Betreff: Weyerhaeuser: skinning a burn patient (2 articles)
Von: "Deane T. Rimerman"
Datum: Fri, 4 Feb 2005 23:22:30 -0800
 

Weyerhaeuser harvests first timber in Mount St. Helens blast zone
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/aplocal_story.asp?category=6420&slug=WA%20Mount%20St.%20Helens%20Timber

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS LONGVIEW, Wash. -- Weyerhaeuser Co. has begun harvesting trees that were planted 25 years ago in the ashes of the Mount St. Helens blast zone. In January, contract loggers began thinning stands of Douglas Fir from land that once looked like it might never produce another tree. In the Green River Valley, near the outer fringe of the blast zone, there are now no obvious signs of the volcano's May 18, 1980, catastrophic eruption. The forest floor is shaded under a canopy of green. Ash that once blanketed the ground has long since mixed into the soil. "It's a time of immense pride for all of us at Weyerhaeuser," spokeswoman Jackie Lang said. "By all definitions (the blast zone) was a wasteland 25 years ago. It's a complex and healthy forest today because of our active forest management." Logging trucks are scheduled to transport timber to lumber and pulp mills three times this year, thinning out the new forest to give the remaining trees more room to grow and thrive, so they can be harvested in another 15 years or so. "This is a pretty exciting time to be a forester," said Dick Ford, who in 1980 was in charge of Weyerhaeuser's large Camp Baker District, which contained all 68,000 acres of company timberland within the blast zone. Ford was charged with leading the return of Weyerhaeuser's timberlands. His work started just 30 days after the eruption, when Ford and other Weyerhaeuser employees dug through a thick layer of ash to plant the first trees inside the blast zone. Foresters quickly learned how to replant more than 45,000 acres that Weyerhaeuser retained within the blast zone. Contractors eventually replanted 18.4 million trees over seven years, beginning in early 1981. The rest of the company's blast zone timber land was traded with the U.S. Forest Service to be preserved as part of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The Coldwater and Johnston Ridge visitors centers are now located on land formerly owned by Weyerhaeuser. During the next several years, Weyerhaeuser plans to thin Douglas fir forests on about half of the replanted blast zone, said Bob Keller, harvest manager for the company's St. Helens Tree Farm. The rest of the replanted land won't be commercially thinned due to steep terrain or the type of tree species. Inside the national monument, where logging is prohibited, the landscape remains starker as nature is allowed to take its slower road toward recovery. Today Ford, 57, is director of the nearby Forest Learning Center along Spirit Lake Memorial Highway, a visitor center that Weyerhaeuser and the state Department of Transportation opened 10 years ago to help tell the story of how forests are recovering from the devastation. --- Information from: The Daily News, http://www.tdn.com 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 http://www.tdn.com/articles/2005/01/30/top_story/news01.txt First Harvest: Volcano-scorched land back in business By Eric Apalategui Jan 29, 2005 - 11:47:18 pm PST GREEN RIVER VALLEY — Weyerhaeuser Co. is harvesting the first timber in Mount St. Helens' blast zone since the volcano's catastrophic eruption a quarter century ago. Earlier this month, contract loggers began thinning verdant stands of Douglas fir trees in the Green River Valley and trucking the logs to lumber and pulp mills. This is the first of three thinning operations the company plans in the blast zone this year. The logging marks a return to timber production of land that initially looked like it might never produce a stick of timber in anyone's lifetime. Close to the mountain, the eruption flattened every tree. But on this gentle slope, near the outer fringe of the blast zone, a furnace-like heat swept across the forest, killing trees where they stood but leaving them standing. By now there are no obvious signs of the eruption -- the forest floor is shaded under a canopy of green. Ash that once blanketed the ground has long since mixed into the soil. "This is a pretty exciting time to be a forester," said Dick Ford, who in 1980 was in charge of Weyerhaeuser's large Camp Baker District, which contained all 68,000 acres of company timberland within the blast zone. Ford was charged with leading the return of Weyerhaeuser's timberlands. "It's a time of immense pride for all of us at Weyerhaeuser," spokeswoman Jackie Lang said. "By all definitions (the blast zone) was a wasteland 25 years ago. It's a complex and healthy forest today because of our active forest management." That management started just 30 days after the eruption, when Ford and other Weyerhaeuser employees dug through a thick layer of ash to plant the first trees inside the blast zone. With those early experiments, foresters quickly learned how to replant more than 45,000 acres that Weyerhaeuser retained within the blast zone. Contractors eventually replanted 18.4 million trees over seven years, beginning in early 1981. "That wasn't ordinary work to get the blast zone planted. That was very difficult work," said Ford, who returned to walk through the first harvest area last week. "This is the first place we went (to plant). It was the farthest from the mountain and had the least ash. So it was the safest and easiest." In the next several years Weyerhaeuser will commercially thin Douglas fir forests on about half of the replanted blast zone, said Bob Keller, harvest manager for the company's St. Helens Tree Farm. The rest of the replanted land there won't be commercially thinned due to steep terrain or the type of tree species. After the blast, Weyerhaeuser traded away a large amount of its land within the blast zone -- including land that now holds the Coldwater and Johnston Ridge visitors centers -- that became part of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. In exchange, the company received a far smaller, but forested, amount of land with living trees. The private and public lands stand in stark contrast today. Weyerhaeuser's commercial forests were completely replanted and is now carpeted in the deep green hues of Douglas fir and the bluer tints of noble fir. Across the monument line, where logging will never occur, the landscape remains starker as nature is allowed to take its slower road toward recovery. Today Ford, 57, is director of the nearby Forest Learning Center along Spirit Lake Memorial Highway, a visitor center that Weyerhaeuser and the state Department of Transportation opened 10 years ago to help tell the story of how forests are recovering from the devastation. Walking across some of the world's best timber-growing land, Ford said the landscape of forest practices has changed nearly as dramatically as Mount St. Helens altered the physical landscape. For one, Weyerhaeuser and other companies must follow far stricter environmental practices, including leaving buffers of uncut trees along stream corridors to protect fish habitat. The company also started getting certification that all of its operations employ sustainable forestry practices. For another, the very method of harvesting has vastly improved. Last week, contractor Moore Tech Inc.'s harvesters rolled through the forest. The harvesters grasp, cut and limb the trees in one nearly continuous motion -- often taking less than 30 seconds to transform a standing tree into ready-to-load logs cut to the buyer's specifications. A skilled harvester operator can cut and limb 1,000 of these smaller trees in a single day, contractor Dave Moore said. Before the mountain blew, it would have required a dozen good loggers to produce so many logs so fast, Keller added. The harvester operators also drop limbs in their pathway, further cushioning the machine's big rubber tires so they don't scour or compact the earth as much as old logging machinery, Keller said. In this forest, the contractor is thinning more than half the trees to end up with about 160 of the best specimens standing on each acre. The trees thinned out are still large enough for use as saw or pulp logs. Thinning allows the remaining trees to soak up more sun and nutrients, including fertilizer that Weyerhaeuser applies from the air, resulting in more vigorous growth. The thinning is carefully timed -- after the trees are big enough to sell and growing close enough for lower limbs to die off (resulting in fewer knots in the wood) but before crowded conditions slow growth. While Weyerhaeuser often makes money on commercial thinning, the main objective is to improve the value of the timber left standing, Keller said. The saws will return in another 15 years or so, when the forest is due for its final harvest -- followed by yet another replanting.