Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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#3 Tribal Forester Will Hatcher's presentation
I am the tribe's forester, and I am here today to give you an introduction to some of the key components of the forest and also describe some of the elements of the forest management plan. I want to stress right now, that our plan is not complete. It is still in the developmental stage, so I won't be going real in-depth in it, just a brief overview. I anticipate the plan to be completed by mid-November. And then, after this morning's presentation, we have 5 stops planned out in the forest to give you an idea of some of the conditions out there and some of the problems, and we'll offer a mini prescription on how we would go about treating those problems.
Development team: Before I go into my discussion, I wanted to briefly mention the forest plan development team. We were pretty lucky in getting some very esteemed foresters from the Northwest here. They are Dr. Norm Johnson, Dr. Jerry Franklin, and Debora Johnson. Norm is a forestry professor at Oregon State. Jerry Franklin is a forestry professor at the University of Washington, and Debora Johnson is a planning forester for the Oregon State's research forest, and she specializes in GIS analysis and forest inventory analysis. We are very lucky to have these people working on this plan for us. I would also like to mention that, although the plan is not complete, it was in a stage of development where we could have a scientific peer review team take a look at the plan, and we had that done in early September. The review team consisted on Dr. John Gordon from the Yale School of Forestry, Dr. Hal Sahasser who is the current OSU Forestry School dean, Dr. John Bouter who is the current president of the Society of American Foresters and was formally the Deputy and acting assistant Secretary of Agriculture under the first Bush Administration, and Norm Christensen who is a professor at Duke University and a former dean. The plan, in their words, passed with flying colors, and we were very pleased to receive that information. They provided a written report to Norm Johnson, and Norm will incorporate some of their suggestions in making the plan even better. So, we were very pleased to get that review done and out of the way.
Forest Introduction: First, I am going to go into an introduction to the forest. This map here is the lands the tribes are seeking return of. The green area is the current Federal lands within the former reservation, which is the red boundary. There are approximately 690,000 acres, and that is the acreage that the forest plan pertains to. The major forest types on the forest are ponderosa pine, mixed conifer, and lodge pole pine. This is an example of an exemplary ponderosa pine bitter bush type. It is the most common type of forest on the reservation. This is the ponderosa pine sagebrush type. It is generally much more open. It's on the drier side. It sits on the fringes of the ponderosa pine forest where it grades into juniper and mahogany sagebrush-dominated habitats. This is a mixed conifer snowbrush. There are approximately 6 or 7 different species of trees that can occur in this type. It was originally dominated by ponderosa pine. It is now dominated by white fir mostly. This is a moist mixed conifer to white fir type. There is not a lot of this this type of forest on the reservation. Many of these areas are almost nearly all white fir. This is the lodge pole pine, bitterbrush type. It is the most common bitterbrush type on the reservation. It generally occupies the harsher, colder drainage basins on the reservation. This is the moist and wet lodge pole type. This was taken this spring. This very particular stand is very wet at this time. This is high-quality wildlife habitat, and this type is occupies the drainages and draws. There are some other key vegetation types in the forest. The forest isn't only stands of trees, but it is also a variety of meadow-type riparian areas, hardwood patches and scab flats. Our wildlife biologist Rick will talk more about those. I just wanted to show some pictures and give a little bit of historical perspective on the reservation.
Tree Types: This is a map that was developed by the Forest Service, complied by the Forest Service in 1936. It is a forest-type map, and what I wanted to stress on this map was the dominance of ponderosa pine. These dark orange area are all, at this point in time, virgin ponderosa pine stands. This lighter orange area here is almost pure ponderosa pine also. Those are part of the early harvest of the Tribe up to that point in time. Some of these white inclusions are the lodge pole pine forest, and this piece right here is the only really mixed conifer forest that existed on the reservation at that time. Here, there is some green, you can hardly see it around this red, are the true fir types like white fir. So, approximately 85% or the reservation was pure ponderosa pine. About 15% was lodge pole pine and less than 1% was the mixed conifer/true fir type. Plan to keep this map in mind because there is another one that shows the current structure today. Pointing out landmarks, Modoc Point, Sycan Marsh, Sprague River Valley, Chiloquin, Klamath March, etc. Something that Weyerhaeuser butchered. Allen had this picture. This is a virgin ponderosa pine stand on Calimus Butte in 1930. Notice the openness of the stand, few brush patches back there. An excellent stand. This is another virgin ponderosa pine stand taken in 1958. This stand had about 30,000 board feet per acre, which is the upper limits for that much volume in the eastside ponderosa pine types. Huge trees grew here at one time. Again, another virgin ponderosa pine stand. Very little reproduction, not a lot a of brush, very open. You can probably see for 200 yards in a stand like that, historically. This is a stand up on YaWhoe Plateau. We'll be running the full length of this plateau later on this morning. This stand here was actually harvested about 1929. They took these residual trees during that harvest. There is still a lot of big pine. This pine here is about 5 feet on its stump. There are some fir in here. When we drive through it, you'll notice the drastic change. There are a few large trees, but it is mostly a simplified stand now.
