temperature increases in the model, plants are increasingly required to photosynthesize at higher temperatures," but they errantly conclude that this requirement leads to "a stronger temperature suppression [our italics] of photosynthesis under climate warming," which likely is not true.
Interestingly, Matthews et al. actually mention certain important facts that should have led them to question their assumption on this point. First, they note that "plants exhibit considerable adaptation to local temperatures," a fact we discuss in some detail in Section II A (The Adaptability of Plants to Rising Temperature) in our Major Report The Specter of Species Extinction: Will Global Warming Decimate Earth's Biosphere? Second, they say that "the temperature response curve is further affected by CO2 concentration," a fact that we discuss in Section II B (The Extra Help Provided by Rising Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations) in the same report. Specifically, we review the evidence for the oft-reported observation that the optimum temperature for plant growth, i.e., the temperature at which plants photosynthesize and grow best, generally rises with as the air's CO2 content rises. In fact, we note that for a 300 ppm increase in the air's CO2 concentration, the mean increase in optimum temperature for a sizable group of plants has been determined to lie between 3.4 and 5.8°C.
Simultaneously, the aerial fertilization effect provided by rising levels of atmospheric CO2 tends to increase plant photosynthetic rates at all temperatures, and progressively more so at higher temperatures, which additionally enables plants to survive at higher temperatures than they can tolerate under current atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Acting together, these several related phenomena lead to ever-increasing levels of plant primary productivity as the air's CO2 content and temperature rise together. In the case of the plants mentioned above, for example, the photosynthetic rates they experience at their CO2-induced higher optimum temperatures are typically much greater than those they experience at their ambient-CO2 optimum temperatures, in some cases almost twice as great (Idso, 1995).
Returning to the paper of Matthews et al. armed with this knowledge, we note they correctly state that "the parameterization of temperature constraints on photosynthesis strongly affects results from climate-carbon cycle models." We also note that the large uncertainties related to the presumed warming-induced reductions in rates of plant photosynthesis that they discuss lead to increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration at the year 2100 that range from 50 to 250 ppm, revealing the tremendous power of modest changes in plant photosynthetic prowess to affect the whole climate-change process. In light of these observations, it should be clear that the currently-ignored positive response of plant photosynthesis to simultaneous increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature should actually lead to a significant decrease in predicted atmospheric CO2 concentration at the year 2100, which implies the existence of a powerful negative feedback between the terrestrial carbon cycle and climate that tends to fortify the planet against the possibility of significant CO2-induced climate change.
Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso
Cox, P.M., Betts, R.A., Jones, C.D., Spall, S.A. and Totterdell, I.J. 2000. Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model. Nature 408: 184-187.
Govindasamy, B., Thompson, S., Mirin, A., Wickett, M., Caldeira, K., Delire, C. and Duffy, P.B. 2005. Increase of carbon cycle feedback with climate sensitivity: Results from a coupled climate and carbon cycle model. Tellus Series B 57: 153-163.
Idso, S.B. 1995. CO2 and the Biosphere: The Incredible Legacy of the Industrial Revolution. Department of Soil, Water & Climate, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.
Matthews, H.D., Eby, M., Weaver, A.J. and Hawkins, B.J. 2005. Primary productivity control of simulated carbon cycle-climate feedbacks. Geophysical Research Letters 32: 10.1029/2005GL022941.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
For our studies almost all the glomalin work is concentrated either here or in USDA SAR releases. I have said it is a relatively easy concept to grasp, and faithful readers will see many of my claims are based on peer reviewed science, especially concerning soil carbon storage as a key component of soil stability.
It is unfortunate that the decomposition issue was not funded because that is where we can converge with Redwood Sciences Labs studies that showed the actual swelling of the ground after rain events, which ability would be lost as the glomalin decomposes creating the very conditions they are studying. If we picture glomalin as a glue or biofilm then 5% of soil carbon could be seen as a serious soil stabilizer in steep wet conditions with poor soil cohesion, which becomes sediment when mobilized into watercourses.
