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This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight...

   -- Evangeline, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The next time you're upset over how long the highway department is taking to complete that always-in-the-works intersection, you can at least be grateful that the project didn't take eighteen years. Of course, if that road construction was not just transportation, but stimulus package, engineering experiment, economic policy, and immigration plan all rolled into one, you might be a little more tolerant.

Construction on the Cumberland Road wasn't begun until 1811 and it would be 1838 before the pavement stretched to Columbus, Ohio, but the origin of the idea went back to an argument that took place in George Washington's office in 1790. In the face of a fiscal crisis, Alexander Hamilton was there with a plan for the American economy. Thomas Jefferson was there to stop him. When the details of Hamilton's plan were revealed, Jefferson called them both illegal and immoral. He quickly rattled off a half dozen legal principles that were imperiled by the plan. Hamilton rose to its defense. The two men had sparred on any number of occasions, and sometimes seem to look on their arguments as a sport. Washington was not amused. The president put a stop to Jefferson's protests and awarded the match to Hamilton. Of the two, Washington liked Hamilton better. It was hard to blame him. For all his good qualities, Jefferson could also be something of an ass.

The problems facing Washington's administration were legion. Nearly all of the young nation's manufactured goods were imported, and domestic competition was finding it hard to get started with cheap goods pouring in from overseas. Hundreds of state and local banks were operating under different rules, different rates, even different currencies. Increasing population was driving up demand for land and produce in the east, while goods and agricultural products in the new western settlements had no access to eastern markets. The country was awash in speculators taking advantage of differences in exchange rates and shipping costs to rack up fortunes while farmers and craftsmen suffered. Imagine a country with dozens of different currencies and no one regulating the exchange rates. Now imagine how many people learned to game the system.

The ideas that Hamilton introduced to address these issues were dramatic then, and would be more shocking if they were proposed today. First, Hamilton argued that the United States needed to impose high tariffs to make imports less attractive. Cloth, furniture, all the various manufactured goods coming into American ports from European makers, would be subject to as much as a 25% surcharge. These higher prices would provide a margin for American industry to expand. Later generations might associate such measures with an unproductive protectionism, and even finger tariffs as a trigger for economic depression. But the first American administration (and many that came after) did not agree. In addition to the tariffs, there would also be subsidies to American industry.

Another of Hamilton's proposals was that the country needed to focus on infrastructure, like the Cumberland Road, as a means of providing access for settlers and transport for goods. Roads and canals were planned across the country. These "shovel ready projects" (which at that time were often carried out by small armies of men actually packing shovels) vied for funding and priority just as high speed rail systems and interstate highways do today. At the same time, the Federal government prposed to provide a boost to the states by taking over the debt they had incurred during the Revolutionary War. However, there was a problem with the list of projects waiting their turn in Congress: funding. The new government had no way to pay for all the proposals that quickly came to cover Washington's desk.

Hamilton had an answer for that, as well; one that has its own echoes in modern times. What Hamilton proposed was that the US government become the largest stockholder in a bank. Not an existing bank, a new bank. Hamilton's idea was that the government would create this bank as a private company, but the government would own the first $2 million in stock. The government would also lay down the rules for the bank, including limits on who could buy stock, on what type of investments the bank could make, and how directors would be chosen. This bank would then lend the government the money it needed to handle its infrastructure projects. There was only one problem — the United States government didn't have anything close to $2 million available. That was where Hamilton got really clever. The bank itself would lend the government the dollars to buy the stock in the bank that the government was creating. Got that? The government would begin paying back that loan at the end of 1791, but even the payments were more than the government could afford. To solve that issue, Hamilton made a proposal popular with politicians in any age, a "sin tax." In this case, a tax on imported and domestic spirits (to see how well that went, just look up the Whiskey Rebellion).

Those who worry that we've wandered too far from the vision of the founding fathers might want to remember that in George Washington's first term, the government was involved in selectively restricting imports and paying out subsidies, bailing out debts of states, creating private companies, being the major stockholder in a bank, and executing a "stimulus plan" of infrastructure projects. All paid for by new taxes.

The Cumberland Road was one of the largest of the projects envisioned by the government. When it broke ground in 1811, it aimed to stretch from the Potomac to the Ohio, and this wouldn't be just a rutted track for horses and wagons. It was the first major road in the nation to employ the new system of "macadam" surface — a mixture of broken rock and tar. This was an expressway into America's interior.

By the summer of 1818, the road building crew had entered the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and were cutting their way into the forest. The woods they experienced were massive, dark, boundless... terrifying. Though centuries of settlement had pecked away at the woods to the east, and more and more Americans were now moving to the other side of the mountains, the deep woods were still feared. For the men who were chopping their way through that forest and laying a road with nothing but hand tools, they must have seemed endless. And a royal pain in the neck.

More than a century later, there were still some who felt that way...

