The New Indigenous Knowledge Series ~ authored in Clatskanie, Oregon

“…the great resource was never the timber itself but the ecosystem with its soils and functionality that held the long term value.” Symbioticfuture~2015

The New Indigenous Knowledge Series ~ authored in Clatskanie, Oregon:

Part one: Water security in the greater Clatskanie Region

Coupling rich soils to mega-ecology was truly the sponge with no equal that sustained the loop of a temperate rainforest and its streams and rivers through a desert-dry summer of nearly 4 months. Symbioticfuture~2015

In the small talk of the bank lobby, stirred the issue of rain. One said we need it; another was annoyed. One woman confidently asserted that: “We need snowpack in the mountains”. The latter is a widely accepted part of the one size fits all knowledge subscription. Is it relevant? Is it knowledge? Do we need snow pack in our local Coastal Columbia region’s mountains? Why don’t we ask Jeff VanNatta up at the top of Apiary, where the Clatskanie River originates above camp Wilkerson around Bunker Hill, or Bill Church out Beaver Springs where Beaver Creek grows from originating trickles, or we can go to the clear-cut Mist Mountain to see the new gullies that represent the beginnings of Conyers creek. Do our rivers sustain throughout the summers on snowpack and glaciers?

Actually, our streams and rivers are a mighty effort of billions of sustaining trickles through and from the seldom appreciated volcanic soils that are layered across our tiny mountains in a 2 to 6 foot thick sponge. It is more complicated than that looking back to the historic medley of forests and damp meadows that once contained 1000 or more tons of Carbon per acre. Coupling rich soils to mega ecology was truly the sponge with no equal that sustained the loop of a temperate rainforest and its streams and rivers through a desert-dry summer of nearly 4 months. The world ain’t that way anymore, at least not our little patch of the world. But what can we do?

Coupling rich soils to mega-ecology was truly the sponge with no equal that sustained the loop of a temperate rainforest and its streams and rivers through a desert-dry summer of nearly 4 months. Symbioticfuture~2015

___________End of Part-One___________

The New Indigenous Knowledge Series ~ authored in Clatskanie, Oregon:

Part Two: Analysis of our mountain soils (The basics)

Water storage and feed back is the story of bounty and the local mystery of strong soils, geology, and dynamic ecology as a single symbiotic resource for the greater prosperity. Symbioticfuture~2015

Three primary soils dominate our mountains synergizing with ecology to eke a full years service from seasonal rains. What should we know about them?

Goble Silt Loam is a light rich fertile volcanic 2 to 4 feet of topsoil on top of hard silt pan that sometimes turns to what locals call soapstone. Goble Silt Loam has an average moist bulk density (weight/Volume dry) [1]of 0.85 to 0.95 g/cm2 with exceptional water and organic matter holding capacity do to its structural characteristics and synergism with ecology.

Anunde Silt Loam is prevalent with over 5 feet of topsoil often on sand, siltstone or rock outcrops. Anunde has a moist bulk density (weight/Volume dry) of 0.70 to 0.85 g/cm2 also with exceptional water and organic matter holding capacity do to its structural characteristics and exceptional synergism with ecology.

Tolke Silt Loam (same story), is nearly identical to Anunda often more than 5 feet deep and has a moist bulk density (weight/Volume dry) of 0.70 to 0.85 g/cm2 also with exceptional water and organic matter holding capacity do to its structural characteristics and synergism with ecology.

For reference, sub-soils like those under Goble silt loams 2 to 4 foot surface have a moist bulk density (weight/Volume dry) of 1.60-1.80 g/cm2 indicating near zero water storage/slow-release potential. This is over twice the dry weight per volume of the volcanic topsoils! That translates to no place to store water, and no place to tuck the rains into the structure of the mountains.

