TOPIC: Question for Don Bertolette

== 1 of 8 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 4:14 am
From: "Joseph Zorzin"

----- Original Message -----
From: Bob Leverett
Sent: Wednesday, November 07, 2007 11:58 PM
Subject: [ENTS] Re: Question for Don Bertolette


I have no doubt that money was the prime motivator of the lumbermen. Always has and always will be. I was thinking more in terms of the forestry academics at Humboldt State. I didn't say that, but that was what I had in mind. Now that big Don is retired and in a reflective period of his life, I am interested in hearing his thoughts.

In therms of locally, when did clear cutting rear its ugly head? I'm surprised that the local forestry establishment decided to undertake such a risky strategy. They can quickly have their heads handed to them in Massachusetts. They must be living in a goldfish bowl.


As a certain extremely elderly industrial timber beast forester in Mass. loves to say- clearcutting was the only form of harvesting until the mid twentieth century when skidders became common. Back then most timber in this region was of relatively low value and there was still a market for fuel wood in rural New England- and there was a market for some sort of wooden boxes- I'm still not sure about those boxes, but that's what he loves to tell us about. Then, with the rapid expansion of the American economy after WWII- there arose a big market for quality hardwood. The J.W. Kelly company in Pittsfield was one of the first in the region to develop the new hardwood market- expanding until it had 7 mills in western New England and eastern NY. So, the more valuable trees were worth far more than the lower value trees. With plenty of acres to cut, it made perfect sense to just cut the best trees and move on to the next property- hence the rise of high grading.

But the industry always loved clearcutting- to them it's "clean"- and it takes no thought- in particular, it takes no forester. It's not easy nor safe to drive your skidder through the woods- leaving trees with some marginal value. Loggers really hate it when foresters leave good trees- trees that the forester won't want damaged- trees that could drop branches on your head. Russ Richardson has reported on industry "foresters" ranting against him for leaving good trees, saying, "what right do landowners have to leave such good trees?".

So, when any excuse for clearcutting comes along- the industry loves it. It seems to me that the first excuse was when the state decided that all those plantations established in the 1930s should be wiped out. The state really HATES those plantations. It's true that some were/are in poor condition. In fact, many plantations on state land were/are known as "the crooked forests"- they were Scotch pine which came from a bad seed source- almost every tree in those plantations were severely deformed. So, OK- I could see cutting most of them, while leaving a few for aesthetic reasons. <G> And, some of the red pine plantations also were rather mediocre- either because they were planted on inappropriate soils or because they were never thinned- developing into bean poles of barely alive trees. The state might claim there was no market for thinning red pine- but, they could have thinned them "precommercially" by chain saw girdling. They also seem to hate Norway spruce plantations- but I can't imagine why- most which I've seen consisted of healthy trees of good form- but, I suppose that's irrelevant to the state. The excuse is that they're "not native". Smartwood seems to be pushing this- having told the foresters at the Quabbin that they should wipe out all such plantations on that property. Thus, this viral hatred of plantations led to the first large scale clearcutting on state land -and they now had a pseudo scientific rationale. In the October Mt. State Forest they've now carried out hundreds of acres of clearcuts- beginning with the plantations and then mediocre quality hardwood stands, some of which do make sense wiping out- except for the fact that all this clearcutting is right along the main roads through the middle of the state forest- so that October Mt. now looks like a huge wasteland of clearcuts- like much of northern New England. (a side note- during the first energy crisis in the early '80s, the state made a push to sell fuel wood trees to individuals- what they called "cut-a-cord program"- one of the state's mgt. foresters hated the idea- he preferred doing big timber sales- so he tried to sabotage the idea by marking all the nice big roadside maples along miles of the roads in the middle of the state forest- which of course got residents of nearby Town of Washington in an uproar- I recall driving through the forest and couldn't believe how awful it looked with those roadside trees whacked)

Now that they're big on clearcutting, they have to further develop their rationale- now it's all about enhancing biodiversity. Clearcutting will now be a major forestry "tool" on state forests and the primary tool on state Fish & Wildlife lands.

I'm not against clearcutting where it really makes sense such as regenerating previously severely high graded stands.

The state F&W agency- at meetings a few years ago claimed that they wanted to increase stand sizes from 7 acres to 50 using even aged mgt.- which of course means clearcutting. Then, when I challenged them, asking if in fact that meant that they want to do mostly 50 acre clearcuts, they denied it- but they do claim that some clearcuts up to 30 acres or so has a place in their system. Many times at many meetings I've asked how clearcutting enhances biodiversity- they claim that some species need those huge clearcuts- despite the generally understood science that more complex forests offer more biodiversity. I do commend the state's F&W top forester, John Scanlon as he does attempt to communicate with those who dispute the clearcutting "regime". Some months ago he gave me a long list of research papers that justify this clearcutting. I've just had a chance to track down these papers and I intend to study them.

So, the answer to your question, Catheter Kid, is that it's the state which is pushing clearcutting. Though industry would love to clearcut- they find that it's not economical due to the large number of low value trees- many of which were left from THEIR previous high grading. So, on private property - clearcutting is still rare, except properties being developed. The quality of forestry work on private property is getting better as the consultants have struggled to get clients in competition with the industry- with no thanks to the state's weak and ineffective "programs". The bureau of forestry now claims that most harvesting is "long term", that is, real forestry- but, that's an exaggeration as it's not too difficult to move from high grading to "long term" simply by leaving some fair quality trees and cutting some poor quality trees- a fancier form of moderate high grading- is still the most common kind of harvesting in the state. To spoof this fancy high grading- I've written a one act play:

Now, to those who've often claimed that what happens in Mass. is irrelevant because it's just "postage stamp sized state"- in fact, having spoken to foresters all over North America, what happens here is the same as what happens everywhere- state boundaries have little significance to the "wood industry". And, what happens here in Mass. is very significant because many major progressive movements in American history started here- like the American Revolution, the early days of the abolition movement, the first public schools, the first wetland laws, etc.


== 2 of 8 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 4:43 am

Don, Bob, Joe etc:

Sometimes you guys have no idea how much I enjoy reading your posts.

As one of the only Forest Guild members in West Virginia and in a position
where I work in the woods alone most of the time and rarely have physical
contact with even remotely like-minded practitioners in forest management, I
enjoy reading that I am not alone and get some comfort in the realization that at
least among foresters there is a small cadre of individuals in the
profession that can appreciate the woods as more than a site to manufacture stumps.


== 3 of 8 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 5:19 am
From: Mollie Matteson


In the last year, I have been to several U.S. Forest Service meetings
and field trips where foresters and biologists have stated the "need"
for more large openings (i.e., clearcuts) for biodiversity. The big
focus is on species, primarily birds, that are declining in the
Northeast and are dependent on or associated with early successional
habitat. I have also communicated with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service biologist who justified clearcutting on a national wildlife
refuge in northern Vermont for the same reason. There, the project
was specifically about woodcock.

To their credit, for the most part, the projects that these agencies
are pushing right now are adjacent to existing roads, in relatively
young stands. But not all are in this way relatively "benign." On the
White Mountain National Forest, the agency is proposing going into
several inventoried roadless areas.

The F.S. folks are particularly enamored with a researcher at UMass
named David King. His work up in the Whites is apparently showing
striking responses in bird diversity with larger clearcuts (can't
remember the size now, maybe 20+ acres?).

I'm interested in hearing more from others on what they think about
this issue and how they are dealing with it. What I have been saying
to the agencies is that if there is a need for more early
successional habitat (and I am still unsure what I think about this),
then let's focus on the private timberlands. The public lands should
be the places where we allow large mature forest blocks to remain and/
or develop over time. I am worried that this new drive for/
justification for clearcutting will create more fragmentation in our
forests and diminish the pool of older forests that could become old
growth within a few decades if we left them alone.

Mollie Matteson

== 4 of 8 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 6:07 am
From: dbhguru


Thanks for the comprehensive explanation that describes the role of all parties. It's clear as a bell.


== 5 of 8 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 6:10 am
From: dbhguru


Glad we can provide you with good reading. We all think of you down there in WV. We're your Ents family.


