16 Feb 2009, 1:41am
Forestry education Saving Forests
by admin

Tall Tree Tales: Bear Bait Unleashed

Mike to bear bait:

Tillamook Head. Tallest trees I ever cruised. Hard to get a good look at the tops due to the 30-40 foot brush. Had to tunnel from tree to tree. The tops were way up there. Pencils to the sky. Ridiculously tall trees.

bear bait to Mike:

I have cruised trees with 4 and 5 forties in them to MBG 40% of dbh, but guess what? To be that tall, trees have to grow in high site 2 or better, in 2nd growth with crowding. They end up with a tassel top, which is a parachute, and you belly break the shit out of them falling. The butts hit the ground to about 60 to 80 foot up the bole, and then the rest of the tree arrives later, slowed by air resistance. So you lose the 3rd log to longitudinal breakage all too many times. You have to adjust your breakage from the gross scale by a factor of double or triple of normal.

Best to have some humps and broken ground to purposefully break them over, clean. Flat ground is destructive. I learned all that the hard way. I was with an outfit for several years that sold [telephone] poles from timber sales they bought. The best stand of poles I ever found would not make the grade because of not enough sapwood to treat. 70′-120′ poles up the wazz, but no sapwood. Grew too tight and not fast enough.

Most trees have a lean. Big trees can be wedged or jacked to some degree to control their fall to a pre-determined bed. The trick is to avoid stumps and landscape features. But tall, whippy second growth doug fir needs to be broken while falling. On a stump or over a little rise. Or else you lose a lot of wood to belly breaks.

Most small second growth today is 45-ed down slope and not bucked but processed on the landing by a stroker. Or if bigger, 45-ed up the hill to save out, and then it also gets butt hooked and sent up to a processor. Or maybe across the hill with a butt log cut and then processor for the rest. All depends on the site and timber type, lay of the ground.

Most trees have a lean, especially old trees on the coast. The land is constantly being upheaved by tectonic plate action, and the whole of the landscape is either marine sediments or basaltic intrusions. The different strata of sediment layers have a great range of common particle sizes, but each layer is a pretty much homogeneous particle type: siltstone, mudstone, sandstone, conglomerates, etc. And when rainwater infiltrates, it lubricates. So the layers are prone to slippage. That is why you are always on either the ridge top or a prior slump in the Coast Range.

The foot of the slips and slumps are creeks and creek bottoms, or mid slope benches. But it is all a prior slip or slide or geologic disaster in today’s terms. The whole of the deal is designed to become flat land over years because of geological composition and gravity. Only basalts like nepheline syenite and columnar basalt provide lasting gravel. The rest is sandstone that starts out the size of a basketball in the headwall failure, and ends up a piece of rock suitable for a sling shot not far down the stream. The mildly acidic marine rain and inherent softness erode the rock every time high water tumbles it down stream.

The fines end up in the bays and out in the ocean. The result most noticeable of the Tillamook Burns is that Tillamook Bay filled up with sediment. If a break in the longshore sandspit north of Cape Meares were to be breached, I think the bay would flush as it used that channel to flush flood events into the ocean. And when the summer currents, drying winds, and the sands above the low water mark are moved by summer wind, it would soon close and then the bay would have to flush out the north channel again between the jetties. Waldport and Siletz bays could use the same ancient treatment. Of course, very expensive homes would be cut off from mainland. C’est la vie.

Tunneling to trees to cruise them: I have actually rolled across salal to get to the next tree on a plot. Up Horse Creek above Sea Lion Caves. Fairview Mountain country. Outlaw that I am, I gaffed a steelhead out of pool under a culvert when I was cruising up there. Came up some tributary of the N. Fork Siuslaw, close to where you fall over into Ten Mile Creek… not Ten Mile Lake… 40 years ago… or 39… after the Big Snow shut us down in the Coast Range from Jan 10th until late March… 3′ of snow on the flat in Eugene and broke the back of every barn over 30 years old in the Coast Range.

Broke back barn winter. A friend of mine up the Little Nestucca had to shoot a cougar in his calf barn. And two nights later, another. Broke every dairy barn at any elevation in the Coast Range. Couldn’t get the roads open to haul milk for a week or better. Or get feed in. Bad deal.

That Horse Creek road was where I saw the earliest incursions of understory growth under Coast Range post-fire second growth. Red cedar about 10 to 15 feet tall in those days. I should go back and see it is still there and growing. Doug fir naturals will work in the fog belt, but planted is a disaster. It is mostly hemlock and spruce, red cedar sites. And lots of red alder.

After the Spruce Division and CD Johnson Lumber finished off their stolen Indian timber south of Waldport, the Blodgett Tract and the reason for the trestle over Alsea Bay, there was no reforestation. It came back to alder, which had no use. The USFS got it in some trade, and after WWII, Arlo Livingston who had Corvallis Aviation got a contract to 2,4D the alder with war surplus biplanes, Stearmans. My uncle Allen and his brother Carl, still alive, were the ground crew. I think Carl flew some, too. They worked out of the Waldport airport and the Newport airport. Sprayed tens of thousands of acres of USFS alder to release conifers, I think after the conifers summer hardened.

No matter, but you have to wonder if there was every any environmental followup from that massive of a spray effort. And you have to wonder what RNAs or Wilderness or Proposed Wilderness were sprayed. I would bet a little of Drift Creek caught some. Family history on the Siuslaw. Also, there were 62,000 acres of homesteads bought up during the Depression in the Rural Relocation Act. And some of that is in Wilderness. In old growth reserves! Lies are lies.

