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, January 31, 2007

221. Greening of North America and Humboldt County 

CO2 Science ( magazine had a new summary for research illustrating the greening effects of carbon dioxide enrichment on the overall vegetative response. Several methods and trails of observation are included which show continued heightened plant growth to higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere, including increased alkalinity in the Mississippi Basin.
Satellite studies show plant response across North America. Although dates did not vary for trees with experimental and normal amounts of CO2, rates of growth were much higher in enriched atmospheres. Satellite photo comparisons are revealing that tundra shrubs are covering new ground in northern Alaska.
Another study in fairly remote regions show increased radial growth of ponderosa pine since 1950, just the kind of result we are looking for. the researchers also found the best response in the poorest years and most stressed environments. Spruce trees in aburned over environment were compared for a similar time span but with older trees growing in a 299ppm atmosphere while young trees grew in a 346 ppm ambience. The trees grown in the more recent atmosphere grew much faster and had a much faster response to drought.
We agree with CO2 Sciences conclusions but we await the recognition of the role of mycorhizzia and other mycelium in fixing carbon in the soil, and how that leads to rebuilding the water holding capacity of the landscape and eventually to the health of rivers in the arid and seasonal precipitation regions. We hope our readers will support their ongoing efforts.
Meanwhile voluntary carbon trading and a shift in focus continue to lead to more groups thinking in terms if carbon forestry, which sounds good but still doesn't include the thirty to forty percent productivity being deposited by fungi in the soil.
AP reported through Capar Star-Tribune ( last week that the Nez Perce had planted 5000 acres of trees on land converted to agriculture but deemed marginal. The tribe found tree planting a better idea, and if they can be paid for carbon storage it will certainly help them. We see our idea slowly becoming a reality and some are saying it will be the largest commodity market in the country in a few years. Prices are still low- four dollars a ton, and they are talking of new plantations above ground only. The tribe hopes to get twelve dollars a ton and is reluctant to sign long term agreements too soon.
Our studies show large old trees sequester far more carbon far quicker than new plantations, just by sheer number of molecular transactions, and deposition in the soil still unaccounted for. The science needs fixing, that is clear. And yet people are beginning to find potential profit even in the flawed models. Just think when you add watershed restoration and improvement, let alone the precipitation interface and flood control.
In Humboldt County, much to no ones surprise, Pacific Lumber and its associates defaulted on a 26 million dollar interest only payment to bondholders, sending the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy court. The company filed the papers in Corpus Christi, near Maxxams corporate headquarters. The company owes most of what it was purchased for, while millions and maybe billions in assets have been sold off. They have eighteen months to figure it out and a lot of little guys get to twist in the wind.
Federal agencies repeated their demand that Pacificcorps include fish ladders in their plans for relicensing the four Klamath dams up for renewal. Advocates are hoping dam removal may become a reality, and the power production picked up by a new generating plant to replace lost capacity. The agencies, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service also indicated the company proposal to trap fish and truck them around dams was not viable for several reasons, including disease from handling and gearing for fall chinook only. We would reiterate, however, there is hope for restoring Klmamath fish stocks to previous decades while there was a viable fishery after the dams were built, and that all eggs shouldn't be in one basket.Times-Standard John Driscoll 1/31/2007