Behind the house at Rancho del Cielo, Ronald Reagan was famous for swinging his ax to split piles of kindling. Chopping into logs may have kept Reagan fit, but when it came to the source of that wood, he was just as famously unconcerned.  During the Calfornia governor's race in 1966, candidate Ronald Reagan made his position clear.

I think, too, that we've got to recognize that where the preservation of a natural resource like the redwoods is concerned, that there is a common sense limit. I mean, if you've looked at a hundred thousand acres or so of trees -- you know, a tree is a tree, how many more do you need to look at?

On another occasion, Reagan was asked about the beauty of a grove of 2,000 year old redwoods.

I saw them. There's nothing beautiful about them. They're just a little higher than the others.

In the end, Redwood National Park did not contain "hundreds of thousands of acres" of the ancient trees. The park totaled 58,000 acres -- including roads and parking lots. In exchange for giving up just 5,000 acres of trees that were marked for logging next to the park, the timber industry was given 13,000 acres of old trees elsewhere. Those trees are now gone. A single giant redwood -- three hundred feet tall and twenty-six feet in diameter -- can yield almost half a million board feet of lumber.

But at least those who live along the West Coast still have some places they can go to see an approximation of the forest as it once was. If you squint just right, if you pretend not to notice the foot paths and informational signs, you can see something of what must have confronted the settlers whose wagon trains came out of the plains and desert into the coastal forests of the West.

For those to the east, no such time capsule is available. The forest that those road crews saw in 1811, and that earlier settlers saw as they landed on the Atlantic Coast, is lost. Absolutely, and utterly gone. Even in the most remote stretches of Maine or the most pristine areas of the mountains, what we have today is a forest so different that it gives little sense of what conditions were like back then. In fact, when scientists in the early 20th century looked at sketches that had been made by the first explorers who sailed into Eastern American rivers and hiked into those forests, they routinely thought those early explorers had exaggerated. No one could believe that the environment had once been so rich, so diverse, so alien to how it looks today, and above all so blanketed in giants.

The biggest reason for the change is the simplest one: time. Trees live for a long, long time. And the largest trees tend to be the oldest. From the 15th century on, eastern white pines were harvested from America's east coast. Ranging up to 230' tall, these trees were perfect for making the masts of large sailing ships. Barges were sent up rivers, and well before there were lumber mills, Navy crews ranged across the countryside bringing out dozens of these giants at a time. These trees were over 500 years old. The tallest tree in New England today is also an eastern white pine. At nearly 170 feet, it's an imposing tree, but it will be centuries yet before it matches up to the trees that once existed in groves.

The same factor of time weighs against other trees of the east.  When life spans are measured in centuries, even logging that happened in colonial times still stunts the forests today. But there's another factor that weighs even more heavily in the difference between what the forests were, and what they are. Starting in the first half of the 20th century, diseases have remodeled the forest beyond recognition. The elegant American elm, whose vase-shaped boughs lined streets throughout the nation, was ravaged by Dutch elm disease. It's not vanished, but most trees now die well before they reach their first century, and long before they reach the impressive height and girth that once endeared them to both city planners and poets.

But no tragedy has reshaped the forest like the disappearance of the most iconic of Eastern trees, the American chestnut. The chestnut did not reach the height of the great eastern pines, but no other tree had the colossal canopy, the massive limbs, the overwhelming presence of the chestnut. It was a fast-growing tree, good for fence posts and railroad in only a couple of decades — and for furniture, fiddles, homes, barns, and ships. Later on, it would be used for telephone polls. The wood resisted rot, the tree tolerated a range of soils and weather. Most of all, it was amazingly common. When the Bronx Zoo imported some related trees from Asia in 1904, they had no idea those trees carried a fungus that would spread out into the forest. Into the forest where one in four trees was an American chestnut. The tree's range stretched all along the path of that Cumberland Road — from the East Coast to the Ohio Valley, from Canada to the Gulf. Four billion huge trees spread over 200 million acres

Forty years later, perhaps a hundred large chestnut trees remained where those four billion had been. There might have been some resistant trees among those forests at the time, but as the giants began to die, loggers moved in and worked furiously to take what trees remained. If there were resistant trees, they were turned into someone's dining room table or roof shingles.

(Image from The Forest Historical Society)

Beneath the thick boughs of the chestnut, was the twilight world of Longfellow's poem. A rich world. Chestnut trees produced their namesake in vast quantities. The nuts were not only a major source of food for the forest creatures, but also provided both food and income for the people who lived in the shadow of the great trees. For many farmers working marginal land, chestnuts were the difference between profit and loss. Or even the difference between life or starvation.

When the chestnuts were gone American was a difference place.

