FRG promotes the utilization of materials thinned ONLY from forest restoration and improvement projects.
Crowded even-age trees on millions of acres of forestland—a result of clear-cut forest management—have increased the certainty of catastrophic wild fires throughout California. Very fast growing Douglas fir crowds out the slower growing hardwoods compromising species diversification and stable forest structure. In the untended even-aged forest all flora is in deep competition for ground water, soil nutrients and space, suppressing tree growth, increasing the risk of insect and disease infestation, and compromising genetic diversity. Dense shrubs, young, dead and suppressed trees, called ladder fuels, allow fire to climb the healthier trees and burn into the canopy, taking down entire forests.
FRG’s stewardship standards are based in holistic approaches to restoration forestry for improving structure and genetic diversity, regaining canopy integrity, watershed stability and fire resiliency of forestland.
Every micro-ecosystem has a unique prescription. Below is a basic outline of stewardship methods used for restored forest ecosystems.
Removing Ladder Fuels: Small diameter tree thinning
Selective small diameter tree thinning allows healthier trees to take in more water, nutrients and sunlight also allowing for slower growing hardwood and other species to take hold. Removing over crowded Doug fir, in some cases redwood, and understory ladder fuels reduces the fire fuel load and can be a preparation for prescribed burns.
Controlled burns intentionally set burn away excess vegetation to mimic the impact of historic ground fires and keep the forest from becoming overgrown. Many California species depend upon fire for reproduction. The giant sequoia for example has serotinous cones whose seeds are encased in thick resins that need fire to melt those resins so that germination can occur. Other species that depend upon fire and the nutrient rich ash left behind from ground fires are the fire poppy, redbud and manzanita. Historic ground fires, traditional indigenous and prescribed burns increase species diversification in flora, bringing back the fauna that depend upon those fire dependent plant species.
Watershed restoration / Infiltration
The litter and duff layers over the forest’s mineral soil consist of decaying organic matter. These layers hold much of the water available to the ecosystem long after the rainy season and even into drought years. A portion of thinned materials can be mulched, and strategically placed tree trunks and large branches within the landscape increase water retention and reduce soil erosion.