Potential tall trees?

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#31)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby Joe » Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:54 am

I've seen many forests that were never thinned- and I've seen forests that were poorly thinned. And I've seen forests properly thinned- the latter are better in just about every way. Properly thinned forests are a tiny percentage of all the forest in North America- so rare that few people can appreciate the benefits of proper thinning. Most people think any form of logging is "forestry". Just yesterday, I was marking a stand and near a road. A neighbor was walking down the road and he asked me what I was doing. I said I was marking the stand for a thinning. He said, "oh, you're gonna log it off?". I tried to explain that there is a difference between "logging it off" and a proper thinning- with no luck. No wonder so many people hate all forestry.
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#32)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby wisconsitom » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:44 am

It's a tough world Joe-especially where communicating with our fellow human being is concerned.  For my part, I just wish that "the public" would not automatically damn to hell on sight anyone who does work with a chain saw!  Or a backpack sprayer!  It's amazing how the lightweight side of the environmental movement just doesn't ever seem to get better....

We dropped a big green ash in my son's woods this weekend.  This is EAB-Central and the tree is surrounded by many other green ash.  As far as that goes, we don't know for a fact that any of his ash have EAB, but this is literally very near to the community wherein EAB was first identified in this state.  In any case, we were making firewood.  My oldest granddaughter, precocious and all of five years old, said to me as we headed out to the woods that "she doesn't like cutting down trees".  Now that little sweetheart of mine is going to get a pass because she is A)  five years old, lol, and B)  if I know her, and I do, she is going to get it eventually-that where you have trees, you sometimes have reason to cut trees down.  But when adults have not moved off first base in terms of understanding, it's disappointing.
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#33)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby gnmcmartin » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:27 am

Joe:  Tell me about the kinds of clients you have.  Do you ever have anyone who wants to have a "pre-commercial" thinning done?  How many want to have a "silvicultural" or TSI harvest?

  Have you done much work for clients who have uneven-aged stands?  When I had a tour of the Fernow Experimental Forest at Parsons, WV many, many years ago, I saw two or three plots that were under uneven aged management. They were using a system that was based on a ratio of trees in each 2" diameter size class.  This ratio was called "Q," and was based on a determination of the maximum size typically achieved by the species present on that site before growth declined substantially.  On these plots, where there was a mixture of mostly sugar maple, tuliptree, black cherry, and red oak, the "target" size was 30".  Then the ratio was determined that would lead to a "balance" of numbers of trees in each size class that would lead to a specific number of trees entering the 30" size class in each 10 year period, and then the trees were marked for removal. So at the end of each ten-year period many more smaller trees were cut, then fewer medium sized trees, and then just a few of the larger ones.

  I hope my explanation is clear.  Maybe I should look up this silvicultural system and post a link.  Anyway, these stands, each of which had been under this kind of management for several ten-year cycles, were absolutely beautiful! All the trees in each of the size classes, were very well formed with straight trunks and nice balanced crowns. Have you ever worked with any system like this? Since I saw the plots so many years ago, I never saw any article about it in the SAF publications I got. Of course, this kind of management is labor intensive, and I am not sure if anyone ever did a study of the costs VS the value of the products harvested. Maybe the management costs, and the harvesting requirements, along with the mixture of "products," are problems most forest managers don't want to deal with. But the results, aesthetically, were nothing less than "stunning."

  Anyway, next time someone asks you a question like this guy did, tell him you are doing TSI, or a TSI ("silvicultural') harvest in order to enhance the forest. Somehow, the word has to get out about just what forestry "really" is and can do.

  In early December I led an inspection tour of my timberland, both for the new project forester who has taken over my part of the county, and for the leader of Tree Farm certification program.  They were both mightily impressed, and my new project forester said that I was the only person in the county who had gone through three "cycles" in the MD forest incentives program.  She said that almost no one signs up even twice. Soon I will sign up for my fourth! I was a bit surprised to learn that I am so alone.
 
  --Gaines
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#34)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby Joe » Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:06 pm

Gaines, all private non industrial with properties from 15-700 acres. I've done many precommercial thinnings in past decades- not recently- by chain saw girdling (double girdling) and some pruning in good, young pine stands. Some others use chemicals but I won't. I don't care if others do- but it's not for me- just like I like organic foods- if others want to eat garbage, go for it. All of my clients like to do silvicultural work- if it's feasible. Here in the north central part of Mass. there is a biomass market- so, though the forests are often high graded in the past and not in great shape now, with the biomass market, that becomes the TSI work and moderately profitable. In the past, when I recommended TSI, some agreed but hesitated if it was going to cost them. It usually would cost them even with cost-shares. But few people like the look of hundreds or thousands of girdled trees- which break eventually.

