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Old 02-01-2021, 10:45 AM   #1
montcalm
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Glading - is it really harmful to the forest?

I know this question has come up before with regard building maintained ski glades on forest preserve lands. As far as I know, the DEC has held firm on their stance that cutting of trees, even saplings, over a large area is against the mission of the forest preserve.

Being a ski advocate, I thought perhaps this was a bit overbearing on the DEC's part. Why would the forest care if a few saplings were missing? Or some other "brush" species. Does the forest really care?

In turns out, based on the most current research, that yes, yes it does!

As crazy as it sounds, all the evidence shows that trees have a vast communication network via a symbiotic relationship with the mycelium of fungi and with other tree species. And within species, it has been shown that older "mother" trees actually "teach" and select the best of their offspring, or even other species to cull the next generation of forest.

It has been shown that forest health, and resistance to pests and disease is largely related to this relationship, and that the old trees "learn" and send messages to the younger generations. It's not understood how this information is stored, but the data shows that trees definitely learn and share information chemically about how to protect themselves, and their community. Therefore removing certain species, even seemingly benign brushy wooded plants may change their overall response to things like drought or pests. It may seem kind of odd to think of it this way, but if a plant is growing near a tree, it's kind of only doing so because the tree is allowing it to. Larger trees control shading and nutrient absorption for most of the forest ecosystem (maybe all!). I'm not 100% sure about this, but I think this is why with single species plantations we don't see understory development. Single species plantations have been shown to have very poor health and very poor relationship with their neighboring trees - very few mycelium connections or root connections. Instead of acting as a multi-species, multi-kingdom super being, they go into a sort of panic mode where they directly compete with each other rather than the collective nurturing that is seen in natural forests.

So blah, blah.

TLDR version: It actually matters if we cull the forest rather than letting the forest cull itself. We may not select the trees that will do best in the next generation, but the older trees will. We also may take species or disrupt interactions that we have a very hard time seeing in the short term. Forests act in a very interconnected way not only between species, but across species and kingdoms. It is shown that vast chemical transfers exist between the whole forest, somewhat resembling a neural network.

So whatever the reasons may be, the science shows our best, healthiest forest are the ones that have the longest time to mature, and learn, and then teach their younger generations the best way to "manage" their ecosystem.
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Old 02-01-2021, 11:13 AM   #2
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A couple links for reference that should get you pointed in the right direction should you be interested in this:

https://www.nationalforests.org/blog...her%20minerals.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/scien...ees-180968084/
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Old 02-01-2021, 01:47 PM   #3
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When trail clearing with the permission of and even while being accompanied by a DEC officer in charge, I always thought it interesting that I am authorized to willfully kill hundreds of saplings and seedlings that could have one day grown up to be large mature trees. Yet if I did the same thing in a random location in any wilderness area, I could be fined a considerable amount per each tree for doing the same.
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Old 02-01-2021, 02:50 PM   #4
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Right. It seems rather arbitrary but the truth is zero cutting is the best. That obviously doesn’t work with in our modern world but there are perhaps things that are less disruptive than others. For instance a narrow trail is perhaps less disruptive than “grooming” a large area of forest. Although it seems that even that can cause problems with fragmentation of the mycelium. Apparently soil compaction, which is often touted in negative terms with regard to erosion, damages networks far below the soil that cannot recover. Not until everything is wiped clean with a new ice age. It’s especially controversial in logging and using heavy equipment which may be doing damage to future forest generations.

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Old 02-01-2021, 08:35 PM   #5
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Trails change the forest. I know this from experience taking iNaturalist observations when hiking in the spring.

You can see it in the flowers like bunchberries that grow on the edges of the trail. Trails compact the soil and keep the litter off the soil creating an opening in the environment for many other wildflowers too. If you take 3 big steps away from the trail these flowers will not be found.

I am just reading about mosses. Cutting small trees and creating a glade creates a good environment for mosses. Mosses do well in successional woodlands.
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Old 02-02-2021, 11:01 AM   #6
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Right - wildflowers and other plants that aren't shade tolerant won't do well in a forest. But there are stages and natural clearing of trees through fire, wind, flooding or disease is part of the process. It's not what the trees "prefer" though. Just as we do not prefer our communities to be damaged by these things.

That's why there are different environs. Large forests create their own microclimates. They cool the air and retain moisture, which the trees prefer. Trees, not unlike humans, modify their environment through their social network to make a more preferable habitat for their survival. This would not be unlike us building towns, villages or cities.
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:11 PM   #7
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And I know this may all sound kinda hippy-dippy, tree-huggy, but the science is sound from what I can understand.

