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Author Topic: Disappearing Forest?  (Read 8282 times)

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timberline

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Disappearing Forest?
« on: November 22, 2000, 03:04:09 pm »
I know we cut a lot of wood.  I also know others do too.  There is a lot of wood out there.  Do you think the day will come when we won't see any.  I also think we have enough golf courses.

Your comments are welcome.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2000, 05:09:53 pm »
We'll always have trees and forests.  But, what kind of condition will it be in?  I've been seeing a lot of diameter limit cuts, which will deplete the genetic viability of the forest.

You also have "selective" cutting.  A fine selling point for the one doing the cutting.  Unfortunately, most selective cutting leaves inferior wood as growing stock.  Diameter is not a good indicator of age.

What has come about in PA, is that the amount of forests is no longer increasing.  All of the marginal farmland has been converted to forests.  But, now we have urban sprawl depleting some really good forestland.  With it comes regulations on how and where to cut.  There are smaller and smaller woodlots that make viable mgmt impracticle.

Supposedly we are growing timber twice as fast as we are cutting it.  But, that data is 10 yrs old, and our primary species was red maple.  Due to overcutting of the red oaks?  I'm now hearing shortages of logs in certain areas of PA.  I have noticed a definite decline in diameters in log yards over the past 25 years.

The question isn't whether we will have any trees.  The question is whether there will be any worth while to cut.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2000, 07:41:26 am »
With reference to the Michigan Forest Statistics, 1993, USDA-Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station, Resource Bulletin NC-170 the following comments are made:

-Michigan forests are increasing in both land area and timber volume.
-Forests cover 19.3 million acres or 53% of Michigan's land area.
-The area of timberland/forest land capable of producing crops of industrial wood and not withdrawn from timber utilization increased 7% from 17.5 million acres in 1980 to 18.6 million in in 1993. Most of the increase occurred in the Lower Peninsula where abandoned crop pastured land reverted to timberland.
-The maple/beech/birch type is the most extensive type in the state. It covers 7.2 million or 38% of the state's timberland.
-Timber growth exceeded harvest by two and a half times. the growth of timber in Michigan greatly exceeds timber mortality and removals.
-Further details of the 1993 inventory are available from State Forester Gerald Theide, Forest Management Division, MDNR, Stevens T. Mason Bulding, Lansng, MI 48909, or call
(517) 373-1275.

Professional forest land and resource management will be key to sustaining quality forests and ecosystems for the future. Harvest systems and markets which will harvest and utilize all round wood products without waste and damage will be necessary to retain quality and quantity to maximize landowner benefits.

I agree that there are enough golf courses and "hard surface" developments fragmenting forest landscapes. Once its "black-topped" its lost. Trees are a renewable resource.
~Ron

NFL

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2000, 01:54:06 pm »
The funny thing about forests is that they always grow back.  I am sure we will continue to have quality forests as long as we use good, sustainable management.  I agree about golf courses.  The only two things I know of that destroy forestland are concrete and golf courses.  I know of a golf course in the process of being built in Michigan.  From the highway, all a person can see is a cedar swamp.  I don't know if it is higher ground farther off the road, but I do know that if a road was being built to harvest timber, dumping sand into a cedar swamp would not be allowed.  The public often has a warped conception of approving of trees being cut to build shopping malls and golf courses, but not approving of managing forests.

Offline Forester Frank

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2000, 05:17:33 pm »
Good comments from all to Jim's question.

Sounds like Michigan is in better shape than Pennsylvania. Maybe Michigan cna learn a lesson from their neighbors to the east (Nittany Lion Country).

R. Scott and Weinrich - Do you think regulated the industry is in order? How about professional certification for foresters? CPA's are certified and must maintain a certain level of continuing education to keep current. I like the idea of SAF's professional forester certification, but do you think it makes a difference to private landowners?

Forester Frank

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2000, 05:10:43 am »
Our industry will never be regulated.  They pay too much money in the form of lobbyist and political contributions to allow that to happen. The 9th largest state lobbyist is a local sawmill.  There is no licensing of anyone in our industry.  That includes foresters.

Would licensing make much difference?  Private landowners have little knowledge whether their land is being managed right.  They are interested in not having their lands clearcut.  This leads to selective cutting, ie high grading.  This has been going on mainly since the '50s.  It is starting to catch up.  A licensed forester can gut a stand just as easily as an unlicensed forester.

SAF certification is an advertising gimmick.  They are trying for 3rd party certification of wood products.  Certification does not guarantee compliance.  Neither does regulation.

