Clear Cutting [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Clear Cutting


chromedome
02-01-2006, 08:54 PM
I had always thought that fishemen and hunters were pretty much united in opposition to clear cutting. On our side, siltation, problems associated with lowering of the water table, and other factors resulting from clear cutting have shown that this practice is detrimental, sometimes devastating, to our streams and rivers.
In an article in the January 29 Buffalo News, however, a Dr. Michael Zagata proposes that some clear cutting is desirable to enhance ruffed grouse habitat. Zagata, executive director of the Ruffed Grouse Society, says that grouse thrive in the regrowth following the cutting. His proposal comes on the heels of complaints by grouse hunters of reduced birds in recent years.
The clear cutting battle has been tough enough when it was mainly going up against the rich, greedy, logging interests. But now it looks like we may have yet another foe to contend with.

SSPey
02-01-2006, 09:27 PM
I had always thought that fishemen and hunters were pretty much united in opposition to clear cutting.

The fisherman aren't even united on this, at least not in my neck of the woods.

This is a complex issue, so I'll share some (potentially) counterintuitive information based on the latest science around this issue. Obviously, clearcuts benefit some species and hurt others. Let's focus on fish and rivers.

The overwhelming majority of siltation problems arise from the roads punched into watersheds. Yes, roads, not the cutting, provided there are riparian buffers in place. Overland flow is very rare in forest soils, even those that have been cut. Without overland flow to carry particles, it's darn hard to get silt moving. Roads are the problem with chronic siltation. I drive on these roads to access remote fishing areas. Guilty.

Cutting certainly accelerates massive land failures. Again, often roads are to blame because of altered hydrology and perched water. Landslides are often a punctuated input of rocks and silt and debris to rivers. A massive shock, but the fish and rivers will recover.

More interesting, landslides can be a good thing! Many watersheds have bedrock channels and lack adequate spawning gravel. Landslides are nature's own gravel replenishment mechanism. Dumps in big new rock, quickly, without the slow steady bleed of silt over decades and decades as occurs with roads. But a problem arises when landslides occur w/o big trees. Trees that fall into rivers act to retain gravel. If you have a clearcut (few or no trees remaining), then a big slide, there is nothing in the river to retain the rocks that are added. They'll sluice through the river and not contribute to spawning habitat.

nature is cool, much going on, but it's dinner time! more later if needed...

chromedome
02-02-2006, 06:47 PM
The fisherman aren't even united on this, at least not in my neck of the woods.

This is a complex issue, so I'll share some (potentially) counterintuitive information based on the latest science around this issue. Obviously, clearcuts benefit some species and hurt others. Let's focus on fish and rivers.

The overwhelming majority of siltation problems arise from the roads punched into watersheds. Yes, roads, not the cutting, provided there are riparian buffers in place. Overland flow is very rare in forest soils, even those that have been cut. Without overland flow to carry particles, it's darn hard to get silt moving. Roads are the problem with chronic siltation. I drive on these roads to access remote fishing areas. Guilty.

Cutting certainly accelerates massive land failures. Again, often roads are to blame because of altered hydrology and perched water. Landslides are often a punctuated input of rocks and silt and debris to rivers. A massive shock, but the fish and rivers will recover.

More interesting, landslides can be a good thing! Many watersheds have bedrock channels and lack adequate spawning gravel. Landslides are nature's own gravel replenishment mechanism. Dumps in big new rock, quickly, without the slow steady bleed of silt over decades and decades as occurs with roads. But a problem arises when landslides occur w/o big trees. Trees that fall into rivers act to retain gravel. If you have a clearcut (few or no trees remaining), then a big slide, there is nothing in the river to retain the rocks that are added. They'll sluice through the river and not contribute to spawning habitat.

nature is cool, much going on, but it's dinner time! more later if needed...

Thanks, Steve, for ur input. So much there I wasn't aware of. But in this one river I fish, I recall there was this landslide complete with the trees going in as you say. Well you guessed it. The next year the trout were trying to spawn down river from the slide, something I'd never seen in that stretch before. I attributed that to the changed hydrology, but from what you say its likely the after effect of the slide was the major contributor.

Feiger
02-02-2006, 09:03 PM
definitions are everything. A clearcut in the north cascades steep topography Douglas fir country is not likely the same thing as a clearcut in the rolling hills of west Pennsylvania or New York, or Michigan, for that matter. What the Ruffed Grouse Society is proposing are small "clearcuts" (called such only because it's a complete removal of overstory vegetation) in order to spur developement of new, dense, young forests to provide cover, food, and shelter to, among other things, ruffed grouse. W/ the lack of fire in eastern hardwood systems (yes, fire, both wild/natural and native american/aboriginal), those forests have become, essentially, old growth, or very old. And do not provide any habitat for species dependent upon early seral/young forests. RGS is proposing breaking up that canopy of smaller (under 40 acres perhaps) patch cuts that will open up and allow generation of young forest conditions. ruffed grouse, and a wide variety of migratory song birds (many of which are a stones throw away from ESA listing) would benefit.

