Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reclaimed Water: Municipal Projects, CalTrans Landscaping & Pompous Grass Resorts

I'd almost be willing to except Tamarisks as an alternative - Okay, well maybe not
Desert Willow Golf Resort
So let's first start with what I call the Pompous Grass Resorts which are nothing more than ecosystem habitats for the rich and famous down in the desert. And you thought I misspelled the name for a species of fountain grass! Nope, I did however type the term Pompous Grass with an intended purpose. Most of you will recognize the scenery above as somewhere in the Coachella Valley. I'm not exactly a fan of such environments for the wealthy, especially in an environment which is costly to maintain and taxing on precious rare resources where they simply don't exist. I an also not fan of Golf, though I consider it none of my business if others do. I also found it difficult working for many of the local eccentric elites which made up the bulk of my customer base when I engaged in another line of employment in another life so to speak. Some time back, I believe perhaps in February 2014, there was an article in Time Magazine which  reported on the visit by the US President who arrived in the Coachella Valley. Of course as usual, many were critical of his stay at the Walter Annenberg or Sunnylands Estate and the Porcupine Creek Estate where he supposedly played golf amid the drought crisis. Both these courses are closed to the public and reserved for people of special privilege, irrespective of what privileged background they may come from. To be fair, every single Politician around the globe from every ideological background has visited and stayed here over the decades. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone since people of high public office ALL live a privileged lifestyle, even if their ideological core values condemn such things as an  obscene lifestyle of material possession. It goes with the job and will never change no matter the philosophical label some attach to themselves. The article however, did make some good points about Golf Courses down in Coachella Valley. 
"The 124 golf courses in the Coachella Valley consume roughly 17 percent of all water there, and one quarter of the water pumped out of the region’s at-risk groundwater aquifer, according to the Coachella Valley Water District. Statewide, roughly one percent of water goes to keep golf courses green. Each of the 124 Coachella Valley courses, on average, uses nearly 1 million gallons a day due to the hot and dry climate, 3-4 times more water per day than the average American golf course."
(source)
Wow, each 124 courses use 1 millions gallons of water a day, which is not surprising given the extreme hot and dry climatic environment they are location. Of course to justify the existence of this industry in the desert, they claim to ONLY use reclaimed water. In fact I will often hear people defend the existence of such businesses who insist, "They only use reclaimed water". Still, that's a lot of water which considering the presence climate shift crisis, one would assume  could be put to better uses. Even so, the Sunnyland Estate has made an official Public Relations Statement on the subject.
"The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands has taken significant  measures to reduce water usage. In consideration of the  conditions that led Governor Brown to make a drought  declaration, reducing water consumption is a more important  priority than ever." 
(source - Sunnylands.org)

Commendable, but is it enough, especially since 1 million gallons a day goes to entertain a handful of an elite minority at these places ? Obviously Golf Courses like the Annenberg Estate are easy targets for no other reason than they are so huge and cannot be dismissed or ignored so easily. The term I used to describe the main plant used at such desert Golf Courses is, "Pompous Grass", which are nothing more than non-native exotic grasses from an entirely foreign environment. Short rooted and always thirsty for water and equally hungry for those chemical fertilizers which keep them green. They are indeed a unnatural water resource waster no matter what label you attach to the water's origin. And mind you, these are water resources that were originally taken from far away from somewhere else and transported here. But besides the exotic water loving grasses, there are examples which are in need dire change and not mentioned in any of the articles which deserve equal criticism. I've written about this before. Tamarisk wind and privacy breaks. Take another look at an older photograph of the Annenberg Estate. I chose this one because it beautifully highlights and contrasts this Wealthy Compound with the surrounding desert environment. Today the raw land in the background for the most part is presently occupied. It's surrounded by a dense wall of Tamarisk which are topped every so often for maintenance. In the distance you can also see the windbreak barrier lining the right-of-way for Southern Pacific Railroad & Interstate 10. 


 aerial photograph taken by Lawrence Levy in 1983
I actually wrote about my feeling towards Tamarisk or Salt Cedar being used as windbreaks and a better solution of replicating the natural structure of Mesquite Dunes as a replacement. Many things done in the past were out of ignorance as well as quick fixes for profit. We do however live in a time of greater understanding of nature and practical experience. Anyway, I wrote my account of Salt Cedar and desert infrastructure solutions utilizing & replicating things found and observed in Nature was here:

Mesquite Dunes: Practical Solution to Tamarisk Removal & Replacement


There was a miniseries film back in 1993 called "The Fire Next Time" which starred Craig T. Nelson. Here's an overview of what the film was about by Brian Dillard: "This ecological drama, set in 2017, presents a world where pollution has generated ever more unpredictable weather and rendered large chunks of the planet into disaster zones. After a hurricane destroys everything they've built for themselves, Louisiana shrimp fisherman Drew Morgan (Craig T. Nelson) and his family, including wife Suzanne (Bonnie Bedelia), flee through a series of refugee camps to upstate New York, where Drew's estranged former business partner Larry Richter (Jurgen Prochnow) -- who has designs on Suzanne -- lives in comfort and affluence. Along the way, Drew loses his daughter, Linnie (Ashley Jones), to an agrarian doomsday cult; watches his elderly father (Richard Farnsworth) suffer a stroke; and almost drives away his confused oldest son, Paul (Justin Whalin). When Larry offers to shelter Drew's family if Drew himself will leave, Suzanne and the kids rally behind him. Things go awry, however, when an attempt to smuggle themselves across the border ends with Craig washed up on Canadian shores and the rest of the family stranded and penniless back in America. Originally presented as a two-part miniseries, "The Fire Next Time" premiered on CBS on April 18 and 20, 1993."  What is it about the year 2017 and global warming ? This is the same 2017 date in which things started going wrong in another iconic Sci-Fi film called "Soylent Green" which starred Charlton Heston in yet another futuristic Global Warming disaster scenario. In the film "The Fire Next Time", Craig T. Nelson's character, Drew Morgan has problems with his Son, Paul [played by Justin Whalin] who hates the life the family must endure and runs away to live with his rich uncle Buddy Eckhard [played by Charles Haid] who profits off the misfortunes of the common people who are suffering through the climate change. Uncle Buddy lives in Palm Springs, has a posh air-conditioned home, has employee servants who was his expensive cars out in the open, has a plush green lawn all of which are extremely expensive and against the law of that time to possess. But he explains to his nephew that he's rich and can pay for it and it's all about who you know. Of course the kid is impressionable. But the attitude of Uncle Buddy Eckhard isn't that far fetched. My former Ag Instructor from CalPoly San Luis Obispo who was pressured by an industrial giant who threatened the college to fire him for his sustainable farming course and comments he made about water being wasted in the San Joaquin's western side, recently wrote me this about the coming castastrophic ecological events headed towards California, "Never in the history of civilization have people been able to sustain themselves irrigating a desert. We are seeing that play out on a large stage. There will be a lot of pain and suffering. Of course, the 1% won't be affected....but the other 99% are in for some big shocks over the next century." I think things are coming to a head sooner than later. It's about "The Fire This Time"
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Photo Mine

