Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tree on the Rocks

The rainy year has brought down a lot of dead trees. Dead wood absorbs water during a rain and becomes increasingly top heavy. Add a little bit of wind and the trees fall. In this case the tree has fallen in the most attractive stretch of creek. I normally let trees stay where they fall, but in this case I think I’ll intervene and clean the dead wood out of the creek channel.

The fallen tree is wedged between two forks of a small tree on the creek bank. During flood times the free end of the log may be moved downstream with the current. This will result in a levering action that could split the living tree or rip it completely away from the bank.

The tree has been dead for several years and the base is quite soft. I’m surprised it remained upright for as long as it did.

Of course the top of the tree managed to flatten several small trees and shrubs when it fell. Trees squashed in this manner usually don’t die, but they regrow in some pretty odd forms.

The tree with the big hook at the base tipped over the bank as a sapling and then reoriented itself as best it could. A week ago it was still clinging to the edge of the bank. I don’t think it took much pressure to pull out the last of the roots and push the tree into the center of the channel.

If I don’t move the obstruction, debris will accumulate here and cover some amazing rock formations. This is the only section of channel that has a solid rock bottom composed of large limestone slabs. Besides providing some fantastic scenic views, the rocks provide an egg laying site for stream breeding salamanders that is impenetrable by any mammalian predators.

It’s only a small section of stream, but I think its value is worth the work of moving the fallen trees. The logs will probably be much more valuable up on the bank where they can decompose into the forest soil. I’ll have to set aside some time to for this project while the ground is still firm. That log is probably a little too heavy for me to just grab and rassle up the bank.

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