The work here ties into the PNW Forest Mycology teams work as to species and abundance of fungi in forests. We need the final documentation that ectomycorhizzia produce this structural component like arbuscular mycorhizzia, as reported by Dan Wheeler from Dr. James Trappe, a contributor to the team. We should be able to establish production rates and find management practices that retain this ability. Surface water storage is likely to become more important as temperatures rise and snowmelt will be less available later in the year. We need a method to determine general abundance, like ground radar or correlation with vegetation maps and/or photos, this documents carbon storage and water capacity for planning and even markets.
We can also see the critical importance of temperate forests as carbon sinks, since the turnover rate increases with soil temperature. This has many implications for land use as well. The importance of shade in controlling soil temperature is overlooked in many management schemes, yet we see higher degradation rates in warmer soils. This means even under perfect conditions net storage will also be affected by surface temperature. Yet warmer temperatures are pushing the green line north and a vast new area is starting to capture carbon at an elevated rate, possibly offsetting higher decomposition rates in lower latitiudes. Nevertheless, many of the ideas in this blog are being proven and published. Great thanks to Mr. Rillig for his insight and persistence.
Glomalin as a hyphal residue rather than exudates helps us get a clearer picture of abundance across species lines and distribution in all terrestrial vegetative systems and spread of biologically conditioned soils in a recovering landscape. As a basic component of fungal structure it stretches across all continents, ecosystems and back in time 400 million years. Another point is differing deposition rates associated with differing plants. This just implies community to me, with many more questions to settle. Do some plants make one type of glomalin? Do they have fewer associated species, or rates of abundance, of fungi? We have postulated a community pool with a percentage of glomalin decaying, and newer specialist species filling spaces opportunistically but all contributing to the ecosystems overall health through glomalin deposition. We would suspect late stage species dominate the landscape through pheromones that control the spores of the many fungi associated with the initial stages of seedling growth. When this is disturbed the more numerous species associated with younger trees emerge to restore prime conditions in the soil and the canopy. Once the trees start to shade the ground subsoil deposition and soil conditioning by mycorhizzia begins in earnest to restore ground water storage. The nature of glomalin shows it creates space for the water but does not absorb or bind it, thus making it available in the biological zones but also subject to gravity. The longer an area is allowed to grow the better developed its water storage capacity in the root zone.
While the affinity for glomalin with natural areas is established clearly in the article, implications to us are paramount. Even without decomposition studies it is clear sediment is mobilized rapidly when exposed to running water or direct sunlight. A recent PBS show about the Scablands in Eastern Wahingrton were proven to be carved in a single massive event when a lake broke out a wall of an ice dam flooding the entire region below, leaving a carved landscape previously believed slowly carved by wind and water. We see the same patterns of particle removal in tiny little eroding rills as in entire watersheds.
Nature uses scale in many ways. On the same show scour was discussed and I stand corrected. As the Scopac commenter wrote, dcour is caused by high water. I said my experience is that rain fills pools in. The explanation lies in the exact nature of scour. Explained as the result of increased water rushing over obstacles causeds bubbles to form and create a tail from the obstacle downstream. The force of the flow causes the bubbles to a spiral, while the bubbles themselves are collapsing with tremendous energy. Once the vortex of bubbles is established it can break free of its source, turning upright to the streambed and digging holes in the bed with the energy of the collapsing bubbles and the debris being carried downstream. This insight also gives us insight and we can see why instream techniques create habitat, and that banks are probably more stripped than scoured.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The French government is looking beyond the 2012 Kyoto deadline and implementing Phase II. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051115/sc_nm/energy_france_environment_dc;_ylt=Am6p_8V_U0jSu0xjSdZaJPghANEA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl Their 15% already renewable seems pretty high compared to U.S. numbers, and they expect another 6% rise by 2010. France is also a leading nuclear energy consumer. Their concept of paying solar electrical producers more would seem a great way for California to implement its million solar home idea; same with a rise in tax credits for solar hot water. This puts France in a good position to focus on vehicle emissions, 60% of CO2 emissions for that nation.