Hwy 52 and 67 Interchange, Santee California

Photo Mine
This all brings me to another  example which is closer to home, or well my old growing up stomping grounds between El Cajon and Santee California. There is a Freeway interchange where attempts at landscaping with California natives is certainly commendable and welcome, but falls short because of poor design and short sighted maintenance planning from it's beginning. A sign on the site proclaims how recycled water is being incorporated into the natural beautification project. Again, commendable, but it lacks foresight and actual knowledge of what and how the healthy ecosystem actually needs for it's continual healthy function. Mostly it's the inadequate irrigation design they used for establishing the native plant Xeriscape. Again, very very commendable, but poorly planned and managed. As I've stated before, native plants want deep subsoil moisture during the hotter months which allows them to shift into maintenance mode away from the new seasons growth mode. Deep Pipe irrigation actually works in conjunction with the vegetation's own self-regulating hydraulic lift and redistribution which is further enhanced by a healthy mycorrhizal network working within the distribution system. They don't want their soil surface sprayed with token amounts of water through Rainbird sprinkler heads. This not only creates weeds, but encourages tender succulent growth on the plants which are subject to sucking pests such as aphids and the transmitting of several blight pathogens like powdery mildew and others. At that point control is nothing more than a chemical answer and no one should want anything to do with that. Not only is it unnecessary and preventable, but saves maintenance budget costs for cities and states. Not to mention worker's hourly wages which could be spent elsewhere.

Image Mine

You can pick out a fair number of native California plants here, but also notice the almost chocking presence of weeds everywhere in between. Commendable that they are using reclaimed water, also commendable in their choice of some native plants, but it's clearly being wasted by the irresponsible watering technology and techniques which in my opinion are out of date and antiquated. Take a look below at why. Among the many native plants which definitely have aesthetic value, that were planted are California Holly, Laurel Sumac, Matilija Poppy, Coast Live Oak, etc. However on closer inspection they also used other native plants which in my opinion are not necessarily of the ornamental value kind, especially when it comes to the urban Landscape where people are driving slower and concentrated such as at an interchange with numerous on and off ramps and other exists. For example I saw California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), Black sage (Salvia mellifera), White sage (Salvia apiana), California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), Coast brittle-bush (Encelia californica, etc, etc, etc. All kool plants in my opinion and of great wildlife value for local critters, but they dry out and tend to be rangy looking. Now, on down the road in areas of the roadway where they have blasted through the mountain which creates large roadway bank easements, that's great, those plants work perfect there and will adapt and perfectly take care of themselves over time.  But the importance of such State or city funded & sponsored roadway beautification projects is that they should also want to encourage the public to do likewise. Many native plants,  while they all have value and importance to ecosystem function, are often just not equal in their aesthetic value in appearance, some being rangy, which is folk's impression when you suggest going Native. Many of the plants I spoke of earlier along the Palo Colorado Canyon Road in Central California are if anything beautiful deep evergreen which is what you want for public eye appeal. 


Image Mine


What could be wrong with this you wonder ? It wastes water and I don't care if it is only reclaimed water which is considered not good enough for drinking. It's valuable water none the less and they are throwing away a valuable resource that is especially now almost worth it's weight in gold. We're not even talking evapotranspiration here from the vegetation leaves. We're talking surface evaporation off a dry surface which probably doesn't soak in all that well, We're also talking about the majority of the mist of which blows off into the wind rather than on the proposed target. This also facilitates the production of non-mycorrhizal ruderals otherwise known as weeds which compete for water and nutrients and whose sole offensive purpose in life is to mass reproduce themselves by means of seed production which in turn spreads more of themselves across the landscape. That creates tougher maintenance costs in chemicals beside man hours which would be better spent elsewhere. Notice now another important issue below. Non-Native invasive shrubs and trees like that of the Tamarisk or Salt Cedar. Incredibly, like Cottonwood and Willow, they have a cottony seed that only has a short window of viability and opportunity to germinate. Oddly enough I've even seen Cottonwood and Willow volunteer germinate under such wet landscape conditions. That in itself should be an indicate of water overuse, since the presence of such trees represents a riparian ecosystem. But the wet surface conditions of the wasted reclaimed water used have allowed this environment to be favourable to Tamarix establishment. There are literally 100s of small Tamarix seedlings and saplings at this very interchange landscape. Take a look below here.

image Mine

Salt Cedar (Tamarix)



image MineSalt Cedar (Tamarix) 

Seriously, who wants this in their landscape ? Now I've tried to have an open mind about Tamarisk and I am certain they play major important ecosystem roles where they originate from in North Africa, Middle east & China, but just not here. The last thing anyone needs is a Tamarix Tree in the landscape which suck far more water than a Native plant.



image Mine

Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri)



image Mine

Laurel Sumac (Malosma laurina)


So simple, even a child gets this
I've previously written about far superior types of irrigation before. In California and the rest of the Southwest, the Rainbird technology for most landscapes whether used by private property owners or commercial activities is wasteful and should be replaced with far better intelligent technology, especially considering the times we live in. Having been a landscape Supervisor, I can tell you that most irrigation has to be inspected on almost a daily basis for debris and other forms of malfunction. Every morning on the properties I managed, I inspected all irrigation heads for possible failure to deliver properly. Especially in lawns where in a matter of days, dry patches and brown discoloration are a sign water is not hitting it's target. This isn't surprising since most of the irrigation heads are of a pop-up and hidden in ground design. When the irrigation timing is finished and the spray heads fall back into their tubes in the soil, they take with them loose debris which along with the reverse suction created by the vacuum within the pipes when water shuts down, the debris is then pulled into the emitters. Although most of these heads have a plastic strainer to collect debris down inside, it's still a maintenance time waster for me, and I feel the same about most drip system emitter attachments as well. Mostly the problem with them is the hard water mineral deposits and build up which clogs the spray openings. I'm sure the reclaimed water is even worse. In any event, deep pipe irrigation should be used more. It also doesn't have to be an expensive undertaking, especially if a homeowner, landscape company or the landscape division of a governmental agency has capable problem solving employees who understand the basic fundamentals for the architectural designing skills necessary to even build or develop such a simple system from scratch. It would also be help if such institutions had an educational program on a regular basis of just how most all plant communities actually work or function in the wild and how practical application in replication can be made. Not only would this instill deeper appreciation for the plant world & their employment, but it also could be tailored to the exact plant community they have chosen to install as the theme for their landscape. 



