Sunday, August 28, 2011

Towering Trees

A gentle fog shrouds the treetops in this photograph by Bryan Peterson, taken at Kopachuck Park on August 25th 2011.

Laminated root rot is not a new or unusual disease, it is a relatively common affliction of Douglas fir and Western hemlock trees in our area. It is just one path of natural progression in an aging grove, but it is particularly devastating at Kopachuck Park due to the number of trees involved, the severity of their infection and the location.  Standing dead trees are a natural and integral part of an old growth ecosystem (ask the pileated woodpeckers).  Without being judgmental, the truth is that we as a society have little tolerance for the inherent risk they present and small stands in urban areas must be managed.  The fungus may persist in roots for 50 years or more and spreads via root connections, so one management plan is to plant more resistant species, which is what they plan to do here.  With careful tree removal, minimal damage to the understory and replanting, in a few years newcomers won't understand our angst.  Which is good, but also why it's important to remind them that there are possibilities beyond the limits of what they see when a forest is allowed to grow to maturity.  Maybe to agree that remaining old growth forests are a legacy worth saving?  We are the final witnesses to this relatively mature forest and we're doing this because we believe that our observations are worth documenting and sharing.

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