The term clearcut is really been bastardized, and conjures up images of 1,000 acre burned over swaths of destruction. Often, that's not the case. My point, investigate the whole meaning of what an agency or group is proposing before getting to alarmed, just because you see the word "clearcut."

chromedome
02-03-2006, 10:06 AM
I see there's a lot more depth to the clear cutting issue than I'd imagined. Perhaps there is a kind of clear cutting, as Feiger claims, that overall does more good than harm. I recall an auto trip years ago where we were driving from California to Portland OR. Along the way we could see where the sides and tops of small mountains had been totally denuded thru clear cutting. For the life of me, I can't see how that kind of activity benefitted anything other than the logging interests.

teflon_jones
02-03-2006, 01:44 PM
definitions are everything. A clearcut in the north cascades steep topography Douglas fir country is not likely the same thing as a clearcut in the rolling hills of west Pennsylvania or New York, or Michigan, for that matter.
Absolutely true. In steep topography they really ruin the streams because water brings a lot of silt material down the sides of the hills into the streams. When the trees were in place, the water would soak into the soil because there were lots of barriers keeping it from flowing downhill, and lots of roots to hold the soil in place.

I recall an auto trip years ago where we were driving from California to Portland OR. Along the way we could see where the sides and tops of small mountains had been totally denuded thru clear cutting. For the life of me, I can't see how that kind of activity benefitted anything other than the logging interests.
If you've never flown over this area then you can't even imagine how bad it really is. It's really unbelievable. I'd say about 50% or more of the land has been clearcut in patches all over the place. It ends up looking like a checkerboard.

photog
02-04-2006, 02:16 PM
I went to College at Montana State in Bozeman, MT.

The area in Southern MT North of Yellowstone has been
ravaged by clear cutters who used the practice of "slash and
burn." The affected areas don't grow back for generations,
if ever. I have been to areas that were clear cut 30 to 50
years ago and they are still a mess. I didn't find much
wildlife, including grouse, in these areas.

I realize there are those who might be misled by the claim
that small clear cuts are good; however, "small clear
cutting" is not what the logging industry is thinking when
they talk clear cutting. They want clear cut - slash and
burn. In most areas clear cutters do not reforest.

In my opinion clear cutting is an abomination on the
environment and should be banned.

It should be noted that there are two areas in the Highlight
Lake area near Bozeman that were cut in the early 70's. One
was clear-cut and reforested, the was clear cut slash and
burned. The reforested area is now ready for another
harvest, the slash and burn area is still a mess.

Bill

Feiger
02-04-2006, 09:26 PM
is not a clearcut. To compare either slope of the Montana Rockies, or the Pacific NW's cascades and coastal range to eastern US hardwoods is comparing apples and oranges. Two different systems entirely. Like trying to compare steelhead streams of the Pacific NW w/ those of the great lakes.

topography, soils, growing conditions, precipitation, species (trees and wildlife) are totally different. Don't blame you for not liking what you saw in Montana. Given what I know of the area, it's safe to say you saw crap from both federal and private logging lands. As noted, the primary driver was producing wood fiber, whether it come out in the form of boards or paper or what ever, at the lowest possible cost for the greatest potential for revenue and profit. And the cheapest way to do that (surprise) is take it all at once. Fell it all and drag it or haul it to the road to be loaded up on a truck. And if you're a private landowning company who's only looking for the quick profit, don't even bother replanting or rehabilitating, just "cut and run" and sell it to the next smuch. If you're the federal government, The Organic Act, National Forest Management Act, and other federal laws require rehabilitation and replanting to restock that stand (that, however, didn't stop some morons from putting clearcuts where they never should have been...). That essentially describes every large privately owned timber lands in the Western US, and including some in the SE and East as well. And it would be fair to say that was a driver on federal lands as well up to the late 80's and early 90's.

But that is NOT what is driving what is being proposed in states such as Pennsylvania, NY, Vermont, and New Hampshire. First off, the driver is wood fiber production, it's diversification of a monotypic habitat that's no longer providing for species, like ruffed grouse (and white tailed deer, and Kirkland's warbler (ESA), among many others), brought about by a respected conservation organization. Second, it's happening in aspen forest systems that essentially regenerate BY stand replacement events. Before our meddling, it was by natural and aboriginal fire. Now, through cutting and harvest of patches or blocks of aspen stands, new regeneration can develop, increasing diversity to the habitat (and better for the above mentioned species and others). Infact, they find the aspen regenerating THE YEAR of the harvest. And comes back so think you can barely walk through it after only 5 years. Third, these are flatter, more gentle sloped, moister, deeper soiled, greater accumulated precipitation habitats then exist anywhere in MT. They respond to this kind of treatment, and have done so for a millenium. apples and oranges....