The US, Australia, China and India are not signatories of the Kyoto protocol. The US and Australia claim economic hardship related to emissions reductions, Developing nations are exempt. With this in mind the article on Hot Dry Rock geothermal energy is a window into the future. Geothermal is already a known energy source but current designs all work with naturally produced steam. The new technology starts with dry heat and adds the water, to increase fracture and capacity, then moves the water to heat low boiling point liquids to drive turbines. Such a plant could supply a 1000 Mw. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051115/sc_nm/energy_australia_dc;_ylt=Ah3YcwE9EM1XW3JTBAKGdVohANEA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl
The U. S. Department of Energy is highly pleased with results from the testing of the Weybum project, in which CO2 emissions from coal gasification are pumped into the ground in oil fields helping force more oil and gas into production zones and trapping tons of CO2 below the ground. It appears the pumping in has worked like expected. The issue I know of is: there is no guarantee the CO2 will stay there. I know extending the oil fields life helps, but I am boggled a gasification plant is emitting those levels of CO2 has been permitted in the first place. There are other uses for CO2 as well, like dry ice. But it seems silly to pay to capture back what was questionable in the first place, since 200 million cars worth of emissions puts a very real face on industrial emissions rather than transportation. This looks like an oil project with a plan for its own emissions.
De-listing Yellowstone area grizzlies outside the Park has become a political hot potato. We are pleased to see good recovery of a small population of a far ranging species, and surprised to learn of four other populations in the Lower 48. I wrote several years ago an article about the goals of restoration- “surely we are not talking about returning grizzlies to California” but secretly I always hoped they would reappear. The reports of poor effect of the ESA is another issue altogether and obviously the situation will get worse before better as critical habitat designations are rolled back.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051116/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/grizzly_protection;_ylt=AuiwG5mdnWZGeRKSYqXwCLkPLBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA-- California DFG has completed a report assessing endangered species as background work for receiving Federal wildlife grants. It states California has over 800 species, 481 of them Californiua only, at risk from a wide variety of causes from habitat destruction to corvids and invasive species. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051115/ap_on_sc/california_wildlife;_ylt=ArZTfETB_xDT25ROYS056N94hMgF;_ylu=X3oDMTBjMHVqMTQ4BHNlYwN5bnN1YmNhdA-- A local angle on this in the Times-Standard http://www.times-standard.com/local/ci_3222660. reports 74 North coast/Klamath region species, maily fish and birds, with 11 of them appearing only in this region. The DFG report can be found at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/habitats/wdp/index.html
Another article says whales off the coast are threatened.
The other day an article ran about the diet of California condors including the growing marine mammal populations. It seems they were recorded even by Lewis and Clark seen eating a dead whale at the mouth of the Colombia. Two major shifts in diet over 11000 years aere found by sampling condors from museums and prey from various localities to identify iostopically food sources. I only wonder about the loss of megafauna even though there are masses of buffalo up to modern times. Available food for the large birds is a problem and they are fed carcasses. Protections of sea mammals have caused a boom in their populations and they may create a good amount of scavengable food for the big birds. This seems to make the coast as good or better a habitat than more inland sites. This may make King Range more likely to eventually host a few of the great wanderers. The reporet was done by Stanford and the article I saw was in Science Daily, at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051114112536.htm More bad news for the State, though, as sewage pumped directly into the ocean has resulted in the first known cases of male marine fish with ovary tissue in their testes, the first examples found in salt water, and probably at minute concentrations of pollutants. The fish are bottom feeders, which may be of some reassurance. We know frogs and freshwater fish are showing sexual confusion from environmental estrogens from agricultural products, and Atrazine in implicated in frog deformities.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051116/ap_on_sc/intersex_fish;_ylt=AkLiZ9GFNwCALY4EAa.RrmRxieAA;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MzV0MTdmBHNlYwM3NTM- The Audobon Society has sued US Fish and Wildlife because no recovery plan was ever presented for the Northern Spotted Owl, one of the most contentious listings that reduced timber operations on millions of acres of federal or federally supervised lands. USF&W has promised the report in six months, and the Society is willing to accept that if it gets it in writing. Still, you would think we’/d have heard about it one way or another-
