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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Plant Branch Natural landscape Wood Shade


Massive fir tree fell just past the steel bridge at the start of the Stevens Canyon Trail, west of Cupertino, Sunday afternoon. This is just before the Open Space preserve boundary, taking out power and phone lines. I heard the sound of the breaking lines transmit down the power line (sounded like a bullet flying by overhead) as I got to the gate at the end of Stevens Canyon Road, about 1 minute before getting to this point. Had I not stopped for a short break on the way up the canyon, I might have been riding here when that came down!

Local resident came up trying to find out what took out their power, so I suspect these lines were still live at the time. Why the heck PG&E never disconnected power up here is beyond me. The cabins these served up here were removed around 2014. I don't think there's any other dwellings up this way.

On the way down the paved road, passed by 2 county park ranger trucks and a PG&E service truck heading up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wow, what good luck! Fallen tree stories? Here's mine.

Back in the '80s I was riding along Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC. Suddenly, I heard a large crash right behind me. It shook the pavement. A big oak tree had just fallen over onto the road about a half block behind, as if when I passed, the tree decided to fall. It covered the road. The root was six feet high. I'd just escaped being squashed like a bug by 5 seconds. Fortunately there were no other people on the road. Recent rain had softened the ground. The roots couldn't hold. I felt truly blessed let me tell ya!
That's a close one, for sure.

I decided not to push my luck on this day and turned around and headed back down the pavement. Not sure why this tree came down, there was a light breeze but nothing out of the ordinary.

I've bailed on rides up in the mtns. many times due to high winds, like this time:
While I was hiking in that more sheltered canyon, I heard one thunderous crash, but never saw where that was. The next week riding farther up, there were signs of several blow downs along the trail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Yes, some of the trees dying of drought but many of the oaks are victims of "Sudden Oak Death" (SOD) which is caused by Phytophthora ramorum, a water mold pathogen . Likely this pathogen has been around for millions of years and in pre-contact days, the local Ohlone peoples maintained the local forests by thinning, controlled burns, etc. They kept out host species like the California Bay Laurel and this limited the spread of this pathogen that needs contact in the soil to spread. Acorns were a major food source, so keeping competitive species away from oak trees made them more productive, likewise keeping the forest floor thinned out made hunting more productive as well.

However, in modern times, almost nothing is allowed to be done in the forests. Controlled burns are non-existant, removing wood from an SOD afflicted area is akin to transporting nuclear waste with the permits involved, so nothing is ever removed. If a land owner tries to do something like that now, some group will "discover" a threatened species of some sort that will be endangered by the project. Even though that same species survived millenia of the same sort of activity being done by the native population.

I was back up to this area yesterday and all the fallen trees have been cut up and shoved to the side of the road. Every year, more dead wood piles up on the forest floor, all in the name of "protecting the forest".
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes, so true.

Here's a recent study on indigenous forest management by USGS:
"Indigenous burning practices coupled with lightning-induced fires kept forest carbon low, at approximately half of what it is today, and kept forests more open and less dense. Forest management and intentional ignitions also resulted in low forest fuel levels that allowed local Indigenous people to produce food and basketry materials, clear trails, reduce pests, and support ceremonial practices for generations."

At least the folks running the local Open Space District are starting to see the light:
But this is after 50 years of doing nothing and the 50 years of accumulated dead wood that has resulted. Will be interesting to see if they can actually start doing something to reduce the risk of fires.
 
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