Wednesday, July 6, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Apparently Trees don't really Gulp, Guzzle & Water Hog, only Humans do that

Somewhere Roger C. Bales & Michael Goulden just fell off  the proverbial chair

Artist John Cox, Terre Haute, Indiana.
 (White Cloud 1942 - published in Life 1948)
Those large wildland Mega-Fires are actually Ecologically Beneficial - Seriously ???
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The wildfire that scorched nearly 600 square miles of land in Oklahoma and Kansas in March cleared out more eastern red cedars in a week than local efforts to eradicate the invasive species could have accomplished in decades, conservation experts say.
"This was an ecological cleansing for the environment," said Ken Brunson, wildlife diversity coordinator with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. "That's mixed-grass prairie down there. Prairie survives with fire."
(Source - St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

(Aron Flanders/US Fish & Wildlife Service photo via AP)
May 2014 photo provided by Aron Flanders of the US Fish and Wildlife Service shows eastern red cedar infeastation in Southern Barber County in Kansas before the Anderson Creek wildfire. 
The article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was entitled, "Wildfire in Kansas, Oklahoma called 'ecological cleansing'" and the same theme was carried by other News outlets. But doesn't that new label or terminology, 'ecological cleansing', have an eerily familiar ring to it ? 
"Ethnic Cleansing" - is the systematic forced removal of ethnic or religious groups from a given territory by a more powerful ethnic group, with the intent of making it ethnically homogeneous. (Wikipedia)
Keep watching out there for this latest derogatory term to make the rounds and become a regular part of the scientific community's more enlightened vocabulary. Especially where industrial business interests are concerned. One of the biggest mistakes human beings make when attempting to describe something in the natural world is they tend to judge and view things about Nature only in human terms and you cannot do that with the natural world around us. The common flaw in human viewpoint on things in nature are generally based on things they like or dislike, things they view as beautiful or things that are ugly, things that annoy or please them, etc, etc, etc. Things that are inconvenient, bad, creepy, spooky, evil, good, are motivated by loads of emotional bias. In the case of the Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), there are economic considerations. Take a further look at what US Fish and Wildlife Service, Aron Flanders says regarding Eastern Red Cedar:
"Yes, we killed the trees with the wildfire, but we didn't remove the problem," said Aron Flanders, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The trees still standing will act as a shelter for the next generation of trees."
(Aron Flanders/US Fish & Wildlife Service photo via AP)
The May 2016 photo provided by Aron Flanders, of the US Fish and Wildlife Service shows reduced eastern red cedar infestation in Southern Barber County in Kansas after the Anderson Creek wildfire.  The wildfire that scortched nearly 600 square miles of land in Oklahoma and Kansas in March 2016 destroyed homes, killed livestock and damaged thousands of miles of fence. But conservation experts say it also cleared out more eastern red cedar trees in less than a week than local efforts to eradicate the invasive species could have accomplished in decades.
Apparently to some experts like Aron Flanders, if these dead trees are not removed by allowing logging companies to come in and harvest them, then this disastrous scenario will happen:
Red cedars, also known as junipers, are fast-growing, drought-resistant trees that are useful for erosion control along canyon edges in the region's Red Hills. But they're a nuisance on prairie land because they crowd out native grasses, suck up moisture from the soil and reduce the amount of forage area for wildlife and livestock.
(Credit: US Forest Service)
Does some of the terminology sound familiar ? These trees are known to 'suck water', 'guzzle water', or 'gulp down water' ??? This was the same stunt pulled in California where certain hydrological experts made the same accusation against all the trees in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The claim was that the lack of water in streams, rivers and reservoirs were drying up not because of the four (going on five) year drought (climate change induced), but rather because the native vegetation was at fault for gulping down all the available water which prevent big industrial agricultural interests from getting their big share. After all, they only want to feed mankind. Their theory suggested that if logging companies were allowed to harvest and thin throughout the Sierra Nevadas, that water would return to the streams, rivers and lakes of California. But oddly enough we don't have to wait that long to see if their theorized massive logging projects would bring improved stream flows, because the media has been posting this news headline everywhere:
A record 66 million trees have died in Calif., increasing fire risk
The Water Guzzling Alert: Roger C. Bales is still on the Tree Logging warpath for Industrial Agriculture again
New York Times: Sierra Nevada Snow Won’t End California’s Thirst - by Henry Fountain, April 11, 2016 
The big question though to those hydrological experts is, did they do any studies in regions where millions upon millions of dead trees occurred and did shy mystic water magically increase in the streams, rivers and lakes ? No and the reason is you need water from normal rainy seasons to make that happen in the first place. Despite the less than as advertise El Nino saviour coming to the rescue, it didn't even make a dent in the drought. But back to the controversy of the Eastern Red Cedar, the ranchers and others with vested agricultural interests who have greatly exaggerated the Eastern Red Cedar as greedy user of water and those imaginary detrimental side effects these trees have on grasslands. Rumor has been spread around that the Eastern Red Cedar consumes 50-60 gallons of water daily, stealing it from precious grazing lands. However that appears to be a gross exaggeration. Oklahoma State Division of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources said this:
"With funding from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, Giulia Caterina, graduate student, Will and Chris Zou, ecohydrology assistant professor, found that, on average, redcedar trees used six gallons of water per day."