Not every forester or logger high-grades.  But, the quality of the mgmt is often lacking.  Low grade trees are kept, for either aesthetics or stocking.  Larger crop trees are taken, often before being mature.  Diameter limit cuts are the norm is some areas.

Our state will not regulate foresters.  Why?  Because there is no demand from the private landowners.  And mills simply don't think it's necessary.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2000, 07:06:22 pm »
Michigan SAF has raised Forester Certification, Registration, and Licensing as an issue for the past 20+ years as I can remember. There is a significant difference in the requirements and restrictions of each. I chaired the committee that drafted the last position statement when I was on the Science & Technology Chair for Michigan SAF. The issue keeps getting tabled as there is strong difference of opinion between Consulting Foresters, Industrial Foresters and Public Agency Foresters within the membership. It may be worth reading Dr. Karen Potter-Witter's publication on this subject done for the Mackinaw Chapter for Public Policy and Michigan Association of Timbermen. Its titled "Timber Producer Certification in Michigan: Self Regulation vs. State Regulation", February 1995.
We should not be stopped from practicing forestry by excessive regulations. If one practices good land and resource management and has a college degree in foresty hopefully that's enough to get a good job done meeting professional standards. We need to practice "good forestry" with intigration of all resources where no resource violates the minimum resource standard of any other resource. The wood industry plays a key role in this through good harvest practices and utilization of all wood marketed. We can't just keep "hammering" the quality logs. The bad needs to be taken with the good.
Landowners are becoming more and more concerned and more knowledgeable of good management practices. I find them seeking out the most qualified and experienced foresters more and more should they decide to have a harvest of their timber. They are being given much more awareness through the education processes of MFRA, Extension Service, MFA, SAF, SFI, Tree Farm program, news media, etc., not to exclude the Sierra Club et al.  
~Ron

Offline Don P

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2001, 06:09:04 pm »
This has also been kicked around on the construction site. My dad said his dad got to use the "good stuff"...I remember the "good stuff" that came to the jobs as a kid (the same wood dad complained about). What I get now is often pretty waney, juvenile compared to memory...I'm far from alone.Example, I don't recall dad walking down a wall before nailing to make sure breakers were in place (a stud with entire edge for a plywood seam to break on), almost all studs were breakers, now almost all are wane edged. A recent building trade magazine had good news I hope, saying we are now using the worst and the forest is beginning to improve. Comments?

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2001, 03:00:34 pm »
I've noticed the quality of material has improved at places like Lowe's and Home Depot.  I think they found out they couldn't sell too much of the junk.

But, the wood quality probably won't improve.  We are still trying to grow wood as fast as possible.  They are running on 35 year rotations in the south.  Quick growth and springy wood.

Now they are pressing curve sawing.  This goes with the grain, and supposedly a crooked log will yield lumber that lays flat when dry.

There are some logs that just belong in the chipper or firewood pile.
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Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2001, 07:17:26 pm »
   There's a question I have to ask about a parcel of trees I drive by every day going to work. It was exposed by recent construction. The trees are pine, very close together (I would guess 6-10 ft apart) all appear to be the same age, and tall- my word these things are tall. They look like spindly toothpicks, no limbs on any of them cuz they are close together. Some of them are leaning on each other like toothpicks.

  They look like they were set up as a monoculture by seedling suppression or some other method, and then totally neglected as far as thinning goes.

  They look like c**p- but I don't have an educated eye. Does this sound like a good result, or a valuable stand of trees? I hate to estimate height or diameter. I don't know the owners, amd I'd have to trespass to measure them at the butt.
                     LW
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2001, 02:49:31 am »
Sounds like a Christmas tree plantation that the owners lost interest in.  The stand could be recovered by a thinning.  But, a lot of valuable growing years have been lost.

The biggest problem with forest management is that it takes too long to get a return.  Too often the landowners move on to other things.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2001, 09:23:58 am »
An aesthetic tree improvement thinning would improve the appearance of the stand in the visual landscape. Whether such could be done commercially or not would depend upon size of area, species, and any local markets. If the trees belong to the developers they may still be going to remove them as they usually do unless they have an urban forester or landscaper working with them. Many developers are lax in working with the natural landscape however.
~Ron

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2001, 12:21:30 pm »
   As far as aesthetics go, I fear this stand would be a hopeless case. No matter if all the trees were there, half, or appproaching none, they just look awful- too long and thin. But my question was (and I wish I could send you a picture) is this what they are 'supposed' to look like and perhaps are valuable timber...I very much doubt it. I can't picture 'good' trees being so shallow rooted as to be leaning on each other that way.

