One of the biggest problems in the western forests of the United States is that we have too many trees. It used to be, frequent fires kept the undergrowth clear without killing the older mature trees. Fuel loads weren’t allowed to get too high. With less fuel built up in the forests, fires burned at low intensity.
Much of our forestland is choked with thickets of trees. Timber stands have grown dense from a century of full fire suppression. These thickets are susceptible to insect attack and drought stress mortality. Fuel loads in the forest are huge. The fires of today burn at such high intensity that it is difficult for firefighters to fight them safely. We are now having larger and more destructive fires, such as the Rim Fire that burned into Yosemite National Park.
Thinning so many small trees was slow and expensive, but with today’s modern logging technology we now have the ability to thin these timber stands efficiently.
First, the sawlogs are harvested for lumber. Next, the biomass is harvested and put into doodles. Biomass are the trees or tops of trees that are too small for products like lumber, poles or veneer. Doodles are harvested bundles of small trees.
The trees marked in white are the “save” trees that won’t be harvested.
Sawlogs being skidded into the landing.
The log processor manufactures the trees into logs.
The small trees are chipped into a van to be hauled to the co-generation plant and turned into electricity.
Thinning these timber stands leaves them more resistant to fire and insect attack. A healthy fire is the goal.
After all his mischief he was wiped out!
Originally posted on The Backdoor Artist:
While I was working in the office, doing some long overdue scanning. Sailor decided to dash out with a roll of toilet paper. Apparently, he already stole two rolls. Not off the rack either, he opened the cabinet door and took them out of storage.
He was pretty pleased with himself until Tim caught him red-pawed with the third roll, which was saved in the nick of time. Although, it does have some puncture holes for a breezy fresh clean . Careful where you put your fingers.
So here you have it, a teenage boy up to no good with toilet paper.
I’ve always enjoyed old time logging scenes as subjects for pen and ink. The steam traction engine in this picture is the same model as the one in my blog banner.
Horses and oxen were the first source of power for lumberjacks. Then, steam traction engines, steam donkeys and locomotives heralded the age of steam in the woods. The Best Steam Traction Engine came to the woods around 1890. There were many different makes of traction engines during that era but, the Best Steam Traction Engines were the machines that operated in our neck of the woods. They hauled logs from the woods to the mills and lumber from the mills to market. The Best Manufacturing Company was started by Daniel Best, and based in San Leandro, California. They built these tractors until 1908 when the Best Manufacturing Company was acquired by Holt Manufacturing Company. Soon after, C. L. Best, Daniel’s son, then started the rival C. L. Best Gas Traction Company. In, 1925 Holt and Best merged to become Caterpillar Tractor Company.
The first time I saw one of these machines in person, I was amazed by its enormous size. The big drive wheels are over seven feet tall. It was a huge tractor used for hauling huge loads.
This week I’m going to lighten it up. Animals are always fun and what is more fun than a playful otter, except maybe three!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted some art. I hope you like it.
These are our otters that live at the mill. They travel around the mill site from pond, to river and to canals. I never know where they are going to pop up next.
In the forest setting, otters are don’t ever become an issue during our harvest operations. They live in the water and riparian area. Harvesting is minimal in the riparian zones.
Nature is fragile or is it? Humans certainly have the ability to wreak havoc on our environment, but given time, it heals. I’m not suggesting careless disregard. I believe it’s our responsibility to be the best stewards of our natural world that we can be. The ospreys don’t mess in their nest and neither should we. My experience as a forester over the years has taught me that Mother Nature is a relentless and tough lady. In the natural environment, disturbance often equals opportunity.
In the top picture of Blitz lying next to the pole log deck, it is treeless except for the stacks of logs waiting their turn in the mill. Now look at the picture below. Blitz is sitting in a lovely pine forest. This place was a log deck too, forty-seven years ago. It wasn’t replanted by people. The surrounding forest took it back. The pines invaded this site with no help at all. I was six years old when this process took hold. Now a pine forest stands where a log deck once sat.
Today, by replanting and with proper nurturing, we replenish harvest units and the burned areas much faster than just letting nature take its course. We have a better scientific understanding of our environment and more sophisticated technology available today to manage our forests. We’ve come a long way in forest management over the last one hundred years. Trees weren’t replanted back then, but forests have grown back. Our sustainable forestry practices today are resulting in forests that are more healthy and vigorous. I’d love to see these forests a hundred years from now.
Ralph was a state forester. He’s retired now, but he’s been a friend throughout my career. He gave me my first ride along.
When I met Ralph, I was a firefighter in the summer and attending community college. I declared my Forestry Major and was preparing to transfer to Humboldt State University. I had not taken any forestry classes yet. That would start the next year. I didn’t have much forestry work experience. I knew Ralph from my job at the fire station. I asked if I could ride along with him for a day. He gladly took me up on it. I learned a lot from Ralph.
The other day I took a young woman, named Jaime, for a ride along. She’s contemplating her next career move. She is a cousin of a close friend.
The night before, Mary and I visited with our friends, Jaime, and her father. We had a wonderful conversation. Jaime recently completed her Bachelor degree at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. Now she was considering going for an environmental law degree. Mary and I were both thinking, She needs to go for a ride along. When offered, she leaped at the chance.
The next day we started out with an introduction to our company’s head research scientist, CJ. These two women hit it off famously. After an insightful conversation about environmental science, careers and education, we headed out to the mill.
We toured the mill complex where Jaime started out watching the pole plant processing logs. Next, we went through the sawmill. She asked a ton of questions about the process and took a few pictures to send to her friends back in North Carolina. After the mill tour it was back to the truck.
We headed out to look at the timberlands. Our conversation centered on forestry practices, land management and environmental issues. We started near Shingletown, looking at forestry practices, and ended the day at the Ponderosa Burn, talking about fire restoration.
Now, if I sound like the wise professional bestowing my vast knowledge from on high, let me correct that right now. This education process is a two way street. Our conversations weren’t all about forestry. I learned about all manner of issues important to her generation. We both had a fun and instructive day.
Making time for young people to go for a ride along or job shadow for a day is time well spent. A day job shadowing does something for them that a semester of school doesn’t do. It gives them a big picture of the profession. As professionals we benefit from this time too. We’re never too old to learn and they too have a lot to share.