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Old 07-04-2013, 05:21 AM   #519
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There is always a few sticks of wood on the back of my truck...
That is serious, not just an annoying regulation.
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Old 07-04-2013, 01:03 PM   #520
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Bark beetles range from Canada to Mexico and seem worse in the mountains. Beetle epidemics used to come every generation or so, but in the past 20 or more years, they come more and more frequently or never stop.

Drought, also more and more frequent, prevents trees from having much sap—the trees natural defense is to encase the beetles in sap and kill them. With little sap, we see major die offs of trees in about a year. In places you can see entire mountain sides of dead trees. Not only is it ugly, but it increases the danger of fire. A mountainside of dead, burned or cut trees does not retain water as well and causes mudslides and leaves less water for late summer and fall.

Some beetles like certain species of trees, but in recent years the ips beetle has surged and attacks every kind of conifer. With warmer temps, ips beetles reproduce more frequently in the summer than they used to or other beetle species, sometimes 2 times a year. Warmer winters mean they aren't killed off in the numbers they used to be.

On our 30+ acres of forest, I have cut a couple of hundred dead trees in the past 13 years—all show signs of beetle infestation. Yeh, there are a lot of trees left, but the piñons are disappearing and it is becoming a juniper forest. If it keeps up, it'll be a sparse forest and trees here grow very, very slowly. Piñons hundreds of years old are being attacked along with young ones.

Cut wood that hasn't been treated to kill off the beetles and larvae can bring them to areas where they haven't established a beach head. Beetles aren't the only bugs endangering forests here either.

Please don't bring more and different bugs to the west. You really can't know just what is waiting in those sticks in the back of the truck.

Gene
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Old 07-04-2013, 01:13 PM   #521
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I asked the question of "why all of the dead trees" while in Glacier last week. I assumed beetles too...the FS botonist replied: "Tree defense...drought causes tree to go into hibernation, no energy being wasted on foliage and tree is actually growing internally at a faster rate". Interesting. Not to minimize the current beetle crisis. Just thought it was a facinating factoid.
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Old 07-04-2013, 01:32 PM   #522
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Yes, the bark beetles have long since killed the pinons around Sante Fe and Taos. There are a very few of them left up the canyon from Taos toward us, but they're few and far between.

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Old 07-04-2013, 02:54 PM   #523
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We had a cottonwood shed 95% of its leaves last summer when we had 3 months without rain, even though we irrigated it. Trees lose a lot of water through their leaves (evapotranspiration is the word, I think) and only a few leaves means they are still getting chlorophyl, but saving water. After the rains came back, a new set of leaves appeared. That was strange. I've never seen a conifer do that, though there's one turning brown about 150' away from me. I haven't checked for beetle evidence. Junipers will sacrifice a large branch—it dies and the rest of the tree has enough water. Partly dead or entirely dead junipers are pretty spooky looking.

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Old 07-04-2013, 09:40 PM   #524
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Heavy taxes on firewood at Provincial Parks, eh? How much taxation for firewood are we talking here?

"Campfire in a can"? Haven't heard of that one - sounds like a good solution, how much $'s per can?

In the Southwest USA, we usually bring our own firewood - or in some cases, at state or national parks, we buy wood from the camp host in the neighborhood of $5-7USD/bundle. The campfire usually goes into a fire ring - or other designated burning location conveniently located near the trailer where we're camping.

This big government heavy tax on firewood you describe might spur off interest in Canada for RV'ers to form a new political action group like the colonists did in Boston for British tax on tea in 1773 - maybe call it the, "CAMPFIRE PARTY." Who knows....?
We pay $7 per bundle at Ontario parks - with strict rules against bringing in wood from other locations. The quality of the wood ranges widely - so the resulting fire can be hot and quick...or smoky and slow.

The last time we purchased (before Campfire in a can) the $7 bag held 7 pieces of wood.

A couple of summers ago there were fire bans in the parks in this area - so no selling of firewood. The government was complaining about the lost revenue.

I'm OK with the rules to restrict movement of wood to save trees. But when these same rules increase the money that goes into the government coffers, I have a problem.
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Old 07-05-2013, 10:24 AM   #525
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We hear you, Max! We view the price gouging on a few bucks worth of firewood and fees as our donation to support the parks system.
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:16 PM   #526
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Back when I was a kid in the 1962 my parents took me car tent camping. First trip was a glorious one month loop from Los Angeles, CA up through Utah, Wyoming, Montana over to Seattle to attend the world' fail then down the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. In Yellowstone Park in those days you could collect fallen wood for campfires. We camped at Old Faithful campground (no longer there but you can see the loops from Google Maps). We'd go in the car to cut some fallen wood to bring it back to camp. We had a fire going in the morning and evenings when we were at camp mainly to boil water in a metal bucket for washing ourselves and cleaning dishes. Gathering and cutting fire wood seem too much work for a 10 year old kid so maybe that is why I don't mind buying a bit of firewood for those rare times we have a fire which is mainly when my daughter and wife want Smores. Someone cut the wood and carted it to the campground so compared to all the other costs of traveling in an Airstream its a pittance.