Water holding capacities are a straightforward mathematical metric. They fill in pieces of the hydrology puzzle; it’s the mystery of how our tiny snow free mountains could feed water flows consistently through the desert-dry 4 month summer. Each of the soils had a primordial forest/meadow layer that could hold 0.30-0.60 inches/inch. The mineral soil components—excluding organic matter—are listed below:

Goble Silt Loam: 2 to 4 feet holds 0.19-0.21 inches/inch[2]. The stable subsoil under the light topsoil is water restrictive, holding—0.04-0.06 inches/inch (zilch).

Anunde and Tolke had the same primordial forest top layer, followed by 4 to 6 feet of volcanic soil with an exceptionally high 0.25-0.35 inches/inch which is as high as any mineral soils in the world for soil water holding capacity. It is well above the best mineral soils of the Willamette Valley, the Palouse, or the Great plains for water holding capacity.

Clatskanie’s rolling to steep mountains with zero snow-pack or glacier feed and heights usually well below 2000 feet receive near zero rainfall from mid-June to Mid-September. They have a hydrologic complexity based on the very specific soil and ecology of our micro-region that under heavy industrial pressures is subject to our stewardship integrity and our local understanding.

What fed our temperate rain forests, springs, and Salmon streams in the past? It was not snowpack, and certainly not glaciers. It starts with our exceptional light fluffy volcanic topsoils that coated our mountains. Even more so, it was the life in the soil that churned through and filled it with Organic Matter and space to draw in and store water. Organic Matter was in the form of living, dying and decaying cycles of soil microbial ecology (the tiny creatures and organisms), soil mycology (fungus/mushroom related), and the flora and fauna (plants and animals) of the forest. Studies of existing ancient forests (old growth) have found 1000 tons per acre of terrestrial Carbon (life in cycle) contained in the former system vs. today’s typical max of 150 tons/acre in what may seem like a “massive” 2nd growth forest 60 to 80 years old. This 1000 tons/acre was in the form of dynamic soil ecology, plants and animals and it built a terrestrial residence for water storage that stretched from ridge to ridge across our rolling mountain-scape. Water storage and feed back is the story of bounty and the local mystery of strong soils, geology, and dynamic ecology as a single symbiotic resource for the greater prosperity.

The forests and meadows of old flat-out absorbed water including a preponderance of the 60 inches that fell in the long winter months. It is the soil and ecological resource that maintained reliable flows of water in the increasingly dry summers and prevented large scale flooding in fall, winter, and spring. Therefore in fact, the great resource was never the timber itself but the ecosystem with its soils and functionality that held the long term value.

Water storage and feed back is the story of bounty and the local mystery of strong soils, geology, and dynamic ecology as a single symbiotic resource for the greater prosperity. Symbioticfuture~2015

___________End of Part-Two___________

The New Indigenous Knowledge Series ~ authored in Clatskanie, Oregon:

Part Three: A history lived once

In the greater balance sheet, our region, our people, and our wildlife were hustled for all but the clothes on their backs and the strength to rebuild. Symbioticfuture~2015

Around the 1920’s, forests were rapidly cleared around Clatskanie, Oregon and Skamokawa, Washington to enrich the wealth of the Simon Benson family and, build the city of San Diego, and to fund the Benson family philanthropic legacy. The generous donations scattered our region’s wealth variously between San Diego, Portland, and beyond never looking back to Clatskanie or considering the ecosystem that had been devastated as a gift to far-off lands. Our forefathers learned to work enriching another land and another non-resident family’s legacy and stretched and sweated to feed and educate their families.

In the greater balance sheet, our region, our people, and our wildlife were hustled for all but the clothes on their backs and the strength to rebuild. Once the forests and meadows were gone and 1000 tons of Carbon and life per acre with them, nature began to eke out an existence again to preserve our rivers, replenish the wildlife, and feed the springs and streams with clean year round flows of water. The wild regrowth also replenished a hold on the soil, the true gold of our region, and safeguarded it from degradation and loss to erosion. Alder and maple partnered with 1000 others pioneering to rebuild soil fertility and it was off again to a bright and glorious someday-majesty. The rivers still ran full and the salmon survived.