Forest Conditions: I will talk about some of the current conditions on the forest. This is the map that I wanted to tie back to the previous map of the 36 condition. The green areas are the ponderosa pine types. The red and the brownish are the mixed conifer, and the pinks and the purples are the lodge pole pine, and in my area today, the ponderosa pine has shrunk from 85% to 60%. Lodge pole pine has increased to 20% from 15%. These next conifer are true fir types that have increased from less than 1% to up to 20%. This is primarily due to selective logging, taking off the big pine, and keeping fire out of the system. These trees in this mixed conifer type are what you call short-tolerance; they explode once they have the over story taken off of them, and if they are not thinned back and managed, they'll take over what was once ponderosa pine dominated stands. We have summarized the current forest conditions, being overall stand densities are much higher in proportion, ponderosa pine is much lower. The density of large-diameter trees, particularly the pine is much lower. Fuel loadings and continuity from the ground-to-crowns and from crowns-to-crowns is much higher. Fire regimes have shifted from frequent low-intensity burns to infrequent stand-replacing fires. Overall condition understory browse used by big game is deteriorated. The stands are just grossly simplified and homogenized, basically meaning they are small and look the same, not a lot of structure in them. Here is an example of the current condition. This is a ponderosa pine stand. We've got an example of the dense under story coming in. You've got white fir coming in, which historically did not occur. These large trees are the ones we are wanting to protect. They are at risk to stand-replacement fire. This is a classic ground-to-crown fire ladder. The fire starts down here and will shoot right up into these crowns in the right conditions will carry on through the crowns, make a crown fire, crown-to-crown. This is an example of a grossly homogenized ponderosa pine stand. There are virtually no large trees in it. These trees are all roughly the same diameter, probably an average around 12 inches, and it just looks the same. This is taken in winter, but the bitterbrush is starting to fade out of this stand. This is an example of the deteriorated browse species, particularly bitterbrush. This is an extreme case of deterioration, but it is common on a lot of the areas of the reservation. There is virtually no nutritional value or any type of value for mule deer for feed with brush in that condition. This is an example of the shift from low intensity fires to infrequent stand replacing. This is the Cowboy Fire that burned about 4000 acres in 1987 on Saddle Mountain. This is on the Lone Pine Fire, which in 1992 consumed about 30,000 acres. From this vantage point where this picture was taken to the south here, you can see probably 4 or 5 other stand-replacement fires that averaged anywhere from about 400 to 8000 acres. These have all occurred in the last 20 years or so. We are going into a little bit of technicality here. I will explain what these structural classifications are. The existing ponderosa pine and mixed conifer stands differ greatly in the degree in which they have been modified by past treatments, especially with the removal of large older trees. We used this degree of modification to classify the stands. The first one, simplified, are the stands that have been impacted the greatest, modified the greatest. The complex have the least amount of modification to them, and the simplified with remnants have an intermediate between those two. Remnants are referring to the large-tree component remnants. The following photos will illustrate the simplified and simplified with remnant structure. The only difference in the simplified and simplified with remnants are the number of large trees on a per acre basis. You don't see any in here, but the simplified with remnants can have less than 2 trees per acre, whereas the simplified with remnants have anywhere from 2 to 8 per acre. That still doesn't qualify as what we call a complex structure. Some of the other characteristics of simplified and simplified with remnants are they are stands with high stocking levels of small trees. There is basically an absence of large snags and large logs, and there is not a lot of gaps in the canopy to allow regeneration to come up to the canopy. In the upper photo here, that is an extremely dense stand. This is not a sustainable condition nor is this one here. Both these stands are susceptible and if they aren't treated, eventually will burn up or be lost to bugs or a combination of both. This is a simplified mixed conifer type. Again, this is an unsustainable condition. These trees are going to either succumb to fire or bugs. This photo down here is a classic example of a ponderosa pine-dominated stand being out competed by white fir. They started out as trees on the ground. They are all ponderosa pine, and these are fir. They all basically started out together as a young stand, but the fir will outgrow the pine for a while, and that's a common result. Here is a simplified with remnants ponderosa pine forest. You can see the large trees. A few of them growing up within a sea of young ponderosa pine. These trees are at high risk for stand-replacing fire. They are also distressed. The competitive pressure placed on these big trees by these small ones reduce the figure of these lower trees, and eventually that causes them to become susceptible to insect attack.