== 6 of 8 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 6:11 am
From: "Lee E. Frelich"


In Minnesota we did a range of natural variability analysis for every major
forest ecosystem type in the state. Basically, we made estimates of the
proportion of habitat in various stages of succession under the natural
disturbance regime for each forest type and compared that to the
distribution among successional stages on the landscape, using a technique
I developed in my Ph.D. Thesis during the 1980s. In MN, we have more early
and mid successional habitats and much less late-successional habitat than
would exist under the natural disturbance regime. I don't know how such an
analysis would come out for New England. The MN analysis was actually
started by the Ecosystem Management Program at Boise Cascade Corp., and
later on the DNR and Forest Service started using it.

Although we can't go back (and shouldn't try to go back) to the so-called
natural disturbance regime, in some forest types some of the successional
stages have an order of magnitude less acreage now than before European
settlement, and that tells us that species living in that stage have much
less habitat than before. The issue in MN has evolved into whether there is
sufficient representation of all successional stages on the landscape, and
there is a lot of debate over what sufficient representation means. The
Minnesota Forest Resources Council brings together people from the timber
industry, environmental organizations, government agencies, and researchers
on a regular basis to discuss these issues at the same table and make
recommendations to the legislature.


== 7 of 8 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 7:11 am
From: "Joseph Zorzin"

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lee E. Frelich" <>
Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2007 9:11 AM
Subject: [ENTS] Re: Clearcutting (was Question for Don Bertolette)

> In Minnesota we did a range of natural variability analysis for every  major
> forest ecosystem type in the state. Basically, we made estimates of the
> proportion of habitat in various stages of succession under the natural
> disturbance regime for each forest type and compared that to the
> distribution among successional stages on the landscape, using a technique
> I developed in my Ph.D. Thesis during the 1980s.

Lee, I'm not in the habit of reading PhD thesis so I find this a bit
confusing. How do you evaluate the following: a stand that has been managed
for a long time as an uneven aged stand? It might have trees of all sizes,
possibly in patches or groups, or just randomly- this is the type of
silviculture I prefer- but, if you're counting acres in different size
classes, how do you measure this type of stand?

> In MN, we have more early
> and mid successional habitats and much less late-successional habitat than
> would exist under the natural disturbance regime. I don't know how such an
> analysis would come out for New England.

In Mass., and I suspect throughout the Northeast, it has been claimed that
most forests are in the mid aged strata, with less young forests and even
less old forests- most are even aged due to old field abandonment. I suspect
they throw in the high graded stands as even aged too- to hide the fact.
Very few forest stands have been managed for any length of time as uneven
aged- perhaps it's simply not recognized for what it is.

> The MN analysis was actually
> started by the Ecosystem Management Program at Boise Cascade Corp., and
> later on the DNR and Forest Service started using it.
> Although we can't go back (and shouldn't try to go back) to the so-called
> natural disturbance regime,

Perhaps we can't go back, but I'm not so sure we shouldn't go back, at least
for some good percentage of forests- the future old growth forests?

> in some forest types some of the successional
> stages have an order of magnitude less acreage now than before European
> settlement, and that tells us that species living in that stage have much
> less habitat than before.

Many species can inhabit more than one stage- I suspect there aren't all
that many restricted to one stage.

> The issue in MN has evolved into whether there is
> sufficient representation of all successional stages on the landscape, and
> there is a lot of debate over what sufficient representation means.

Let's just try imagining the following: what if most forest land became all
aged- due to uneven aged silviculture. Then, you'd most likely have many if
not most species of wildlife present in most stands, all other things being
equal. Not having a PhD in forestry or advanced education in systems ecology
like Gary Beluzo- despite that, I'd suggest that such complex forests that
would develop- would have great complexity and it's complexity of structure
that offers biodiversity- then again, I'm only a field forester, so what
could I know?

> The Minnesota Forest Resources Council brings together people from the timber
> industry, environmental organizations, government agencies, and researchers
> on a regular basis to discuss these issues at the same table and make
> recommendations to the legislature.

Perhaps adding a few forestry consultants who follow the principles of the
Forest Guild might spice up the meetings. <G>
(more comments below Mollie's message)

> Lee

> t 07:19 AM 11/8/2007, Mollie Matteson wrote:
>>In the last year, I have been to several U.S. Forest Service meetings
>>and field trips where foresters and biologists have stated the "need"
>>for more large openings (i.e., clearcuts) for biodiversity.

It's about time some scientists deconstruct that idea- uh, well, sure- some
clearcuts might add some variety to the landscape, but the more I read
research papers by "wildlife experts" the more I get the sense they want
most of the forest land to become even aged- via clearcutting- a system well
loved by industry due to its great simplicity and they can save money by
firing most of their foresters - yet, the irony is that this simplicity is
supposed to give us enhanced biodiversity. It makes you wonder how such a
miracle occurs. <G> Let's see- greater simplicity yields enhanced
biodiversity- hmmm, maybe if I say this over and over - it will make sense.

> The big >focus is on species, primarily birds, that are declining in the
>>Northeast and are dependent on or associated with early successional

Many of which were extremely rare or non existent in the region before the
mass destruction of the forests by the Euro invaders- so why worry about

> I have also communicated with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife
>>Service biologist who justified clearcutting on a national wildlife
>>refuge in northern Vermont for the same reason. There, the project
>>was specifically about woodcock.

Woodcock and partridge- the 2 "game birds" which now become a
rationalization for extensive clearcutting- how cute. In the town of Peru,
MA at 2,200' elevation, a huge clearcut occurred across from my house- to
inspire the partridge and woodcock to take up residence- several years
later, there are still none- both like brushy areas in the midst of other
forest types and wetlands. But when you do a clearcut, you get brush for
only a few years- then you get extremely dense sapling forests with little
brush and little "old field species"- a fact usually overlooked in the
lustful quest for more clearcuts. In fact, there now seems to be zero
wildlife there- a stand that once was a nice mixture of spruce-fir-hdw,
small fields, and an apple orchard- and yes, they cut down the orchard with
mature trees which used to bear abundant fruit! In that stand I and my
neighbors used to see bear, moose, turkey and other species- well, I did see
a chipmunk there once. <G>

>>To their credit, for the most part, the projects that these agencies
>>are pushing right now are adjacent to existing roads, in relatively
>>young stands. But not all are in this way relatively "benign." On the
>>White Mountain National Forest, the agency is proposing going into
>>several inventoried roadless areas.

Their lust for clearcuts knows no limits. <G>

>>The F.S. folks are particularly enamored with a researcher at UMass
>>named David King. His work up in the Whites is apparently showing
>>striking responses in bird diversity with larger clearcuts (can't
>>remember the size now, maybe 20+ acres?).

And, I wonder what sort of bird diversity you'd get with large uneven aged
forests- carefully managed to have healthy trees of many species of many
ages, while leaving snags, and many huge, old trees with hollows- and many
trees simply for their beauty. Nah, they probably haven't gotten around to
doing that research yet- it's too complex, takes too long- and it's not as
much fun as a humungous blown out clearcut- and it's clearly against the
party line, so funds will be scarce.

>>I'm interested in hearing more from others on what they think about
>>this issue and how they are dealing with it. What I have been saying
>>to the agencies is that if there is a need for more early
>>successional habitat (and I am still unsure what I think about this),

With uneven aged silviculture, done right, you get early successional habit
too but in smaller doses- spread throughout the forest- all mixed up with
mid aged and old aged forests. I've seen patch clearcuts as small as 1/16 of
a acre which regrew white birch, pin cherry, black cherry and other early
successional tree species and ground vegetation. Now, when I challenge the
state of Mass. Fish & Wildlife agency about this- they claim that some
species REALLY NEED 25 acre clearcuts. Well, maybe a few do, but so what? Do
the needs of a few rare species of birds which were probably not here 500
years ago necessitate humungous clearcuts, when such clearcuts clearly are
not great for so many other species, and clearly is not good economics- not
to mention extremely ugly?

>>then let's focus on the private timberlands.