Friday, January 19, 2007

220.NC Land Trust, salamanders, NEC and PL bankruptcy 

North Coast regional Land trust recently made an agreement with the Nature Conservancy that will help it preserve more North Coast operating lands of a rural nature. They said it would help with expertise and resources and help develop a plan to protect other environmentally key properties. While the Nature Conservancy may add some clout, they were investigated for allowing some members to trade up for better parcels several years ago, in a series printed in the Washington Post. Further confusing the issue is the Times-Standards reporting of conservation easements by owners not to develop property. This is actually agricultural set asides where landowners are paid not to develop or sell to developers, fairly common back east and south of here. Conservation easements are set up by the landowners as decisions not to harm property in specific ways and an endowment is necessary for someone to guarantee compliance. Both types of measures are attached to the Title of the property and are supposed to stat in place into the future. One problem conservation easements have had is not having partners to hold the easement that survive in perpetuity. Agricultural set asides are government deals and so long term compliance is more of a sure thing. But even then, when they saved the remaining truck farms in Suffolk County by paying to keep the land as ag land, farmers sold out to vineyards and horse breeders, defeating at least part of the original intention. Open space was still preserved.
Land Trust Teams Up With The Nature Conservancy, Times-Standard, Jan 12, 2007
Then the Land Trust applied for funding for studies and planning from federal funds available for non-County purchases for four purchases worth several millions of dollars. JIll Geist said she'd like the Planning Commission involved while government was named as the reason for higher prices in the first place by Roger Rodoni. Part of the money was to be used for easement costs, which should not exist in straight forward purchases, so something isn't clear here, unless they are talking about utility and right of way easements.
Conservation Funding Approved By the County Times-Standard, Jan 17, 2007
It looks like the Northcoast Environmental Center's Board has made an astute selection choosing Greg King to pick up the pieces after Tim McKay's unexpected demise. He was a very advocate of seeing the need to protect Headwaters Forestand has founded two non-profits, Smith River Project and Siskyou Land Conservancy, and has written for the Bohemian and Lake County Record Bee. He seems to have the skills needed to reinvigorate Tims dream. Good luck to him.
Environmental Center Names New Chief Times-Standard Jan 19, 2007
An interesting scientific issue was in the news as a decision to list a salamander closely related to another was issued.The ruling said DFG could not delist one species just because a close relative is seemingly abundant. The real issue here is how far genetics will be applied in creating new species as happens often in the plant kingdom. Few plants have the same protections as listed animals and genetic testing could result in many species of small populations with slightly different characterisitics coming out of existing species, raising major problems for policy makers.
Salamander Dilemma:Split or Lump Times-Standard Jan 18, 2007
Last but not least, Pacific Lumber and its subsidaries filed for bankruptcy in federal bankruptcy court in Corpus Christie, Texas, siting the State of California as not living up to its obligations under the Headwaters Agreement to allow it to log enough to pay its debts. The company claims that regulatory agencies have made it impossible to meet their financial obligations and has sued the State of California in December 2006. The state claims non-signatory agencies rulings are relevant and must be abided by.
Palco, Subsidaries File For Bankruptcy Eureka Reporter Jan 19, 2007
Palco Bankruptce Follows FIling of December Lawsuit Eureka Reporter Jan 19, 2007

Earlier in the year, Humboldt County District Attornet Paul Gallegos appealed a ruling in a fraud suit against Pacific Lumber for the same agreement.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