To get some sense of what the forest looked like for those men cutting their way through in 1811, you'd need to travel not to a US national park, but to a park that straddles the border of Poland and Belarus. The Białowieża Forest was owned by the kings of Poland from the 15th century and made a hunting preserve from the 16th century on. A few small villages were built in the woods over the centuries, and German forces set up a lumber mill during World War I, but much of the forest remains essentially untouched. It is today as nearly all of Europe once was, and it's the closest thing we have to the forest that once blanketed the eastern half of the United States. In the Białowieża, oak trees grow to be over 20' in circumference. Wisent, the European bison, graze in dappled meadows much as American bison once did. The space between the great trees is damp, thick with centuries of leaves and discarded branches. Mushrooms and other fungus grow in riotous profusion. Few green plants exist below the canopy that is dense enough to keep the world below in permanent gloom.  This is the old forest. The place where its equally easy to believe in monstrous beasts and sacred groves. This is the forest not just of our ancient ancestors, but of those who came only a few generations before us. This is what temperate land does when we don't get in the way.

If the Białowieża seems like a long way to travel to see what America's forests were like centuries ago, at least there is a Białowieża. You can still seek out the Cumberland Road, as well. US Highway 40 follows much of the orginal route between Illinois and points east. However, to see an example of the American School of economics, you'd have to travel to... well, nowhere really. Certainly not to America.

For more than a century, the American School of economics would be based on three ideas: supporting industry through tariffs and subsidies in opposition to free trade, government creation of improvements to help commerce and investment and control of private infrastructure, and a government controlled fiscal infrastructure that would encourage growth of the economy through regulation of credit and direct intervention in banking. During the administration of Abraham Lincoln, two more ideas were added to the canon: government support for public education and the advancement of science through a public school system and research grants, and avoiding "class struggle" by looking for policies that didn't benefit wealthy factory owners at a cost to workers.

Lincoln's economic advisor, Henry Carey, compared the American System to the British System of Lassiez-faire economics in his book, The Harmony of Interests.

Two systems are before the world;... One looks to increasing the necessity of commerce; the other to increasing the power to maintain it. One looks to underworking the Hindoo, and sinking the rest of the world to his level; the other to raising the standard of man throughout the world to our level. One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other to increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace. One is the English system; the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of elevating while equalizing the condition of man throughout the world.

It wasn't until 1893 that Democrat Grover Cleveland began reducing the tariffs that had marked the American system. It was the start of a general disengagement between government and the economy — a surrender to the British System. And it would continue right up until start of the Great Depression.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:02 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As always (130+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    clyde, C S McCrum, Jeff in CA, cdreid, jmart, Mimikatz, skyesNYC, abarefootboy, RonV, Gooserock, PeterHug, RunawayRose, rincewind, LynChi, Pescadero Bill, eeff, Zach in Phoenix, BenGoshi, Jerome a Paris, NoisyGong, concernedamerican, bronte17, TracieLynn, cardinal, mint julep, wonmug, nupstateny, dmsilev, DustyMathom, dmsmith, johnnygunn, raster44, side pocket, Josiah Bartlett, sawgrass727, frostyinPA, jabney, maybeeso in michigan, TexasTom, adamsrw, truong son traveler, ChemBob, drewfromct, david78209, GreyHawk, docstymie, algebrateacher, dsteffen, Alabama Bill, djohnutk, Jim R, Jennifer Clare, gwilson, Liberal Protestant, mjfgates, trentinca, NCgrassroots, cleverblogname, twigg, mcmom, JugOPunch, stlkaper, Thinking Fella, Drama Queen, Balam, C Barr, milkbone, mamabigdog, vets74, Van Buren, FishOutofWater, rgjdmls, mommyof3, jayden, sabishi, dgil, Got a Grip, willb48, Neon Mama, jwinIL14, Brinnon, bythesea, cumberland sibyl, Akonitum, beltane, OregonOak, RandomNonviolence, mofembot, huntergeo, jjohnjj, Zulia, In her own Voice, JonBarleycorn, brein, runesmith, loftT, Neon Vincent, bushondrugs, ALifeLessFrightening, divineorder, Pariah Dog, DancinMan, allep10, Shuddering Noise Machine, Flyswatterbanjo, purplepenlady, parse this, ArtSchmart, wvmom, leftist vegetarian patriot, renzo capetti, Egalitare, rja, Misterpuff, Otteray Scribe, annieli, StateofEuphoria, nicethugbert, Verbalobe, muckrakers, danmitch, dakinishir, marianevans, EdgedInBlue, yaque, zapus, foresterbob, VTCC73, FininWA, RLMiller

    A lot of this topic got chopped off in editing. Including the rise of corporations, why New England really does have more trees today than it did when that road was being built, and the perils faced by trees from dogwoods to hemlocks.

    I would blame it on the limits of the diary system, but the sad truth is this: I bought Wii Sports Resort and spent four hours sword fighting. Now my arms ache so badly I can barely lift them to the keyboard.