We don't need humungous clearcuts on private timberlands either- though it
will continue on large industrial forest lands- because it's simpler and
more profitable in the short term- yet in the long term it isn't profitable,
which is why so much of the New England "northern forest", having been
"managed" by the wood industry, is now a wasteland being sold off to
developers. Just think if those firms had been practicing great
silviculture, leaving the best trees to advanced age- with uneven aged mgt.-
we'd now see millions of acres of extremely diverse forest land with far
greater biodiversity and worth many times as much, but nah, I must be wrong-
because the all knowing forestry establishment has claimed otherwise.


> The public lands should
>>be the places where we allow large mature forest blocks to remain and/
>>or develop over time. I am worried that this new drive for/
>>justification for clearcutting will create more fragmentation in our
>>forests and diminish the pool of older forests that could become old
>>growth within a few decades if we left them alone.
>>Mollie Matteson

== 8 of 8 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 7:47 am
From: "Lee E. Frelich"


The gist of your comments is that uneven-aged stands provide good habitat
for a lot of species and we should have more of them on the landscape.
That really agrees with range of natural variability analyses I have done
in the Midwest--what is mostly missing from the landscape are what I call
'Old multi-aged stands', which were very common in northern hardwoods,
hemlock, oak, white pine and spruce-fir forests. Under a natural
disturbance regime, they were created by individual tree deaths from old
age, and occasional storms that created scattered gaps of various sizes.
They are analogous to well managed uneven-aged stands. Except in boreal
systems with frequent crown fires, these old multi-aged stands made up
50-90% of forest landscapes under the natural disturbance regime, and it
seems to me that today we have a far lower proportion than that. My guess
is that in New England, a natural range of variability analysis would show
proportion of uneven-aged forests at least as high or higher than in the
Midwest. Because your fire regimes and storms are pretty mild by our
standards, fewer even-aged stands would be created by a natural disturbance

BTW--we do have some Forest Guild people in MN (including me), and their
presence does tend to pull the center of the debate more towards long-term


== 2 of 4 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 10:13 am
From: dbhguru


I hope all members of the list who are interested in conservation issues will carefully read your interspersed comments. They reflect your years of experience and knowledge of how to make a forest both productive and diverse. The shortcut mentality of those who favor big clearcuts needs to be exposed and you've done an admirable job of doing it. Let's please continue this thread. What are some of the techniques you employ and how do you decide how much of different tyes of habitat to manage for?

Joe, no need to apologize for your lack of an academic Ph.D. You have a field experience Ph.D.


== 3 of 4 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 11:41 am

While it's somewhat different out here in the west, there is rational and logic associated with timber harvests which 'mimick' the temporal and spatial disturbance regimes of the region, east or west.
Thinking of Massachusetts, known wind event cycles come to mind...variable size openings are created with each hurricane's passage, in a cyclic fashion across the New England landscape. Choosing the shapes and sizes consistent with that of the wind events provides the surrounding environs (flora/fauna) with a disturbance cycle that the area has shown over time, sufficient resilience to restore itself. Ground disturbances should be scaled to match that expected of tipover mounds and pits...soil compaction should be avoided.
Here in the west, we also have wind events, but usually they play a secondary role. These days, wildfires (ALWAYS exacerbated by the role that winds play!) are headlining our natural disturbance news. They also have variable shapes and sizes, variable burn severities (degrees of resource destruction), and restoration return cycles.
Re fragmentation, my concern is that main tenets of conservation biology are followed...fragmentation (particularly when mimicking natural disturbance regimes) is less of an issue than maintaining unbroken wilderness areas with substantial continuous connections with other wilderness areas. I think that the myth of squirrels being able to travel by treetop from Florida border to Maine/Wisconsin has been sufficiently debunked.
But, as you say, by all means protect what old-growth areas we have left, especially if they can be surrounded by marginal old-growth buffers.

== 4 of 4 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 12:43 pm
From: Larry

Don, The Southern Forests are clear cut with a vengeance. One
advantage we have is the rapid growth that can take place it just a
short time. I think that is another reason they get cutover! What I
don't understand is why are we letting our national forests and parks
fall to pieces! We must stand together and stop these bad practices. I
have learned a great deal for all you guys and gals, but until you go
deep in a forest you just don't get the whole picture! To bad we
couldn't take Congress in and show them! Its almost to late, but
thanks to people like ENTS there will always be someone watching!

TOPIC: Clearcutting (was Question for Don Bertolette)

== 1 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 1:09 pm
From: "Joseph Zorzin"

Though hurricanes have certainly done some damage in New England- in
particular central New England from that nasty one in the '30s (?) which
leveled thousands of acres- the suggestion that hurricanes were widespread
and thus were a primary cause of forest regeneration throughout the region-
I believe, is not proven. Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA makes a big deal
of hurricanes since much of their several thousand acres was "reset" by that
hurricane - but I haven't seen one yet in western Mass. in my 58 years.

Actually, I don't know either- but it would be interesting if any
researchers have addressed the question of just how much of the New England
forest in 1491 originated from hurricanes.



== 2 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 3:10 pm

In partial answer to your posted question below, I'm cutting/pasting the following snippet (italics are mine):

"We applied this method to New England, USA, examining hurricanes since European settlement in 1620. Results showed strong regional gradients in hurricane frequency and intensity from southeast to northwest: average return intervals for F0 damage on the Fujita scale (loss of leaves and branches) ranged from 5 to 85 years, average return intervals for F1 damage (scattered blowdowns, small gaps) ranged from 10 to more than 200 years, and average return intervals for F2 damage (extensive blowdowns, large gaps) ranged from 85 to more than 380 years. On a landscape scale, average return intervals for F2 damage in the town of Petersham MA ranged from 125 years across most sites to more than 380 years on scattered lee slopes. Actual forest damage was strongly dependent on land-use and natural disturbance history. Annual and decadal timing of hurricanes varied widely. There was no clear century-scale trend in the number of major hurricanes.
"The historical-modeling approach is applicable to any region with good historical records and will enable ecologists and land managers to incorporate insights on hurricane disturbance regimes into the interpretation and conservation of forests at landscape to regional scales."

as taken from: 
Landscape and Regional Impacts of Hurricanes in New England
by Emery Boose, Kristin Chamberlin, David Foster

My comments are not meant to diminish the importance of your 58 years in the area (remarkable continuity compared to us westerners!), but to point out that much of what goes on in our forests occurs in temporal scales that extend beyond our own lifetimes...which is NOT to say that what you or others do, has no effect...we can accomplish great things almost as easily as we can wreake havoc!

== 3 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 3:30 pm

I was a timber marker in the late 80's on the Daniel Boone NF, and have a sense of the historical impacts of ownership...the Redbird Ranger District (was a Purchase Unit when I was there) was originally owned by Ford Motor Company in the early 1900's, and subsequently by Peabody Coal. During those ownerships, considerable resource extraction occured (timber/coal) and significant reclamation and revegetation was needed to repair increasing damage to the landscape hydrology. The Redbird Purchase Unit was initiated to reclaim the strip mines, and through silvicultural efforts mitigate what havoc the logging practices wreaked.
For my part, carrying 50 pound sacks of lime, followed by 50 sacks of chemical fertilizers up to the strip pits was part of the 'hands-on' reclamation. The silviculture practiced then was to create even-aged stand compartments that favored existing high value species, through coppice reproduction. Compartments varied widely in size and shape and were predominantly based on species dominance/topography.
I haven't been back (I was there from 1984-1989), so I can't relate the success of my efforts, but I can tell you with high confidence that I jerked out a lot of sweat in those five wasn't for lack of trying!

== 4 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 5:56 pm
From: Gary Smith

What do you fellows think of clear-cutting a patch of timber and then
planting back to the species that originally dominated the same site?

For example, cutting a patch of loblolly pine and then planting the
same ground back to longleaf pine, which was the species that
dominated the same site back in pre-settlement days.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I can't see anything much wrong with that. It
might look ugly as hell for a few years, but then it gets back to the
way it was supposed to be all along. At the same time, native grasses/
understory can be be restored to gradually approach what the entire
ecosystem looked like way back when.

