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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

206. An Extreme eather Event 

Well, it only took one visit to the East to see the effects of glomalin destruction during a peak event. Most of the East is underwater after an incredible amount of rain fell over an area from North Carolina to central New York State. Today the Susquahana River will crest at 17 feet above flood stage. Interstates are closed and many local roads are closed and communities stranded.
While the region has excellant drainage carved by Ice Age glaciation, most of the high water events are at least partially from snow runoff. Not this time. It is late June, and a stalled low along the Appalachians has caused warm moist air from the ocean off North Carolina to stream northward along the front duymping heavy rain as it went. There was little or no wind with this storm, just a steady heavy rain for a couple of days.
The land absorbed most of the initial rainfall with forest and pasture doing their work. But once saturation was reached it was clear pastures were flooded while forest only flooded in the low spots. Towns and highways suffered the worst and many are still closed as I write this. Landslides are not usually an issue here but one did take out an Interstate. Without wind, most of the utilities were not interupted and we could watch events develop. It only took several hours for surface runoff to disappear after the rain ceased, at least where I was, but the towns are hurting and the main rivers are still rising. Locals cut big trees for lumber and firewood so the deep rooting large trees are just not present in numbers.
Just before this we had some heat, not like the Northwest but enough to play havoc on family members with Alzheimers and MS. The muggy heat makes it comparable to higher heats with lower humidity in the West. The Supreme Court, after its divided decision on water is now tackling global warming in answer to challenges to state regulatory laws over emissions. We can only say that as long as money drives the decisions the climate will continue to become more hostile.
Wind events seem to becoming more of a problem as well. This is to be expected when the pressure extremes widen. Last winter in Cal we had some winds clocked above the recommended average for shake or shingle roofing. It basically came in the form of extreme gusts during rather routine storm events. Here locals report similar events over the last five years with tornados in an area not known for them for over two hundred years. The signs that global warming are effecting the climate are beginning to reach a chorus.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

205. Mattole Salmon Recovering 

A nice article in the Eureka Reporter today on the success of salmon restoration efforts in the Mattole River Watershed. While "record" may be a stretch, there is definitely a major improvement in the runs. Redwood Reader has covered this story and it is great to see the work paying off in terms of fish. Kudos to our friends working diligently on these projects. River salmon restoration efforts seeing record returns by Nathan Rushton, 6/25/2006
Al Gore was on David Letterman the other night pitching his book/movie, "An Inconvenient Truth". While we applaud his continuing educating of the public, there is no mention of glomalin or growing vegetation in sufficient amounts to impact the problem. In the east it is clear the factors involved in Shrinking Watersheds have been at work for centuries. Lawns and farms have replaced forests so that the amount of absorbed precipitation is a fraction of its capacity. Meanwhile there is firewood everywhere with the implication that a tree is still worth its wood and little else. Since it rains every couple of days little is said of drought or fire conditions.
Our old newspaper reported 150 foot chestnut and walnut trees,( the same paper told of 6 foot lobsters, which I have not seen, and oysters a foot long at the hinge, one of which was reported in the Eureka Reporter this week.) A quick scan of the hillsides reveals very few trees anywhere near that large. One issue that is clear is regular flooding, which improved management will certainly reduce.
Even the Supreme Court is starting to show concern, with the court split 5-4 on watershed protection issues for two Michigan developers this week. In this computer age, we have been enabled to count everything. Do we protect every rain drop and its rill? This is the very heart of the development issue- how far do we let money decide environmental issues we depend on for our basic living condiitions. We are only guessing at the consequences of global warming in terms of cutting refugees loose in flooded coastal cities or in the paths of more severe tropical storms and shifting rainfall patterns.
In our travels we have seen desert, timberline and the verdant East. All demonstrate the precipitation interface and water storage issues outlined in this blog. It is clear the Mattole was a perfect study site, in a flux and its seasonal patterns helped expose the workings of vegetation, fungi, soil and human impacts on these systems with catastrophic results for higher life forms downstream.
More good news from BLM in the region as well, as they and the Wilderness Conservation Society purchased a ten acre inholding in the King Range National Conservation Area which was right on the beach. Our friends in the planning depaartment have another task on their desk, and they have been really busy the last several years. We are anticipating release of the Gilham Butte Cooperative Management Plan this fall but there have been a string of acquisitions by groups turning land over to them in recent years. Last week there were car and bicycle tours of the Mill Creek purchase by Save the Redwoods- that alone is a major planning effort.
Another report concerning BLM was vandalism at several gates in the Headwaters Preserve. This is the very scenario I placed in my comment about the plan advocating electronic surveillance at gates and parking lots. As it is, there is no idea who did it or exactly when. This should be easy to make work with off the shelf parts and should be in place in areas of national treasures, like old growth redwood.
A major article on Humboldt Redwoods State Park ran a short while back in one of the Northcoast papaers. Locals described their reasons why Humboldt Redwoods State Park was THE place to enjoy the redwood experience. This is the inland side of the Redwoods to the Sea Wildlife Corridor, which will eventually be a reality in terms of ownership for public agencies.The surrounding private land is also rural and not conducive to major development, and already logged off, so that restoration of the watershed is occurring both in the Eel and Mattole sides of the drainage.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

