Kotsuk Butte

May 21, 1977

First Stop: 130 year old Douglas Fir forest. Origin determined by burned stubs of previous forest. This fire covered at least 300,000 acres of the upper McKenzie. Largest tree four feet; smaller less than one foot but same age due to suppression by bigger trees. No younger Douglas Fir trees so forest was originated by catastrophic fire. A few very large old residuals bear charcoal bark. Younger trees are hemlocks and cedars which have ability to exist in heavy shade. Very few other species are able to survive this dominance of the fir. Only big leaf and vine maple, Oregon grape, salal, ferns, mosses and lichens present. Intense competition, not the peaceful appearance. Discussed ecological relationships of climate—blowdown, insects—bark beetles, fungi—spores earned through bark by beetles, woodpeckers—eating larvae—debris accumulation—lightning—fire and repeat fires until snags are burned and rotted to a height where the periodic reseeded forest can overgrow the lightning threat.

Second Stop: 35 year old Douglas Fir forest. Very dense, intense competition, many dead stems, underbrush all dead, few scattered stumps with springboard holes show area was logged during World War II and slash burned. No environmental concerns, natural reseeding. Area will be ready for commercial thinning within ten years.

Third Stop: Top Wycoff Hill. Overview of north 1/3 of 8,000-acre progressive clear cut all naturally reseeded, now 25 to 35 years old.

Forth Stop: November 1976 logged and accidentally burned clearcut—80 acres. Charred surface protects organic material in soil and retards erosion. Planted February 1977. Inspect bark beetle borings in recent (Feb. ’77) blowdown trees. Mated pairs excavating egg galleries in phloem. Adults would fly next April but blowdown trees will be salvaged this fall to prevent infection of standing trees.

Fifth Stop: Stocking control project. Five-year old trees are thinned to 12 to 20 feet spacing for maximized growth. Area across road was result of 1967 lightning fire, helicopter seeded, very thick and spacing controlled 1975—excellent growth.

sixth Stop: Nature’s partial cut. Ground fire killed about half old growth trees. Very heavy understory of hemlock eliminates all other vegetation. Hemlocks are suppressed, many root grafted, old growth firs very defective from fire damage. How long ago? 130 years! Same fire of first stop where crown fire destroyed all (nature’s clearcut) and restocked a beautiful stand of two to four foot Douglas-fir. Very few of the hemlocks in the partial cut are 12-inch diameter in the same 130 years. Annual rings so close a hand lens is needed for count.

Snowline at 4,000 feet. All ride four-wheel drive up to saddle between Harvey Mtn. and Kotsuk Butte. Short steep climb to top of 150-foot vertical palisades where we enjoy view to Castle Rock, Mt. Tom, Fairview, etc. Through snow along crest in beautiful alpine trees to northeast view of Mt. Hood, Jeff, Three Fingered Jack, Washington, Three Sisters, etc.

Return via Green Mt. Road #170 and around Cougar Reservoir, Back to Eugene at 4:00 p.m. Leader Dave Burwell, Dan Earley, Gladys Grarcorvitz and Anne Montgomery climbed the Kotsuk cliff; Helen Miller and Kathy Tyler watched from the viewpoint on the road.

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