  I'll try to give an estimate here- but I'm not known for my accuracy (I'll get back to you if I actually get out of the beastly truck and measure them..)

If each was the diameter of a pencil (1/4"?), they would be about as tall as a new pencil (9-10"), the branches and green needles would be confined to a length about twice as long as the eraser and the eraser holder (2"), and they would be maybe 1-2"" apart.

  So if they are really 30ft tall, I'm thinking they are about 9" diameter and about 3-6ft apart, with 'clear' wood of maybe 24 ft.

  Are those good trees, or are those stickins?

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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2001, 02:31:40 pm »
Well, they could be viable trees.  Current conditions leave it in a state of stagnation.  If they continue under those conditions, then they'll just sit there, reaching for the sun.  Eventually, some will die, and then growth will resume.

It could be thinned, but not too hard.  I would suggest several light thinnings.  If you thin too heavily, there is a good chance of blowdown.  The tops of those trees are pretty dependent on each other.  Eventually, diameter will catch up to height, after the canopy is left to develop.

Some may think you should clearcut and start over.  That will put any sawtimber return out another 30-40 yrs, depending how long it would take to grow trees of that size.
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Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2001, 05:28:43 pm »
   I believe you are right about the interdependency of the tops. In the last year or so we have had several heavy windstorms, and this patch of trees shows the effects- like jackstraws. I think if many are removed, they will all come down. It is woefully true around here that even rugged, ancient trees are limited by granite under their root system. When they come down, it can be scary how shallow rooted they are. I think probably with adequate spacing (as my forester advised) during the growth phase, and with the positive stress of wind as they are developing, even shallow levels of soil will probably allow for a laterally extended root system. But these are like crowded broccoli seedlings- no way the roots can spread. And I know there is ledge under there (when we get even a very moderate earthquake, the granite transmits it very well).             LW
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2001, 06:13:13 pm »
It sounds like the wind has had some affect on these trees already from your description. This would be particularly true if the area has been opened up with exposure created by the nearby development.

As stated, any thinning should be light with only taking the windthrown or root sprung trees as salvage. Those leaning at 25 degrees or more. Do not thin the stand edges to provide wind protection and interior stand moisture.

The shallow root systems on the rock soil make these trees very susceptible to wind throw. Are they on a slope and at elevation? Climate, aspect, etc are also concerns. Have we determined what species of tree they are, spruce, pine,larch?  
~Ron

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2001, 06:35:42 pm »
Ron, I read one time that wind was an important variable in the developing strength and health of a tree. The point being, if you take two identicle trees, one growing in the out-of-doors, with the every day pulls and pushes of the wind, and one growing, say, in a mall like situation, the wind blown tree is vastly superior in strength. Kind of like working out to build muscles. I would think that being "to"protected from the wind in a group is a disadvantage.
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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2001, 11:05:44 am »
Yes, wind may make the trees stronger, but trees need to become wind firm to stand before being thinned too heavy and openly exposed to wind force. This is particularly true of shallow rooted trees such as those in many of our pine plantations on sandy soils. Soil and root depth is a factor. Trees growing on light sandy soils or bed rock may experience severe windthrow. The roots need to firmly anchor the tree as it's crown is opened up for expansion. Awareness to windthrow is needed especially when making the first thinning.
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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2001, 11:23:11 am »
O.K. grade me on this as a guess from a non forester.
    If I was thinning a stand of pine that I had an idea would be subject to wind throw because of the thinning. I would leave a "curtain" of un thinned trees on the edge of the stand that sides the prevailing winds. I would do an initial thinning lighter from the curtian to heavier to the other side, then as the trees strengthen with growth, I would thin the area closer to my wind break of unthinned trees
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Disappearing Forest?
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2001, 12:01:27 pm »
Here's one way of thinking on thinnings and wind.

The tops of the trees are intertwined.  A tree can only go so far until it is againgst another tree top.  Remove one tree, then the remaining tree has to go even further before it gets another supporting top.

There isn't too much problem, if the root system can hold it.  If it can't, then there is blowdown.

The lighter thinning means the residual trees won't go as far to get to support.

Your thinning discription might work, as long as there are no winds coming from a different direction.  I wouldn't bank on that, especially in my area.

There was a stand of very nice poplar on a south ridgeside close to me.  The neighbor to the west "thinned" his stand.  There were several large holes in his stand.  The remaining stand blew over when we had a storm that brought winds from the east.

It wasn't the first storm that brought winds from the east, just the first after the thinning.  It was also during a wet period and in the winter when there were no leaves.
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