Forestry Friday … Art Auction Time Again!

pen and ink, vintage logging art, logging art

Circa 1940’s, loggers use a two-man chainsaw to fell a large Douglas-fir. Pen and ink.

It’s time for Mary and me to create a piece of art for charity once again. Every year we do something for the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference Forestry Education Auction. This pen and ink is my exploratory drawing for my painting. I like the direction it’s going. The tree and the background still needs some tweaking.  I was helped out by the Forest History Society. They have an excellent photo library of vintage logging scenes and were kind enough to allow me use it for art reference.

Last year at the auction Mary and I each provide a piece of art. To liven things up we competed against each other. It was a big success. You can read about it here on Mary’s blog, And The Winner Is!  In fact it was so successful that we are going head to head again this year. We’ll both be working on our paintings this weekend. I can’t wait to see the competition this year.

 

 

Wild Wednesday … Have You Herd?

The deer that live around the mill always converge on the hayfield behind the log deck in the fall and winter. This year I’ve counted as many as twenty at a time. I’ve accumulated some photos over the last few months. Typically, I’m not very close so the pictures are a little soft. They just went through the rut and the bucks will soon shed their antlers. Click on a picture to enlarge the gallery.

Wild Wednesday … Waiting For Fish

 

 

bald eagle

Scanning the Sacramento River, this bald eagle is fishing for breakfast.

I saw the eagle perched near the boat ramp scanning the river. I couldn’t get a clear picture that wasn’t full of branches. I slid down the bank next to the water. Slid being the operative word, since I almost took a morning dip. I had a clear view for this shot. The eagle never gave me a look. I wasn’t a fish!

bald eagle

Perched in the tree tops beside the river waiting for a fish.

Forestry Friday … Canyon Live Oak

Canyon Live Oak, Oak, acorns, pen and ink

Canyon Live Oak acorns in pen and ink.

Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis, is an evergreen oak of the California Sierra Nevada and Coastal Range. Its full range stretches from Mexico and Arizona north to southwestern Oregon. These trees typically prefer shallow soils like those found in steep canyons common in the low and mid elevation mountains.  Hence the name. These sites are normally poor soil quality and aren’t the best locations for growing commercial timber. Canyon Live Oak is not considered as a commercial species. Its main commercial value is as firewood. However, it has a high intrinsic value as a species important to wildlife. In forest management it is far more beneficial left on the landscape providing food, nesting and roosting habitat.

Wild Wednesday … “cat without a grin”

Bobcat

The big male bobcat slinks away.

I had to go to the mill on Monday to do log inventory. It was a holiday and there were only a few folks at work. It was unusually quiet. I drove around the backside of the log deck only to have a large bobcat cross the road in front of me. Immediately, I stopped and grabbed my camera. Standing on the seat and door handle I had a great view of the cat. He’d stopped and was looking back at me. It was perfect ….. except, I had my SLOW camera. By the time it went through its agonizing start-up cycle the bobcat crept off. I managed only one picture before he slipped away toward the river, fading like the Cheshire Cat.

`All right,’ said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. –  Alice In Wonderland 

Golden Retriever Bliss

Golden Retriever, Bliss, pen and ink, pen drawing, drawing pet portrait

Golden Retriever Portrait of Bliss in pen and ink.

We took a walk around the property on this blustery day. Here’s a gallery of our pack. Just click on a picture to enlarge.

Forestry Friday … Loggers To The Rescue

salvage logging

Skidding salvage logs to the landing in the King Burn.

This article appeared in The Economist and sums up the need and benefit of thinning the forests of the Sierra Nevada. I’ve added a few comments about it below.

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21711930-cutting-often-preferable-burning-greater-cost-can-be-offset-payments

bark beetle, larva, Dendroctonus valens

The larval form of bark beetles are what kill the tree. The adult beetle chews a nursery gallery into the tree and lays her eggs. The larva hatch and spread out from that gallery creating more galleries as they feed. During this feeding process the larva girdle the cambium of the tree causing it to die.

I really appreciate the discussion regarding water generation through thinning. I believe this is one of the least discussed benefits of practicing forestry in the West, but in California it’s one of the biggest benefits with our constant water deficits. Thinning the Sierra forests would generate an enormous amount of water for California.

When comparing the cost of controlled burning to mechanized thinning (logging) you can’t ignored the cost incurred when controlled burns get out of control. The cost differences between doing controlled burn and fighting out of control fire is enormous. I’m not saying don’t use controlled burning, but fire suppression costs need to be included when controlled burns get out of control. Controlled burning is one tool available, but cannot come close to solving the problem of all the overstock forests.

Commercial thinning that includes merchantable (larger) trees is the only economically sustainable way to accomplish the massive level of thinning that needs to be done. The author points out 52 trees per acre was the historic density of trees in the Sierra. Research has shown that the proper density for optimal growth in fully stock mature timber stands to be between 43 and 64 trees per acre depending on the size of the trees. If we remove 236 trees per acre to reach 64 trees per acre, then some of those trees have to be big enough to make a 2 x 4.  If there is enough value in the larger trees, a timber company will pay the federal government to thin the forest instead of the government paying a contractor to clean up and dispose of the unmerchantable trees.

What’s the upside? We get healthy resilient forests that are more fire resistant. Wildfires that do start are less severe, and safer and easier to control. There is more water available to the state. The wood isn’t left to rot. It is used in wood products and to generate electricity. People doing these forest related jobs see an economic benefit, particularly in the rural communities. The practice is sustainable and wood is our great renewable resource.

Lastly, some folks are going to fret over the impacts of logging at that scale. I want you to know this, timber harvests are studiously planned to mitigate the potential negative impacts they could cause. Secondly, just imagine the negative effects of these mega-fires.  I’ve seen them and their effects are staggering. I’ve yet to see one large burn ever have it’s negative impacts fully mitigated.