Every time I see a news report where the reporter says loggers “chopped” down trees, I want to bang my head against the coffee table. Loggers haven’t chopped down trees since chainsaws took over the job in the 30’s and 40’s.
Chainsaws are still on every logging job, but now they share much of the tree falling duty with the feller bunchers. These machines look more like something from Star Wars. It’s not what most folks would expect on a logging job.
This machine is working on a fire salvage operation from last years wildfires. They cut trees all day long.
Life is a lot different for the loggers these days. Working in an air-condition cab is a world away for the days of axes and misery whips.
The King Fire devastated almost 98,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada, east of Sacramento. Our company lost 18,000 acres of forest. Lately, I’ve had opportunity to spend time in the burn area. There is a lot of work being done by our foresters, biologists, botanists, and others to protect the resources so the timber can be quickly salvaged in an environmentally sensible manner. Most people never get to see what is done to protect the soil, water, cultural resources, and wildlife. In the gallery are images of just some of the work being done.
There is a lot of preparation that has to be done prior to logging. It has taken a large team of resource professionals to get the job done on a project this size.
Just for children a picture book about wildfire and the forest rehabilitation that takes place after a fire. Check out, Firestorm In the Forest.
It’s day three! I was tagged to do the 3 pieces of art a day for 5 days, Art Challenge, by Mark Mitchell. The theme for today is “Old Time Logging.” I threw in a bonus picture that you may recognize from my banner. It was used for a book cover, but it makes a good banner too.
I would love to see Annerose Georgeson do the Art Challenge. I picked Annerose because of her wonderful impressionistic paintings of nature and forestry subjects. It seems like a good match to me.
Prints are available at Fine Art America.
This is the painting I donated two years ago.
This was posted at:
Prints available at Fine Art America
It was a perfect day in the woods. I was visiting a more modern logging crew.
What do you think the steam donkey crew would have said about this equipment.
I get to go to places like this when I’m at work.
Nothing like a little inspiration on the way home to prepare for painting.
Today I’m coming to you from the Trinitys. I happen to have a cell signal so I’m making this post with my iPhone. Many of you may know that we are in a severe drought here in California. You can see by the dust coming off this logging operation how dry things are. Our logging crews are suffering with the dry conditions and the dust. Full fire precautions are in effect. Fire season has been pretty brutal this summer. We’re crossing fingers and hoping for the best for the rest of the logging season.
Dust is flying, hazy smoke is in the air and Trinity Lake, in the background behind the lower left trees, is down to about 30% capacity. It’s dry dry dry out there.
Last week, I was in the redwood country of our coastal mountains. However, I wasn’t down in the parks with the gigantic and ancient trees. As you might imagine, I was in young, working redwood forests.
It’s beautiful country and full of surprises. One of the surprises you’ll find in these forests are the old stumps of the ancient forest giants that were logged over a hundred years ago.
These old stumps tell a story of the past. The stump pictured above looks like it has two eyes. The “eye” on the left is a spring-board hole. Way back when, the timber fallers would cut a notch in the tree up above the butt swell. They then wedged a board into the notch. They stood on the board, called a spring-board, to cut the tree down. Two man teams with double bit axes and cross-cut saws fell these trees. The spring boards elevated the fallers up the tree where it wasn’t as thick, making it easier to cut. That’s why these stumps are so tall.
Many of these stumps are charred on the outside. The fires that caused this may have been intentional. It was a common practice of the time, to burn the logging site after the trees were felled. They did this to eliminate slash. After the big trees were cut the slash was so deep it was difficult for a man to get through it. The fire solved this problem and left burned stumps behind.
I did a watercolor of a logger bucking a log with a cross-cut saw, which is showing in my post Misery Whip – The Final. Timber fallers on spring-board would be a good subject for an illustration. I might have to work on that. Happy Friday.
Every now and then, I come across a special tree. One that was left unharvested because it so inspired people. The landowners left this tree when they logged the property. The ones that owned it next also left it, and so it goes. This tree is 7′ 3″ in diameter at breast height (DBH). The largest Ponderosa pine on record today is 9′ 2″. The Guardian isn’t the biggest, but it’s a big BIG tree.
That’s a nice sentiment, but it won’t happen. Trees, like people, have a limited lifespan and Ponderosa pines if left to grow their natural lives rarely survive to 500 years. However, one Ponderosa was measured at 933 years. Like the sign says, “Age ?” for The Guardian.
It’s always a Kodak moment when I come across one of these forest giants. Some that I’ve seen included an 8′ plus sugar pine near McCloud, the 8′ “Mother Viola” sugar pine near Viola (now deceased from a huge wind storm), a 7′ western white pine near LaPorte and a 10′ Douglas-fir near Quincy, all in California.
If your are interested in the biggest trees in the United States, you can check out the Big Tree Registry.
Have you ever read a tree? Trees write stories for us to read, if you know how. They write their stories with tree rings. Trees grow a new ring each year. There have been many papers written on how tree rings from old trees show us climate cycles during the life of a tree. This type of study is called Dendroclimatology.
The tricky part of determining climate history from tree rings is that climate is only one variable that affects tree growth. Using tree rings to examine climate is best done with very old trees. Knowing what the forest was like around the tree as it grew, is also important. Corroboration with other old trees in the area is essential. In the early years of a tree’s life, it is often influenced much more by local factors other than climate.
Above is a cross-section of a 50-year old Ponderosa pine tree. Let’s read it. This tree doesn’t tell us about climate, it tells us about it’s neighborhood. The numbers represent the age of the tree at that particular point.
0 years – In the beginning, was the seedling. The tree seeded into an opening in the forest. Perhaps, the opening was a result of past timber harvesting or fire.
5 years – The rings were wide and the tree was growing fast. At this time, the rings began to get smaller because the young tree was starting to compete with the neighboring saplings.
20 years – The tree continued to grow at a slower rate, but the competition with the neighboring trees was really beginning to slow it’s growth. The foliage (crowns) of the trees grew together as the trees bumped into each other.
31 years – The timber stand was very dense as the trees grew together. The lower limbs died since little sunlight reached them. With fewer limbs and foliage, the tree made less energy. The tree was growing very slowly.
38 years – Something changed in the neighborhood, because this tree started growing a little faster. The timber stand may have been thinned in a logging operation, or some neighboring trees may have died from insect attack. Something reduced the number of neighboring trees. With fewer trees around it, our tree had less competition. It received a greater share of sunlight, water, and nutrients.
42 years – After a few years with less competition, the crown grew into a bigger, better, energy making factory. Upon recovering from heavy competition, the tree had the capability to grow faster.
50 years – The tree was harvested.
Now that you have seen it done, can you read a tree? Put on your detective hat and give it a try.