Image: Hunter Industires

Deep Irrigation Methods for Training Deeper Rooting networks

I've written previously as I've stated about this before in the link above. Picture the above illustration as a typical California native tree, especially an Oak Tree. This underground location in the animated illustration is where they actually want and need water in the summer time. Irrespective of the soil type, this is where most all plant's in dry locations need their moisture during the hotter months of the year and this is where many and most of the giant majestic trees like Oaks and Sycamores obtain their water anyway. This is obvious when you drive past almost any bajada or alluvial floodplain in Southern California. Take a drive by any of the east/west Freeway road corridors from Los Angeles to San Bernardino, and you will find great examples of large mature trees whose sole source of surface water is the rainy season, but whose prime source of hydration comes from deep down under. You won't have to venture off far from the freeways at all since most all of them cross over these giant geological structures throughout their corridor routes. My favourite example is driving north on I-215 from San Bernardino to Cajon Pass via Devore. Notice on your right hand side especially the major lone Sycamores here and there, even though some are stunted, still you have to ask yourself why does such a water loving tree exist on such a dry rocky sandy site where even perennial or even annual spring stream runoff is nonexistent ? It's because something is going on deep under ground. This is where light bulbs should be turning on under your thinking caps right now. Ask yourself, How can I replicate that natural system and save water in my landscape, and in some instances almost eliminating it altogether ? You should also consider that this same basic need of natives are also the same exacting requirements with many similar outsider exotic plants used in landscaping today. The exception to that rule would be tropical plant communities and plants from Boreal climates like where I live now.
Deep-rooted plants have much greater impact on climate than experts thought


Image: Colleen Sasser, Asuza California

Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Nature Center
Another beautiful example of majestic large trees in alluvial floodplains is the region of Irwindale California which is a massive floodplain re-routed and manipulated so much by mankind's need for raw building materials, housing and road right-of-way corridors. Still we have remnants of trees of which whose seed was deposited some time in the past during a very heavy rainy event like an El Nino pattern over a few years time. No doubt many more 1000s of such trees here were germinated at the same time, competition stiff and heavy, with only the toughest trees fortunate enough to put down roots deep into the earth and tap into the underground aquifer. Many urban landscape trees like these examples above would be so easy to pattern after with the right encouragement by landscape architects and developers over a period of a few years. Root training would be easy given all plant's ability at sniffing out the direction of water. A couple weeks ago I wrote about a plant's uncanny ability at sensing out water and sending roots in that direction to tap into that life sustaining resource. Now it isn't necessary to understand the science behind just how a plant is able to do this, but simply knowing about it arms one with knowledge of how to proceed when training plant roots for deeper underground root infrastructure which will benefit for life. 
Water provides a Hydropatterning Blueprint for Rooting Architecture & "Infrastructure" 
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So what about Golf Courses in Deserts ?


Mycorrhizal Application Inc did a test plot of three lawns section in Washington DC as the 2010 photo they posted revealed. Those Washington D.C. Capital Lawns where only the front three areas were treated with MycoApply while the rest had not yet been treated! In fact I remember MycoApply highlighting the experience they had on making application on the Whitehouse lawn when Obama became President which was posted on their Facebook page. It proves that commercial applications can be a success, but there also needs to be follow through on maintenance and proper fertilization. Mycorrhizae hate the chemicals conventional landscapers use. Therefore almost a deprogramming and re-education work needs to be done in order for the newer program to remain viable. There is no guarantee that those commercial Golf Courses down in the deserts will ever change. Getting people to think outside the box is tough to do, even if Nature has been doing things a certain way successfully for countless 1000s of years. I'm still no fan of Pompous Grass resorts, but that's just me. If everyone else has to change, then so should they, irrespective of how much money and power they may think they have. Reclaimed Water is as equally valuable as the clean fresh water which comes out of the tap. The present Climate Change reality has finally forced a redefinition that term's true meaning.
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Further Turf Resources for everyone
http://mycorrhizae.com/info-by-industry/turf/
http://mycorrhizae.com/info-by-industry/turf/turf-image-gallery/



Image: Mycorrhizal Applications Inc

One month since sowing, the difference between inoculating one species Glomus intraradices (left) and a 7 endomycorrhizal species inoculation (right) is quite striking. The only difference between the soil/treatments was the biodiversity of the mycorrhizal inoculum.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stupid unscientific things said about Forests and Trees

Especially by people who should know better 

Lately, well over the past year, there has been a plethora of dumb things said about trees and the forests they create. Did you know that they are partly to blame for all of our present climate problems ? Did you know they cause Smog ? Did you know that they create wasteful water shortages ? With idiocy such as this, don't expect the climate change denialists to be won over anytime soon.

image: Forrest M Mimms III

Sapling conifers like this one near Cloudcroft, N.M., form
heat islands that melt surrounding snow, especially when
sunlight warms their needles.
"A pair of scientists at Dartmouth College plan to present new research this week that suggests that, in some snow-covered places in the world, cutting down trees might have a net benefit for the climate because of the cooling effect the snow provides."
This would require understanding the basics of the Albedo Effect 
"To put it simply it is the amount of solar energy reflected off a surface. Surfaces that are covered in snow are white, and they reflect more sunlight, which has a cooling effect. Surfaces that are darker in color, like forests, absorb more light and are warmer. Think of snow like a mirror, bouncing heat back off into space."
Can Cutting Down Trees Actually Help Save The Planet?
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Rather than provide a long list of asinine absurd silly arguments being waged against trees and forested ecosystems, you can go Google this list below here:
Trees cause global warming
Trees cause air pollution.  
Trees cause drought.
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Image: US Forest Service

The Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest after it was
thinned recently leaving more space on the ground
for snow to collect.
Now oddly enough there is something which came out recently on March 24th 2014, for which many people took offense. There is a UC Merced engineering professor named Roger C. Bales who specializes in mountain hydrology and proposes a silly idea, no doubt politically & economically influenced, with regards requiring forest harvesting of trees to reduce competition for water which he says they gulp down in enormous quantities, depriving other life, particularly humans from accessing this precious resource. The article which came out in the Modesto Bee was titled: "Overgrown Sierra forests gulping water that could flow to Valley" (San Joaquin Valley).
“It’s one of the lower-cost options (to increase California’s water supply) … and it also would reduce the probability of big destructive fires,”
“There could be measurable and significant gains” – a hypothesized 9 percent increase in snowmelt runoff – if the forests are properly thinned. 
"All those extra trees gulp water that once would have flowed to the Valley. They also prevent snow from hitting the ground and melting into the soil. A lot of snow gets caught in the tree canopy, where it evaporates.
This is insane reasoning. Why now ? Why all the accusations against trees and so-called undergrowth now ? Wasn't it a problem previously when rainfall was normal or even above normal during El Nino events ? No one said anything about such density of trees being evil back then. So because of California's Mega-Drought & Climate Change, this lack of water in creeks, streams, and rivers has all been caused by trees, not the total lack of measurable rainfall ?
“There are 2½-to-3-times more trees today than there used to be, and they’re sucking up water,” explained Eric Knapp, a research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station. “A lot of the Sierra is in pretty bad shape” because it’s so overgrown." 
“Climate change is upon us,” Dion warned. “The snowline is moving up the hill.” He said forest overgrowth is worsening the impact of that change by reducing water flows. 
So once again it's the tree's fault for lower stream flow and not the fact that we are experiencing one of the worst changes of climate brought about by mankind which has reduced rainfall. Message here: Let's don't fix the global climate mechanisms, let's blame trees and reduce their numbers which will provide us with the same rate of water flow, which in the end is what we all really want anyway.  
 "The plan is to thin the overgrowth to create gaps in the forest floor so more snow can collect on the ground – as it did in centuries past."
"Dion said doing that may cost an extra $450,000 to $500,000, but it could enable Bales and his people to scientifically measure the results on water flow. Thinning at the demonstration site could start in 2016, and it would take more than two years to complete." 
So now, the plan is to spend almost $500,000 on a fresh test plot for thinning trees to see the effects of less trees in the plot area on stream flows ? This won't begin until 2016 ? No way, they can save that money and begin NOW by setting up equipment in the already obliterated region of the Rim Fire near Yosemite. Stream flow there ought to reveal a landscape with such an over active bladder problem for which only adult nappies on steroids would alleviate. Seriously folks, this has more to do with Industrial Forestry & Agriculture biased science fingerprints written all over it, than some eco-green motivated science for biodiversity.
(Source)
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Below wait, here is another earlier article from the Modesto Bee editorial page back on September 2013 after this past summer's Rim Fire up in the Sierra Nevada mountains titled: Our View: "Lessons from Rim fire near Yosemite a generation out" 
Another, longer-term view, is offered by Roger Bales, who directs the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced. He notes that "the philosophy has been to suppress all fires in order to protect people and their property. The result: Forests that are much denser than they would have been if nature had been allowed to take her course." 
(source: Modesto Bee Editorial) 
Apparently, people's lives and property are also responsible for the mess these ecosystems are presently in. It's also firefighter's fault for protecting lives and property. Well, at least according to Mr Bales and the Editors of the Modesto Bee.

But this economic scheme cloaked under the guise of Eco-Green is really nothing new. This has been researched and proposed before. In fact back on May 2013 in the online journal Live Science was an article with a stupid title called: "Surprising Pollution Problem: Too Many Trees". The article pointed out much of what the recent Modesto Bee article did yesterday, but it went much further and used irresponsible descriptive adjectives which offered no value when it described the forest growth as something cancerous. This is a term traditionally used in describing chaparral plant community, but apparently those plants are much more favoured than forest trees in this instance.
The new trees' canopies collectively intercept 20 to 30 percent of snow and rain that can no longer seep into the ground, and each additional tree's roots suck 18 gallons of moisture up out of the ground before runoff can feed thirsty creeks.
That adds up. Helen Poulos, a fire ecologist at Wesleyan University, and I have estimated, conservatively, that excess trees in the 7.5 million acres of Sierra Nevada conifer forest are responsible for the loss of more than 15 billion gallons per day, or 17 million acre-feet of water per year. That's more than enough water to meet the needs of every Californian for a year. 
Metastasizing native tree growth also physically alters the temperature, chemistry and biology of the landscape. It crowds out indigenous plant and animal species. Shade tolerant species take over. Deprived of low-intensity, naturally occurring fires, aspen, lupine, sequoia and fireweed can't reproduce. Deer lose edge habitat. Threatened owls and raptors can't navigate through increasingly dense thickets.
(source) 
So apparently in the eyes of Helen Poulos & Roger C. Bales, the forest is a cancerous metastasizing invasive tumor which is in dire need of surgical removal from the landscape for the benefit of human economic water usage, but of course that's under the guise of we really do care about Nature ? Oddly enough the use of the negative adjectives is generally more reserved for other less desired plant community species by foresters such as Chaparral, which in the past have been labeled "Dull" & "Mundane". Chaparral also has been described as "invasive", "hindrance to forest regrowth" and "competitive". Yet these terms are now applied to native Forest Trees. This is confusing since much of the promoted ideological movement in past decades has been to forcibly limit chaparral to actually increase & spread forest cover back to it's former range and beyond. And yet, even these Trees are now considered invasive greedy water loving biological invasives in their home range ? The other perverted adjective used here in the literature is describing these once promoted Forests as now somehow being Cancerous ? If not, then what in the world do they mean by this expression, "Metastasizing native tree growth"  ? So I guess the successful spread of forest trees across the landscape up in the Sierras is nothing more than Mother Earth having breast cancer ? The idea that these wild native forest trees in the Sierras use such massive volumes of water is also illustrated by using another irresponsible descriptive adjective word like, Gulping, which is far more appropriate a description for those trees much further on down the Sierra Nevada mountains on the very floor of the San Joaquin Valley. Take a look once again at the photo above which was used in that article to help you picture or visualize greedy water gulping native trees and compare it to an agricultural photo of an commercial  Orchard which the same Modesto Bee referenced earlier on March 10th 2014. That earlier  article dealt with the recent rains which pushed back irrigation times by three weeks. But you tell me which set of trees and practices requires the gulping down of water ?  


imgae: Joan Barnett Lee — jlee@modbee.com

Irrigation water flows into an orchard in Hughson in March
 2012. Modesto Irrigation District board members will review
a plan that proposes delaying the start of this year’s
irrigation season by three weeks.
This certainly is not rocket science here. I wrote about this very subject back on October 1, 2012. The subject was about deep pipe irrigation and implementing concepts patterned after replicating what we observe out in Nature into agricultural practices. 
Deep Irrigation Methods for Training Deeper Rooting networks
IRRIGATION ISSUES: Why Isn't Nature Replicated more often ?

