16. Coarse Woody Debris Fire Protection

426.  Logging on National Forests INCREASES the risk of forest fires more than any other human activity, according to the governments own study.

427.  Fire is a natural and beneficial part of ecosystems.  Without it, the ecosystem quickly degrades.

428.  But avoiding catastrophic fire risk is often used to justify logging.  Ironically, however, according to the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project Final Report to Congress, "Timber harvest, through its affects on forest structure, local microclimate, and fuel accumulation, has increased fire severity more than any other recent human activity."

429.  Clearcutting can change fire climate so that fires start more easily, spread faster, and burn hotter.  If the intent is to seek the most environmentally sound and cost effective means to reduce the fuel hazard and fire risk, then the Forest Service should be instructed and fully funded to implement understory prescribed burning without commercial logging.  The long-term goal should be full restoration of ecological processes, including fire.

430.  Logs become habitat for a variety of invertebrate species shortly after falling. CWD is used by invertebrates as a source of food, for nesting and brooding sites, for protection from predators and environmental extremes, as a source of construction material, and as overwintering and hibernating sites (Samuelsson et al. 1994) (Voller and Harrison, 1998).   

431.  Free-living bacteria in woody residues and soil wood fix 30-60% of the nitrogen in the forest soil. In addition, 20% of soil nitrogen is stored in these components (Harvey et al. 1987). Harmon et al. (1986) reported that CWD accounted for as much as 45% of aboveground stores of organic matter.  Symplastless wood in terrestrial ecosystems is a primary location for fungal colonization and often acts as refugia for mycorrhizal fungi during ecosystem disturbance (Triska and Cromack 1979; Harmon et al. 1986; Caza 1993) (Voller and Harrison, 1998).    

432.  An unbelievable story is the PHLIGHT OF THE KOALAS. 

433.  The plight of this partially blind koala is due to ignorance of tree basics. Koalas eat the leaves of only about six species of Eucalyptus. Man loved the koalas so much, he built his homes close to the Eucalyptus Groves because he wanted to be close to them. But, the Eucalyptus Groves go up very fast and burn very hot.  So, out of the ignorance of tree biology, man dug fire trenches.   In doing so, the trees were injured below ground (woody and non-woody roots for starters).  When trees are threatened or injured they do something they respond.  Because of the fire ditches to reduce the threat of fire and over development, most of the leaves on the declining trees in the area tanned. Tanning is a chemical process of combining phenol-based substances with proteins, and the disruption of hydrogen bonds leaves the protein indigestible. In one sense the hydrogen bonds, are held open by toothpicks.  The enzymes of the koala would enter to digest the leaves.  Tanning is like, removing the toothpicks. The animals ate and ate, but received little nutrition. Lots of moisture, wet spot developed.  A spirochete similar to syphilis entered and was passed along by mating. Many koalas died.  The good news is that development in the area was not only stopped, but many developed areas will be returned to their original state.  (More on the topic; "A Touch of Chemistry".)

434.  Checklist of plants and animals. There are few checklists of either plants or animals that inhabit fallen Douglas fir in Pacific Northwest. [Let alone, in other areas with other species, in the USA (Termed as profiles or unique features of organisms)].   No checklist of the microorganisms in fallen trees of western old-growth forest is available [I know of none in the east.]; the subject has hardly been studied.  (Higher fungi have been cataloged for many kinds of so-called rotten wood in Europe.)  Lawton listed the mosses that occur on so called rotten wood or stumps in the Pacific Northwest.  Deyrup (1975, 1976) has done a thorough job with insects and has identified about 300 species associated with fallen Douglas fir.  The only published checklist for vertebrates that use fallen trees is for northeastern Oregon (Maser and others 1979 not listed in references here).   (Maser and Trappe, 1984, page 18-par 2)  

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