I’m showing off some of our Northern California fall colors. I know you folks back east are thinking “I don’t see the color!” We make do with what we have.
Here it is folks, the final! It took me a bit longer to post because we were crazy busy, but it’s ready to go.
Tomorrow night it will be auctioned to raise money for the Sierra-Cascade Environmental and Resource Fund. This non-profit educates the public, students, and teachers about the wise management of our forests.They provide scholarships for local students interested in careers in the industry. Many of the programs supported are aimed at educating the urban regions of California, about practices that assure the health of our forests.
My painting will be auctioned in competition with Mary’s Painting. She also created a painting and you can see it here, Off-Highway Hauler. During the auction folks will be bidding on both paintings at once. The high bidder gets to pick the painting they want. The other is offered to the second place bidder who can take it or pass on it. Then it goes back to bidding. I beat her last year and now she’s back looking to take me down!
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.
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.
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.
This watercolor was inspired by a chance encounter with a black bear while hunting a few years ago.
I see a lot of strange things in the woods, but one day this summer I saw a creature out there that I had never seen before. It was a cat, but not a mountain lion or bobcat and it was pink. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, it was the “Pink Panther.”
Yep, the Pink Panther was spotted by yours truly along Highway 3 on the west side of Trinity Lake. I don’t make these things up folks. There he was up a tall Ponderosa pine tree, way up!
He was about forty feet up the tree. I don’t know what he was doing up there. I don’t know how he got up there. He wouldn’t come down and he wouldn’t talk to me. So I took his picture and left him to his business.
I went by a few weeks later and he was gone. Keep and eye out, he may be coming to a tree near you!
It has been a long dry summer. We had a good rain two days ago, the first in about three months. That brought a bit of relief from the horrendous fire season California has been going through.
The logging crews have put up with terribly dust conditions, and it’s not over yet. Most of the equipment they run has climate controlled cabs, but it was just a few short years ago when they didn’t. The men would return home completely covered in dirt. Not to say they don’t go home dirty now, because they do. At least they don’t have to breathe in the dust all day.
There’s no doubt the modern logging equipment has done much to improve the safety, comfort and productivity of the crew members.
Having the crews out working in the woods during such dry condition might seem risky. However, these people are often the first ones to the fires, because they are already in the woods. They are our first responders when nearby forest fires break out.
The day I visited this operation it was 105 F, dusty and hot.