image: sprinklerwarehouse.com

It's worthless to write a post on this subject with nothing but complaints and other criticism and not provide better practical application as a alternative. Deep Pipe irrigation has been successful in restoration of native shrubs and trees by various California Universities in desert habitats. But why not carry this over to industrial agriculture ? In my exploration of mountains of Southern California, I have stumbled upon private property, some occupied, some abandoned, where large Standard size Fruit Trees are still alive and producing with no irrigation. Many of these trees are close to 100 years old. Why is this ? First, they are Hierloom Standard trees, as opposed to the convenient commercial Dwarf or Semi-dwarf trees used in commercial orchards. Standard trees have a deeper root system, but were mostly replaced by the semi-dwarf varieties which are grafted onto a much different rootstock which restricts their size in favour of easier harvesting trees for farm worker convenience. The drawback of course is a much shallower root system as compared to Standard trees which are not only deeper rooted, but much larger in height which always required tall ladders. 


courtesy: Buckinghamshire County Council
Above is how orchard harvesting was done in the old days. These are Cheery Pickers with long tall ladders. Mostly they are the typical tripod designed type of ladder. But many of such trees are also over 100 years old. Semi-Dwarfs can often be short-lived depending on the tree variety and might need to have to be replaced at some intervals for continued productivity. They were marketed as a convenience tree for farmers and of course for home gardeners with small yard spaces which requires much surface waste. But again because of the shallower root system, they need water more regularly. In the wild, on those abandoned homesteads, most deep rooted standard trees do fine without surface water if the deeper moister soil layers are tapped into. Also the domestic standard trees on old homesteads are also connected to the mycorrhizal grid, another thing no doubt missing from commercial orchards if they adhere to a strict science-based Industrial Ag regimen. If I have the time, I'll go back to some of these trees this spring on my visit out there and photograph some of them.

Below, once again, here is a Naval Orange Tree in my Mum's backyard from a former orchard in El Cajon California which resprouted from a stump the 1954 developers of the Ranch Style housing tract couldn't pull out. This orchard was actually planted in the early 1930s. Next it is a dwarf Meyer Lemon. The top photo is of the trees while the septic leach line which ended between both trees. The line is four or five foot underground. Both trees thrived year after year with no surface water other than rain which fell during the rainy season. The bottom photo is a year after the system was disconnected and she went on the public sewer system. She irrigates with surface water from time to time which is far more expensive. This tree now struggles and produces no more fruit. The point here is underground deep root irrigation actually works, but I can find no where in research pages where anyone is taking any of this seriously.





image; Rittenhouse
The other reason I am so sold on deep root irrigation on standard trees Agriculture hasn't really had to do much change especially and in particularly the way they irrigate Farmscape. They have always had political lobbies which allowed those ongoing continued cheap water rates. But they like everyone else are going to have to be forced to change the way they irrigate, especially with regards commercial Orchards. This is where the articles above mask the real problem. It's no so much urban cities needing water as much as powerful wealthy business entities within the Ag Industry. As you have all read in the News lately regarding California's drought, many 1000s of acres of Almond orchards are being ripped out because of water shortages. Below are a few photos which illustrate other horrible examples of irrigation waste in Orchards which have been going on for years. Most all of you have seen all of these at one time or another. If these farmers were to just change their practices, then maybe many of those orchards could be saved. There are no more reasons for the old archaic ways of flood and other above ground industrial Rainbird type irrigation.


Image Michigan State


Image: David Doll, University of California, Merced County



image: Virginia Beahan



image: UC Davis - Almond Orchard

The gallery of pictures above merely illustrate how things need to change along with other areas of business which have been forced to improve, innovate or go under. 

April 21, 2014 Update:
Sacramento Bee: "Views on Food: Outsmarting the Drought"
"Shahar Caspi tends acres of gardens, fruit trees and a commercial vineyard in the hamlet of Oregon House in the foothills between Marysville and Grass Valley. His job since 2012 has been raising food year round for his community and bringing perfect wine grapes to harvest – all without tilling, and with little to zero added water."
Now to conclude here, this whole ridiculous tree slaughtering idea promoted as science-based hydrological management has zero to do with water going to Metro areas and is more shackled to huge Industrial Agricultural interests. Who do you suppose pays for many of these studies ? Below is a photo from an Ag Hay growing and shipping firm called Kuhn Hay Inc in the Imperial Valley just west of Seeley & east of Plaster City on the Evan Hewes Hwy (old US 80) and Jeffrey Road. I first saw this place back in the late 1990s and asked someone in El Centro & Seeley what the small railroad yard was doing next to this giant Hay Storage facility. I remember seeing stacks of 40' containers at the east end of the facility and along track side. The containers were loaded & unloaded from well cars with a large fork lift style container crane.  The individual I spoke with in Seeley said the Hay was loaded into the containers and then sent by Southern Pacific, and then later by Union Pacific, to Long Beach for shipment to Asia & Japan. Folks use to call it the million dollar train. Service was discontinued I believe in mid 2003, due to the fact that the Union Pacific railroad kept raising the prices, and then he also said that they had trouble getting the train to Long Beach on time, so the company (Kuhn's Hay) pulled the pin on this train. They used to run 80+ car trains, mostly with big SD-40 power Locomotives. I suppose my point here is I was told Japan and other Asian countries had no land space available to grow hay for their own Beef industry, hence they paid big bucks for hay grown in Imperial Valley and elsewhere in the southwest at a huge profit. Hay takes tonnes of water irrigation and is mostly grown during the hottest months of the year. It's a waste and the resulting crop isn't even used there in the USA. Of course I guess it's great for someone's economy and taxes. But once again, the critical water shortages and absurd proposals have nothing to do with people in cities and everything to do with Industrial Ag.


Credit: http://www.kuhnhay.com

(Released: March 29, 2014)
New video from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) on Tree Aerosols being responsible for increased pollution, seriously, no kidding. (VIDEO)
Quote:
"We found two things. When urban pollution mixes with forest pollutions we get more secondary organic aerosols," said Rahul Zaveri, FCSD scientist and project lead on CARES.
Forest Pollutions ? No, those are naturally occurring aerosols which aid in cloud formations. *sigh*
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.)


Pay Close Attention to Part Two 




Saturday, February 15, 2014

What is meant by the word "Natural" when it comes to Land Management?

We live in the times of definition shell games, terms being muddled and where gray areas and absolutes not existing are championed. Mostly I find all this later day murkiness to be a mere marketing ploy, not only of business in the conventional sense which we all understand, but also religious institutions and political entities when it comes to push or wanting to justify various doctrines, programs or policies. Funny how that word natural can be manipulated and promoted as having meaning beyond it's original creation, purpose and intent as it has been traditionally understood for ages in the real world. Take for example the illustration at the right here. Would you find it absurd, maybe even asinine if an obese man justified his condition as being natural, rationalizing that obesity can also found out in the Natural World ? Interestingly, many with hidden agendas do manipulate that term for selfish reasons. The word natural has been further exploited in other ways by the addition of unique words to exaggerate or embellish the original meaning. "All Natural", 100% Natural", "Natural Fire Regime" etc. Take a look at this very humorous and illustrative play on the word "Natural" by our world's big business interests. 



