Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Environment

I should start this post with the disclaimer that I am no expert in the field of ecology. But, I have an open, scientific mind, and believe strongly in facts, and I have seen much more history in the South Fork of the Eel Valley than most. All the branches of my father’s family have lived in the South Fork of the Eel since the 1850s. I’ve heard most all of the pioneer stories; some of them were actually true.

I like to consider myself to be an environmentalist, but I am more and more reluctant to group myself with some of those radical fuzzy thinkers out there that think that all you have to do to save a tree is simply love it. I find it amusing that the iconic redwood has become the symbol of saving a forest. The redwood tree is probably the most durable and healthy tree on the whole north coast. I would be the first to shed a tear over the thousands and thousand of old-growth trees that have already been cut, and I would be the first to agree that they cut way too many of the old-growth redwoods trees during Maxxam’s (and others) reign of destruction. However, there are still thousands and thousands of old-growth redwoods left, and indeed they need protection, but the millions of second growth trees that are now growing, are by far the healthiest trees on the north coast.

The Tan Oaks are suffering from sudden oak death, but so far it doesn’t seem to be as bad as we expected it to be. Some pepperwoods are also being sapped by sudden oak death. One of my favorite trees is the Maple tree that has the bright yellow leaves in the fall. If you look around you, you will discover that the redwoods out-number the maples by at least a thousand to one. The maple tree is mostly held back because it is a very tasty tree to squirrels and deer. Porcupines also love to strip the bark of the maple. As kids we would gather the winged seeds and throw them into the air to watch them slowly propeller-spin to the ground. On windy days we would go up on the windy ridge above my grandmother ranch and throw the winged seeds high into the air and watch them spin clear out of sight. I wonder how many maple trees that we planted as kids.

What made me start thinking about these kinds of things is a discussion that I read on another blog about how clear-cutting a redwood forest wouldn’t hurt the fish runs. I agree that it would be possible to grow even sized trees, then clear cut them, and haul then out without tearing up the ground with overhead cables. But, and this is a big but! There is far more to consider than simply the fish. Other critters are forest dwellers, and they might be impacted.

The total environment should always be considered. The flying squirrels, especially, live in old grow, and less than healthy trees. They nest in rotten cavities in the tree trunks, like only an old growth forest has. By selective cutting of harvestable trees, the old growth habitat can be maintained and valuable lumber can still be produced. The flying squirrel is just one thing to consider. There are many critters that live in a forest.

Being an environmentalist, I believe that the world is far too populated, seven billion people is way beyond a sustainable number of people. We may be able to feed and provide for that many people, with great co-operation and great care of the environment, but human nature and especially human greed will never allow the world to continue with that many people. Too many people is the worlds biggest crisis.

Having this many people means that we have to worry about what helps, and what hurts, the environment. Forest products are the best way to sustain the environment. Trees grow on sunshine, soil, and water. When they are cut and put into buildings, they are sequestering carbon. If you are somebody that is concerned about the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere, you should see the wisdom of using forest products. I believe that we can maintain a healthy forest by selective cutting and lumber production. All that it takes is to have some forest practice rules that consider ALL the environment, critters, fish, animals, plants, and yes….. Humans.

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