    Old people should not be allowed around video games. Or at least, old obsessive people without the sense to stop when they're in only mild agony.

  •  I Still Say Reagan Belongs on Mt. Rushmore (6+ / 1-)

    since basically all public and private leadership embrace so many of his core policies on trade, defense, progressive taxation and financial regulation.

    Reagan could end up being the only figure up there that really matters.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:10:44 AM PDT

  •  Great diary (15+ / 0-)

    I especially like the comparisons to then and now, but what I really enjoyed was just reading about the forests that were not involved in health care reform!

    Thanks for the morning of history and reflection.  Think I need to take a hike!

    Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't.

    by EdgedInBlue on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:11:51 AM PDT

  •  Looks like the British system (15+ / 0-)

    has won out. Or maybe all dying empires end up this way.

    We have no one to blame but ourselves. Reagan's gospel of greed was embraced by millions of lower middle class voters who were duped into thinking they had more in common with the upper 1% than the bottom 20%. Now, even the median income isn't truly middle class anymore.

    The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

    by beltane on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:15:37 AM PDT

  •  I know it's off-topic (5+ / 0-)

    but it's still worth mentioning the Second Amendment ramifications of the Whiskey Rebellion...

    Richard "The Dick" Cheney: screwing America since 1969

    by litho on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:19:18 AM PDT

  •  Your diaries are always thoughtful, well-written, (14+ / 0-)

    and wonderfully argued.  I love reading your writing.  And this paragraph, today, needs to be shouted from the rooftops:

    "Those who worry that we've wandered too far from the vision of the founding fathers might want to remember that in George Washington's first term, the government was involved in selectively restricting imports and paying out subsidies, bailing out debts of states, creating private companies, being the major stockholder in a bank, and executing a "stimulus plan" of infrastructure projects. All paid for by new taxes."

    Thank you.

  •  thank you, from a tree lover (9+ / 0-)

    kinda depressing, but fascinating all at the same time.  and some politics and history thrown in, it really is a read for the whole (boring, in my case) family.

    it's one thing for you to express your views, but another for them to be different than mine - steven colbert

    by skyesNYC on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:23:08 AM PDT

    •  Don't be depressed! (18+ / 0-)

      Just head north about four hours (to my neck of the woods, so to speak...) and you'll encounter one of this country's great experiments in forest recovery.

      The 6 million acre Adirondack Forest Preserve contains over 3 million acre of woods that are constitutionally protected forever.

      And while this "experiment" is only about 110 years old, there are portions of the park that are true virgin forest. Barbara McMartin (who has written lots of hiking guides and other books about the area) estimates that there may be as many as half a million acres of "old growth" forest up here, including 200,000 acres that have never been logged.

      I had the pleasure of spending 3 seasons as a Wilderness Ranger for the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area. I probably hiked a thousand miles under the canopy of some really old, really big trees. I sometimes call this area an intemperate rain forest as there is a whole other world under that canopy. It can be sunny and hot on the outside, but it's still almost raining under the trees some days.

      It's awesome. And inspiring. Natures own anti-depressant!

      "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

      by RonV on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:38:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And out West... (9+ / 0-)

        we continue to find patches of Old Growth forests, of which there are many many types, (DougFir/White Oak, or Cedar/Aspen or Ponderosa/Juniper or Hemlock/Spruce or High Alpine Firs-Noble/Grand/Subalpine) which the loggers overlooked due to the steepness of the slope or the remoteness of the haul.

        Thre are prarie environments being preserved, High Desert environments, Marshland/Wetland of all varieites, and even Badland/Scrub ecosystems.

        All is not lost. We have the opportunity to recreate much of the ecology of the Ancient West given wisdom, patience and time. I have no doubt we will do so.

        I am very optimistic.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:21:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  from another tree lover and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mint julep, divineorder, Pariah Dog

      also a lover of the poets. And, of the American poets, Longfellow is most impressive! Evangeline was my favorite and when I moved to southern Louisiana as a seventeen year old, hating to leave behind the only other home I'd know, I felt a little like the poem's heroine.  I sought solice for my own loss in what was left of those massive, mossy trees and imagined myself in another time under the close dampness of their canopy.

      Find your own voice--the personal is political.

      by In her own Voice on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:20:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Awesome diary - great writing (5+ / 0-)

    I wished we could read the unedited, unchopped off version of it. Will this be a book one day?

  •  I always appreciate your thoughts, and it (4+ / 0-)

    makes me want to think about associated questions: the deforestation of the US as it relates to land ownership, the failure of the first US Bank, and the differences among regional ecologies - for example - why New England has a number of "alien" plants and trees that wreak havoc on local and regional areas - all filled with old chestnuts(sic).