In regards to your comments - the vast majority of clearcuts, if you look across North America, DO reforest. When placed in forest systems that are abundant in deep soils, moisture, sunshine, and replanted w/ the appropriate species, do reforest, and do so in abundance. Even in Montana. IF they didn't, the Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, longleaf pine, quaking aspen, and even ponderosa pine, would be endangered species across much of their range, because there are few areas in the Eastern and southeastern US and western Oregon, Washington and California that haven't already been cut over, some times two or three times, with clearcuts.

In regards to your slash and burn example - the difference likely wasn't whether it was slashed and burned, but whether it was simply replanted, or more simply put in an ecosystem w/ to shallow of soils and dry a topography to take the stresses of total tree removal. For better or worse, and most times worse, nearly all clearcuts are/were burned. It's essentially required to get all the crap out of the way just so a seedling can be put into the ground.

I'm not saying I'm a fan of all clearcutting. Most of it I despise as much as you. But a series of small, total vegetation removal harvests, done to add diversity to a forested landscape, w/ consideration to other resource values (streams, listed species, species of concern, recreational interests, etc.), is a good thing, and is better than doing nothing at all...

Feiger
02-04-2006, 09:29 PM
The checkerboard you're seeing - it's the result of the checkerboard pattern of federal and private land ownership that covers much of the western Cascades. While there is some federal harvest that has occured in the past 20 years that may show up in such a view, the dominant component of that clearcutting activity is what is occuring on the private lands of the likes of wharehouser, the old Boise Cascade, and a variety of smaller local landownership/timber producers... Unfortunately a fact of life, so long as we remain a society dependent upon wood products.......

photog
02-14-2006, 10:55 AM
Freiger,

Most of the checkerboard devastation is on public land. The loggers post small reforestation bonds, then never reforest, because it's cheaper.

The private lands you spoke of are normally reforested.

Bill

Feiger
02-20-2006, 11:44 PM
Loggers and the companies that purchase timber off of federally administered public lands do not pay for or are otherwise responsible for reforestation actions/planting of trees. The managing agency is. Loggers don't put down a deposit or another other bond directed at reforestation actions. The bonds they put down are in lieu of the timber reciepts of purchased timber, w/ promise to compensate the federal government for the full purchase price of the timber they bid for on contract. Further, as a result of the Organic Act, and the National Forest Management Act, it is in direct violation of the law for federally administered public lands NOT to be reforested after timber harvest such as a clearcut. Under the National Forest Management Act, along w/ agency specific regulations directing reforestation and timber harvest actions, planting of harvested timber sale units MUST be done such that a full potential stocking level is achieved within 5 years of the harvest. If not done, the decision, and the decision maker are liable for damages for not following the law.
There certainly have been instances where a clearcut has been placed that was ecologically unable to sustain replanting efforts w/in that 5 year period. But if reference is being made to clearcuts along the Cascades, that is not the case. On the other hand - when Boise Cascade, or Plum Creek, Louisiana Pacific, or any of the other private landowners decide to cut the timber off w/ a clearcut, they themselves can avoid replanting costs, and thus reforestation period, by simply selling the land to someone else, who then inherits that responsibility. Often they can't afford to replant, and thus don't, even tho state laws governing those private lands require it...
I can point to a LOT of private timber lands that have fallen to that fate after a company either liquidates and goes banrupt, or cuts and runs, leaving the mess to the next purchaser.....

teflon_jones
02-21-2006, 08:30 AM
All I know is that it looks like a mess... :(

viflyer
03-18-2006, 10:30 AM
I say lobby the President directly for a six foot buffer around all streams. I am sure that is a proposal he would understand and back fully, along with the logging companies and the grouse! Hey, we could propose oil and gas exploration in that buffer to sweeten the pie!

juro
03-18-2006, 12:27 PM
A while back a bunch of tree huggers fought and won to enact a riparian buffer zone act to prohibit clearcutting to the edges of streams.

Still a matter of grave concern are the roads cut in by logging, which become highways for silt into the watershed.

A mind-boggling qty of trees are used in the paper industry, of which we Americans read approximately 2% of what is printed every day. 98% of these dead trees are to fuel the economic system between advertisers and publishers, we don't use it.

Those of you who subscribe to newspapers should ask themselves this question - do you read more than the funnies on Sunday? If not then you should cancel that subscription and use the internet to stay informed instead.

In fact I really hope the internet turns this trend around for mankind, thus making it one of the key technological advances in the history of our species.

Read what we really care about instead of buying the whole package and reading an insignificant percentage on behalf of big business.

viflyer
03-19-2006, 09:21 AM
The idea that some skinny little buffer can protect streams from a comletely denuded watershed is a friggin joke!!!!

juro
03-19-2006, 11:12 AM
Yes if I had my druther's the buffer would be a half mile minimum depending on slope, longer if the water is downhill and logging would require helicopters to lift logs out instead of roads.