The Eastern Red Cedar's biggest drawbacks are mainly a lousy public relations, because for the most part humans judge this native tree as having no value either economically or aesthetically in the opinion of the person who hates it. People have a flawed tendency to judge most things in the natural world the same failed way they misjudge other human beings who are from different cultures, races, ethnicities, etc. Hence we have a ruined planet as a result both physically and socially. I've stumbled upon this stupid reasoning with native plants in the chaparral plant community of Southern California where humans place value on certain specific plants because they have good ornamental value, can make money off them or generally have that eye candy curb appeal. So what exactly did Ralph Waldo Emerson mean by looking for "virtues" in a weed ? We should first define weed. A weed should not necessarily be considered one of those usual pesky annual ruderals which invade and carpet your yard for which Roundup is employed. Truthfully a weed is any plant that interferes with a human being's opinion of what they consider to be useful, pretty, good, of economic value, etc. The term "virtues"  equates 'good qualities'. Emerson is just saying that plants classed as weeds may turn out to have uses we may not as yet know about. For example many chaparral plants in Mediterranean climates act as an important erosion control component mechanism for a time after disasters. Thereafter other more desirable plants can grab a foot hold and are helped to survive early life and eventually replace the chaparral nurse plants. Certain Chaparral nurse plants [many of them disliked as dull or mundane] have this same quality of mothering or nursing many valuable tree saplings until the trees are large enough to succeed them as an old growth forest. But there is no getting away from the repetitive ignorance for which most ignorant people accel. Much of the ignorance and arrogance comes from the very people who should know better for know other reasons than their credentials. Take note of one Professor's biased opinion of the Eastern Red Cedar.

If these were California Redwoods, beautiful and pristine, or some useful tree species to man or animals, I might feel differently.  But even when they're allowed to grow with plenty of space around them, Red Cedars often aren't very pretty or useful.
Professor James Roush, Kansas State University
Photo Devan McGranahan & M.C. Christy
Interestingly, the Eatern Red Cedar does have excelling value even if the elites among us refuse to recognize and acknowledge this value. For example aside from being an actual native to Oklahoma and eastern Kansas/Missouri, the areas further east are Virginia, North Carolina etc. In the eastern USA they mainly invade reclaim the old abandon farm fields. Much like the unused farmland in the photograph above somewhere in the midwest. In the wild the Red Cedar is a pioneer tree. Where they form woodlands. Eventually the more desirable hardwood trees develop and emerge from the Red Cedar's nurse plant services and replace them in about 100+ years. Therein lies the main problem for humans. It's called  impatience. No one wants to wait 100 long years before they can harvest. That's the same thing out west where chaparral is demonized as a competitor plant [often claimed to be an invasive in it's own native habitat] instead of a facilitator of Timber tree species. Industrial Corporate Science [SweTree] here in Sweden has also developed GMO Trees which can be harvested in 20 years instead of 100 years. This process is also helped along by helicopters dumping loads of synthetic pellet fertilizers to bypass what they view as slow inferior natural systems. The Red Cedar Trees also aid wildlife with both shelter and food. Interestingly, contrary to what humans think, the Red Cedar is incapable of planning, scheming and invading on it's own. It simply responds to environmental cues and opportunities provided by wildlife. Take a look at the recent research below of how birds create newer ecosystems.

Migratory birds can disperse seeds long distances & create new ecosystems ???

Image - Francesco Veronesi 2010
Common Redstart male (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
Some species of plants are capable of colonising new habitats thanks to birds that transport their seeds in their plumage or digestive tract. Until recently it was known that birds could do this over short distances, but a new study shows that they are also capable of dispersing them over more than 300 kilometres. For researchers, this function could be key in the face of climate change, allowing the survival of many species.
(Source: American Journal of Botany)

Image: Sherri Patrick Brandt
Hmmm, I think there is a reason this bird on the right is called a Cedar Waxwing. They have a love and passion for all kinds of berries. But there are actually 20+ other birds which will dine on the Eastern Red Cedar berries as well and yes, they slowly extend ecosystems or create newer ones. Apparently they too should be considered the new evil villans behind invasiveness. Anyone who has ever tried to germinate Juniper berries [which is what Eastern Red Cedar actually is], know the difficulty in making that happen. Artificially they need to use something like sulfuric acid to soak seeds in order to break the hard protective shell coating to allow water to penetrate. Any bird's or animal's digestive tract is the perfect environment for that task. In many of the negative commentary I've read about Eastern Red Cedar and especially by the so-called Experts on the subject, they warn about allowing the trees to remain because they produce 1000s upon 1000s of seeds that fall off the tree and produce more trees. Some of this stuff is the most ignorant propaganda I've ever read by any experts in official positions of authority. Maybe they should kill off all the birds and that will seal the deal. Read up on how China did that with Sparrows and how well that worked out for them.