    I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person. -- Pogo

    by annieli on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:27:32 AM PDT

  •  OMG, cue the ear-worm. (14+ / 0-)

    During the Bicentennial (seems like eons ago... come to think of it, it was eons ago), I sang Roy Ringwald's Song of America over and over and over again (in concerts with the So. Calif. Mormon Choir). Ringwald set part of Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha to music, and I have not forgotten it, nor will I:

    This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
    Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
    Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
    Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
    Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
    Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

    Our forests have been wailing for a long, long time, and not without reason, and not just in North America.

    Thanks for this, DT.

    Book excerpts: nonlynnear; other writings: mofembot.

    by mofembot on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:29:43 AM PDT

  •  Live and Learn.......thanx!! (4+ / 0-)
  •  You Could Avoid that Plane Trip - (7+ / 0-)

    And visit Estivant Pines in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

  •  Wonderful diary! (6+ / 0-)

    A technical note - tar wasn't added to macadam until the 20th sentury.

  •  Chestnuts may be making a comeback (8+ / 0-)

    I read not long ago that there is a stand of American chestnuts in some remote location -- Wisconsin, maybe -- that survived the blight. This might be the "hundred or so" specimens mentioned in the article. Scientists are working to cross-breed them with a Chinese chestnut with the goal of creating a tree that is about 94% American chestnut nut resistant to chestnut blight.

    Of course we will never see the 20' wide monster trees in our lifetime, but it would be nice to think that they might someday be dotting the landscape again.

    •  Oregon has American Chestnuts (7+ / 0-)

      as single trees here and there, thriving, but its likely due not to resistance to the fungus but their isolation from each other and the Westerly flow of air, which means its really hard for the fungus to travel upwind across the American Plains and Deserts to get here.

      Still, there are examples of 150 year old American Chestnuts. They are as grand as Devilstower describes. Absolutely stunningly beautiful. And full of food! Chestnuts are marketed in Seattle and Portland at the Farmer's markets.

      There is great hope!

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:25:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If It Can Be Spread by Hikers or Campers or Pets, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TracieLynn, Omir the Storyteller

        watch out.

        Zebra mussels are proving quite the growing annoyance that way.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:48:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          melo, Omir the Storyteller, mcmom, brein

          There is some evidence that the fungus is difficult to spread with occasional contact, and that a tree must be more or less continuously exposed for a season for this fungus to get going, and in a certain density of trees to keep the exposure moving.

          There is so much we dont know, but what we do know is that nature is resliliant, and if we give it half a chance, nature heals itself and us.

          I continue to be a cockeyed optimist.

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 09:21:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  As a kid (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TracieLynn, Omir the Storyteller

        in Germany, in the Winter we'd buy roasted chestnuts at the market, put them in our pockets to keep our hands warm and of course eat them.
        A huge Chestnut tree was our boundary and we weren't allowed to go past it. AAhh, memories!

        We I live now 30 years ago this city was so green and beautiful and now there are barely any trees left. They cut everything down when they built new subdivisions and then they plant these puny looking Grape Myrtles all over. It's sickening!

        •  The loss of Native-Genetics City Forests (0+ / 0-)

          is heartbreaking. However, the good news is that each city landholder has great power to plant native species which bear food, like Chestnuts.

          The native plant movement is really gaining ground here and elsewhere. Its the easiest thing to do, to find out what particular ecosystem your plot was originally covered with, and to plant a few examples in the yard.

          You will be the smash hit of the neighborhood, and the idea will spread like wildfire, to mix a bad metaphor.

          Dont get sad, get even.  

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 06:39:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I saw a picture of a fairly large and (5+ / 0-)

      solitary American chestnut in Oregon a few years back. The photo was probably in an issue of National Geographic or Smithsonian.

      While living in Western North Carolina several years back, my wife and I would occasionally come across chestnut stumps of enormous proportions during hikes. Their existence a century after the tree's demise is testament to the quality of the wood. Sometimes the stump would be sending up a shoot of new growth too. These never survive beyond a few seasons, when the blight kills them.

      It's not a campaign anymore, Mr. Obama.

      by huntergeo on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:26:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If You Go Into A Forest Today You Are Going Into (7+ / 0-)

    the lungs of the earth in a sense. The world's largest temperate rain forest is the U.S.'s largest national forest.

    Save The Tongass so as to avoid earth lung cancer.

    •  Not just the largest... (15+ / 0-)

      but still the most diverse temperate woodland in the world. There are more species of trees in Smoky Mountains National Park alone, than there are in all of Europe.

      It may be a different woods you see today, but it's still beautiful.

      •  In the Smokies are some remaining (9+ / 0-)

        stands of old growth, generally in areas of steep terrain or in areas bounded by steep terrain, where logging was not conducted in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Oaks and hickories and other deciduous trees of greater than 10 feet in diameter reside in these few outposts of the former world.