204. Coho, Palco land sale, BLM & SOD 

I have been traveling the last several weeks and have seen quite a few interesting tidbits that continue to support our theory of glomalin destruction and recovery. Really interesting examples of natural disturbance abound at timberline in avalache country. We have also seen mosquito, mormon cricket and caterpillar outbreaks. The caterpillars are deleafing large tracts of woodland but are not expeected to last much more than a few more weeks before they go on to the next life cycle stage.
Back home, California courts ruled again that coho were endangered between San francisco and Punta Gorda and threatened in the north to the Oregon border. The ruling ended a challenge to previous rulings by the California Forestry Association and Eureka Chamber of Commerce that said the state rules were duplicative of federal law, and should apply to populations ooooorather than species. Judge Gail Ohanesian ruled the state was within its right since federal law did not prevent further declines in coho populations. It seems that the numbers should start to show some recovery as a result of all the restoration projects like the culvert project relatively soon. Thihs would include the Klamath fishery, since this is a case of a failed spawning year. If enough water stays in the river, the fish should return. Sometimes we just need to wait.
State Court Backs Coho Protection Rules, John Driscoll, 6/14/06
Palco apparently has made a deal to sell off some of its lands mentioned earlier this year in order to make Julys interest payment. A Colorado resource investment group, Resource Land Holdings of Colorado Springs, is listed on the document transfer tax document and mentions a purchase in California on its website.. The buyers invest in timber, agriculture and mining. The 7.95 million dollar purchase probably represents about 3600 acres. The land is in Kneeland, Miranda, Mad River, Rio Dell and Fortuna.
Palco sells off properties to Colorado Group., John Driscoll, 6/15/06.
The California Oak Mortality Task Force newsletter, the best source for information on the ongoing investigation into the invasive disease, written by Janice Alexander with assistance from Katie Palmeri and Susan Frankel. New findings of P. Europa in Eastern and Central United States as a result of investigations caused by the lack of information about subsoil denizens in the forests there. Each month covers new ly found infestations, regulations, abstracts from studies, nursery management and other relevant topics. This month our good friends at the Arcata Field Office of BLM were Kudoed for involving local schools in Phytophthora baiting in the King Range Natiuonal Conservation area, where stream baiting in the Mattole has been going on for two years. BLM has also offered to have students visit an infestation site later in the year, but that seems to imply SOD has foound its way there. We expressed concern BLM was not part of the HRSP eradication earlier this year but they are right on it. The project is being carried out in cooperation with the Humboldt County Agriculture Department and the University of California Cooperative Extension. For more information, contact Jeanne McFarland, BLM, at: (707) 825-2332 or One other important tidbit in this packed newsletter is that the gisease is found in the wood itself, forcing rewriting of rules that allowed wood stripped of its bark to be moved out of quarantined areas.
COMTF newsletter:

Saturday, June 03, 2006

203. Arcata studies carbon markets, EPA allows corporate fixes to locals dismay 

Arcata has started looking into carbon credits as part of their Community Forest options. John Driscoll does a fine job of explaining the current proposal and the risks city planners face in the uncertainties of an emerging market. The fact that PG&E is interested in potentially buying carbon credits is helpful as well, and the City has been asked to look into it for other landowners, exactly as we had hoped would happen on a larger scale.
Once again, the main problem is that we do not have a measurable way of knowing the amount of carbon sequestered in the ground by fungi in their relationship with the trees. Another problem is the overwhelming temptation to evaluate the timber without subtracting the biological assets that come from growing big trees, from habitat to water to weather modification and recreational opportunities. Several recent studies have shown greater benefit from forest assets than is recoverable from timber.
We believe Arcata finds itself in the same situation as the European markets after Kyoto in that, as Bush said, the science on carbon sequestering is incomplete, and we have pointed out why. We have also suggested HSU take a leading role in this as they are well equipped to take advantage of the natural resource investigations needed for marketable solutions. We applaud the City for taking a look into this as a landowner and possibly helping other landowners find a way to grow large trees that are too valuable to cut. We also point out that much air pollution comes from foreign countries and that air filtration and cleansing are not just a local problem, but forest management is a local solution to a growing global problem. Community Carbon, Times Standard, May 30 2006, John Driscoll.
In two cases from opposite sides of the country, EPA is backing off its mandates to protect clean water in settlements with large corporate players. The first case involves a Canadian mining and smelting operation polluting the Colombia River on the Canadian side but flowing into the U.S. The ruling asserts EPA will allow polluters to do their own studies and cleanups of polluted waters, outside of normal regulation of states and tribes. While the principals are happy with their solution, EPA has backtracked on its responsibility to protect natural resources and prevent the spread of pollution through the established procedure. The company, Teck Cominco Ltd, will pay an initial 20 million dollars to study heavy metal pollution in the Colombia. The study is expected to cost 30 million eventually. No estimate on the cost of cleanup is yet proposed. The company originally claimed EPA had no jurisdiction over foreign activities, but lost in a court ruling brought by the State of Washington and the Confederated Colville tribes of Eastern Washington. The judge in that suit said EPA was mandated to deal with pollution in the U.S. regardless of its source. The federal government claims to be circumventing a lengthy litigation in making the deal with the company, but the plaintiffs say the deal undermines federal law and state and tribal concerns.
Zinc Firm to Pay for Colombia River Studies, John Heilprin, AP 6/02/06.,1,4110751.story?coll=sns-ap-science-headlines The second case involves operators in Florida who are contaminating Lake Okeechobee with waste water from their operations. Despite warnings to pregnant women not to even breathe water vapor while showering, EPA will not require pollution discharge permits simply to transfer water regardless of pollution. The Florida Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Everglades and the Miccosukee Tribe have taken the case to court suing to prevent further damage to the lake. Local water district officials claim they are managing the water in a manner commonly used and are reducing pollution through filtration marshes, but that it needs to be able to pump polluted water into the lake to prevent catastrophic flooding. Thursday EPA said such transfers were common in irrigation, flood control, hydroelectric power and environmental restoration activities. There is a 45 day public comment period on the plan. Interestingly, no address was given for the comments in the article. EPA Rule Would Go With Polluted Flow,1,5457105.story?coll=la-news-environment, credited to David Fleshler, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, June 2, 2006.

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