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Common and Oregon ash species profiles

17 Oct

Let’s take a break from all the issues and events for a long-absent species profile.

For reasons that you’d have to extract from me over drinks, I’d have to say that the ash is my absolute favorite tree. I feel a very personal connection to them — particularly the common ash, Fraxinus excelsior. (Incidentally, this would have been the species of Yggdrasil, the World Ash of Norse mythology.) The only native ash in the Pacific Northwest is Fraxinus latifolia, the Oregon ash, so I feel obliged to look at that, too. In fact, I’d like to take more of a class approach in this particular “species” profile.

It is pretty easy to identify a true ash, which is to say, any member of the genus Fraxinus. They are unique in having opposite branching and compound leaves, meaning all buds and twigs arise directly opposite from one another, and each leaf is composed of several leaflets.

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Current issues roundup: You’re not going crazy edition

3 Oct

It’s common enough to hear people jokingly refer to vegetarians as plant murderers. But today I present you with a study that may cast this notion in a strange new light. That’s right: plants can communicate using sound — and I’m not just talking about the Botanicals Twitter Kit.

Researchers from Britain, Italy and Australia recently found that plants not only respond to sound, but likely use clicking sounds to communicate with one another. The report, published in Trends in Plant Science, details experiments that used powerful acoustic equipment to record clicking sounds coming from the roots of corn plants. A simulated noise produced at the same frequency also caused young roots to grow in the direction of the sound.

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The march toward China: emerging timber markets

21 Sep

I recently attended the 8th annual Who Will Own the Forest? conference, and I must say it was every bit as disorienting as I expected it to be.

As a forestry student, I thought that attending this conference would provide me with valuable insight into the bottom line aspects of private forestry in particular, and that this would expand my perspectives beyond the scope of forest management. And I did come away with a better understanding of those things, to some extent. On the other hand, the forestry conventions I generally attend are densely packed with directly-applicable information and lots of straight talk — so I felt a little out of my depth immersed in the world of finance.

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A tangle of trouble for forests

29 Jun

Today we can all benefit from good note taking.

It’s been a while since I posted about the synthesis report Fire in Oregon’s Forests, but I found some things I jotted down, and these ideas have been rattling around in my head along with things I’ve picked up through work.

My notes seemed particularly relevant now that I am out of the West Cascade Douglas-fir zone and in the mixed conifer and hardwood of Northern California — where fire is a major concern for the forest. Add to that the pinch of nostalgia that comes from rooming with a first-year firefighter, and out comes this post.

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Upcoming changes & projects

8 Jun

Faithful readers! I have begun my new job on the Lower Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California. All is well in the world of silviculture, save for one thing: I do not have phone service or reliable Internet. So, I’m moving to a two-week schedule since that will be easier to swing in between evething else.

Look for upcoming posts on sudden oak death, tree physiology and maybe even the chemistry of paper milling, as well as a book review comparing various floras for the Northwest. Hooray! You know you are going to love it!

On visual assessment

29 May

Some of you wonder what I do with all my time at school and why I am always coming home wet and/or dirty. I’ve vaguely explained that it involves plenty of data collection, but I’ve always thought a serious explanation would be tedious at best. But you’re in luck, dear readers, because today I have lots of photos.

My classmates and I were lucky enough to go on an overnight camping trip to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest for silviculture lab. Lots of things were barbecued, of course, and someone may have even carved initials into a tree (for shame!) but we also spent a considerable amount of time running up and down hills at the Wind River Experimental Forest.

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Adventures with sawdust

22 May

Because I have a completely awesome instructor, my Timber Harvesting & Products class gets to take the best field trips ever. We recently traveled to the McDonald-Dunn Forest near Corvallis to observe the Oregon State University student logging crew in a thinning operation, and then went to the historic, zero-automation Hull-Oakes mill in Dawson for a tour, and finally to Freres Brothers mill in Lyons to observe a state-of-the-art automated operation. Thank goodness our instructor is energetic and excited about putting these trips together.

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Why I have not been writing: Tons of awesome field work!

17 Mar

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been absent from my duties on this blog for a couple weeks. But never fear! I have only been digging my way out from under an avalanche of term projects and exams. It will all be over Wednesday, so I figured I’d take some time to post today and show you what I’ve been up to. This also means I have not been able to prepare the interview I have in store, but judging by the response I got to my field notes post, you’ll enjoy this more, anyway!

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been working on various term projects. My friends might say the projects have been working on me, but that’s another post. We gave presentations for GIS and silviculture this week, with watersheds on Monday. Since my field notes post dealt entirely with our watersheds project, I’ll share that first, with elements of our GIS projects thrown in.

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Fire in Oregon’s forests: A study analysis

16 Feb

English: "Elk Bath" – A wildfire in ...I had expected this to be a very dense academic work since its subtitle bills it as a synthesis of current information,  and at times, it is. But I was also surprised to see that most of the information presented would be easily understood by the average reader. It’s mildly personally disappointing, as I was hoping to find a dense academic work (since OFRI publishes things just for me dontcha know), but it’s far outweighed by how much good can be done by making this information understandable to landowners and other non-specialists.

This publication spans everything from basics to specifics, predictive science to natural history. It begins by explaining a lot of things that I take for granted, and would imagine that many Pacific Northwesterners also consider common knowledge — the recent history of wildfire suppression policy, explanations of historical fire regimes, and the many dangers posed to the natural world by the interaction of the two.

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Updates and some slightly unsettling questions

4 Feb

What a busy few weeks! I’ve had a very strange and thought provoking experience, recently, which is mostly what I want to talk about in this post — especially if any of you can weigh in on the issue. But rather than append random updates to the end of the discussion, I’ll get them out of the way right off the top for those who are interested.

So, as far as school goes, I’ve recently begun doing watershed surveys, involving visual protocols and generating to-scale maps of a reach. It’s been fun, and more than a little wet. I want to post an update with scans once I get more done. Same goes for my silviculture class, in which a group of us are working on a restoration proposal for an area of greenspace on our campus. I’m becoming pretty comfortable with ArcGIS, too — and would heartily recommend Getting to Know ArcGIS to anyone wanting to learn this program. The book is fabulous and practical, and comes with a trial of the program suite, too — though Mac users will be out of luck.

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