Principles, goals and objectives: Our management focus will be on the following principles and goals and objectives. Forest restoration is what the tribes want to do with the reservation forest. The basic principles for management is the restoration of a healthy, diverse, structurally complex forest ecosystem, and enhancement and protection of the forest, wildlife, water, and soil resources of the reservation. The principle management goal is to move as much as the forest as possible toward a structurally complex ponderosa pine and mixed conifer dominated forest as rapidly as possible, and I will define that complex shortly. In our forest management objectives, some of them, and these kind of counteract the current condition problems, is to restore the forest complexity; reduce average stand densities; reduce overall fuel levels and continuity; restore a more natural fire regime; increase habitat and carrying capacity for deer, elk, and other species; enhance spiritual and cultural values; and produce a sustained monetary and subsistence income. Some of our management priorities, 2 of the most obvious ones are to reduce the stand-replacement fire to existing structurally complex forest and restore the full range base of big game. The desired future conditions should reflex the complex ponderosa pine dominated forest landscapes. In order to get to that future condition, though we've got to remember that in many stands, it is going to take a few decades and in other ones, it is going to take a few hundred years. There is no quick fix to fix what is going on out there. What is a complex forest structure. It is the pre-management forest structure that has a large tree component. That is the most obvious, and that is the one that takes the longest to get when you are starting with the seedling to grow it to a large tree that is going to take anywhere from 200 to 300 years. There is also a spatially complex pattern of stand structural units, which means you would have some large tree groves, some open dense regeneration, and some individual trees mixed in with it. There is also a large snag and large log component at low levels, not tons of it. There is also well-developed understory communities with herbs and shrubs and moderate tree stocking level ,and in some places there would be even no stocking depending on the site relativity. Why a complex structure? It provides a layering effect across the landscape, which provides the habitat for most of the native mammal and bird species on the reservation, and this structure is the best of the remaining forest in ecological and wildlife condition. These stands will function as the core areas for landscape level habitat restoration program. Here are some examples of what a complex forest might look like, particularly in the ponderosa pine type. There is 1 snag right there. You can see the large ponderosa pine trees at high-stand levels that dominate the stand. There is some intermixture of advanced regeneration, some shrubs on the ground. This stand here looks a little different than that one, because this was a prescribed fire about 10 years ago, and there was a good response to the bitterbrush component. That is a snag there. These are complex mixed conifer types. This is probably how we can vision seeing the mixed conifer stand look. This one here is a little too dense. This stand is at risk actually from stand-replacement fire. This is the remaining areas of old growth or complex forest on the reservation. Out of 500,000 acres of the ponderosa pine and mixed conifer type, there is approximately 100,000 left, and that is the green areas here. This is a little misleading. Some of these larger blocks...This map was created in about 1990, and since then the forest service has put in some harvest units in some of these more continuous blocks, so they have had most of the large trees taken out of them, but there are still complex areas left around. The primary silvicultural treatments we use to move the stand towards a complex structure is variable density thinning, and that basically means we are not going to thin to real uniform spacing. There will be clumps of trees, some individuals, but not just that tree farm look. Mechanical mowing of brush will be done extensively on the forest and prescribed fires. Before we can actually put prescribed fire on most of the forest, we've got to mechanically treat it first. If you don't, and you try to do it with just fire, you'll end up burning everything up. Management emphasis are similar to what the forest service calls management areas. They are specific areas from the forest, and each one of them has a specific set of goals and objectives and standards and guidelines that will guide the type of management that occurs. The 10 management emphasis we've emphasized are the Blue Jay Springs natural research area, the Sycan wild and scenic river, bald eagle habitat, big game winter range, riparian complex forest, restoration forest, lodge pole pine and bitterbrush type, the marginal site high elevation lodge pole, and the wet lodge pole. We have also across the forest have set up 18 management reference sites, which represent the major forest types and conditions. We have photographed them and described them, and we are going to use those as probably demonstration areas for the public and whoever wants to see what we are doing and how its particular treatment might turn out. Each one of those reference sites has a general prescription written for it. A prescription is just a way to describe how you are going to treat a stand and some of the methods you will use, some of the goals you are trying to shoot for. As I said, the plan is not fully developed, and some of the portions of the plan that Norm and his team are still working on are some of the guidelines for a monitoring plan and adaptive management plan, the inventory system, the relationship of our plan to the Northwest forest plan. We do have a couple of nesting spotted owls on the forest, which historically probably did not happen, but since it has grown up and got more dense, it does have some owl habitat. There is a post fire treatment strategy, which includes how we will deal with fire salvage until we can reduce those catastrophic events, and a business plan, which will spell out much of the finances and the economics of the plan. With that, that is all I have. I went through it. I wasn't real specific, sorry about that, but like I said, the plan is not done, and we still need to give our tribal public the opportunity to have it presented to them and adopted by them. With that, thank you. Applause.
Page Updated: Thursday May 26, 2011 03:18 AM Pacific
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