The manipulation and advertising game playing by the giant Corporate Industries in our world I think we all get, but it's when the Scientists who work for or with them is where much of this goes wrong. These are actually the very people who should know better, at least from the higher educational backgrounds we are constantly told they have, hence deserving of our respect and trust. The big problem is they have screwed up so many times lately, that like religion and politics, they appear to be on the same lower level of suspicion. Take the Industrial Science-Based agricultural giant located in the San Joaquin Valley called Harris Ranch Beef. They have an interesting motto or clever statement on their website.
Harris Ranch Beef Company, "Beef the way nature intended it to be."
(SERIOUSLY ???) The way Nature intended it to be ? Anyone who has traveled Interstate 5 in the San Joaquin Valley on the west side and driven through Coalinga is well aware of dust cloud hell you have to endure with no relief for at least 15 to 20 minutes of fast driving. Yet not only is this site's business model promoted as natural, but also sustainable, which is yet another one of those interesting seemingly fuzzy words with definition problems. Montana Ranchers for example find the existence of Wolfs, Mountain Lions and even Buffalo as things which make their business model unsustainable. Seriously, a quote from an article yesterday in Yahoo Financial News about the government having to "Yellowstone bison slaughter begins" . A quote in that article says it all:
"But Montana's livestock industry has little tolerance for bison because of concerns over disease and competition with cattle for grass."
There is also a similar attitude from another science-based agricultural entity like the Industrial Forestry business model which has an intense hatred of the western landscape's native chaparral. In their grossly pseudo-scientific worldview, they mistakenly promote Chaparral as impeding the regrowth of what they consider proper plant species worthy of being called a forest. A forest which they intend to harvest for future profit. They also manipulate words in their irresponsible land management policies and programs to promote their industry and livelihood. They also no doubt manipulate political ties to get what they want. In the land management industry business itself when it comes to mastication and control burning, you can bet there are a significant amount of profit to be had by folks who are hired by that industry as this video from 2012 shows: 



Interestingly, "Pioneer Forest Products" did not live up to the original agreement and barely thinned 1000 acres and did not have the finances to build that promised sawmill for producing wooden products which would have supposedly boosted the local & state economies. However last summer 2013, another company called "Good Earth Power" was said to be in line for the new contract. See link AZ Central: "New forest-restoration contract, same old problems" . Unfortunately for Nature and the environment, this company is huge and powerful with large business venture operations in Africa and financing is said to be coming out of the Middle East and China. Bottom line is, it's all about the money and to justify the money angle, the word term "Natural" and play of  on emotions of the public is the usual strategy. They've come up with a term or phrase called "Natural Fire Regimes".  In so using this term, many large Industrial Forestry people and US Government land managers are utilizing a ongoing romanticized myth about Native American use of fire for land management and how much the natural world will benefit from this regular burning practice. Of course were are talking about the modern practice of "Control Burns" or "Prescribed Burns" which are more of a political hot potato solution solution to appease an otherwise upset public concerned with our present later day climate change enhanced wildfires. Actually, the debate is however whether Indians (Native Americans) should be considered as a part nature. I have previously written about Native Americans here in a post called: Dances With Myths: Indigenous Native Peoples and Fire Ecology and my opinion of course is that they are as equally human as any other peoples around our globe. But many fire defenders don't have that exact view of them. Why they were considered the ultimate eco-greenies when it comes to sustainability and conservation. But were they really ? Yes they no doubt they knew how to live off the land, but interestingly not all were successful. The most successful were those in large groups who cooperated with each other and that wasn't always the case. There is also another proposed movement which is now championing many of the much larger native civilizations empires throughout the Americas who are likewise romanticized today for their sustainable agricultural practices and how this art and ancient knowledge has been lost. (As a side not, there is presently also another kooky proposal scheme to story tell how this ancient knowledge was given them by ancient aliens, but I'll not go there. Many know what I'm talking about with the major so-called science entertainment channels) Does anyone out there appreciate that these civilizations are long extinct as successful Empires ? For example, I never ever hear this next subject brought up in discussion. From several centuries BC up until the 12/13 centuries, both the Anasazi empires of the western USA and the civilization which built the huge pyramid-like Cahokia Mounds in the eastern USA were far more advanced than the Natives the first Europeans encountered when they finally came to North America centuries later. So what happened ? Isn't the story told of how for 15,000 years the North American Natives were simple wildlife conserving cultures with an almost uncanny ability encoded within their genetic makeup to be the ultimate in everything eco-green ?  Why it's in their blood. The true facts reveal more and more that those Native American Empires overused and abused their surrounding lands and in so doing brought about a miniature localized climate change in the form of sustained droughts which led to their downfall. They also had problem with distrust and carrying on war with each other (hmm sounds very European to me) and no doubt would even used fire to war on their enemies. As European influence made inroads into the North American landscape, they actually influenced the natives who took up European technologies. Rather than rejecting the foreign invader's less than eco-green policies, they actually embraced them. Horses were not natural to the natives, as they hunted and chased prey on foot. So observing the huge advantage the Spanish brought with them, they adopted and traded for the ways of the horse. Please consider this, what native would have been willing to turn back the clock and chase Bison on foot in championing a more eco-green cause ? Hardly! What natives would opt for leaving the Winchester Repeating Rifle and going back to more eco-green hunting tools made from natural earth friendly materials like Spears, Bows  Arrows in the cause of their genetically encoded Eco-green preferences ? Again hardly! Why ? Because the early Natives were Human Beings equal to the Europeans they encountered and that is what all humans do. They advance to make room for more comfortable living conditions and survival a little easier. Eco-World had nothing to do with it. So there is no doubt they used fire just like every other culture on Earth had used it for thousands of years. No doubt there may have been some intent for creating better forage of berries (as the website below suggests) and possibly to facilitate an easier time of chasing herbivores on foot over cliffs with fire, but such strategies are not necessarily conservation nor does it explain fire's ability to create and maintain as well as other more *cough-cough* "Natural" components rarely mentioned.

