Sunset Over the Apocalypse

The logging machines are gone. The searing & crashing have stopped. The beeping and loading have stopped. They have hauled away everything they legally could, and pulverized anything they couldn’t. (If you haven’t read the previous post about My Nightmare, hop there and catch up.)

They have left us with this:

You see only half the area of destruction in this video. The other half is to the north beyond the far ridge. Their last act was to simply bulldoze much of the slag over the edge. You can see the acres of the grindings of bark and branch and roots discarded. Any trash or tires that were uncovered have been left for the county to clean up. Notice the erosion channels down the hillside.

When Life Hands You Lemons…

Stumps and slag
Stumps and slag

On our side of the road, we are left with lots of stumps, big and small. And slash. Also holes where their machines just yanked smaller trees out of the ground. 50ft by 600ft of devastation. (That’s 15m x 183m for you metriculated people.) It is so depressing and ugly. Every time I go out or look out the windows to the north, it’s as though I’ve stumbled onto a deserted battlefield. A mini-apocalypse, sans zombies.

My sister-in-law said she was surprised I wasn’t drinking heavily every day because of it. She didn’t even want the full tour because it was too upsetting.

We want to gain control of this strip of land, either by buying the land from the county outright or by gaining stewardship of it. Had we known Pope & Talbot was going to give it a buzzcut like this, obviously we would have tried to buy it before. Some might say there’s no point in buying it now, the damage has been done, but I don’t trust the county to not put in a parking lot for a trailhead here.

Even if the county does nothing, and even if Pope & Talbot/Olympic Resources eventually replants the land, as they are required to do under the terms of the contract with the county, I don’t want to wait the 30 years it will take for the re-growth to get even halfway decent. I’m 61. I don’t want to look at this bombed-out no-man’s land for the rest of my life.

…Make Lemonade

We want to plant an arboretum. Make a park for the people who walk along this road and all the passers-by who are appalled at the destruction. It is a long, narrow strip, with some undulation for topographical interest.

The strip of clearcut
Our proposed arboretum site

I envision a path meandering through a variety of native northwest trees sprinkled with specimen trees, with interesting understory plantings. A bench here and there, to enjoy the sunset over the Olympic mountains, since it has been foisted upon us.

Sunset over the clearcut, looking towards the Olympic mountains
Sunset over the apocalypse, looking towards the Olympic mountains.

A Knotty Project

As a horticultural project, the site has some knotty features. First of which is sunlight. It is bordered on the entire south side by our mature forest. From late spring to early fall, there will be direct sunlight on the strip in the mornings and in the late afternoons till sundown. However, the rest of the year there will be no actual sunlight getting past our forest to hit the vegetation.

Then there is wind. Now that there is pretty much nothing between our hill and the Olympics — or Canada, come to that — there is a lot of wind now. It’s quite exposed to the north. So we need to choose trees and plants that can handle wind.

The Pacific NW natives that will be springing up include big leaf maple, western hemlock, red alder, western red cedar, and Douglas fir. At the edge of the property line, there are some baby maples and cedars rubbing their eyes at the sun and already beginning to stretch their limbs. They will grow rapidly, but they won’t catch up to the backdrop forest for the foreseeable.

Vertical tree trunks at sundown
Vertical tree trunks at sundown

Then, design-wise, you have a 100ft wall of forest next to buzzcut ground. The main view of it will be from the road, looking toward the 100ft wall. So that’s the backdrop for plantings. You have a lot of verticals, visually, from the trunks of the Douglas firs and cedars. You have mainly medium greens, except for way up top where you have dark greens.

You have to factor in form, height and spread when you select trees and decide on their placement. You have to think about spring blossoms and autumn color. How fast do they grow? How long do they live? Will they survive a shaded winter? How will it look in 10 years, in 25, in 100, in 400?

And we have to try to plan ahead for accelerating climate change: warmer, more droughts, more extremes. We want to plant for posterity — a garden of trees to outlive the foolish human race, if possible.

Crowdfunded 3-Dimensional Chess

So you can see that planning a skinny arboretum is a long-term game of 3-dimensional chess. It would make a great project for landscape architecture students. That is why I’m thinking to crowdfund this arboretum, both for a prize for a design competition and so that we can buy large trees to jumpstart the park.

I’ve never done a crowdfunding campaign. I have no social media accounts. I live in the woods and don’t have a huge network to tap into, so I hope some of you will help us. If you have ever participated in a campaign, I’m all ears for your wise counsel. Please write in!

Find Someplace and Plant a Tree

As I wrote in my previous post, I believe that planting trees is the longest lasting, unequivocal good most of us will ever do with our very own hands. However much we recycle or bicycle, weigh the carbon footprints of paper or plastic, whatever food choices or travel choices we make — all of these decisions and actions only hope to mitigate our personal drop in the ocean of environmental responsibility.

Planting trees actively makes the climate better, and long after you & I are gone, the trees we plant will be cooling and filtering the atmosphere, holding water in the soil and the topsoil to the earth, providing habitat and food to wildlife, and sequestering carbon.

Ecosia logoI’ve recently discovered a search engine called Ecosia, which plants a tree for every 40 searches you do on the internet. It works pretty much like Google, and if by just using the internet as I normally do, more trees get planted — I’m all for it! Here is a review of Ecosia I found. I’ve been using it for a month both on my laptop and on my Android phone. I am quite happy with it. I hope you will give it a try, so that you, too, can plant trees even if you haven’t got a clearcut to heal next door.

2 Replies to “Sunset Over the Apocalypse

  1. I think it is a fantastic idea to create an arboretum park on that strip behind your house. Go for it!

    Not sure I can help with anything at the moment, but I am all behind you.

    1. Thanks. I can’t just do nothing. I gotta do something. I’m hoping people who read this post will know something about setting up and promoting crowdfunding campaigns, because I know almost nuffink.

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