Sadly the ecosystems and the soils as their mantle of sustenance were not recognized, respected, or stewarded for a future better than the day. Look at the pictures from that day of the bare mountains of stumps and slash behind the fancy and simple wooden houses and you may be thankful that we at least have our trees. We may not have our forests, but we do have our trees. Every cycle the trees grow shorter, every cycle the soil is lost and compressed and the forest organism dies deeper as the soil washes downward. Every cycle of cutting, the Carbon and nutrients in the system—no, not those of plants only; all the nutrients of biology and life—diminish and the soil runs away to rivers…to the sea.

The forests from then until now—2015—were managed for wood production through a forestry system that was not locally relevant to the holistic well being or our local society. Having started with some of the most exceptional soils and ecosystems in the world we have yet to look respectfully on or seek to understand them and how our stewardship of them affects our future, massively.

In the greater balance sheet, our region, our people, and our wildlife were hustled for all but the clothes on their backs and the strength to rebuild. Symbioticfuture~2015

___________End of Part-Three___________


The New Indigenous Knowledge Series ~ authored in Clatskanie, Oregon:

Part Four: Estimating Soil Losses

…the average annual rate of soil erosion in the Palouse River Basin was 9.2 tons per acre (tons/acre) of available cropland, or about 14 tons/acre of cultivated cropland (USDA, 1978)…”US Geological Survey Report

Locally relevant studies do not really document the soil losses in the greater Clatskanie region. However our landscape is at least as severe as the rolling Palouse of Eastern Washington. We are steeper, we get 3 times as much rain, and our soils are 1/3rd lighter, more erodible, and easier for water to carry away.

We have data on the Palouse:

“Since the Palouse River Basin was first farmed in the late 1800s, soil erosion resulting from runoff water has been an ongoing problem. The erosion problem became particularly acute in the early 1900s when steep lands once used for hay and pasture were converted to grain production. It is estimated that 40 percent of the rich Palouse soils have been lost to erosion (Pimentel and others, 1995).

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study reported that from 1939 through 1977, the average annual rate of soil erosion in the Palouse River Basin was 9.2 tons per acre (tons/acre) of available cropland, or about 14 tons/acre of cultivated cropland (USDA, 1978).” US Geological Survey Report: http://wa.water.usgs.gov/pubs/fs/fs069-98/

Ours region is a similar story. Massive unaccounted soil loss is the norm. I think we have a sufficient case to start a discussion on. It’s time to re-examine the practices of leveling ecosystems from entire slopes, mountain tops, and valleys, the practice of piling and burning the debris, and as much or more than the others, the dispersal of cancer, bio-disruptive, and multi-disease/syndrome vectoring chemicals across the regional landscapes in the form of Herbicides. Herbicides hamper the ability for natural systems to restore the vulnerable soil and environment and they pollute the ecology and introduce dangerous impurities into pure systems. Their use in our watersheds and sustaining mountains is the foolishness of our youth; and its time for us to grow up and to call a spade a spade.

…the average annual rate of soil erosion in the Palouse River Basin was 9.2 tons per acre (tons/acre) of available cropland, or about 14 tons/acre of cultivated cropland (USDA, 1978)…” US Geological Survey Report

___________End of Part-Four___________

The New Indigenous Knowledge Series ~ authored in Clatskanie, Oregon:

Part Five: The story of Herbicides in the mountains:

The Herbicides used are being applied to the forest life that remains to inoculate the recovering ecosystems of our mountains and our sustaining watershed. Symbioticfuture~2015

It’s time to re-examine the practices of leveling ecosystems from entire slopes, mountain tops, and valleys, the practice of piling and burning the debris, and as much or more than the others, the dispersal of cancer, bio-disruptive, and multi-disease/syndrome vectoring chemicals across the regional landscapes in the form of Herbicides. Herbicides hamper the ability for natural systems to restore the vulnerable soil and environment and they pollute the ecology and introduce dangerous impurities into pure systems. Their use in our watersheds and sustaining mountains is the foolishness of our youth; and its time for us to grow up and call a spade a spade.