Now for a change of thought here, take a look below at one iconic picture comparison being used from one website showing how natural it is to employ fire as a conservation and preventable wildfire practice. The website is http://www.cskt.org and has this to say  about it's backers.
"A People of Vision... The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are comprised of the Bitterroot Salish, the Pend d'Oreille and the Kootenai tribes."
On another page under the subject of "Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation" it has this to promote about it's people. 
"The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have always been good stewards of the natural resources. Today we strive to achieve good stewardship through excellent Fish, Wildlife, Recreation, and Conservation Program Management."
"Our efforts include continuing our cultural traditions, interdisciplinary consultation, setting high standards and professional qualifications, providing due process and public involvement as part of the regulation development process." 
One major cultural tradition which is greatly referenced through story telling is the Native use of fire for conservation. It champions fire as the great ecosystem molder and creator of healthy wildlife and plant habitat creation. It dedicates much photos and storying behind them to paint a picture of their great understanding of the natural world. But never once does it touch on animal influences on an ancient pristine landscape nor does it attempt any honesty with regards human error when it comes to lighting fires. For example, as humans, we all have our own predisposition to making mistakes. But no reference is made to this on the website. Things like Waring with neighbouring tribes who were considered enemies by means of fire, or irresponsibly leaving a campfire improperly left unattended with the possibility of an afternoon Santa Ana-like wind phenomena kicking up a wildfire which got out of control only to burn itself out eventually or at least until seasonal rains came back. Times would be similar back then to modern humans now. No mention of kids playing with daddy's flint stone to try and see if they too could make fire behind that hill outside the camp, only to get out of control. You all know kids, right ? The reasons for fire are many, just like today, but only the myth of conservation is dealt with on that site. Any idea of the effects of mistakes on the ancient landscape back then ? They also seemed prone to embellishing the Fable about themselves on that site. Now for any who wish to go down the road of , well you are making fun of them and therefore a bigot, seriously, don't even try and go there. I have a great fondness for their history and a strong dislike for the hand they were dealt by the Europeans. But I am also a realist, they were humans equal to us.


Photos: cskt.org

http://www.cskt.org/fire_history.swf


(Photo: Grant Rolf/Higgins Storm Chasers)
Personally, I don't find either of the two fire pictures settings  above to be natural. However I would define the one to the right here as a natural occurring fire ignition event often found out in Nature. I have to admit the website was interesting and in some cases compelling in it's arguments, but there were also some other clear flaws. For example, many of the historical photographs were from the 1920s and 30s and were compared with today. One has to keep in mind that by the 1920/30s, the Europeans had already had a major out of control natural resources obsession impact effect on the landscape's environment. These were also times when for the most part there were no rules as to conservation and rehabilitation with regards the landscape. Early white pioneers were out to make a killing financially based on rumors of the west and would have done what ever irresponsible thing they could to obtain that goal. Could much of those bare spots in the photos been European influenced ? Unfortunately we cannot go back much beyond 150 years to get an accurate visual of what the natural world was like or what influence the Natives had on a pristine landscape centuries prior. Hence at best all we have is story telling in the form of myths and fables to go by and taking things on faith. There is also clearly no way to defend a practice which 150 years ago did not have the climate extremes we experience now with climate change or shifting. The website brought out the regions which seem to show more open grassland ground than today's present denser tree and chaparral cover in the same locations. The site claims that they did this to provide grassland grazing areas for their herbivore prey. 

One of my major problems with much of this justification for such usage of fires for modern conservation is that animals are never taken into the equation as landscape modifiers or transformers and they clearly were a HUGE factor as modern outdoor lab examples testify to. And the beauty is that we don't really have to go back all that far in historical timeline to find such examples. 


Credit: OPB
Probably one of the greatest examples of a major factor other than fire as a plant community maintainer is the prime example of the Elk effect on plant life within the National Park called Yellowstone. It is said that in the early 1990s Elk numbers were close to 15,000. The countryside was more open and Alders, Willows, Cottonwoods and Aspen woodlands were kept in check by these large browsing animals. Wolves were introduced back then and the numbers are now said to be around 9,000. Now the young aspen trees are just finally recovering in the Yellowstone National Park, after wolves that were re-introduced in 1995 which helped to limit elk browsing that had been killing young trees. The older trees seen here date to the last time there were wolves in the park 70 years ago. Seriously, watch this video of how wolves changed Yellowstone's landscape. The researchers also noticed how when Elk and Deer numbers dropped and behavior changed, the narrator pointed out that most of the bare of bald spots in Yellowstone changed to a heavier vegetation cover than previously. This is the exact opposite of what the storytelling myth or fables invented by those in charge tell us on some of these use of fire conservation websites who credit fire as the fix it all answer. 



Okay, once again, the main point of those before and after photos on that Native American website is that the open space was the result of consistent regular Native American Control Burning with Fire, for which the website is a champion. However from this video you just watched and listened to, the modern "Natural" example in Yellowstone and the effect on vegetation by large browsing herbivores, is it not more clear that it was they who had a much more profound effect than admitted or discussed by anyone when it comes to the Prescribed Burning Policy. The subject of wildlife being used in land management is never brought up in hardly any discussion and it should be. If we are to believe the other scientific literature about not only Elk, but also Bison and Pronghorn Antelope, these creatures are said to have each numbered into the millions before the Europeans came. Ponder this for a moment! So what effect did these millions have in shaping the landscape ? If 15,000 unhindered unmolested Elk had a major effect on the Yellowstone ecosystem (creating open bald regions), what did millions upon millions of these herbivores have on the whole of North America ? Unlike Domestic Herbivores, the Pronghorn will eat many chaparral species of which many are toxic to the domestic cattle who won't touch them. Again, nobody ever factors this in. The beauty here of the Yellowstone example is that it is not something from way back in history where the need for myth manufacturing or fable fabrication needs to be employed as an embellishment or exaggeration to justify a belief system used for promoting an idea, policy or flawed program of land management. It actually did happen before the eyes of many modern day human beings present today who can read and watch what has been documented a mere decade ago. It truly is an example of a natural occurrence of how nature's various mechanized components work in harmony when restored properly to their former position in the Natural World's cleverly engineered system. Remember the old time saying, "If it's not broken, then why fix it ?"