219. Humboldt Forests' Changing Face 

We have stayed away from most of the stories that seem to illustrate global warming in the news, glaciers melting, Arctic sea ice disappearing, comparisons to other geologic ages, changing seasons and plant and animal apparent responses. Our issue has been the discovery of a mechanism that nature has used for as long as life has existed to regulate climate so that it will support life. This knowledge may give us an opportunity to correct a serious situation before it explodes out of control and we find ourselves in real trouble as a species, let alone the economy. It is difficult to believe such well researched and publicly available knowledge is barely trickling into the discussion. It must be a sign of the times to ignore the science and stay the course, while the munincipalities struggle with local environmental issues rather than establishing a national deterrance for a probably man made problem. More evidence of the soils ability to store carbon comes from the current issue of CO2 Science Magazine (
Meanwhile, in Humboldt, the face of the timber industry is changing. Palco closed most of its facilities and sold off some of their lands. They sued the State over the right of the Water Quality Boards to regulate operations agreed to in the Headwaters deal, claiming the Water Boards have no authority since they were not signatories to it. The State says the company was not exempted from any regulations. The Water Quality Boards are restricting the amount of harvest in Elk River and Freshwater Creeks, and Palco has said it needs those rates to continue profitable operations.
Meanwhile, final issues are being settled as the Eel River sawmills Employee Stock Option Plan case was resolved with a relatively small payout for the ex-employees. Both companies blame difficulties in getting logs and a lack of demand for timber products due to softness in the housing industry.
Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos, surprisingly, filed an appeal of the judges decision regarding the fraud suit concerning timber harvest rates in the Jordan Creek area, which he claims were made purposely misleading to allow higher rates of cut in unstable drainages. In this area, too, Palco claimed the need for higher harvest rates to stay economically viable.
Meanwhile, Green Diamond, Simpsons land use division, released their HCP for 400,000 acres of California lands and had it published in the federal register. They seem to be taking the current trends into consideration by tackling resource issues from the start. I recommend browsing their website at
Sudden Oak Death has arrived in Southern Humboldt. Several eradication projects were completed this year. We doubt they "got it all"and that this is just the beginning. We fear the loss of good usable wood, especially black oak, may instigate a cut to get it before it rots on the stump, as in the case of the chestnut blight earlier last century.
The first carbon credits I know of were bought by the top pollution control officer and her deputy to offset traveling to Nairobi, Kenya for a conference on the Kyoto Protocol..( It amounted to $140 dollars. A San Francisco based outfit called Pacific Forest Trust ( manages the 2100 acre Fred M. van Eck Forest Foundation through an easement agreement dating to 2001. They just began selling the credits in November but it promises to bring long term income to well managed forests well into the future.
Finally, an article about the tallest redwoods and two guys, Michael Taylor and Chris Atkins, who are measuring them appeared in Yahoo on January 4, 2007. They are in the process of finding the correct heights of all the tall trees, which tells us there aren't many left. Their descriptions of good locales are helpful to people looking for good redwood growing lands. They count 36 redwoods over 360 feet and four over 370 feet. Unfortunatly, their laser range finder only came available in 1995, after most of what was left had been cut or included in harvest plans.

Monday, January 01, 2007

218. Stamens again 

The two articles in the Sentient TImes covering Paul Stamens new book Mycelium Running both advance our arguments while falling short of total understanding. Heis statements about carbon export do not explain the process of that export, which is what we have been calling glomalin destruction. He suggests, for example, innoculated wood chips to restart the massive fungal networks destroyed by logging and agriculture. He seems to think much of the carbon is harvested and burnt off. Our studies show much of it remains in the soil after these processes but is subsequently lost in erosion that follows these activities. However, either glomalin is a component of All mycelium rather than just mycorhizzia or we are looking at decomposers and missing the essential carbon storage process in glomalin formation and deposition. The descriptions of the massive amounts of fungi in the soil are very good.
His descriptions of spongy water bearing soil are right on and the catastrophic loss of higher mammals as carbon export continues. He also includes sequestration of heavy metals in the soil as the are absorbed into the fungi. The ability of these to improve our biosphere is clear to him but the exact mechanism is still just out of sight. For this reason I recommend his book although I have not read it yet. I have read his earlier works and can see the evoltion in thinking. And it gives ideas on the nature of mycelium networks but lacks the insight of the role of mycorhizzia in the formation of glomalin and its deposition. He hints at a Gaia but fails to see how the fungi actually create the needed environment that allows the great diversity in fungi and plant life.
His realization of the trouble in Singapore is similar to my own recognition of the loss to ecosystems of mowing grass short instead of allowing plants to restore the atmospheric carbon balance with the ability to replenish soils simply by aiding the plant half of the mycorhizzia symbiosis. Where to start is exactly where nature will start when man is gone- by leaving things alone to allow plants and fungi to process earths' elements as they have always done.
This should all be good reading for Al Gore, and I hope he will continue to learn as well as educate the people on these vital subjects that allow for action instead of simply an overwhelming sense of impending disaster.

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