Pacific Northwest Deforestation

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Michael Boydstun ENVS 101-1998 Environmental Impact of deforestation In the Pacific Northwest The first people to explore the wilderness in what is now Oregon and Washington documented beautiful forests of mesmerizingly large trees as far as the eye can see. The explorer’s initial reports brought in people who came to make a profit off the forest and the vast amounts of lumber it could provide. Lumber mills were built before the area was even added to the union. The environmental footprint started out small, but the lack of regulation, lack of enforcement of the existing regulations, and an increase in technology quickly created a large environmental battle over the whole region. As civilizations impact on the region increased, so did the…show more content…
The forests always had occasional fires for as long as there had been a forest, but the frequency and the severity of man-made fires resulted in a negative environmental impact as well as social discontent over forest depletion. Large scale fires result in a loss of topsoil. The hot temperatures reached in large fires burns away the topsoil and organic material in the soil that is vital to the health of the forest. Less vegetation as a result of forest fires doubles the amount of runoff flowing into mountain streams, and increases the speed at which snow melts and fills streams. Effects such as these can have unpredictable effects on the environment. The effect of reduced forest size has already had a measurable impact on the composition of our atmosphere in the relatively short amount of time we have been cutting them down(6). Ironically however it is the conversion of forest land to urban and agriculture use that has a more permanent and detrimental impact. Logging and urbanization lead to forest succession. Forest succession happens when there are changes to an environment that causes the composition of plant and animal species to change. New species succeed the existing ones as a result of things like changes in amount of shade, temperature, or the introduction of foreign species. Unintended species brought over by loggers and settlers include fungi and weeds that are detrimental to the existing ecosystem. In 1910 a fungal disease known as “white pine blister rust” was introduced and resulted in a substantial reduction of the existing Western white pine (1). The forest succession, as it is happening in the Pacific Northwest, is making the forest more “homogeneous in their composition and structure” especially since the only trees replanted after logging where Douglas-fir (1)(4) . This makes the ecosystem more vulnerable and weaker to invasive
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