In 1991 (reissued 1993) Guy Orcutt of the ANWS circulated a proposal – “The Little North Fork of the Wilson River – Proposal for a Demonstration Forest and Wild Fish Study Area”
This set the groundwork for an effort to preserve the ~227 acres of old growth forest located along about one mile of the Lt.N.Fk.Wilson in the middle reach. This parcel was scheduled for clearcutting by Hampton Lumber. Even in 1991 this old growth boardered river was a rare example of how the Tillamook region used to be. Fortunately efforts to preserve this stand succeeded, culminating in 1996 with the transfer of this acreage from Simpson Timber to BLM.
The effects of this stand, even though it’s roughly only a mile of river - cannot be overstated. A visit to it is like stepping back at least 75 years. The river is complex with log jams, lots of in-stream woody debris; the water shaded by centuries old fir, spruce and cedar. It’s completely unlike the rest of Tillamook’s other rivers. It illustrates what has been lost elsewhere.
That this small tributary produces a lot of salmon is no surprise, it comes closest to the demonstrating the natural state of Tillamook’s rivers when they were at their highest historical productivity.
The Little N.Fk. Wilson is vitally important to the area’s stocks of steelhead, coho, Chinook and cutthroat. It also provides a great example of how productive the Tillamook Forest can be if managed for fish production, including pro-active actions such as streamside conifer restoration.
While "94% of the basin is in stands 60 years of age or less" we can see how important the 6% in old growth condition is to stream health and productivity.
Regarding 'shade'. I mention it to paint a picture of what the reach looks like.
For fish, the most important benefit of that old growth, in this particular situation, is the recruitment of large woody debris.
The LWD in turn creates complexity and the pool/riffle ratio that is in decline in the other surrounding rivers, as the old legacy logs/log jams, finally wash out.
Unfortunately, for these other rivers their riverbanks are mostly alder dominated (yes, there are some exceptions - there always are). Without active streamside conifer restoration (a challenging task in itself), these rivers will be very deficient in LWD for centuries, thus keeping their productive capacity at a greatly reduced level - and fish runs at a fraction of what they would be otherwise.
GSA said - "...coast range riparian alder forests will eventually die of old age and the creeksides will become permanently dominated by salmonberry thickets."
Yes, I became aware of their theory of the 'Salmonberry/Devils Club Climax Stage' during our work on the L.N.Fk.Wilson.
It's certainly possible, and may indeed happen in some locations.
Without question, what we do observe today is a lack of conifer recruitment in the the alder dominated riverbanks. Because of this, alder conversion and conifer restoration has become one of the points I focus on and advocate for when discussing management of the Tillamook.
To Dan: GSA and I have mentioned a couple interesting biological topics - longterm natural LWD recruitment, salmonberry climax stage, and conifer restoration. By chance, did these items get discussed during the tour?
Hi DepoeBayDan, your questions cover a lot of ground, glad you're thinking about this; I'll do my best to answer:
1."What kind of production are you referring too? Trees?" Yes, calculate how many acres are devoted to roads - it's impressive. 3000 miles of road are a significant impact just from the forestland they occupy.
2. "What was cut down in the last 7 years? The road?" Sorry for the unclarity, after the road blew-out the water 'down-cut', dumping tons of sediment into the stream. This happened in several places. It's not fatal to the stream, but still an impacat; the sediment flows through the system, ending up in Tillamook Bay. There's hundreds if not thousands of these blow-outs across the forest.
I mention this road, since it's easy to see - no organized trip needed. Just head upstream from the yellow gate, just east of Mills Bridge.
3. "I don’t think anyone is going to argue the fact that the salvage logging 50 years ago was not damaging." Actually, ODF's spin, as you've reported earlier is that that _fires_ were the damaging event. Yes, these huge fires were damaging. However, the subsequent impacts caused by sloppy logging of the era are swept under the rug in what's truly "revisionist history".
4. "So what are your suggestions or implications regarding roads in the Tillamook State Forest?"
3000 miles of roads or a density of about 5 miles of road per square mile of forest (think about that a moment) is in itself a huge problem. Particularly in such an erosion prone area as the Coast Range. If you climb around on those crumbling mountains a while you come to asking yourself - "Man, what's holding this thing up?".
The answer is fewer roads, better constructed and maintained. Even roads a long ways up the ridges blow-out and impact the streams below. I'm sure you're familiar with this?
Rebell, C'mon, there's a huge range between between managing the Tillamook better and what you're rhetorically suggesting.
We can learn from past mistakes and not repeat them again (and again, and again, and again).
Yes, there's problems in the bay, and in the tidelands, and the flats, and on up into the forest. This 'chain' of habitats are all important. Some of the 'links' are more important to some species than others.
But the bottom line is, the healthier the chain is the better off all are - people and fish.
[Straydog asked about seeing impacts from past activities]:
Not to take this too far, but one only has to look at some of the 3000 miles of roads, and untold numbers of former roads to see the impacts.
There is no way ODF can maintain that magnitude of road network. Do the simple math and figure how many acres are taken out of production due to the land is replaced with roads.
These are a major source of the sediment that continues to move through the system. Just begin hiking up the L.N.Fk.Wilson and you'll quickly see where the road has blown out and then down-cut in the last 7 years. This is repeated across the landscape.
While the fires were damaging, authorities have written that the salvage logging itself actually caused more resource damage as cat roads were punched into every ravine with no consideration for erosion control. Either then or later.
Hi Dan, I don't want to take this thread off of fish, however, regarding the comment -
"As far as preserving a heritage for future generations, I believe we are doing this."
This concept of a natural heritage means different things to different people. Here, we've all focused on fish which dispite our differing viewpoints is clearly where our passion lies. Keep in mind though that fisherman are a minority and the State forests are the property of all Oregonians.
As such, there are many 'values' other than fish that people are concerned about, for example - scarce species, various forms of recreation, wilderness or solitude, biological functioning and evolutionary processes, restoration of an old growth coastal rainforest, and some folks just want to see big trees that will never be cut.
Today we celebrate the areas that our ancestors had the wisdom to preserve from Oswald State Park, to the Mt.Jefferson Wilderness. Beach and river access to high mountains. We need to ask ourselves - what will our legacy to the future be?
There's an old saying to the effect that the future will judge us by what we leave for them.
I suggest that there's no shortage of industrial logging lands in the Coast Range, the sort of mature and old growth forests that used to exist though are in extremely short supply. Portions of the Tillamook devoted to these values are what an increasing number of people want to create as a legacy for the future.
Then, future Oregonians can decide whether to keep or cut those acres - but at least they will have that choice and decision to make.
OK, back to fish. :smile:
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