== 5 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 6:36 pm
From: dbhguru


I can relate to what you are talking about. Simply put, clear-cutting makes sense where it makes sense. The problem I see is that those advocating its widespread use to create wildlife habitat often overstate their case and don't thoroughly investigate alternatives that could provide the same specialized wildlife habitat plus meet other important objectives. This is where the experience of field foresters like Joe Zorzin, Russ Richardson, Ehrhard Frost, Michele Wilson, invaluable. They know how to make things happen on the ground.

In the case of taking down loblolly pine to recreate longleaf pine habitat. Go for it.


== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 1:57 am
From: "Joseph Zorzin"

A major disadvantage of planting is that's very expensive. Who will pay for
it? Whenever possible, IMHO, good forestry means let nature plant the trees.
Even if the desired species isn't close by, if it's an ideal site for that
species- somehow mother nature seems to find a way.... I recall a Guild
visit to the Quabbin Reservoir in Mass. The forester, Bruce Spencer, showed
us some locations where he planted oak and they didn't take well, but in
other areas where they were not planted- they planted themselves even though
mature oaks were not close by. The problem on the Quabbin had been excessive
deer population due to a no hunting rule. Once hunting was allowed,
regeneration occurred abundantly.

Certainly if funding can be found, and it's strongly believed that "natural
regeneration" won't happen any time soon- or that invasives might take over-
or the site is critical for other reason- then go for it.

Once the "original" species has reclaimed the site, either by planting or
naturally- then it should be possible to keep it their via smart
silviculture, without further "artificial" planting.

As to loblolly being the original species there- is it possible that it
wasn't the original dominant species there before the arrival of Indians?
The thought that much of the American southeast was "naturally" pine species
seems odd- in such a wet climate, it seems to me that it would have been a
much more mixed forest with dominate hardwoods prior to man made fires.


TOPIC: Clearcutting (was Question for Don Bertolette)

== 1 of 15 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 3:26 am
From: "Mike Leonard"


Some studies have shown that clearcuts larger than 10 acres or so can
cause soil nutrient depletion along with the disappearance of
mycorrhizae which aid trees in the uptake of water and nutrients. Thus
future forest productivity may be negatively affected a bit by very
large clearcuts. Other studies have shown that the mycorrhizae
recolonize quickly and there isn't much nutrient loss. In addition, the
Quabbin Reservoir also did a study on how much coarse woody debris
should be left on the forest floor to for nutrient recycling when they
were liquidating their red pine plantations and came up with 2
Huge clearcuts like the flattening of whole townships in Maine in the
70's and 80's doesn't happen anymore in the NE, but the MA Fish &
Wildlife Dept. is promoting clearcuts of up to 25 acres which I think is
too big. I would prefer 5 acres at the most. In badly degraded stands
(those that have been high-graded more than once), then it is sometimes
better to cut all the junk that's left and start over. But promoting
clearcutting as some sort of panacea to improve the populations of
neotropical songbirds, etc. has been vastly overstated. Better to kill
all the feral cats and all the house cats that kill millions of birds
every year! (or tie a bell around your damn cat to scare the birds
away!) There are also countless miles of "edge" along our roads. Mowing
regimes along our roads can be adjusted for the birds.

As Joe says, it takes no thought to arrange a clearcut. Just flag or
paint the boundaries of the cut and call in the machines. Much easier
and cheaper than having a forester judiciously mark each tree to be cut.
Even a caveman could do it!

Yes I've seen how well the clearcuts have regenerated in the WMNF. From
a viewpoint, they look a different shade of green. Up close newer
clearcuts are thick with northern hardwood regen. Some paper companies
used to spray to kill the hardwoods since they preferred spruce-fir but
not anymore.

Small clearcuts may be appropriate on industrial forest land but you
could never sell them to the small woodlot owner (10-200 acres). At best
they might buy into 2 acre patch cuts to create more uneven age classes.

It would be much better to encourage landowners to reclaim old fields or
keep existing fields open since if left alone to grow back, non-native
invasive plants often colonize which could also be a drawback to
clearcutting (in southern New England - not so much in northern New
England where the invasives are much less of a problem).

In sum, clearcutting should be used only when necessary and the openings
kept small.


== 2 of 15 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 3:45 am
From: "Mike Leonard"

Don, Joe;

Yeah Harvard Forest did what I thought was a stupid experiment. They
pulled down a bunch of trees on purpose to simulate a hurricane to study
how the forest recovers, etc. Why do that? It's all in the historical
record anyway. They also did a study on high-grading (North Quabbin
Timber Harvest Study) but they copped out on the conclusion.
Anyway hurricanes have had a significant impact on forests in southern
New England. About once every hundred years or so a big one comes. The
pit and mound topography you see in the forest is old blowdowns rotted
away. Check out Tom Wessels "Reading the Forested Landscape-A Natural
History of New England". An excellent book but like Harvard Forest,
Tommy cops out with respect to the devastating impact that high-grading
has had on the forest.
In my travels in the backwoods the biggest trees of course usually
predate the 1938 hurricane and these are located on the lower slopes
that afforded more protection from the big wind of '38.
The management plan for the 55,000 acre Quabbin Reservoir Watershed
seeks to produce a multi-aged forest that will be more resilient when
the next big wind comes.


== 3 of 15 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 5:05 am
From: "Joseph Zorzin"

Yes, a major reason to clearcut is that it's a no brainer - a second reason
it's pushed by "wildlife experts", though not explained to the public, is
that hunters LOVE clearcuts because they think it will be easier to find
deer. After all, state fish & wildlife agencies are in the business of
serving the hunting and fishing crowd, which is why I humorously refer to
those agencies as Hook 'n Bullet agencies.

Hunters love to park their macho pickup trucks along a road and not have to
drive too far- to a spot where they can see a long distance, such as through
a recent clearcut, without having to walk too far, which of course is hard
work- and it's easier than sitting up in a tree waiting for your prey to
walk by, a behavior I find unmanly- at least ENTS people climb trees to
measure them and for the thrill of course. And, if the hunters get lucky and
succeed in blasting a chunk of hot lead into the body of a soft, warm,
cuddly creature like a deer- it should be easier get it out through the
clearcut than through deep woods.

I also think many hunters are actually somewhat fearful of "deep, dark"
forests. Over the years I've talked to many hunters and many have said, "you
mean you go deep into the woods without packing iron?". They're amazed that
I do so- despite those deep, dark woods having "dangerous" animals like
bears, snakes, possibly mountain lions, coyotes and others.

OK, I'm exaggerating- I have no beef with hunters- it's their karma when
they blow away a beautiful creature, not mine. It's just that I think the
Hook 'n Bullet agencies love clearcuts because hunters love clearcuts- yet
they don't say that, they say that it's to enhance biodiversity. In fact, I
believe the mission statement of the state of Massachusetts's Hook 'n Bullet
agency is specifically to enhance biodiversity- but, then again, who do you
think wrote that mission statement if not the committee's set up to do so-
appointed by politicians- and who gets appointed to such a committee if not
people friendly to the hunters who love clearcuts? (showing my cynical view
of governments- which I happen to believe are nothing more than fancy Mafia

We all know that government is loaded with disinformation, especially
regarding foreign policy- but this is also true when it comes to natural
resource agencies- which is why a few of us specialize in deconstructing the
official nonsense such agencies pump out to justify their juicy careers.

PS: I notice now on cable TV there are channels dedicated to hunters- you
can now thrill to watching them hunt- usually 2 or more will go out wearing
microphones so you can listen to their profound strategies: "yo, Billy Bob,
see dat big buck up yonder? Let's git him." One day I watched a hunter "bag"
a mountain lion- the hunter sat down next to his prize- and, believe it or
not, while raving what a beauty is is, he started petting it! I almost threw

== 5 of 15 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 5:39 am
From: Gary Smith


Longleaf pine, not loblolly pine, was the dominant upland species
across much of the lower South in pre-settlement days. With exceptions
for floodplains, it stretched all the way from east Texas to the
Carolinas and on up into parts of Virginia, if I'm not mistaken.