        I wandered into one during a long hike as a boy scout, 30 years ago. The profusion of undergrowth common to the eastern forests disappeared, and we were met with the expansive gloom beneath a complete canopy and of widely spaced giants. I had already seen redwoods and sequoias, so I knew the feeling of giant trees, and this was it. The area was somewhat northeast of Smokemont, and I have never since experienced that feeling of old growth in the east, despite years of wandering in the woods. In ten minutes we had traversed the grove and were back in the puny present. The simple forest diagram in your diary captures idea of old growth deciduous forest well.  

        Even if we were to save vast tracts in the East from logging, and we seem to be doing that in some places, our children's grandchildren will probably not see scenes that greeted Indians and the first Europeans. That's not to say we shouldn't be striving for renewal of those scenes in the distant future, despite Mr. Reagan and his ilk's poor understanding of what constitute natural resources.  

        It's not a campaign anymore, Mr. Obama.

        by huntergeo on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:14:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Rule of Thumb I Saw Was 1" Circumference = 1 Year (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          melo, huntergeo, brein

          age for oak trees. 10' across, that's 30' around even in Indiana, 360 years old or so. That'd definitely be in old growth time range.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:51:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Here's what we (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Devilstower, huntergeo

          say from Clingman's Dome over the 4th this  year.

          Clingman's Dome,Emerald Ash Borer,Great Smoky Mountains

          I believe the damage is from the emerald ash borer.  A disturbingly large number of the trees had been affected.

          The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - 9th Amendment

          by TracieLynn on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 04:04:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You can see that sort of damage (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            to spruce and fir trees at the higher elevations throughout the Southern Appalachians, and certainly the small insects (borers and aeglids and such) contribute. I'm no expert, but a debate over the exact cause has arisen, and includes climate change and the insects. It's been sad to see these changes to the evergreen forests in those mountains during our lifetimes.

            These forests are outliers or islands of the boreal forests that cover much of Canada and exist by virtue of the colder conditions at higher elevations in the Southeastern US. That correlation of latitude and altitude across the earth has always held a fascination for me.

            It's not a campaign anymore, Mr. Obama.

            by huntergeo on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:38:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Acid rain has also been implicated (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              While I hate the collapse of manufacturing in the US, the other side of it was always that air pollution coming out of the Ohio Valley has consistently degraded the southern Appalachians.  Acid rain through the latter part of the century caused weaknesses in the Fraser firs, allowing the adelgids to get a foothold.

              (Side rant -- the historically correct pronunciation of the word 'Appalachian' is with a short 'a' in the third syllable, not a long 'a' as most northerners use.  The entire range was named after a small American Indian village in what is now the Florida panhandle, which in turn lead to the name of the Apalachicola river, which caused Spanish cartographers to name the mountain range the river came from.  In short, if you use the long 'a,' you're using a historically incorrect appellation.  :-) )

              •  I started to mention the acid rain part too, and (0+ / 0-)

                certainly that can't help with otherwise stressed trees. Acid rain has been a big issue throughout the East, and especially with lake water in New England, I guess. Most of it's derived from Midwestern coal-fired power plants, right? Here in NC we've sued Midwestern states over the issue.

                Being a Southerner, I naturally use the short "a". And even though I'm a geologist, I used to have a helluva time spelling that word on the first try. Not so much now, with Firefox.

                It's not a campaign anymore, Mr. Obama.

                by huntergeo on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 07:55:34 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Most of that's actually either fir or hemlock (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Both victims of woolly adelgids, the latter a more recent victim.

            Locals call the Fraser fir a "balsam."

  •  Great and thoughtful diary, and I happen to love (11+ / 0-)

    trees. I remember growing up in Virginia Beach and the neighborhood I lived in was the furhtest area SE. We had beautiful woods and open farmed areas then real estate developers became involved and managed to sell the City Council the notion that trees were causing beach and soil erosion. A little path I used to ride my bike down was sheltered in a perfect canopy of trees. That was the first thing to go for me and also the first thing that taught me to never trust business and industry.

    I get along just fine with God. It's his fan club I have significant problems with.

    by utopia on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:53:02 AM PDT

  •  Class (4+ / 0-)

    that's how I've felt after reading your essays the last few weeks DT !
    Thanks that was excellent reading once again

  •  A bit of family history in this excellent diary. (12+ / 0-)

    My great great grandfather worked for 12 years on the Cumberland road in his early life.  He was a survey scout, trail cutter, and cook before moving on and starting the first bakery in same IL city I still live.  I'm told he was fluent in several indian dialects.  

    "It's just amazing what people will do to get out of being the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee."

    by jwinIL14 on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:55:32 AM PDT

  •  Where else can you go to find this kind of (10+ / 0-)

    writing, history and analysis???  I loves me some DKos.

    "You can never sink so low in life that you can't be a bad example for somebody." - My Dad

    by briefer on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:57:50 AM PDT

  •  So Washington and Lincoln were (9+ / 0-)


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:57:52 AM PDT

  •  Childhood memories-no not that far back (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, mcmom, divineorder, zapus

    Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House seriess starts with Little House in the Big Woods that g's gives a good feel of living among giants a day's trip to the next house                    
    It has a great cover picture

    I used it for enrichment in both the second and fourth grades.

