nature (162)

Shit in the Air! / Causes of Fires / Native California Land Management / Forest Management

Talking to Louie on the phone just now about the smoky air of the last week, he said, “That isn’t just wood smoke: It’s plastics, building materials, exploded gasoline, burned-up houses and cars…”

Shit, I hadn’t thought of that this last week. I wasn’t out running, but did take a few walks.

I shouda stayed inside a lot more.

We went on to talk about causes of these fires. He said that a lot of the problem is the type of logging that does not deal with the “understory” — all the saplings and plants that spring up afterwards. If they keep growing unchecked, they produce ever more fuel for fire. It makes sense to burn the understory (at its right phase of growth) on a windless day in wet or moist weather.

When foresters are involved in a cut, they will set a limit on the height of the understory, so loggers have to cut slash up into smaller pieces; this is managing the forest. However a lot of logging is interested in profit, not land management, and they leave behind conditions ripe for fire.

He then segued into how the Pomo of the Pt. Arena / Manchester area managed the land. In addition to hunting, fishing, and  harvesting, they used fire to clear selected areas of land, making it easier to move around, making hunting easier, producing green young growth.

I told him about this great book, Tending the Wild, by M. Kat Andersen; about “…indigenous land management practices …in… California when first encountered by Europeans and detailed explication of the care of, harvesting of, and use of California’s native plants.”

You can get it at Larner Seeds: www.shltr.net/tend

The cycle of life…

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Windswept Tree in Sonoma County

You don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows here. This bay tree is in a field between Bodega Bay and Jenner on the California coast. I must have shot pictures of it half a dozen times; it’s always striking. Adaptability in naure. Going with the flow.

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Woodrat Nest.

These nests are pyramidal, about 3 feet tall, all over in the woods around here. Woodrats are kinda nice critters, compared to disgusting Norwegian city rats. They’re like big mice, live communally, are craftily smart at getting bait off traps without springing the trigger. The ones around here are dusky-footed woodrats, often called “pack rats,” have bigger ears and eyes than city rats.

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