And all fires are not man made, though you are right about the Indians
using them. Natural fires from lightning strikes can and have
occurred. These fires once slowly burned across much of the South for
days and weeks on end.

It is very interesting, the relationship between longleaf pine and
fire. The long needles, the resins that encouraged fires, etc.

It was interesting to see some of the loblolly and slash pine
plantations in coastal Mississippi after Katrina, snapped like match
sticks. The longleaf pine, the golden oldie of the area, stood up
much, much better. I was told by foresters down that way that roughly
70% of the longleafs remained standing in areas where nearly all the
loblolly went down. It is also a tree that holds up much better
against the Southern pine beetle, black turpentine beetle, etc.

From what I've read, the U.S. Forest service is returning to longleaf
pine in many areas down South and yes, assistance in plantings is
sometimes possible. Because of the "grass stage" that the longleaf
goes through before terminal growth and the modern day suppression of
fires that it needed to dominate back in the pre-settlement days, if
one waits for natural regeneration in the face of the more aggressive
loblolly, sweet gums, oaks, etc, they will be waiting a long time in
many situations.

I could go on and on, and hope I made at least a bit of sense, but
gotta hit the road. Love them longleafs. :-)

Gary S.

== 7 of 15 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 6:19 am
From: Josh


Longleaf pine was THE dominant forest type in the Southeast Coastal
Plain, covering over 22 million acres from Louisiana to SE Virginia.
The great thing about longleaf restoration is that fire is a very
efficient tool for accomplishing it. It there are nearby longleaf
stands, the planted loblollies can be cut, the remnants burned, and
loblollies, wiregrass and the fire dependent species return.
Lightning from summer thunderstorms was the engine for most fire in
longleaf pine forests - remember, though recieving high rainfall, the
coastal plain has sandy substrates and dries out quickly, resulting in
frequent (3-5yr) low-intensity fire.


== 9 of 15 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 6:32 am
From: "Ray Weber"

Managing a forest to resist hurricanes, the various thunderstorm and derecho events,
and tornado's is unproven rubbish.

Normal level winds from microbursts, weak (EF0 to EF1) tornado's, and hurricane winds
under 90 mph (all you will ever see in most of New England), will only take out
trees that are weak, with defects, or with poor root systems. Gee that sounds like
natural management doesnt it? The better trees will stay, even aged stands or not.

Once you get to a critical level, which varies from site to site, usually around 100-110 mph,
everything will go. The 1938 hurricane produced winds at that level in some places, but not
most of the inland ones.

A tornado that hits this level will take out anything and everything, matter not how even
aged it is. It looks like a huge vacuum cleaner went through. Derecho's are particularly good
at blowdowns, as seen in Lee's area quite often. Example: The Adirondack state forest
blowdown in 1995. They have to hit the 90+ mph range normally to do a blowdown, or else 
they will take out just the weaker ones.

Events that cause that level of damage are very rare, at least in New England. The far
far majority of events fall into the lower wind speed levels that manage rather than
destroy. I produced data for Agawam back to 1850, detailing the wind speed that
affected the forest there. Its been exposed to virtually everything, derecho, hurricanes,
and even an F3 tornado. The F3 tornado is the ONLY event that produced any level
of serious wide area damage. It was a path about 200 ft wide by 3 miles or so, then it
degraded into a microburst. It destroyed about 10 acres of forest, totally in that
path. Tornado's will not destroy wide areas. Only a hurricane, or derecho that
contains multiple microbursts will accomplish that task.

Forests that are left intact will resist normal wind damage since they provide more
deflection and absorbing of wind, rather than open areas with less targets. DCR did
a test cut on the Mt. Holyoke range that shows what happens when you open up
or overcut forest. The big seed trees left had their roots exposed, and there were
less deflections, resulting in the wind taking out quite a few of the big seed trees left
during a microburst. Winds only hit 70 mph maximum. You can see this also
at October Mountain, where trees left have been blown over by wind now that
they are exposed. Its a delicate balance, and not one that uneven aged management
is going to fix.


== 11 of 15 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 7:18 am
From: "Joseph Zorzin"

I agree- yet, this is now part of the forestry party line, especially coming
from Harvard Forest. The real hurricane to worry about is the hurricane of
high grading. Just imagine a force that blows through the forest removing
the healthiest, nicest, most valuable trees- leaving the deformed,
defective, sickly, low value trees- that's what high grading does- yet, it's
often done in such a way that it doesn't really look all that bad to the
naive- to the naive, it might look as good as great silviculture, since they
see that some trees are left- the forestry establishment has worked very
hard to come up with "best management practices" (which are neither best nor
are they mgt. practices) to teach loggers to minimize ruts, damage to
residual trees, minimize erosion, minimize fire hazard, minimize damage to
boundaries, prevent damage to wetlands and rare species, etc.... in order to
MAKE IT LOOK BETTER to get the enviro/eco crowd off the back of the "wood
producers" (who don't produce wood- they produce wood products- it's the
forest which produces the wood, with the help of foresters) - the
establishment has done virtually nothing to ensure proper silviculture, in
order to have future forests be "healthy" and wealthy in the interest of the
forest owner, society at large, the well being of the forest. Instead, they
now push for massive clearcutting.

Instead, forests can and should be managed for complexity to enhance real
biodiversity and to make them more economically productive over the long
term- based on growing trees with very high stumpage values- something that
may hurt the local wood industry and even put them out of business, but so
what? The forest doesn't belong to the local wood industry. Uneven aged
forests with many species will do this- but, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton,
"it takes a forester". <G>

There is absolutely NO CONFLICT between the most sophisticated kind of
eco-forestry and the very best enhancement of the wealth producing capacity
of the forest for the forest owner- NONE- only in the minds of the idiots
who run the forestry world. They always make it seem like there is this
conflict- they love to say really stupid things like: "you like wood,
dontcha? you use toilet paper dontcha? then stop trying to influence our
sophisticated, science based forest management" as if what they're pushing
is forest management, rather than just enhancing the short term profits of
the wood industry and the joy of hunters.

(oh... I think I've had too much coffee this morning- it tends to enhance my
testosterone levels- which causes me to rant against the forestry Holy
Mother Church <G>)


== 12 of 15 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 7:32 am
From: "Ray Weber"

One thing that often cannot be seen, that plays an important part, is
the root structure. That plays a big part in determining if a tree
will blow down or not, and usually can't be easily evaluated until it
blows over.


== 13 of 15 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 7:33 am
From: "Joseph Zorzin"

But, would it have been dominate if there were no humans on this continent
starting fires? I suspect not- just a wild guess. <G>



== 15 of 15 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 9:01 am
From: Elisa Campbell

A few years ago I bought a book about the how the southern forests
"recolonized" the land as the ice retreated after the Ice Age - which
species had apparently remained (their seeds were available), etc. As I
recall, among the first to recolonize the receeding tundra and
grasslands was hop hornbeam. I think the book was called "Forests in
Peril" but I've given it to another forest lover who has a smaller
book-buying budget than I do :-)
so I con't be sure. Anyway, if you can find it, it's an interesting
informative book.


"I got a simple rule about everybody.
If you don't treat me right, shame on you."
Louis Armstrong

TOPIC: Clearcutting (was Question for Don Bertolette)

== 1 of 11 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 9:37 am
From: "Ray Weber"

That will work for minimal events, but not for the big events I mentioned.
For example, the F4 tornado at Great Barrington took EVERYTHING including
grass from the path it hit, exposing dirt and rocks. The F3 at Robinson ripped
trees out and threw them considerable distances. Those events are rare, and the
odds of having that kind of blowdown are lower than hitting the lottery. To scare the
public into a need for harvesting because "If we dont, wind will blow it all down" is
ridiculous. The far most likely events dont need management, they manage


== 2 of 11 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 9:44 am
From: "Ray Weber"

Mike I think I need to make it clear, Im not against Even aged management,
its very appropriate for a lot of sites. Im against using it to convince the
public it is needed and MUST happen, or the forest will all blow down.
The case in point had plenty of understory growth present already, but
the tactic was to claim management was needed for wind resistance in
the future, which was not valid in this case.