Rex Wakefield, the Siuslaw Supervisor in the 50’s and 60’s told me about that. He was an agent of the USFS buying them. He would know. His dad told him that timber was an over-rated thing. He had trapped the upper Siletz country for martens, and there was enough timber up there to last forever. Big, old, huge trees, doug fir, noble fir, spruce, cedar, hemlock, other true firs. You trapped martens with boxes in the noble firs, and where lots of decadent hemlock had lots of cavities. The martens looked in cavities for birds and eggs, and your trap was in the marten box…

Tall old growth spruce and hemlock don’t really have a market today. That old vertical grain spruce used to have uses in aeroplanes and home finish. I think it now goes to core veneer. And not a lot of mills today are able to spin that big of log.

I am not an accomplished spruce cruiser. That log is tough, as you can’t see inside it and there are not a lot of indicators. So you cruise and then cut your net cruise for unseen defects. Self-defense cruising. Second growth is easier, hardly any grade in it. The #2 mill is the best log, and then #3, #4… lots of taper young and high 50s form class. Give them time and that goes to high 60s like you are talking about. Spruce has been pulp logs mainly for so long. I once read a paper about a house built of nothing but spruce. I know nothing of music wood, either. The best music wood comes from the exceptional Englemann or even more so in Brewer’s spruce.

I have seen bird’s eye hemlock, and even better, in my parents home, built during a 1950’s lumber strike by my Danish immigrant grandfather. We had crow’s foot hemlock paneling and our ceilings were noble fir car decking that grandpa and I beveled on his jointer on the sub floor of the house. I was the 12 year old off bearer. It came tongue and groove, and Carl and I spent a couple of days running each piece over his jointer to bevel the inside edge for “the look.” The inside walls were paneled with the hemlock. The kitchen cabinets were red cedar, and we mill worked the edges on that too, and put on the tongue and groove. All on this old jointer. I cleaned a zillion used bricks from Salem High School which had been demolished so that Meier and Frank could build their Salem store. Grandpa built the house using what he could find during a time of little available lumber. I remember going out to Digger Mountain Lumber Co. by Fall Creek on the Alsea and picking up the 4×12s and some other timber used in the open beam ceiling upstairs. The #3 tongue and groove sub-flooring 2×6 doug fir. The RC Wilson Construction guy drove Wilson’s truck and Grandpa and I and he loaded it by hand. An all day job, out, load, back, and then unload.

Speaking of nice lumber I had two really good old growth cutters work for me in the 70’s and 80’s. Mike O’Malley was the faller. We were looking to sell grade logs. I ran Boise Cascade to $326.25/mbf in 1974 or ‘75 on the last Valley of the Giants sale north of Valsetz, 78″ average dbh, 64% of the scale was 3 peeler or better. The hemlock was 50% special mill and better, about 40% #1 sawmill.

I used a diameter tape and taped every tree. My K&E tape was sometimes not long enough, so I had a log scaling tape that had diameter on the other side. I had trees to 128″ dbh…

Boise had decided on what their absolute top bid would be, and that was $326.50. They hired a firm to see if I had somehow tapped their phones or bugged their office. Not true. It was my numbers, my cruise, and I had a pre-approved log market and price. When I ran out of money, I quit bidding. I quit with a profit on the board. Boise had a ten mile haul to Valsetz, all off highway, and I had a 98 mile haul to a sawmill cutting export clears. Boise made veneer out of their logs. Expensive veneer. I would have jacked, wedged, and pulled trees to save them, as it was BLM lump sum. In later years I had occasion to be on pretty good terms with Harry Miller, an old Oregon Pulp & Paper cruiser who went with the sale of OP&P to Boise. He told me my cruise was right on with his, and my grade was almost exactly what he had. That was the best moment of my cruising life, when a valued, old time, seen it all cruiser told me I was better than any of the Boise college boys, by far, and the Boise wheels knew it, and I was a known adversary to watch out for. Made my life worthwhile.

When Weyerhaeuser was selling the remains on their Rock Creek tract up the N. Umpqua out of Glide, where they road logged to their railroad spur near Sutherlin in the late ’40s and maybe during WWII (as they did up the Calapooia above Holly — reloaded at Holly and the logs were dumped at Canby to furnish Portland mills in the war effort), they were selling parcels about every month. Anyway, I bracketed the bidding and bought a sale across south of the N. Umpqua, up Rock Creek. I had Roseburg Lumber’s prices bracketed and in the next round I would have been able, with my export ability, to buy some of the wood. The partners that owned the mill I worked for were lumber brokers, and bought and sold Roseburg clears.

Sorry to say, they cut off my money. I would have made them a couple of million dollars in six months. And in three years, the mill was shuttered, not able to buy logs or sales because the price escalation going up and profits being taxed which reduced the cash reserves. The divergence soon took away the ability to make the 10% or 20% down payments, plus the increased values were not met with increased bonding ability. No longer able to compete for timber with people with deeper pockets, more retained earnings, fee simple timber and land, and we were were marginalized and gone. Pretty simple formula.

It was not about sawmills needing fewer people. It was not about increased mechanization (we had better over-runs and production values than Willamette Industries in Dallas did 5 years later — our sawyer went to work there, got me the daily figures), but it was simply that profits could not keep up with price escalation on the timber purchasing financial instruments, the price escalations due to vast reductions in public timber offered for sale, and taxes were a good part of the problem. The IRS got the money we should have had to buy timber.

Anyway, this is all water under the bridge. I see everyday the myths abound. I hate it, of course. I hate institutional lies. And that is what they are. Myths provided by Eco-Nazis lobbies for their furtherance. The Big Lie as public policy.

Enuff of my bullshit… I am off to get the hood latch fixed on the pickup. Won’t open. — bear bait.



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