Much of the forest here is even age in theory - either as uncut old field stands or clearcut stands- but the  majority is uneven age- most having been high graded.

The idea of having some trees in each 2" diam. class seems silly. It is what it is out there. There is no need to have a perfect uneven age stand. It's not likely and not desirable in my opinion. Instead, stands of 2-4 ages might work.

As for target size- that's a nice theory but also ivory tower. Most trees are economically mature long before 30". A really almost perfect tree that is veneer grade and VERY healthy might continue to put on good value up to and beyond 30". Those academics can think of such "systems" but that's just not the real world. Sure, if you  manage a stand for a 100 years you might arrive at that forest paradise.

I don't doubt that such silvicultural work will have good results- but it would also be nice if the auto companies made perfectly safe cars- and if no industry ever polluted and if government agencies were always productive and if priests were always Christ like- but the real world is a tough place- we need to work with existing stands- and economics is a powerful force.

If I could keep practicing forestry until the age of 200, I'd be happy to show anyone the results and I think most would be pretty good if not stunning- though some would be. Even now I have some clients where I've been working since I started where I've managed up to 3 harvests in some stands.

Strange but a few years ago I did a nice thinning project in a mixed forest- left all the best 15-20" red oak. The owner got a great price plus NRCS cost-share. But, he needs more money so now he wants 15 acres clearcut. It's a shame- I'm now marking the clearcut- but I just hate to mark such nice trees that should grow another 20-50 years- but, it's his land and he really does need the money. If we had forestry "banks" - they perhaps could offer  people loans with the timber as collateral- but I don't know of any forestry banks in my part of the world. At least a clearcut isn't as bad as a high grade or paving it over.

By the way, one of my clients- in Sheffield, MA-- that property was in the same family ownership for a hundred years and the 200 acre forest has been very nicely managed ever since. When I took over the mgt. it was spectacular- with almost zero "poor quality trees"- almost zero weeviled trees. I marked and sold about 2  million feet of timber but left twice that number- back in the '90s and now it's time to do it again. The owner got a fantastic price- then gave me a $500 tip on top of my substantial fee!

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#35)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby gnmcmartin » Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:53 pm

Joe:

  Well, I'm encouraged by what you tell me.  You ARE able to practice some real forestry, and you have clients that need and use your "real" forestry expertise. That is very nice to hear.

  Yes, the "Q" all-aged (and all sizes) management system did seem to me to be a bit impractical in the real world.  Of course, only a few trees per acre were allowed to grow to the maximum diameter, but then more were allowed to grow into the size classes just under the maximum, scaling up as the sizes got smaller.   Also, these experimental plots were on very, very good sites, with rich soils, and the very good rainfall there in the Appalachians. So trees do grow to those large sizes there quite easily.

 On that note, I also was shown an experimental plot of black walnut planting.  The planting was nice, but what was astounding was a pair of black walnut trees they left in one portion of the site.  I had never seen any hardwood tree so large, and perfect, as the largest of these.  I didn't measure it, but my impression--guess--was that the diameter was in excess of 6 feet, and that it was in excess of 50 feet to the first branch.  The one  growing next to it was well over 3 feet in diameter, and about 40 feet to the first branch. H. Clay Smith, who gave me this amazing day-long tour, said that they had wanted to cut and sell these trees, but that they couldn't sell the trees legally under the rules in place for timber sales from the forest, and get anything close to fair value. So they were left.  The largest tree was  worth some simply astronomical amount that I can't now reliably remember, and even the smaller one was amazingly valuable. I wonder if those trees are still there. I guess I could call and inquire.  I would like to see them again.

 What made the forest managed under this all-aged system so attractive was not only the well-formed trees, but also the forest "vistas" that opened up, and the presence of some really nice large trees added a lot to the beauty and interest. Impractical, yes, but a demonstration of what forestry CAN do, if there is the motivation. The average person, seeing these plots would say, I think with no shadow of doubt in my mind, that they were the most beautiful forest they had ever seen.