Dr. Suzanne Simard is one of the leading researchers in these kind of relationships.

https://www.ted.com/speakers/suzanne_simard
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Old 02-02-2021, 01:53 PM   #8
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has there ever been a tradition of coppicing in North America?
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Old 02-03-2021, 09:23 PM   #9
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I only occasionally hike on trails. Most of my travel is off trail bushwhacking.

So lets get rid of all the trails. 99% of the public hikers had better brush up on land navigation; and we'd better budget about triple what we have now for SAR.
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:09 PM   #10
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I’m not proposing we get rid of trails, friend. I was merely pointing out above from my very limited knowledge that Everything has some kind of impact.

I’m simply passing this information along to anyone who might be interested. I find the entire subject fascinating and hope to see more research in the future. Heck, if I was qualified I’d be floating my resume to teams doing research in this.

The DEC has never given a reason (that I know of) why they oppose glades on the forest preserve but this may be the science they support to oppose it.

The data and test methods seem pretty clear there are these interactions. I don’t think that can be disputed but it is up to us as stewards to decide how much damage we allow.



Just a side note I was thinking about: can you dissect a human and look at the nerve connections and determine our consciousness and how and what we store as memories?

What makes you think we can do the same for any other living thing?

Last edited by montcalm; 02-03-2021 at 10:30 PM..
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Old 02-04-2021, 08:38 AM   #11
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Montcalm,
Thanks for the insight. Those who know everything know nothing. The wise know there is much to be learned.
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Old 02-04-2021, 02:51 PM   #12
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Montcalm,
Thanks for the insight. Those who know everything know nothing. The wise know there is much to be learned.
The Cosmos will never cease to amaze you, if you stop to listen.
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Old 02-04-2021, 04:43 PM   #13
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The clearing of trails, for X country skiing has little effect on the forests around it.
The greater concern should be limiting access (in the summer) to erosion of heavily used trails in the high peaks. We've all seen it.
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Old 02-04-2021, 09:02 PM   #14
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I was back country skiing today and thought of this thread.
Skiing is like the ultimate LNT activity.
Once I'm gone, all that remains are(is?) my tracks, and even they disappear with the snowpack!
No need for cutting, plenty of room between the trees...
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Old 02-04-2021, 10:17 PM   #15
montcalm
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Originally Posted by stripperguy View Post
I was back country skiing today and thought of this thread.
Skiing is like the ultimate LNT activity.
Once I'm gone, all that remains are(is?) my tracks, and even they disappear with the snowpack!
No need for cutting, plenty of room between the trees...
Perhaps you have no idea what I'm talking about?

https://www.powder.com/stories/featu...e-going-legit/

Certain groups in NY have been lobbying to do the same thing on forest preserve lands.

Skiing natural glades and openings has very little impact, except for wax chemicals entering the water table. But that's not what this thread was addressing in the least bit.
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Old 02-05-2021, 09:43 AM   #16
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put it to rest

Looks like we beat the horse to death. put it to rest.
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Old 02-05-2021, 10:44 AM   #17
montcalm
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Looks like we beat the horse to death. put it to rest.
Why? Does ecology offend you?

There's no reason you have to read this if you choose to stay ignorant of the impacts of your actions and decide what might be best for forest and the outdoor recreation industry.

I was actually thinking not along the lines that we should "ban" all thoughts of creating gladed trails, but perhaps if we put more thought into our process for determining where might be the places this would provide the least impact. Of course naturally open forests would be ideal, but also areas that receive, and hold the most snow. There has been some tradition tied to some proposed areas, but perhaps that's not what would work the best. Perhaps we need to study snow pack, snow depth, forest density and species of trees before we decide if an area is suitable to become a recreational area.
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Old 02-05-2021, 10:52 AM   #18
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A wise man once said "You don't know me, don't assume that you do.:"

Stripperguy: Have you been skiing Mt Haimer? And have you been on the Thunderbolt this season? I know North Adams got hammered this week. Planning to hit it next week.
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Old 02-05-2021, 10:54 AM   #19
montcalm
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A wise man once said "You don't know me, don't assume that you do.:"

Stripperguy: Have you been skiing Mt Haimer? And have you been on the Thunderbolt this season? I know North Adams got hammered this week. Planning to hit it next week.
I don't assume anything except that you have nothing useful to add to the conversation and you wish to impart your will to "shut it down" for some reason.

And now try to drift it. Why not a pm to Stripperguy?
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Old 02-05-2021, 12:12 PM   #20
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Moderator Please
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