(was Question for Don Bertolette)

The silvicultural practice of uneven aged management is not to grow a
hurricane resistant forest which is rather unlikely as you suggest, but
rather to promote different age classes so the younger seedlings, saplings,
etc. will be there to grow into a new forest if and when the overs tory is
blown over. Otherwise, a new forest will take much longer to develop when
the big wind comes.

== 3 of 11 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 9:52 am
From: "Ray Weber"

Interestingly enough, I do note that this particular harvest was
a shelterwood harvest, which is an EVEN aged management
strategy to begin with. Not sure how they can say they are managing
for wind resistance at this site anyway using that!!


== 4 of 11 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 10:02 am
From: "Mike Leonard"

Yeah Joe the "Hurricane of High-grading" has been much worse than any
natural hurricane.
I suggested that this should be a new diorama at the Fisher Museum at
Harvard Forest, but alas I guess the powers that be there didn't think
it that important. But the fact is that it has been the major negative
influence on private forest land all across the eastern US. But since
state forest bureaucracies allow anyone to do forestry work, the
"Hurricane of High-grading" is what you get. If they had to try and
survive selling improvement cuttings on high-graded lots, I bet they'd
change their tune real quick.

Well I checked on one of my chipper crews this morning and yeah I'm not
following the 2 cord/acre of coarse woody debris rule left on the forest
floor, but often times aesthetics are more important to small
landowners. There's still some scattered brush, etc and only about 1/3
of the volume was taken out of this lot that had never been cut in a
century. Nutrient recycling is important but taking out the crummy pine,
red maple, and low quality oak while leaving most of the best red oak
and pine is far more important and its not easy finding good operators!
If you're taking out less than 1/2 the volume, then this nutrient
recycling bit is less important than if you were clearcutting. It's
always good to do it right the first time! I even flagged around a
diseased beech grove where there is a colony of pileated woodpeckers so
the operator wouldn't disturb those magnificent birds.

Are we in a timber depression? Check out
Hemlock at $18/MBF east and $10/MBF west of the CT River! At $10/MBF
that's equivalent to cordwood value! No wonder why Mitch and Scott are
sending all the hemlock through the chipper! Prices for the two most
important timber species here red oak and white pine have been cut in
half! I guess this is why I live a hand to mouth existence! Biomass


== 5 of 11 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 12:00 pm
From: dbhguru


Yes, the simple-minded assertion that "If we don't harvest the trees at Robinson, wind will blow them all down" is an example of a very misguided, ill-conceived public relations effort launched by the Bureau of Forestry to win public support for Green Certification-motivated timber sales. Were I an employee of the Bureau, I would be mightily embarrassed at the the amateurishness of the effort. The Bureau treats the publc as if we're all absent of our wits. I think we know where the lack of wits resides. The problem with the Bureau is that their answer to everything is a timber sale. They literally have no solution to problems beyond planning timber sales.


== 6 of 11 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 12:28 pm
From: "Joseph Zorzin"

It's that ancient hatred instilled into all baby foresters- to absolutely
HATE "overmature" trees with a passion- and to love heavy cutting in order
to "regenerate" baby forests. When you train people to think a certain way
or to do a certain type of work- that's what they think and do- this is the
problem with any sort of education that is NOT LIBERAL- all these specialty
trades and professions- they find it hard to think on their own- especially
when following the party line is how you advance in your career- such as
Jim DiMaio, our state Chief Forester who spent over 30 years in the USFS
before becoming the state Chief. You don't do 30 years in such agencies by
thinking on your own.

Forestry education really needs to be massively overhauled- as I've
suggested many times, with little support (not counting Bob Leverett of
course <G>)- it should start with an undergrad "pre-forestry" education in
biology and ecology- then and only then should you go to "forestry
professional school", where you'll learn ecoforestry infused with a
sophisticated understanding of the rates at which trees can produce value-
in order to be able to have your cake and eat it to. <G>

Regarding that tornado that hit Gt. Barrington area- back in what, 1996?- it
did massive damage to several of my client's forests. One was a gem- a 25
acre stand of near old growth white pine. Almost all of the pine were
"overmature"- but in the early '90s I carried out a "silviculture project"
there- I only marked a third of the basal area. The logger did a great job.
A few years after that harvest, the tornado wiped it out- leaving several
hundred huge trees all piled up like the "pick up sticks" game. I got the
same logger back to clean up the mess. That was very dangerous work since
the trees were piled up in a mess- many broken and half sprung- it seemed
that the entire mess of trees was all in a big knot- that moving any of it
might unleash a chain reaction.


PS: regarding forest policy- in college I took a course on forestry policy-
at that time, I just wanted to get a good grade, so I did something
reprehensible- I looked up the prof's PhD thesis then I did my final term
paper- more or less paraphrasing his brilliant ideas from his thesis- and of
course I got an "A" in the course. I should have learned from that. In other
courses, I constantly challenged what they said and was often accused of
being "radical". A prof. McConnell taught "forest management", the
penultimate forestry course- in one of his lectures (back in '71 I think) he
ranted against the class saying, "your generation has no character" (that
is, he hated hippy radicals) as the crew cutted 'Nam vets in the class
cheered - I stood up and ranted back, "your generation is napalming innocent
people working in their rice paddies". His Scottish complexion turned bright
purple and the other students were aghast that I would dare say that -
potentially ruining my career opportunities. I got a kick out of. <G>

== 9 of 11 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 5:42 pm

On other forums that I participate in, they usually apologize when they hijack a thread, but I don't mind, we're casual, you just saw a good straight man and an easy segue, and you were off and's just that the high-grading thing is not something new, it's been the history of logging just about everywhere in the's as pure as economics gets...minimize costs, maximize profits.
Let me go on record as never having been an actual part of high-grading, I'm against it, I support your campaign to eliminate it, but for godsake man, we're the choir...

== 10 of 11 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 5:52 pm

Feeling a little responsible for starting this thread, I wanted to make a quick comment here...I started out suggesting that IF a clearcut was the chosen silvicultural treatment, then it should mimick the size, shape and perodicity of natural disturbances in that region, then went on to comment about natural disturbances...I cited the Harvard Forest study because it provided the periodicity for the region, and some data about the nature of that disturbance (simulated wind events...).
I agree, managing a forest to resist hurricanes is akin to (hmmm, I was about to say wizzing in the ocean to raise sea level, but Bob L might be sensitive about such an issue...;>)

TOPIC: Clearcutting (was Question for Don Bertolette)

== 1 of 4 ==
Date: Sat, Nov 10 2007 3:37 am
From: Beth Koebel

Near a very small town of Stans, Austria (about 25
miles east of Innsbruck) a tornado ripped across the
valley, down one side and up the other side, about 30
years ago. You can still make out the path today.
Austia didn't and doesn't go around clearcutting all
its forests down in order to prevent the trees from
getting blown over.

I think that Austria would have a less of chance of a
tornado that NE but even here in the midwest, torando
alley, we don't clearcut the forest to prevent them
from being blown down.


== 3 of 4 ==
Date: Sat, Nov 10 2007 5:19 am
From: "Joseph Zorzin"

----- Original Message -----
From: Bob Leverett

> I hope all members of the list who are interested in conservation
> issues will carefully read your interspersed comments. They reflect your
> years of experience and knowledge of how to make a forest both productive
> and diverse. The shortcut mentality of those who favor big clearcuts needs
> to be exposed and you've done an admirable job of doing it. Let's please
> continue this thread. What are some of the techniques you employ and how
> do you decide how much of different tyes of habitat to manage for?