  I had thought about using a system like this on my timberland, but the conversion to all-aged, all-sized, stand would have been difficult, and not fully achievable in my lifetime.  Of course a start could be made with small patch clearcuts, and then working from there. Converting a high graded site to the kind of forest these plots represented, would be, it seems to me, even more difficult.

  --Gaines
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#36)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby Lucas » Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:43 pm

The planting was nice, but what was astounding was a pair of black walnut trees they left in one portion of the site.  I had never seen any hardwood tree so large, and perfect, as the largest of these.  I didn't measure it, but my impression--guess--was that the diameter was in excess of 6 feet, and that it was in excess of 50 feet to the first branch.  


Image

A nice walnut

Image

+ a fun walnut fact(?)
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir
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#37)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby Lucas » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:35 pm



The other extreme.

Any comment?
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir
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#38)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby Joe » Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:15 am

Gaines, what would be interesting would be if a forest was managed specifically for aesthetics. The current array of options are: managing for profit, mismanaging for profit, or locking up the land as a park or "forest reserve". I'm just not aware of any forest  managed for aesthetics- other than of course some park land does get some treatment in select areas like near trails or vistas.
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#39)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby Joe » Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:21 am

Lucas wrote:
The other extreme.

Any comment?


I don't get it. What's the point? Provide cover? Provide a food source? I don't think the deer will benefit all that much and- the trees look ugly. In most areas of the country- deer are overabundant.
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#40)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby gnmcmartin » Thu Mar 10, 2016 11:14 am

Yes, deer are a plague.  Not only because they strip forests of seedlings, but also because of the hazard on the road they cause.  My Suburban was virtually totaled when I hit a deer this fall, but was actually worth repairing in spite of its age, and insurance paid for the repairs. Deer also are changing the  species composition of our woodlands. My favorite hardwood tree here in the eastern part of the US is white oak, and it is also the favorite of deer, and over time these will be virtually eliminated from our eastern forests.

  Joe:  I should have made more clear that what I am calling the "q" system for uneven forest management can be adapted for any species of trees and any site quality.  The maximum "target diameter" can be adjusted, and the "q" ratio can be adjusted, and the length of each harvest cycle can be adjusted, and the size of each unit can be adjusted, etc.  And a goal of species diversity can be built in. There is no reason why this system wouldn't work for redwoods.  Also, I think I made a mistake about the number of trees allowed to reach the maximum diameter in each unit--I think it is only one.  And that tree would generally be a very especially well-formed and vigorous tree to have made "the cut" so many times and be the "last tree standing," so to speak.  I have a research report on this system produced at Fernow, and need to find it to double check some things. When I have time--I have very slow dial-up internet--I will see if there has been any recent follow-up research on this silvicultural system.  I might just call the research station at Parsons.

  What we should focus on is that this IS very interesting and important research, regardless of how much it can actually be used.  So many people complain that too much forestry research is done simply at the beck and call of the forest products industry, and focuses simply on "productivity" at the expense of the environment.  This research is the opposite, and is focused on finding new possibilities for uneven-aged, sustained yield forestry that will protect the land, carry substantial biomass, and enhance aesthetics.  I mightily applaud this kind of research, AND, maybe at some point, or at least some land owners, could find a way to actually use this system.

  Most schools of forestry have courses in, and maybe even offer "programs" or "concentrations" in forest aesthetics. Unfortunately, much of this is to "mask" the destruction caused by bad forest management, putting "lipstick on a pig."  But maybe even this is not all negative.  One specific example is the shaping of clearcuts so they are not so visually ugly.  But forest aesthetics research goes beyond this to include the effect of certain mixtures of species, and a variety of other things, including urban "forest" plantings. At some point forest aesthetics "merges" with landscape design/architecture.  Maybe Fredrick Law Olmstead was a actually pioneer in forest aesthetics, although Lancelot "capability" Brown came even earlier.  

  I would guess that in all this the idea of managing a forest purely for aesthetics has come up for discussion, but I tend to doubt that anything like that has ever been done.  I have thought a lot about it, and have often thought a lot about aesthetics when managing my own forest.  Of course, ideas about what's beautiful vary a lot, so purely objective standards about what species are best, and what mixtures are most beautiful at different seasons will vary.  Certain visual effects are more basic.  One thing I did is when I had a new forestry road built, was work to have curves where they would  be most visually appealing, and had the road crest a hill at the best point, etc.  Also, of course, I avoided destroying the most beautiful groups of trees.

  --Gaines
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