    I will also have the song  Teddy bears' Picnic running in my head for the rest of the day probabe.

    Oh, and it's telephone poles..

    Medicare for all! Go with what is and has been working.

    by maybeeso in michigan on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:59:27 AM PDT

  •  Wonderfully done. Makes me think of this... (5+ / 0-)

    ( excerpt )

    I took my GPZ out for a ride
    The engine felt good between my thighs
    The air felt cool, its was forty degrees outside

    I rode to Pennsylvania near the Delaware gap
    Sometimes I got lost and had to check the map
    I stopped at a roadside diner for a burger and a coke

    There were some country folk and some hunters inside
    Somebody got themselves married and somebody died
    I went to the juke box and played a hillbilly song

    They was arguing about football as I waved and went outside
    And I headed for the mountains feeling warm inside
    I love that GPZ so much, you know that I could kiss her

     Lou Reed.  New Sensations.


    "I have to be going now. I feel... sticky." Anthony Bourdain

    by BenGoshi on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:00:23 AM PDT

  •  Northern New England forests (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, divineorder

    Great diary
    Here is a great place to learn more about the Northern New England forest the Center for Northern Woodlands Education website

    They publish Northern Woodlands Magazine available online  

  •  Ah, thanks for this essay. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, mint julep, brein, divineorder

    The funny thing is, you provided a context that was utterly missing in my American History class. I knew of all of these events (except the meeting in the Oval Office) but the context was utterly different. The Whiskey Rebellion was totally untethered from this history.

    I remember the lecture from my former history teacher/football coach. The founding fathers set up the country to give people incentives to prosper. and then immediately he launched into a Q&A about what is wrong with Communism (well, at least he didn't talk about the evils of Communism, just what was wrong with it).

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:15:39 AM PDT

    •  Wow! Deja Vu all over again! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      upstate NY, mint julep, divineorder

      I had nearly the same lack of context in my knowlege of this part of our history...

      And nearly the same History-Social Studies/Football Coach/Wingnut teacher...

      (Did yours have a bullet-head and flat-top haircut?)

      When "Eve of Destruction" started playing on the radio, this nitwit gave us the Gospel according to John Birch, and insisted on bringing in a 45 "response" to EoD, a cute little ditty that promised that we were in fact not of the eve of destruction, rather we were at the "Dawn of Correction" and that EoD was defeatist and UnAmerican...

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:47:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Super Diary - (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, Van Buren, divineorder

    May I add that although "Cumberland Road" was the more common contemporary usage, today if you are out looking for its remnants "National Road" is more likely to get you directions.

    And even though US 40 does generally follow the National Road from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois - some of the original sections have been bypassed.  Internet websites, Google Earth, and careful local inquiry can yield grown-over original segments - however, many of these are on private land - so look from the fence post unless you ask permission.

  •  A little too rosy (11+ / 0-)

    For my tastes. I know that it's attractive to attribute our current ideology to a font of such wisdom in the past, our current legitimacy derived from the reverence we have for the Founders of the nation.

    But your description of the 19th century troubles me. While Carey's words are well taken the Administration that he worked for and ones that followed it would use that devotion to the necessity of commerce and the power to maintain it and create a nexus between business and government that led to the greatest economic inequality in the history of this nation. Prior to that the growth of industry and the shift away from Federalist ideas of disinterested representation led towards a government where economic self interest was a legitimate source for crafting the policy of the young nation. I refer to Gordon Wood's work in The Radicalism of the American Revolution and the demise of the Federalists. We must remember, when we look towards the past as we do here, that a set of similar circumstances doesn't always lead towards the same outcome. You are correct to assert, and I don't challenge it on any grounds, that the government has been closely involved in the management of the economy from the beginning of the Republic. But, as we have found out recently, we must always ask who the economy is being managed for.

    While we establish to our opponents, quite convincingly, that the government taking a strong role in managing the economy is not something that was invented by Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi, the long history of that activity is not sufficient to say that it was a desirable policy. What is left out of your otherwise well thought out and believe me very informative read, is that the engagement between government and business that you're talking about does not resemble the current progressive view of what responsible government should be. Indeed, in many ways that actions of the early Republic mirrored the debacle over the financial crisis in 2008. The government was willing to spend a great deal of money to enable the profits of emergent business, but had little to no sympathy for workers, laborers, or those without capital. Perhaps all we can say for that time is that the government was equally unsympathetic for businesses that failed.

    So while I appreciate this effort, and I think that we do need to constantly remind people that the history of this nation is hardly strapping white manly men hauling themselves up by their bootstraps while a hands-off government in Washington nodded silent approval, we should be careful about harkening back to those early days. We take from it what is appropriate for our time, the recognition that government has a role to play in the economy, but must be careful to include our own values and sense of decency that will ensure that such management better fits the ideals of the Founders than their own policies.

