Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

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#1)  Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

Postby Josh Kelly » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:13 pm

NTS,

On April 15 & 16 I visited the Stoney Creek timber sale on Holston Mountain, TN.  I was concerned that the scoping for the project listed three stands between the age of 132 and 164 as being proposed for logging.  The Forest Service folks I talked to indicated that the stand ages were incorrect, as is often the case with Forest Service stand data.  I remained concerned, however, because I know that the land on that part of Holston Mountain had been purchased by the early 1920's.  By comparison, much of Smoky Mountain National Park, which has the most extensive old-growth in the Southern Applalachians, was not purchased until the early 1930's.  Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest was purchased by the Forest Service in 1937.  The take home message is, the early a tract was purchased, the more likely it is to contain original forest.  

I found an extensive area of relatively stunted, semi-xeric, old-growth oak forest.  Tree diameters on these south facing slopes are not large, the trees are not tall, but they have loads of character.  As is common, most of the scarlet oaks, red oaks, and black oaks in the stands I visited dated to the time of American chestnut blight.  The white oaks, chestnut oaks, and black gums in the stand are much, much older.  Check out these videos, if you are interested in the scene.  

I'm confident with the age data I collect form these stands and the procedures for dealing with old-growth required by the Cherokee National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan that I will be able to protect these stands from logging.  It is kind of depressing that sites like this come up for cutting at all, but let's face it, most people, foresters included, don't recognize old-growth when they see it. I hope the urls work, if not, I'll try again.

Josh

               
                       
holston.JPG
                                       
               


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHMHDYEhfuI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpnLfz1bMf4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDUh5hR_FV0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyJUlIZNYJk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbloVtiKCsQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2Gzdc4JbJU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3X58ixac8p4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYTvgMnuv94

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#2)  Re: Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

Postby jamesrobertsmith » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:20 pm

Interesting details. I've done some hiking and a little bushwhacking on Holston Mountain. Never have been in that specific area, though. When I first started becoming interested in virgin forest, I believed that a hallmark of them was lots of very big trees. It's nice to see someone doing a job of educating the ignorant folk (such as me) that this is not always so.
Last edited by jamesrobertsmith on Mon May 06, 2013 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#3)  Re: Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

Postby Will Blozan » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:40 pm

Josh,

You go man- you da Lorax!

Seriously, what the hell do they think they can get out of cutting such small twisty trees? Freakin' waste of energy for very little return.

Great stuff!

Will
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#4)  Re: Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

Postby Rand » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:17 pm

Kinda reminds me of a shrunken version of Blanton forest in Kentucky.  The trees there weren't any bigger than in Ohio, but they sure looked old.
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#5)  Re: Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

Postby Joe » Thu Apr 18, 2013 7:05 am

Will Blozan wrote:Josh,

You go man- you da Lorax!

Seriously, what the hell do they think they can get out of cutting such small twisty trees? Freakin' waste of energy for very little return.

Great stuff!

Will


most likely they have no interest in those trees unless they have a biomass market and the skid distance isn't far- I think it would be interesting to ask the foresters if they have an interest in that section of the forest and WHY?

as a forester for 40 years, I know that MOST foresters couldn't care less about protecting old forests, especially if they have commercial value- but certainly on public lands, such values MUST be determined and valued
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#6)  Re: Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

Postby Josh Kelly » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:36 pm

Will & Joe,

I was also wondering "WTF were these foresters thinking"?  Cherokee National Forest has presumably already invested thousands of dollars in the planning - silvicultural exams, botany, archeology, and wildlife surveys - necessary to go forward with logging this area of ancient and incredibly low value timber.  I can point to hundreds of acres of higher commercial value second growth to log if they really need to make some money and create early successional habitat so bad.  It really is hard to understand how stuff like this gets proposed sometimes.

Josh
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#7)  Re: Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

Postby Joe » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:53 pm

Josh Kelly wrote:Will & Joe,

I was also wondering "WTF were these foresters thinking"?  Cherokee National Forest has presumably already invested thousands of dollars in the planning - silvicultural exams, botany, archeology, and wildlife surveys - necessary to go forward with logging this area of ancient and incredibly low value timber.  I can point to hundreds of acres of higher commercial value second growth to log if they really need to make some money and create early successional habitat so bad.  It really is hard to understand how stuff like this gets proposed sometimes.

Josh


forestry on public lands NEVER makes a profit- it costs far more to run the program, pay salaries and benefits, trucks, computers, etc.

but they'll argue it's good for the forest, good for the wildlife, blah, blah....

it is good for their weekly paychecks!

all things considered, forestry on public lands can be done well, but often isn't- it's good to do if the land was hammered as private land, if then taken over by the state/feds- good silviculture can help revive those stands, but if it's old growth, there is NEVER a reason to do any work there, IMHO

Joe

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#8)  Re: Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

Postby tomhoward » Sun May 05, 2013 8:19 pm

These are fantastic old oaks. They are smaller than the old growth White Oaks of the North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove that I am trying to protect, but they are every bit as gnarled. I noticed that one of the White Oaks, a tree only 14 in. dbh, cored in one of the stands on the mountain, had 220 rings on the core. The White Oaks of the Cemetery Grove are about the same age or even older.

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#9)  Re: Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

Postby Josh Kelly » Mon May 06, 2013 12:03 pm

As an update on Holston Mountain, I recently spoke with the lead silviculturalist from the North Zone of Cherokee National Forest.  He was not the designer of the project and after hearing from me, he went to visit it.  He agreed with me about the old-growth character and lack of economic viability of three stands, so it seems that 119 acres of ancient forest will not be logged, after all.  It's great when professionals can get together and agree on improvements in public land management!

So, in the future, if you are ever on Holston Mountain and want to see the ancient dry oak forest at the upper end of the Furnace Branch Trail, it will be there for your enjoyment.

Cheers,
Josh

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#10)  Re: Videos of Old-Growth Oak Forest on Holston Mountain, TN

Postby Joe » Mon May 06, 2013 1:35 pm

Josh Kelly wrote:As an update on Holston Mountain, I recently spoke with the lead silviculturalist from the North Zone of Cherokee National Forest.  He was not the designer of the project and after hearing from me, he went to visit it.  He agreed with me about the old-growth character and lack of economic viability of three stands, so it seems that 119 acres of ancient forest will not be logged, after all.  It's great when professionals can get together and agree on improvements in public land management!

So, in the future, if you are ever on Holston Mountain and want to see the ancient dry oak forest at the upper end of the Furnace Branch Trail, it will be there for your enjoyment.

Cheers,
Josh


too bad the "junior" forester who did design the project didn't comprehend that it shouldn't be done- hopefully, the senior forester will enlighten his people

having seen a lot of harvesting on public lands, it really seems that too often the projects are poorly designed, which ticks me off because bad logging ruins the reputation of all forestry work- which, I suggest, is why so many enviro groups hate logging

the one person in Mass. who fought the hardest to stop logging on public lands here lived in he PNW for some years, where he saw lots of terrible logging- in the middle of one was a trail he used to hike on- and on the trail are signs saying "don't walk off the trail or you may damage the environment"- then he went back one day and saw a humungous clearcut...

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