The real Water problem is not Nature, but rather a Human created Climate Disruption
Let's take a few examples. Another demonized Juniper in this region of the central plains is the Ashe Juniper which has been on the receiving end of other derogatory labeling to excuse and smokescreen human stupidity and ignorance. The Ashe Juniper as well as the Red Cedar in Texas has been labeled as "Water Thief", "Sunction Pump", and "Water Hog". Oddly enough, most of the negative articles demonizing these plants are produced by local industry leaders in commercial agriculture and Media sources whose own economy is based on those in the Ranching biz. Another demonized tree, Western Juniper, in eastern Oregon is also being accused of being invasive in it's own native range. Oregon State University who provided the research for the study was funded by the Oregon Beef Counsel. See my link below under references called "Pretzel Logic." Now below is another link which shows how important Junipers are to wildlife. So important that the Golden Cheeked Warbler of Texas is extremely endangered because of the Cattle Industry destroying habitat for raising beef.
"Golden-cheeked warblers are endangered because many tall juniper and oak woodlands have been cleared to build houses, roads, and stores. Some habitat was cleared to grow crops or grass for livestock. Other habitat areas were flooded when large lakes were built."
Golden-cheeked Warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) 
Below here is yet another report on the lying assertions made against the Ashe Juniper of Texas which often is found with Eastern Red Cedar. The Ashe Cedar like the Red Cedar also has been given the reputation of being a water guzzler, but responsible scientific research has proved otherwise. These researchers had no vested financial interest in the outcome of the study because of who funded them.

Plateau Land & Wildlife: New Research Shows Ashe Juniper not the Water Hog It Was Thought To Be
Historically the Edwards Plateau was a dynamic mosaic of grasslands and woodlands and much more savannah like. Cedars were found mainly in canyons where they were protected from wildfires. When settlers arrived, the introduction of cattle led to overgrazing, and, combined with the lack of fire, gave cedar the opportunity to expand its range and take over.
Now let's look at the real problem behind native prairie grass loss. Take into consideration what was reference above about agriculture. Human greed from it's earliest start on the North American continent where people from Europe fantasized about making fortunes in cattle ranching brought in more cattle than the land could support. The problem is, bobody ever considers the plant world's ecosystems as a cooperating biologically fine tuned run machine, but that's exactly what it is. Or rather was. Take a close look below at what overgrazing actually does to root infrastructure of prairie grasses.

University of Florida

Photo - Mark Mauldin
Both photos above and to the right show grass experiments where the blades were deliberately clipped and kept clipped at varying length levels from the ground surface. They basically replicated wild prairie lightly grazed to heavy overgrazing. The photo at right is from a Canadian research station showing the root growth of bunchgrass plants that were kept clipped at certain levels. In each case the above ground foliage dictated how well the root system developed and maintained health and vigor. Now look at this photograph below of a bahiagrass pasture in Washington County, Florida, that has experienced significant stand loss. Before any efforts to salvage or replant this pasture can be successful, the factors leading to the decline must be identified and addressed. In many cases the shorter roots and struggling grasses succumb to a pest called 'Ground Pearls.' But in the photograph below, does anyone see any invasive Red Cedar or Ashe Junipers out there causing the prairie grasses to descend into a major decline ???

Photo by Mark Mauldin
People clearly are going to have to do their own homework on this. Mankind has set a climate change process in motion which is having a major ecosystem disrupting domino effects all over the Earth. Chaparral plants systems are replacing dead and dying trees throughout California. Experts want to blame chaparral which are incapable of evil thought, scheming and planning to ruin things for human business ventures. Had people actually paid close attention to much of the available good science out there instead of shortcut industrial science, then maybe the planet wouldn't be in the toilet right now. Frankly I don't know what else there is to say. Each one is going to have to decide which authority they are going to believe and follow. In the mean time, considering there are no real viable materialist solutions, why not enjoy reading up on some history on what Nature use to be like from an early explorer's writings who first discovered these natural wonders. Pay close attention to what things use to look like before intellectuals 150+ years ago told us nature was flawed and badly designed and only Man's enlightenment could fix the copying errors and make a profit on the deal all in one shot.
Juan Bautista de Anza & Pedro Font Diaries archive
Further Reading References
Pretzel Logic & the "Denial of the science is malpractice" Mandate Define science ?, What science ?, Who's science ?
New Research Shows Ashe Juniper Not the Water Hog It Was Thought To Be
Our Love-Hate Relationship With The Red Cedar Tree

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