Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Alpha and The Omega

One day this past October, I decided it was time to make a trip to the woods with the goal of finding the first and the last reforestation projects on which I worked.  At first thought, my plan seemed so simple; grab my camera, some food and water, then head to the woods.  Upon further contemplation, it occurred to me that during my career, I had work on at least 560 separate projects.  Without question, I remembered the last project, but the first one was a little more difficult to recall since nearly thirty two years had passed.  So in the spirit of full disclosure, my “Alpha Project” is shall we say among the first of my career but likely not the actual first!

The Alpha Project

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This is a stand of Douglas-fir trees that were planted during the winter of 1978.  I should have included some point of reference for scale but on average, the trees in the foreground have diameters ranging between 12 and 14 inches.  By convention, a tree’s diameter is measured at a point that is 4.5 feet above the base of the tree.  Visiting a stand of trees this age is a joy because you can walk about and not get wacked in the face by branches!


The Omega Project

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I will never forget the Omega Project; we planted the seedlings on a rather cold and wet day in March of 2007.  The project area was located down the end of a vacated dirt road so we hiked nearly a quarter mile slipping in the mud the entire way.  Oh yea, it was fun, fun, fun!!

The final unit was also a vast departure from the norm in that it was reforested with red alder seedlings.  For the majority of my career, red alder was considered a weed species of little value and no one ever thought about using it in a reforestation project.  Oh how the world of forestry has changed since beginning my career in 1977.


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Again some point of reference for scale would have been useful but I left home without one the day of this trip.  The alder seedlings shown above are three years of age and range in height from 8 to 10 feet.  Given their rapid growth potential, by the end of the summer of 2011 it will be extremely difficult to walk between the trees without getting wacked in the face by a branch.


Earl said...

Steve, you must of felt a certain joy and pride walking among the growth of your alpha project knowing you had a part in restoring this forest to what it is today.

I was curious about Red Alder and was surprised to find how beneficial and useful it is. Not only does it increase soil organic matter but also enriches soil nitrogen. The bark contains salicin which is related to aspirin. The sap is edible and can be made into vinegar and crystalline sugar and the wood can be used for firewood, woodchips, veneer, pallets and furniture -- among other things. Pretty amazing and interesting.

Enjoyable post!

Steve Skinner said...

Thanks Earl! You are right, alder is an incredible species. It also was a very challenging to species to culture and plant initially but a challenge was what made work fun.

I also hope that the weather cooperates for the weekend wedding.

The Donut Guy said...

Dude.....that's pretty darn cool. Your grandkids grandkids will be able to see your handiwork.

Steve Skinner said...

Thanks George! The funny think about forestry is that projects from 25 years ago that I considered failures are actually in vogue with today’s ideas for forest management.

Nancy Lewis said...

It's inspiring to see the results of efforts made long ago. Thanks for this post, Steve.

Nancy Lewis said...

It's inspiring to see the results of efforts made long ago. Thanks for this post, Steve.

Nancy Lewis said...

It's inspiring to see the results of efforts made long ago. Thanks for this post, Steve.

Pamela said...

Nancy is really inspired.. ha ha.
I hate it when blogger does that.

last fall when we drove north on the Oregon and Washington coasts, I noticed several signs indicating reforestation.

Most of them had industry names on them, tho.

Steve Skinner said...

Pamela, There was a time when we use to install signs but then the knuckle heads started using them for shooting targets. It just became more work than it was worth!