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051108/ap_on_re_us/spotted_owl;_ylt=AlAfVZV5mpeZnAoqQiOLOGd4hMgF;_ylu=X3oDMTBjMHVqMTQ4BHNlYwN5bnN1YmNhdA-- Finally, more proof that environmentalism is a peace time dividend with slashed budgets on the federal level and the state matching funds unapproved. Schwarzenegger has already shown he is no environmentalist and expecting the governor to fix this seems unlikely. Senator Chesbro has made sure North Coast fisheries recovery is not neglected and so there is hope yet. Nevertheless, with funding still subject to partisan attacks, especially from folks outside the area and its industries, the annual tribulations seem petty. http://www.times-standard.com/local/ci_3217678
Monday, November 14, 2005
We also have noted the trouble good information has in becoming accepted and put into policy. While some areas push new items onto the market before fully understanding them, other possible solutions lie around unused for centuries despite plenty of visible evidence. Many people are convinced a lot of business is bad for natural systems, and people are looking for definitive answers for the economy and maintaining natural systems. Others put peoples needs at the top of the list. The bottom line seems to get results. Earlier this year I received a CD of a removal project on the Kennebec called Edwards Dam, it had been in for 170 years. There has been a lot of discussion about sediment loads and toxicity of spoils but I didn’t find much in the CD that helped with that.
So it is with FERC’s ruling on PacificCorp’s Klamath dams. In a time of environmental awareness a fifty-year license is being renewed. Past documentation about the past abundance of salmon above the dams gives us a good idea how impaired the system is, especially in terms of cut off spawning beds and temperature fluctuations at critical times of year. Expert analyses by the most current models support the obvious- the dams should be removed for the restoration of the third largest west Coast salmon run. The power companies challenge the rivers ability to provide as much habitat as environmentalist models would indicate. http://www.times-standard.com/local/ci_3209502 , “Salmon Above The Dams’, Eureka Times-Standard Nov 12, and the editorial piece “Honesty Crucial In Klamath Dam Process” the same day.
For those of us relying on science to light the way it is troubling our own government does not accept its own work. Of course, tradeoffs are inevitable with our growing population, but new technology should be brought online faster. We think centralization and economies of scale have driven the permit process to periods of months and years when small decentralized systems could go up in a much shorter time frame and have much less environmental impact., as in solar homes or micro wind generators, locally produced biofuel rather than transported petroleum.
When new info is put to use, we applaud, such as the Redwood National and State Parks project thinning Douglas fir hoping to accelerate return to late seral conditions. This is very similar to BLM’s approach and we support the concept. WE do have some points to raise in light of our work. First, the self- thinning rule proposed by Dr. Shigo in “Trouble in the Rhizosphere” claims each tree is adding to the overall carbon capture of the recovering forest area, not just the trees. If we add glomalin here, we see Douglas fir has established a life process for re-colonization that allows many individuals condition a small amount of soil. As the trees grow and conditions improve some trees begin to decline, which accelerates exudations. The trees are very crowded and responding to side pressure, encountering neighbors root systems and foraging for minerals and water. All members contribute duff, glomalin, shade, woody products and water storage to the system, regardless of how long lived. So it is important to allow some of these functions to occur. At the same time much of this evolved without constant fire threat forests face today, and some controls must be found to reduce risk while maintaining function. We also note this project would be typical of risk reduction for carbon sequestration projects, and that we need more uses for the resulting slash. “Park thinning Project Gets Started” http://www.times-standard.com/local/ci_3211609 The Mushroom Fair is set for Sunday November 20th from 11AM to 4 PM at Redwood Acres in Eureka, put on by the Humboldt Bay Mycological Society. http://www.times-standard.com/local/ci_3213409
Friday, November 11, 2005
Some of the problems associated with removal of larger trees are discussed, but much of the carbon debate is inadequate because no account is made of symbiotic creatures or soil carbon storage by fungi and bacteria. As our investigation has shown, reducing vegetative cover decreases a forests ability to respond to natural events like fire, storms, insects and flooding, store water for extended periods, or influence weather by cooling and creation of aerosols that aid in water vapor condensation. For all of these reasons it is important to allow functioning systems to work and damaged or dysfunctional systems allowed to grow out of their problems. Somehow we have to recognize the critical importance of operating natural systems in terms other than resources and dollars. Science, as usual, will arrive in time to regret what was lost, but give us hope for the future.
