Thursday, December 29, 2011

More on the Logging at Farragut

I received another email concerning the logging that is occurring in Farragut State Park. I am not a reporter not am I an editor. I volunteered to post this information because we should be upset by the methods that are being used for "thinning" of Farragut. Paul Chesney gave me permission to post his letter: Norma Jean
"Last Monday afternoon, 12/26/11, when driving in the Park just before Whitetail Campground along the South Rd. planning to take my usual hike from the docks east along the upper trail above the lake, I saw a pile of about 14 or 15 feet wide and 6 feet high of recently felled smaller logs, along the south edge of South Rd. in front of some heavy logging equipment, and I stopped to take a closer look.

It may have been that the smaller logs piled in front of the equipment clearly visible to traffic was intended to suggest to the public the thinning of the smaller overcrowded bull pine as has been done along much of South Rd.

However, behind the logging equipment, in an area just now being logged, were numerous large felled Douglas fir logs ready for hauling out of the Park measuring in the range of 19", 22", 17", 21" etc.

Hiking further back from there towards the path that leads to a clearing into the west side of Whitetail Campground about 300 yards in and starting at a point where the Linx trail leaves the trail into Whitetail, are numerous large Douglas fir that have just been felled and limbed. This is in an area off to the left of the trail. The area (so far) covers roughly 6 to 8 acres. Random diameter measurements for these show: 17", 11", 17", 12", 10", 15", 14", 20", 15", 10", 18", 13", 14".

Only a small number of the big standing trees in this area remain. The area here still had fresh limbs covering much of the ground. Numerous piles of these larger logs are scattered throughout the area and were also ready to be hauled back to South Rd. where the heavy equipment was parked.

Park and Rec. or Fish and Game will tell us they are just thinning this area of Farragut and will undoubtedly downplay the aesthetic damage we see and the harm to the existing wildlife and will say that the “thinning” is necessary to lessen the possibility of the spread of forest fires or wildfires within the park

There are two kinds of thinning, however; one which is, I believe, legitimate: that is, thinning out the smaller, stunted, dry, overcrowded growth that occurs when years ago, virtually all the trees germinated at essentially the same time. They are far more vulnerable to the initiation or spread of fire. In Farragut, this kind of thinning has been accomplished in various areas of the park and is especially noticeable along some of the main roads.

The second kind of thinning, I believe, is not legitimate; it is a process where the underlying motive in most cases is ultimately for profit. It involves (1) removing most or all of the brush and smaller trees within a stand of large, mature trees, as well as (2) "thinning" the large, mature trees and leaving only a smattering of them within the logged area.

Park management, will justify this kind of “thinning” by using the well worn argument that the danger of wildfires is reduced when enough of these trees are logged so that the tops or crowns of the trees has sufficient space between them. This is a bogus explanation and simply not true for a variety of reasons.

Significantly more sunlight is allowed in these logged, “thinned”, areas. As a consequence, drier conditions soon result, and within a relatively short period of time the loss in the ground cover and habitat for both plant and animal is quite dramatic. Moss and lichen that were present before, rotted logs that had served as shelter and habitat for smaller animals and birds, and much of the ground cover will dry up in what once was a shadier, cooler, environment.

Those areas in the Park with the larger, mature trees clearly should be left alone."

Paul Chesney

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