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Old 07-05-2013, 02:56 PM   #527
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Kelvin,
You can still collect firewood in Yellowstone. One of the few NPs that actually get it...the stuff on the ground causes fires, fires are necessary to clear it out for renewed growth, fires are bad for tourism. Letting visitors pick up dead wood for campfires is like forest management on a small scale.
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Old 07-05-2013, 06:58 PM   #528
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The wood on the ground rots and creates humus, thereby enriching the soil. Best to leave it and let natural processes take place.

I used to pick it up when backpacking for a campfire, but now I think that was not a good thing to do, except keeping warm was sure a good idea. But a warm sleeping bag if tenting or a heated trailer mean you don't need a fire to keep warm. Coats help too. Backpacking is quite different (you can only carry so much) from car camping or having a trailer.

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Old 07-06-2013, 07:37 PM   #529
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Yeah. We Just hate 'em.
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Old 07-07-2013, 12:45 PM   #530
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The wood on the ground rots and creates humus, thereby enriching the soil. Best to leave it and let natural processes take place.

.......
Gene
True to a large extent. However, humans have done so much fire suppression in areas that would burn periodically if left to their own devices, that perhaps a little wood clearing around a campground is not a bad idea. Smokey the Bear has a point, but lightning is a natural "vaccum cleaner," for smaller. lighter, more frequent burns vs. our current system of leaving bone-dry dead materials to build up over decades.

People living in forests prone to burning are warned to clear the dead wood (and even live wood) around their house, to minimize the fuel build-up.
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Old 07-07-2013, 01:55 PM   #531
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Apropos burns and dead trees, I ran across an article in the Durango paper just this morning. The findings are pretty interesting:

The Durango Herald 07/06/2013 | Do beetle-killed forests burn faster?


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Old 07-09-2013, 02:34 PM   #532
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Interesting article, Lynn. I've been following questions about beetle kill since I arrived in Colorado and found that arborists do not agree on much of this and they are constantly learning more and changing their minds.

Another thing is that dead fall may or may not disappear quickly. Snow will soak the trees for a while and speed decay, but by summer they are dried out again. Some places get a lot more snow than others. Where we are, ants infest deadfall and in a couple years they remove at least half of the log from the inside. But they may not like juniper as much as piñon. I rarely cut juniper to burn because it ruins chains a lot faster than piñon. It seems it lasts a lot longer on the ground than piñon. The property we just bought was a ranch and they chained* the land in the '60's so more grass would grow and cattle could graze. They left a lot of the wood on the ground and the juniper is still there, pretty much intact. It appears it didn't take long for the ranchers to figure out there is more money to be made from subdividing or selling the land to developers, so the trees started coming back and there are a lot of young junipers, but not much piñon.

You will probably not camp in a place with lots of deadfall, but don't build a big campfire next to or close to a standing dead tree, especially if the needles are still on it. Dead branches with needles make great kindling. Wood not completely dried out will send many more sparks into the air and that's one way to start a forest fire. I've seen people with large campfires in NF sites with live trees nearby and sparks flying. Sometimes those sparks land in the branches and most of the time people are lucky, but not always. Another way to start a forest fire is where there is thick layer of humus, often made of needles rotting away to become part of the soil. A campfire can burn down into that layer and spread under the surface outside of the fire ring, smolder for days or longer and eventually start a forest fire. Clear that stuff away and pour lots and lots of water on the fire and around the perimeter.

In years of camping and backpacking, I've probably made just about every mistake** I could, but I always poured lots of lots of water on the fire. The rest of the time I was lucky.

Gene

*Chaining is usually done by using two bulldozers or other heavy equipment with a chain between them. They drive across the fields and knock down the trees. It is an environmental disaster and they don't even harvest the trees. Now more grasses can grow for cattle, but in high desert not that much grows and it takes a lot of acres to feed one cow. Thus you gain little grass as well.

**Dumbest thing I did was to build a fire uphill and too close to the tent in a canyon. Every evening wind comes down the canyons because of temperature changes—colder, heavier air up high moves downhill as temps drop in the valleys. Thus the wind blew the sparks right at the tent (which was too close anyway). I moved the tent. This was my first time camping in Colorado and I learned a lot on that trip.
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