“Removing trees decreases the forest's ability to suck up carbon from the atmosphere, and whether those trees are taken singly or in a large swath doesn't matter. In fact, selective loggers tend to harvest the trees with the highest wood density, which pack more carbon than less dense trees.”
The large old trees are the very trees operating at peak production. A percentage of this production is going into the soil communities and supporting various food webs. The large canopies break the effect of precipitation, wind and sun. The remains of the fungi aggregate soil particles and create pore space for water, air, and growing root tips. Water vapor is transpired into the air while aerosols are released causing it to form droplets. In addition, many of these old trees support entire food webs and dozens of species.
California Oak Mortality Task Force”s November nerwsletter contained this small article causing great concern for me. This is our neighborhood, and I have been writing about SOD since 2000. We note how fortunate there are trained people that recognize the problem in the field.
“A new Phytophthora ramorum-infested site in Humboldt County has been confirmed 6 miles north of the Garberville/Redway area on Humboldt Redwoods State Park property along the Avenue of the Giants. The site features a moderately steep hillside dissected by ephemeral drainages running directly into the South Fork Eel River. Old-growth redwood, in places with an understory of nearly pure California bay laurel, grows on the site’s lower slopes; the stand grades into a Douglas-fir/tanoak and madrone mix on upper slopes. Symptoms are found in both forest types.Other SOD news includes the stream sampling with rhododendron, which gives a presence indicator in watersheds. The 2005 National P. ramorum Survey of Forest Environments debriefing in Atlanta summarizing forest field work in 39 states; the extent of spread in the U.K., including chestnut and witch hazel among others, a discussion of nursery epidemiology including overhead vs. drip watering to control spread in nursery conditions, Forest Service models of risk assessment for the nation and other timely information including links and a calendar of events.
A tree inspector for Western Environmental Consultants International (WECI - a contractor to PG&E’s vegetation management program) identified the presence of bleeding cankers on numerous tanoak trees and notified University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), Humboldt County staff, who sampled tanoak shoots and bark as well as California bay laurel leaves from the site. All three kinds of samples yielded P. ramorum at the UC Davis Rizzo lab. Numerous symptomatic hosts, including California black oak, madrone, and Douglas-fir, have since been observed on the site and sampled; results are pending. UCCE Humboldt County and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) have proposed to California State Parks that an adaptive management trial designed to reduce P. ramorum inoculum and slow pathogen spread to adjacent sites be implemented. State Parks has begun the review process for the project.”
In Cherokee Country, Reviving a Tree's Deep Roots
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/11/1107_051108_cherokee_2.html This article is from the National Geographic newsletter concerning restoring butternut to its home range with river cane, an associated species important for Eastern Cherokee cultural uses. This story has it all, a historical site of importance, Native Americans purchasing ancestral homelands, 95% dead trees and only 2% river cane left, trying to restore a tree crop ravaged by an imported fungus disease, natural suppression of competitors by the butternuts with river cane able to take advantage, traditional uses of the plants, ecological restoration and tree improvement and a commitment to educate the young in traditional culture all rolled into one. Great Stuff.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Habitats May Shrink by Leaps, Bounds
Officials want to reduce sanctuaries for frogs and other species by 150 million acres.