Especially when Chaparral Biologist Richard Halsey brings all these points up to public debate. Surprisingly, he's often attacked by even his own followers who otherwise support his California Chaparral Institute's mission for bringing up this very subject. There are clearly those who just cannot give up this old time cherished religious dogma, hence the use of the terminology such as "faith statements" by those championing such control burn causes based not on actual science but rather a flawed gut felt myth motivated by heart felt belief in and reverence for an unfortunately mistreated people and culture. The main point behind Richard Halsey's research is very simple, Observational Science backed up by utilizing a discipline called Biomimetics resulting in Biomimicry or replication of Nature for restoration ecology. That is what we can truly call  "Being Natural" 


Credit Richard Halsey

Native American Burning & Natural Fire Regimes

By all means please read the very informative article referenced above from the Chaparral Institute's website. Now for another change of thought. I'd now like to straighten up a couple of other points here. I am not totally against using fire as a necessary tool and for that matter neither is Richard Halsey, if it's respected as only as a tool and used properly. The general problem I have always observed with the US Forest Service's attempts at forest restoration is they attempt to bypass several "Natural" rules in forest re-establishment by cutting out several necessary progressive steps and accelerating tree growth which will be used as future profit. I also find most programs which are use as an attempt to re-establish trees after a catastrophic wildfire are as a rule done way too late, often times 3 or 4 years after the event. Anyone know how long "Nature" takes to repair and mend the environment after any kind of disruption ? That's right, immediately! Unfortunately most Forest Service projects wait until scientific environmental impact studies can be done and starting times are at best two or three years later. At that point chaparral has grown back and suddenly war is declared on this plant community as if it were an alien invader. The fact is Nature actually start trees off immediately during the first winter rainy season. In fact most seeds germinate in the ground long before Spring with seedling emergence quite often pushing through snow. That's called a clever head start. I know, because I experimented with various pine seed by actually outplanting them in the soil on my own acreage at the beginning of winter up in Anza California to see what would happen as opposed to Spring planting year old seedlings. They out performed by means of the head start because of a more advanced already in place functional root structure prior to the onset of summer. The companion chaparral that also sprouts up with it is actually an ally not the enemy. It could well be considered a nurse plant or mother tree. Without going into much detail again, an excellent example of successful nature-based reforestation where trees live along side and within chaparral was a 1982 fire event where the results of nature-based reforestation came off successfully at Mountain Center California south of Idyllwild. Nobody replanted anything nor cleared any chaparral. The area which is mostly private land was left to it's own redevelopment.


The result is more trees than previously and larger by comparison than many of the land stripping programs in Garner Valley to the east where chaparral was obliterated and also soils are much deeper. Yet even the trees from the Forestry sponsored plantation project up the road on Hwy 74 near Keen Summit which is forest land from Mt Center are not nearly the size of the same age trees. They actually stripped acreage for a sterile planting bed and maintained it a couple years after by use of a water wagon, I know because I commuted past there for almost 20+ years. See the article: "1982 Mountain Center Fire & the Forest's Regeneration" (Article Link) also see the article I wrote about a similar 1983 project I did utilizing biomimicry in forest establishment which left about 40% to 60% of the native chaparral down in lower elevation Terwilliger CA where rainfall is even less. This was a property I care took for free rent. The chaparral plants are the main heroes for this success, not me or the property owners. I also inoculated the trees with symbiotic fungal spores found in higher elevation forest areas which also enhanced the root infrastructure under the ground. Many of these trees are larger than even the Garner Valley tree plantation sites and some equal to the Mountain Center trees. See the post: "Establishing a Forest where the Experts said it would Fail" (Article Link)

Old Dawson Place Terwilliger CA
Now in the event of wanting to establish forest using fire, fire should be used responsibly, along with the site remaining untouched and unmolested of it's native chaparral that following rainy season. In other words, don't remove these plants by further mechanized  or chemical destruction of all other plant roots, considering these as competitors. Then plant already pre-existing nursery raised trees immediately not waiting and wasting precious months or years as has been the conventional method. I have also written about pesticides and herbicides and I while do have a strong dislike of them, I also have used them properly and only under desperate circumstances to create and immediate eradication of an overwhelming scenario of weeds or pests, then you can establish a healthy ecosystem whether it's in the wild or urban landscape utilizing beneficial bacteria and fungi. Once the successful system is established and in place, the future need of such chemicals will be unnecessary if maintained properly through replicating the Natural World's version of maintenance. 

Sad to say many myths are hard to erase from people memory and deep internal psyche. I read comments by average citizens in News item articles on the subject where fire is championed as necessary for Nature to survive, exist and/or even reproduce. Why is that ? Because the average person not familiar with such natural mechanisms take it on faith that the experts have it right. Especially is the question important in why such ignorant talk comes from a group of people like Scientific Researchers who are promoted to the public as above all of this ignorance ? Below is an interesting couple of articles you should take up and really read which came out last years which beautifully examine what is at the heart of irresponsible belief systems and wrong understanding of our natural world. The first article is how scientists tend to employ story telling as a tool to educate, but often times go to far with embellishments and exaggerations which tend to mask the reality of the natural world. It was published in Nature magazine in October 30th 2013 and titled: "Should scientists tell stories?" Here are some excellent quotes:
"Everyone loves a good story, and writers of many kinds use narrative techniques to get their message across. A recent Points of View article (Krzywinski and Cairo, Nat. Methods 10, 687, 2013) described how techniques of storytelling, such as a structured story arc, can effectively guide the presentation of scientific data in figures. But as pointed out in a Correspondence by Katz (p. 1045, this issue), the notion of communicating scientific information by storytelling can be taken too far."
(source) 
Sadly this is where myths and fables about Native Americans have been etched in stone and hard to eradicate. But again, why the scientists ? Seriously, of all people, why Scientists who are supposed to know better ? We all get an easily manipulated and ignorant public believing this stuff, but why Scientists ? This next article from the website "The Conversation" published back in December 13th 2013 posted an excellent article titled, "Scientists falter as much as Bankers in pursuit of Answers". Here are some awesome quotes:
"Bankers aim to maximise profits. Scientists aim to understand reality. But Mike Peacey of the University of Bristol suggests, based on a new model he has just published in Nature, that both professionals are equally likely to conform to whatever views are prevalent, whether they are right or wrong."
In the past decade scientists have raised serious doubts about whether science is as self-correcting as is commonly assumed. Many published findings, including those in the most prestigious journals, have been found to be wrong. One of the reasons is that, once a hypothesis becomes widely accepted, it becomes very difficult to refute it, which makes it, as Jeremy Freese of Northwestern University recently put it, “vampirical more than empirical – unable to be killed by mere evidence”.
(source) 
 “vampirical more than empirical – unable to be killed by mere evidence” 
Isn't that a beautiful quote ? I tell you, I just eat this up with a spoon. It doesn't get more illustrative than this. People everywhere need to train up their powers of perception. For human beings they don't come naturally. Blindly believing any word out of some Expert's mouth because they claim to wear some self-described badge of authority isn't good enough. You have to determine what is truly "Natural" otherwise known as the  real world and what is artificial and manipulative. I don't have anymore references to post as you have plenty above. Please read the references and make it real by burning it down into your memory through practical application of what was said or learned by means of reading. It will actually take getting your back side outdoors and making practical application. Practical experience is what helps you understand the truth of what is and what is not "Natural".
Maybe this is a good time to consider Murphy's Second Law: 
“No matter what the experiment’s result, there will always be someone eager to: (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it supports his own pet theory.”