Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SAF National Convention

There was a lot of good information that was given at the convention. The thing that I enjoyed the most was the job exibits. I enjoy talking to people about new things, and learning new things. I met one women that is a spokes person for this new product called bird water that you can put in the ground, and it will water your trees for 90 days. While testing the product, hte resultz are outstanding. also talking with other school about their programs and getting new ideas and sharing ideas to bring back to our own schools. The one schools Forestry Club does a cost scaring program for their forestry books. You rent the book for the semester and then you get your money back at the end when you return the book. The job fair wasn't that interesting to me because the majority of the jobs were for working out west in Oregon or sorrounding area. I met a man named Al who graduated from Mont Alto in 1937 he had a lot of great stories to share with us, and he will be sending me some pictures and videos that I will share with you. For anyone that is interested in SAF I would jump on hte opertunity to go to a national meeting, it is very educational, and a wonderful experience to be in a new place.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rethinking Fire Policy in the Tinderbox Zone

This article in today's New York Times stresses changes in building codes in California to protect new homes in the most dangerous fire zones. (It also has some good photos and maps.) The changes came about because of the damage from previous fires. Even the best built homes can't withstand a total fire. The authors stress that Californians continue to rebuild in the proven danger zones, as well as build new homes. I wonder how they are able to afford home owner's insurance

Friday, October 26, 2007

Convention at Oregon

First thing is first, the plane rides were a great experience for my first times flying. The convention center had interesting artwork, one was a large sculpture of a Ginkgo fruit. The bag that they gave out to everyone was nicer than the one they gave at Pittsburg. The thing(s) that I enjoyed the most was the job fair and the people that I met and heard. My favorite speaker was Richard Louv, who spoke about his concern about children not being able or just not bounding with nature. He is also the author of "Last Child in the Woods". One of the interesting people that I met was Erkki, who is from Finland. One of the things that he brought up was a question "How many lakes in Finland?". The answer that he gave me was 184,000+ lakes and the smallest lake is one acre in size. He said that 10% of Finland is water and the area where he lives is 25% water. Another interesting thing that Erkki said was that any last name ending with nen, meant that they are a Fin.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Richard Louv SAF Keynote Speaker

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods was the keynote speaker at the SAF Convention today. Before his prepared remarks he mentioned the fires in California. His home is in San Diego in the danger zone. So far his home is safe and hopefully will stay that way.

Louv evoked memories of growing up in Kansas City where he had his own forest behind his house. This was a place he could call his own. He spend hours there. He would even pull up surveying stakes he might find. This is a place that will be in his heart always. His theme is that this contact with the outdoors is vital for people. We need the outdoors.

For a number of reasons children are losing this contact with the outdoors. Electronic toys, parents' fears, and a too-structured lifestyle are just some of the reasons. He says that the increase in childhood obesity, increased ADD, and the increase of stressed children are just some of the consequences. In part he blamed his own profession, journalism, for creating a climate of fear by magnifying all the dangers out there, that results in many families keeping their children under house arrest.

He cited a number of initiatives and programs to get children back outdoors. Although he says it's unlikely we will ever go back to the days of letting children roam free, we have to make sure children have that connection to the outdoors that all people need.

He really connected to this audience of foresters. Just about all of us had our special outdoor place growing up. Most of us still have one today. He did inspire all of us to try harder to find ways to work with children. That will be good for them and good for the profession of forestry.

Here is a link to Louv's web page and a link to his books in Google search.

Louv did a book signing later in the day. There was a huge line, over a hundred people I guess, waiting. The SAF shop even sold out of the book.

New Tools at SAF Convention

The SAF convention is a great way to find new developments and new tools for foresters. The Portland convention is no exception. The USGS is demonstrating a new viewer for Landsat data. It has archival data and some of the most recent data from the current satellite. At the booth they showed how the imagery from various bands can be combined. I can't wait to have more time to look at it at home. http://glovis.usgs.gov

Another new tool is a brand new website interface for the FIA national forest inventory data. Previously, we had to wait for the inventory reports to come out in book form. Now the Forest Service has created a modern interface to zero in on the forestry statistics even down to the local data. fiatools.fs.fed.us The people demonstrating the site told me it just came on line last week. The help files aren't even up yet. It will be fun to learn.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mega-Fires on 60 Minutes

60 Minutes ran thought-provoking story on the increased number of extremely severe "mega-fires" in the West. Here is a link to the story on the CBS News page. The site has an article, video, and still pictures. (I'm not sure how long it will be up.)

Reporter Scott Pelley went to Idaho to visit a hot-shot crew on a fire line near Ketcham. He did an in-depth interview with Tom Boatner, who is the chief of fire operations for the federal government. Boatner confirmed that fires are larger and more frequent. He also mentioned changes in fire-fighting rules to let more areas burn if property is not threatened. They conducted the interview near the a burning fire and had to move downhill as the temperature increased!

Pelley also interviewed Tom Swetnam, a fire ecologist from the University of Arizona. Swetnam has studied the dendrochronological record and found that fire severity is much larger. They have a tremendous collection of aged cross-sections of old logs that recorded firest over the last few millenia. I am eager to look up some of his research articles.

Both Boatner and Swetnam cite climate changes towards drier conditions and a longer burning season. Global warming was mentioned several times as the cause.

Global warming may well be an underlying of the problem. But the direct causes are well known: a rapid increase in population, people building more in the wilderness area, and changes in forest management policy. The good news is that these problems can be fixed quickly if people want to. All in all, this was a very interesting report. I hope people pay attention.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ipe wood

Ipe wood is one of the coolest woods ever!! It is almost denser than water 0.9. It doesn't require chemical applications to prevent termite or mold damage. It even has the fire resistance of concrete or steel, though it will burn up eventually. Ipe wood is great for decking.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Old Railroad Ties

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

This stack of old railroad ties I found next to an exhibit of a restored railroad caboose in Norlo Park in Guilford township, Pa. The ties reminded me of how important creosote preservation was for the railroad and almost all other outdoor uses of wood.

Of course creosote, a type of oil, is very toxic. It also leaked from the wood creating even more hazards. The sites of creosote factories are Superfund waste sites. For example, the old creosote plant in Pensacola, FL was a massive cleanup headache. Fortunately, we have other ways to preserve wood. Railroad ties are often made from other materials. we should never forget about the imoprtance of creosote, though.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

One of the last Fire Lookouts

Today's New York Times has a feature article on Michael Gates who is a contract fire watcher on Saddleback Mountain in the Tahoe National Forest in California. Gates lives for five months of the year in a lookout shack atop the nearly 7,000 foot mountain. The article has some amazing pictures of life in the shack and views around the mountain.

Gates also has his own photo gallery with some amazing shots, many from the watchtower.

There are fewer and fewer manned lookouts (only 800 left) around as the US Forest Service and State Forest Services go to modern technologies. It takes a special person to endure living there. But I'm sure there are advantages to having a pair of human eyes watching the skyline for fires.

Many forest technology students want to work fighting fires. Not so many would want to work in a fire tower I think.