By Janet Wilson Times Staff Writer November 4, 2005
Several articles this week expose our government’s priorities in ecological matters. This first article describes the current administrations rollback of protections for critical habitat for many species, especially in areas contested for development of corporate activities. The House of Representatives has passed a bill rolling back designations on thousands of acres of undeveloped public and private land, and the bill will go to the Senate soon.
One big issue is the economic benefits of preserving natural habitat, which apparently is not included even though we see evidence 5-15% premiums are paid on houses bordering undeveloped land. That is a backwards way of thinking anyway. When the Forest Service did put a value on non-timber activities a lot of money was spent disproving the point as overgenerous in its estimates.
The reduced funding has led to more reliance on volunteer groups for habitat improvement and monitoring. A short article in the LA times on November 8 of groups you can join to help fish restoration efforts.
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-os-troutbar8nov08,1,5330697.story?coll=la-news-environment.Here are the web addresses listed in the article for four excellent organizations. All could use volunteer assistance.
The Adopt-A-Stream Foundation; http://www.streamkeeper.orgFisheries Resource Volunteer Corps http://www.frvc.org Angeles and San Bernardino Nat Forest Fly Fishers
California Trout (Cal Trout) Http://caltrout.org 5300 California member4s
Trout Unlimited: http://www.tucalifornia.org !35,000 members
The same day they ran a story about steelhead counters in the Southland looking for fish in recovering areas. They find suitable habitat without enough water or any fish. They seem much more concerned about the return of the fish than the DFG guys calling steelhead “Kool-Aid Fish” because you only need to add water for them to appear.
My experience tells me to say the fish will be there, and that you must look to the uplands to understand the amount of water available in the heat. My experience also tells me several small steelies may wait several years for the weather to provide the opportunity for ocean migrators and spawners returning. In fact I have had years where several steelhead lived throughout dry periods only to disappear in the wet years, and slowly become bigger and more numerous. In the nearly thirty years we have been there we have never seen more than one big fish in any given year, but they must be there.
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-os-steelhead8nov08,1,3695723.story?page=3&coll=la-news-environment Meanwhile spike top fences designed to keep deer away have become a bone of contention in the San Gabriels because leaping animals impale themselves trying to get over the fences and into yards. Five cities have banned new spiky fences and two of them are considering retrofit programs. This would involve some expenses and so some form of loan or relief is being asked for. An important note here is that the fences are helping with bear problems. As the Mayor of Duarte points out, it is traumatic for people to see wildlife in that condition. Nothing will turn folks out faster to protest, especially in these better off subdivisions. It would seem the ornamental iron guys get a lot of work keeping nature at bay. Our experience was that six foot fences were insufficient to keep deer out, you need to go to eight. I used to wonder about those spikes fences around houses in NYC, but I was thinking about people, and I knew a couple of kids who were injured climbing these types of fences.
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-me-fences8nov08,1,1044328.story?coll=la-news-environment Another article the same day carried a warning by Director Rodderick of DFG about attacks by adult male deer on humans and pets during the rut, or breeding season, when they are particularly aggressive. A buck killed a man, another attacked two dogs, killing one, and a third attacked a couple working in their garden. These are wild animals and should be regarded with caution, or avoided altogether. The buck that killed the dog was shown several nights on San Francisco news outlets.
The Bay Areas Tech Museum awarded five innovators for designs that help poor folks around the world with basic living. This years winners include a more friendly loom, MIT’s OpenCourseWare, where course are published online for all for free, solar powered homes and a vaccine program, and to me most importantly, a new twist on the composting toilet concept. Since water is a major issue together with homestead living, I have advocated for better toilets and new rules form county commissioners allowing composting toilets in Humboldt homes by code. As I understand it, the biggest holdup has been fear of non-compliance or failure to maintain. To me this seems minor compared to the water and infrastructure needed to deal with sewage, and that in precludes development where the infrastructure doesn’t exist. Drying out the sewage process would make a lot more water available for other uses, and probably slow the emergence of super bacteria resistant to current methods.