Science and common sense on the Herbicide issue:

2,4-D, Glyphosate, Triclopyr, Garlon 4, and other common forestry herbicides are now commonly used in our area. All are biologically and soil active with more questions than answers in terms of effects. They are spread indiscriminately or semi-discriminately with helicopters over entire landscapes, steep slopes, and even year round and seasonal streams. Pollution from their use can be documented, shall I say, any day of the week, yet it continues. Two months ago the Oregonian reported on the issue of forestry’s deep pockets resulting in an ongoing landslide of wealth consolidation at the expense of the local environment, water systems, wildlife and communities. It has gone so far that Oregon is losing federal stewardship funding do to lack of action to confront big money interests. We are losing our own tax dollars earmarked for our stewardship of our resource in exchange for efficiency of plunder feeding outside financial streams.

Herbicides, emphatically, do end up in streams and rivers, in people’s drinking-water-springs, and certainly some fraction stays long term in the local environment.

The Herbicides used are being applied to the forest life that remains to inoculate the recovering ecosystems of our mountains and our sustaining watershed. They are all that are left to rebuild a semblance of soil and fertility again for future generations.

Soil microbial ecology and chemistry are of within my specialty of study. I have a minor degree in Soil Science and worked for several years in analytical chemistry and a couple more with the USDA agricultural research Service Weed Science Department in and around hundreds of herbicides and other pesticides.

Many of the Herbicides are touted as rapidly degraded after application, but this is in terms of half-life with lesser residues and harmful breakdown products persisting often for decades. By example 2,4-D, like the others is extremely persistent in the environment when leached into the deeper profiles or when taken up in non-target plants, wood char, or in soil organic matter. When applied for the first time to a land area, it measurably changes the soil microbiology for decades. In fact, when it is first applied it has been shown to break down slowly until the soil microbiology shifts to the organisms that are best suited toward its presence including those that break it down. One collateral effect is greater disease pressure in soil and loss of function. In a present case-study its wide scale use in the Willamette Valley in some cases has disabled lands for the now popular and profitable Viticulture—vineyards. If a person goes away, they are gone. If a chemical goes away it is altogether different in complex ecology, hence the measurement of half-life over a long term degradation cycle that in complex ecology is impossible to predict.

The Herbicides used are being applied to the forest life that remains to inoculate the recovering ecosystems of our mountains and our sustaining watershed. Symbioticfuture~2015

___________End of Part-Five___________

This was a perspective presented by HUB-Clatskanie as part of the local knowledge discussion. We are working to build the level of locally specific knowledge and its accuracy and relevance to living splendidly in this place with long term prosperity. Land ownership changes as time rolls on, but the mandate and rewards of stewardship always fall on the resident local community.

~ As always, Agoecology for a SymbioticFuture!

________________________________________________

[1] “Moist bulk density is the weight of soil (oven-dry) per unit volume. Volume is measured when the soil is at field moisture capacity, that is, the moisture content at 1/3- or 1/10-bar (33kPa or 10kPa) moisture tension. Weight is determined after the soil is dried at 105 degrees C. In the table, the estimated moist bulk density of each soil horizon is expressed in grams per cubic centimeter of soil material that is less than 2 millimeters in diameter. Bulk density data are used to compute linear extensibility, shrink-swell potential, available water capacity, total pore space, and other soil properties. The moist bulk density of a soil indicates the pore space available for water and roots. Depending on soil texture, a bulk density of more than 1.4 can restrict water storage and root penetration. Moist bulk density is influenced by texture, kind of clay, content of organic matter, and soil structure.”Source: USDA NRCS.

[2] “Available water capacity refers to the quantity of water that the soil is capable of storing for use by plants. The capacity for water storage is given in inches of water per inch of soil for each soil layer. The capacity varies, depending on soil properties that affect retention of water. The most important properties are the content of organic matter, soil texture, bulk density, and soil structure. Available water capacity is an important factor in the choice of plants or crops to be grown and in the design and management of irrigation systems. Available water capacity is not an estimate of the quantity of water actually available to plants at any given time.” Source: USDA NRCS.

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