Actually, I keep it all rather simple- working with small properties, I
don't have the luxury of thinking about designing an array of habitat types-
but, I suggest even attempting that is "thinking too much". Instead, when
I'm marking a stand, I simply do it on a tree by tree basis. If a stand is
fully stocked- any stand, young, old, whatever mix of species- and whatever
its passed history- once it's fully stocked (at the "A" level of stocking
from a forester's point of view)- I unconsciously use what I call the "1/3
rule"- that is, I lower the basal area by about a third. I do that by
removing the 1/3 of the trees which are producing value at the lowest level
(that is, based on return on existing value). By this method- the stand will
be more economically productive that before. Trees of all sizes and species
are removed- while trees of all species and sizes will remain. The stand
remains at least as diverse as before and with more value producing
capability. Some very nice, very valuable trees are left if they still have
sufficient "productive juice" in them. Not marking such very valuable trees
hurts when the bills are piling up- but, it's not my objective to grab the
wealth now (for the owner and myself). But, just knowing that if I mark a
veneer quality tree could put $50 in my pocket for 5 seconds of work, the
devil begins whispering in my ear ("don't worry Joe, nobody will notice or
care, the owner will probably like the extra money, the state guys couldn't
care less, the SAF will cheer you, the logger will like you- and those bills
are piling up"). Then the angel whispers in my other ear (no, Joe, don't do
it- it's against the Guild's "first principle"- it's high grading- you'll
lower biodiversity- the future owner will earn much less- the children 7
generations in the future will have an inferior planet- and you'll earn so
much bad karma that you'll reincarnate as a Republican- and you surely don't
want that". So, the choice can be tough, but that last bit by the angel
usually works. <G> What's amazing is- that if temptation succeeds for people
in other trades and professions- there's almost always a more direct price
to pay- people will find out- but in forestry, when the devil convinces you-
there is no price to pay, other than that bad karma.

When I say I reduce the stand by a third- it's not just the stand as a
whole, it's throughout the stand, as uniformly as possible- so, when I'm
marking, I try to see only the trees within a small circle and reduce the
basal area within that circle- as I move, the circle moves, so it gets
complicated- the decision on each tree is a function of that tree and the
other trees within that circle surrounding that tree. So, it's never just
about an individual tree- the decision that a tree is "mature" is always
about CONTEXT. If I happen to find, say, 3-4 trees close together that I
feel should all come out (such as a group of large highly defective pines)-
I'll mark few other trees in that area, so that any imaginary circle dropped
anywhere in the stand will almost always show a 1/3 marking of the basal
area. This has always been my theory- so one day I decided to go into a
stand that I had recently marked but had not yet been cut and took 10 prism
plots. Not only did the % that was marked for the entire stand come to 1/3
but on most of those plots it was 1/3.

So, again, the theory is to continually enhance both the diversity of the
forest AND long term ability of the stand to produce economic value- not so
much in terms of dollars per year, but rate of return on existing value. I
hold that this fusion of ecological concern AND hard core concern for the
financial side of the work is the method that should be used for most
harvesting. I believe most arguments for clearcutting (in the NE that is)
are nuts- ecologically and economically, the same for diameter limit
harvesting. The real proof is the results. Whereas the established view is
that you grow a timber stand, then wipe it out- either all at once or in a
series of shelterwood cuts- then start over. By this method, the average
value of timber at any point in time is NOT much. By always leaving valuable
trees and building up that value and never removing much of that value- the
average value over time is much higher- which in essence means that there is
more investment in the forest.

It's as if you started off with a dollar in the bank. You could let it grow
to $2, then remove it all, then start over again by adding a penny. Or, you
could let it get to $2, then lower the investment to $1.35, then let that
grow to $3, then drop it to $2, then let that grow to $4, then drop that to
$3, etc., etc. A fusion of hard core capitalism and eco considerations.

As to the suggestion that the owner might be a little old widow in need of
surgery or a family with the kids going to college, so they need to whack
the forest to raise the money- that's absurd- in a case like that it's not
too difficult to alter the method so that instead of lower the basal area by
a third, perhaps it could go down by 50-60% but still leaving the trees with
the most potential to grow value as a function of existing value- and, by
marking all of the poor quality trees- the final sale price will be close to
or exceed the liquidation value- without destroying the golden goose- but
when that golden goose is cooked, there is a measurable loss of net present
REAL ESTATE value to the property. And, if the forest is so damaged, there
is an unmeasured lost to all society and the planet. If the owner continues
to insist, as the Forest Guild's First Principle says, it's best to walk

But, back to the question of habitats- I don't really have to think too hard
about it- just leave the forest in good shape, with ever larger trees over
time- and of course, leaving snags and hollow trees, and good buffers along
wetlands, etc. Such uneven aged forests, I hold, are far superior for most
wildlife species- as you have large, healthy trees producing mast/seeds,
openings for browsers, hollow trees for dens, a mix of species- a very
complex forest- not an autopoietic forest, but the second best thing. <G>
(or should that favorite term of Gary Beluzo be "auto- poetic"?

> Joe, no need to apologize for your lack of an academic Ph.D. You have
> a field experience Ph.D.

Of course my saying that was deeply tongue in cheek- but I won't elaborate.

TOPIC: Clearcutting
== 2 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 6:53 am
From: "Lee E. Frelich"


All changes in successional and/or developmental status of a forest favor
one set of wildlife species and disfavor another set of species (and there
may also be a few species insensitive to successional or developmental stage).

Clearcutting always changes the developmental stage of a forest (stages of
structural development range from young stand initiation to old multi-aged,
and obviously stand initiation is created by clearcutting), and it may or
may not change successional (i.e. species composition) status of the
forest. Some clearcuts maintain the same successional status that already
exists, and some send the forest forwards to a later successional stage or
backwards to an earlier stage. The effects depend on the successional
status of the overstory and understory tree species, the ecosystem type,
and silvicultural systems and harvesting methods. For example, in MN
clearcutting an older aspen forest during winter can release thousands of
small balsam fir seedlings (which survive harvest under the snow), and
create a young but nevertheless late-successional fir forest. Clearcutting
an aspen stand without a fir understory will allow the aspen to root
sprout, and the same early successional stage will come right back.
Clearcutting a sugar maple forest without earthworms will generally allow
maple to maintain dominance, whereas cutting one with earthworms will allow
green ash, birch and oak to take over (no maple seedlings in the
understory, ash, birch and oak can germinate on the bare soil created by
the earthworms).

If the plans you mentioned were done by competent foresters, they should be
able to give similar information for the ecosystems involved. What acreages
of the proposed cutting will take place on different ecosystem types, what
are the likely successional pathways in each case, what wildlife species
will benefit, and why is it important to benefit those species at this
time? If they can't answer those questions they don't know what they are


At 09:16 PM 12/20/2007, you wrote:
>It appears that the Mass DFW has a plan to increase clearcutting 
>on their lands in 2008 by over 400 percent.
>The claim here is that it "benefits wildlife" by creating "more
>early successional habitat that has been scarce for some time".
>Anyone have comments on the benefits of clearcutting for
>wildlife benefit?

== 3 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 7:23 am
From: Elisa Campbell

Thank you for the information.
About a year ago, John Scanlon, who is chief forester for F&W, wrote an
article for the Massachusetts Sierran about birds that need early
successional habitat and what F&W is doing to provide it. Joe Zorin
challenged the concept, and John sent a long bibliography about the
subject to the email list where the discussion was going on. I don't
have that email, with the bibliography, handy, but I'm sure it can be found.
Frankly, it does sometimes seem to me that people on this email list who
expect to be considered experts in one field do not accord the same
respect to other people who are experts in their fields. I wish we had
less flaming of people who are not members of this list.

== 4 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 7:30 am
From: "Ray Weber"

...We have been provided a multitude of science that demonstrates
that clearcutting benefits wildlife little if any in the far majority of cases.
If early successional was so rare, why are so many shelterwood harvests
planned that virtually eliminate it? We have had several wildlife biologists, that
are authors on the subject, state to us that the only thing that benefits in the
majority of cases of "wildlife enhancement", are the hunters, who can now find
deer etc. that are drawn to these areas.

I really have little to do with the ongoing argument, and just inquired for scientific
viewpoints. Im not an expert in that field, which is why I asked of those that may be.

Clearcuts on public lands should be avoided (in my opinion only) unless needed for
restoration of high graded stands, or a clearly demonstrated need to artificially enhance
species at specific stands. Im sure the DFW and DCR will respond as to why this is needed.

