Monday, May 29, 2023

Former Giant Western Red Cedars above Lake Cavanaugh

I have had numerous ventures up the north slope of Frailey Mountain south of Lake Cavanaugh in Skagit County. The slopes are steep and streams on the mountain have had a history of debris flows; hence, I have had numerous ventures assessing the geology risks of the area. 

The forest on the lower sloes is predominantly western hemlock. It is one of the easier forest areas to walk through as there is very little understory brush as the hemlocks shade out just about everything. But amongst the hemlocks are big(!) hints of the past.   

Western red cedar stump amongst the western hemlocks 

Large cedar stump and if you look carefully an even bigger one back in the trees

The western hemlock forest is about 80 years old. The Lake Cavanaugh area was nearly devoid of trees by 1940. There is a small remnant patch of old trees on the steepest upper slopes that were either too hard to log or poor quality timber. 

1941 aerial view of area

The big stumps are a reminder that the forests we see today are not static. Given the age of the forests around Lake Cavanaugh area, there has been significant logging in the area the past few years. As noted in a previous post (HERE), the trees that were left are habitat for marbled murrlets and hence some of the forest is protected. And some of the slopes may be precluded from logging due to potential landslides and debris flow hazards. I say 'may' because that can be a geology judgement call clear cut logging has been permitted on active alluvial fan areas.     

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