Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day #45: Salvage Logging and the Concow Fire..

Over the past few days, I've been extending my bike range. My goal is to make it to the top of Sawmill Peak--an elevation gain of 2,200 feet and an unknown number of miles away on logging roads. I asked Angel (my dog) if she wanted to come with me today. Smart dog that she is--she refused. We went a tad far for her yesterday; she wanted to rest at home.

So I headed out. It is Sunday and sunny, which means that the ATV folks are out.

I met a family of four out enjoying the logging roads. They had come over across the canyon from the town of Magalia. My goal is to ride my bike to Magalia someday...

I had to ride my bike across a fast flowing stream...

This is as far as I made it. Sawmill Peak is behind my bike. I stopped in a "clear cut" zone of Salvage logging. A two and a half hour ride today.



If you look closely, you can see the Fire Lookout on the top of Sawmill Peak in this zoomed in photo.

A pile of Salvaged Logs (cadavers) and the torn up staging area. There are many of these torn up staging areas on this bike ride. The devastation that the logging does is very difficult to photograph. It is much worse than it appears in this photo (and subsequent ones).


Salvage logging in a clear cut fashion. This is right on the edge of the beautiful Feather River Canyon (northern branch). In the clear cut areas, the logging roads were all washed up and torn up from water run off. And all of the water, mud and debris runs down, unhindered, into the beautiful Feather River Canyon. This cut is on the very edge of the canyon.

The mountain looks as barren as the moon. And the water rushes down 1,500 feet or more to the Feather River. Goodbye trout!


A logging road that goes straight up a mountain...and the rain water is channelled down the road. In a normal year, we get around sixty inches of rain. This year is 120 percent of normal thus far. And from the condition of the logging roads, you can tell we've had a ton of rain.



The Concow Fire occurred in 2008 (the day we moved into our cabin). We were evacuated for a couple of weeks, in two seperate events. The fire burned some thirty five thousand acres--and pretty much ended at our cabin. This fire was a stand replacing "crown" fire. The worst kind.

I've been watching the forest recover over the last two years. The photo above shows an area that hasn't been logged. The burned trees fall down gradually--starting with their uppermost tips. Plenty of bio mass prevents water runoff (and the dead trees fall down in segments--almost by design). Bottom cover plants turn green. The area has had an explosion in the turkey population. The deer are doing well too.

Juxtapose the photo above, with the brown de-nuded clear cut areas. No life has returned there.

But don't we need the wood? In this recession, there is a wood glut. The mills have plenty of wood in their inventories. The Feather River is one of the more picturesque places in northern California. There really was no good reason to log this beautiful canyon area.


I found some nice raccoon tracks on my way home. This must be one large raccoon. The track is as big as my hand...


Back and front paws are evident in these tracks...

7 comments:

Woodswalker said...

What a mess on that mountain! Aren't there any environmental regulations to control that kind of clear cutting?

Are you joshing us about those "raccoon" prints? I've never heard of a 'coon with feet that big!

Allan Stellar said...

Hi Woods,

I'm no expert at logging rules, but from what I've been able to tease out is that this logging can occur because it is "Salvage" logging (all that wood burned anyway, so why not get the value of it). Logging companies get giddy over all the fires we have had in the west. They get to log all of it without paying attention to any "rules". Plus this is private land. They can log at will, especially to "salvage" it.

As for the Monster Raccoon? Smaller front tracks shaped like a Raccoon's. Bigger back tracks shaped like a Raccoon. I'm no Tom Brown, but it looks like we have a really, really big Raccoon running around here. What else could it be?

I've also found mountain lion tracks on this road. Makes me a little nervous when Angel doesn't come with me. Gets spooky back there.

Allan Stellar said...

Hi Woods,

I'm no expert at logging rules, but from what I've been able to tease out is that this logging can occur because it is "Salvage" logging (all that wood burned anyway, so why not get the value of it). Logging companies get giddy over all the fires we have had in the west. They get to log all of it without paying attention to any "rules". Plus this is private land. They can log at will, especially to "salvage" it.

As for the Monster Raccoon? Smaller front tracks shaped like a Raccoon's. Bigger back tracks shaped like a Raccoon. I'm no Tom Brown, but it looks like we have a really, really big Raccoon running around here. What else could it be?

I've also found mountain lion tracks on this road. Makes me a little nervous when Angel doesn't come with me. Gets spooky back there.

lph said...

Allan,

It looks like training for the bike race is going to be fun. I have to believe there is some terrific mountain bike trails in your neck of the woods.

Good luck!

Larry

Allan Stellar said...

Hey Larry,

With all this logging, there are plenty of logging roads that criss cross through all the forests. Good for mountain bikers; bad for forests...

So when are you gonna start training for your next big event? Have you read Bill Mckibben's book: A Year of Living Strenuously? Bill writes about training for a cross country ski race--and what training did for him over the course of a year.

Cheers!

allan

Allan Stellar said...

Larry,

Just saw your first post on your birky thing. Good luck!

http://birkyness.blogspot.com/

Good luck!

allan

lph said...

Allan,

Actually I have been back on the skis throughout the winter. We have really nice cross-country ski trails in the park right next to my house. I have a long ways to go, but have no doubt I can get to where I need be by next February.

Last year was about getting off the couch and getting back in shape; this year will be about taking it to the next level.

It will be fun. And no I haven't read the book by McKibben but I believe I will look for it.

Larry