Just FYI, all of the bird experts we asked that had viewed Robinson stated flatly that
the species listed in the cutting plans they had seen for other sites would benefit little by the plan
as it was presented. Im sure DFW can find some source that will say otherwise though.


== 5 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 7:50 am
From: "Ray Weber"

I found the one note we had regarding a specific plan..

One harvest on DCR lands was touted as "to enhance the population of scarlet
tanagers". John Hutchinson and others stated that "yes it will do that, however,
it will have a highly detrimental impact on the neotropicals that visit the site,
and they are far more imperiled". "The neotropicals and other species that are in
that area need canopy for protection".

Its also interesting to read the green certification audits, which specifically say:
"use the biodiversity argument more to convince the public to accept harvesting".
Suddenly, we have all these timber harvests to "promote biodiversity". I would hope
the environmental groups examine this carefully and not get roped into more
green certification hooplah at the expense of the public lands.

Im not against DFW doing legitimate work to promote species, but when these
are planned with participants with known slanted interests, it bears watching.

Also need to note that there were NO listed birds on the NHESP list at Robinson
for example. Turns out, 12 of the 28 listed species were found at Robinson and
identified by the survey done 2005 to 2007, ending at our bio blitz. Its quite possible
they dont know all the species at other sites as well.

None of this should be controversial, keep it informative and scientific.


== 8 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 8:06 am
From: Josh

Hello Folks,

I recently attended a conference that was intended to set the
restoration priorities for the Southern Appalachian National Forests
for the next couple of decades. And, of course, the early
successional issue came up frequently. For those of you experienced
with the ESH (early successional habitat) issue here in the east, the
golden winged warbler is the poster child carted out to show folks
with a holistic view of ecosystems that early successional habitat
benefits species, and rare ones, other than those humans like to
shoot. In researching golden winged warblers, I noticed a few
trends: 1) Journals dedicated to wildlife want to clear cut to help
the golden winged warbler 2) Journals covering the golden wing that
have more rigorous scientific credentials never recommend creating
more early successional habitat to favor golden winged warblers. 3)
Partners in Flight is probably an industry front group like the Ruffed
Grouse Society

I gleaned the following information from a review of the literature:

1) Golden winged warbler populations have been declining for at least 50 years

2) Declines are based more on damage to wintering habitat in the
tropics than nesting habitat here

3) Golden winged warbler is expanding its range northward - climate
change anyone?

4) Golden winged warblers are also declining because of hybridization
and competition with blue winged warblers

Hope this helps for all of you folks who don't buy the "need" for ESH
as a justification for liquidating forests on our public lands.


== 9 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 8:43 am

400% of what, 30 acres? that would be 120 acres...that would be okay by me...problem with numbers is that they don't always paint the whole picture...if they're already doing 12,000 acres per year, then I'd be against it, under any circumstance I could envision.
Somewhere in between lies a level of clear cutting that might be appropriate for the intended objective (benefitting wildlife). And just 'acres' is a potentially misleading number...the arrangement, the orientation, the array of sizes, the locations and how they relate to the topography/landscape are freaking critical.
Do they mimic natural disturbances for the area they are planned in? Do they retain unmerchantable material for wildlife use, or do they burn the slash on site? Has anybody contacted David Kittredge of UMASS regarding his long running (I assisted him in the early 90's) Grouse Society small, non-industrial, private land ownership workshops/information regarding timber management at the NIPF level?
Just a few thoughts Ray, from afar...

== 10 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 9:00 am
From: dbhguru


You put your finger squarely on the underlying issue that drives the early successional arguments and both their savvy and naive proponents. Here in Massachusetts, I fear that the overarching strategy is little more than to soften public opinion toward either forest liquidation by industrial interests or unnecessarily intensive management for commercial species by BOF or wildlife species by DFW on the public lands. In the end, the mantra of the BOF trying to promote their green certification agenda in Robinson SP pretty well said it all. Experts consulted by The Friends of Robinson SP over a period of many months, one by one, shot down the BOF's simple-minded arguments, whether the purported need was for early successionally bird habitat of species that were over-represented when Massachusetts was 70% to 80% cleared or mis-stated natural forest trajectories - trajectories that presumably were leading to forest decline and therefore justifying BOF intervention. But when put to
the test, the BOF couldn't even recognize vernal pools or be truthful about BOF's real intentions. How many collective years of forest experience did they have? And what did it add up to? The idea that DFW needs 25-acre clearcuts to insure sufficient habitat for the species they are promoting brings us to the series of points made by Lee Frelich.


== 11 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 9:02 am
From: "Ray Weber"

Im not sure of all the particulars yet. I did however visit one site where
DCR was doing some clearcuts, in patches (patch cuts, not clearcuts they
call them). It was horrendous. They left plenty of material and didnt burn,
but ruined a nice piece of native forest to do so. In the meantime, we observed
several deer, and several moose, all hiding in what was left of the thick canopied
forest and avoiding the clearcut areas! There is oil in wet areas, large left pine logs
in piles, slash in streams, and an overall mess. The sierra club head here in Mass.
visited the same site and commented to us on it.

They did make one large clearcut a couple of years ago at this site, and it is now
adorned by deer stands nailed into trees at the edges. Wildlife benefit? BLAH.
Maybe chipmunks :) There is another site they cut in the past for grouse, which
there was a small population of at the site. Now there are none. This is a complex issue,
and there likely can be some benefit,but I am skeptical of anyone that claims they are
benefitting wildlife while embracing and following green certification on the same lands.
Seems the real underlying reason might be driven by timber production....


== 12 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 8:14 am
From: Kirk Johnson

I agree, there is plenty of early successional habitat to go around in the
East. What is largely absent in the East are large blocks of later
successional and old-growth forests. Everything that remotely qualifies for
wilderness designation under the Wilderness Act of 1964 on federal public
lands in the East really ought to be designated ASAP, in my opinion.

Kirk Johnson

== 13 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 9:11 am
From: "Ray Weber"

Jush, FYI, this was stated as justification for one of these.

According to information the DFW Forestry Program received from the Natural
Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP), and from the Northeastern
Research Station at UMass, Amherst, state-listed rare species such as the
Eastern box turtle and Barrens Buckmoth, as well as species of regional
conservation concern that are experiencing long-term population declines
such as Brown Thrasher, Prairie Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and Whip-poor-will,
have all benefited directly from the semi-open habitat conditions created by
the mechanical harvesting operation, and from the subsequent prescribed fire
regime that is being used to maintain this fire-adapted pitch pine/scrub oak
ecosystem. In addition, on-going research demonstrates that during the
post-fledging period, forest birds that nest in relatively mature forest(our
most common habitat type in Massachusetts) tend to bring their young into
early-seral habitats to exploit food and cover resources

I can tell you for certain that the Eastern Box Turtle prefers cooler, canopied habitat.
That is the NHESP recommendation for the species as well. I took part in some research
on that subject at the local park, which supports a fantastic population of them. By the way,
the NHESP database showed ONE turtle report in the last 20 years, which was used in
the forest cutting plan. WAY underdone.

As for the others, those more informed than I can comment.

Also the "risk of wildfire" is being thrown around again. That one surface after
the California incident, with the DCR forester claiming red pine stands that were dead
are a threat. That one fell apart when experts on the subject looked at them. Any
and all reasons that the public will be scared by, or fall for, have been used to justify timber
harvesting. If not for the various groups that are now questioning this,
they may prevail.


== 14 of 14 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 21 2007 9:49 am
From: dbhguru


The operative phrase is in your last paragraph - competent foresters. I don't take pleasure in being so critical, but the sheer amount of incompetence and deception on the part of BOF over the Robinson SP situation that required citizen activists to step up to the plate to prevent exploitation and expose the deception has left an extremely sour taste in my mouth. It has grown ever more sour with time. Maybe I'll get over it, but as of now, my trust in BOF is hovering around the zero mark. DFW appears to be following the same trajectory. With these comments I'll return to more positive endeavors. Gary Beluzo and I have an article to complete, I have a book draft to begin, and Larry Tucei Jr. and I and hopefully others have a live oak project to launch.