    •  nicely said! n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Akonitum, divineorder, VTCC73

      Find your own voice--the personal is political.

      by In her own Voice on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:34:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ahh... intelligent dissent. Only @ Dkos. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, brein, VTCC73

      What I take from your comment is that rich people get richer when the government promotes the commonwealth instead of deferring to the "invisible hand".

      I'm OK with that.

      Sounds like we've turned the idiotic trickle-down argument that a "rising tide lifts all boats", on its head.

      A well-managed economy really lifts all boats. There will be fewer billionaires, but more millionaires, and a helluva lot more prosperity available to the middle and working classes.

      BushCheney Inc. - They lied to me, they lied to you, they lied to our troops.

      by jjohnjj on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 09:46:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I40 Links Ohio and Potomac Watersheds (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardinal, mcmom

    The C&0 Canal would get goods as far as Cumberland MD starting in Georgetown.

    Washington himself tried to build the early Patowmack Canal around Great Falls on the Potomac just outside DC, and remains of it can be seen on the VA side.

    It was made obsolete by the C&O canal, which was made obsolete by the railroads.

    The great abandoned engineering feat of the C&O canal is the Paw Paw Tunnel for canal boats.

    In colonial times, they spent a lot of time checking out what is now the part of PA south of Pittsburgh to the MD border, because they could have hopped over the ridge to the Ohio river watershed there, but on the PA side is the Cassselman, Youghiogheny, and Monongahela rivers which includes 30 miles of class 2-4 rapids.

    It was better to go overland to Ohio to reach the navigable river there.

  •  Thanks for a great diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, Akonitum

    After doing the morning crossword at MSNBC I logged in here and was so delighted to find this thoughtful, enlightening diary.  Thanks for the time and effort you devoted to its preparation.  An excellent start to a Sunday morning.

    "If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library." Frank Zappa

    by vito619 on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:47:47 AM PDT

  •  With due respect to fellow native Virginians... (5+ / 0-)

    For all his good qualities, Jefferson could also be something of an ass.

    This is absolutely true. Jefferson was so enraptured with his utopian vision of a nation of Yeoman Farmers, that he seemingly hoped that Hamilton and Adams' merchants, artisans and general townsfolk would vanish by means of some secular economic rapture.

    Had he conceded that Hamilton's merchants weren't going anywhere anytime soon, he might have successfully argued for an initial baseline regulatory regime in our beginnings as a nation, if for no other reason than to protect his frontiersmen from the tyranny of the merchants' pricing power.

    Medicare: Government-run Health Care since 1965

    by Egalitare on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:49:09 AM PDT

  •  Trees (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, mcmom, divineorder

    are more abundant today than in the 1900's for sure, but the aged population is slim. Lumbering took the old growth during that time, most over 500 years old. Lumberjacks were the death panels of that era, culling out the old. With that stock gone, more disease riddled saplings were producing inferior growths and our forests have taken many years to re-establish. As in all of nature, it is wise to protect the elderly. I hope we never forget to take care of our natural resources and not let the greed of harvesting the fruits of the old, overtake the need of their presence.

  •  Very interesting - would love to see the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cumberland sibyl

    unabridged version some day. :)

    A corrupted government. Patriots branded as renegades. This is how we roll.

    by GreyHawk on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:56:33 AM PDT

  •  Jefferson an ass? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cdreid, melo

    An informative read, but I'm curious to know on what DevilsTower bases his cheap shot at Jefferson.  I've done a fair amount of Jefferson research and the man had serious issues, but being "something of an ass" doesn't appear to have been one of them. If anything, Hamilton has a better claim at asshat status. Washington "liked Hamilton better" because their politics were more closely aligned.  It's a testament to Washington that he gave a cabinet post to Hamilton's most intelligent critic.  

    •  Ditto! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, brein

      Except he's probably right. Read Jeffersons works (they're available en toto online). He had no patience for stupidity, cowardice, avarice or servility. Hamilton however was the rather sleezy  monarchist. So you could imagine Hamilton working the backrooms to get his way, whereas Jefferson's collossal intellect won his arguments for him. Which makes sense as the most important and revolutionary aspects of our constitution were pure Jefferson. You wont see much of Hamilton there, or anywhere in our system.

    •  Calling him an ass may be a bit subjective (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but he has a strong, valid point. Judging Jefferson's character and temperament solely by his writings will leave you with an incomplete image of the man. When you consider his actions you get a sharper image. He is well known for numerous anonymous character assassinations, Hamilton being a favorite target, through letters to the press and in pamphlets, his campaign to undermine John Adams' presidency while he was Adams' VP, and his public stance on freedom while living on the backs slaves. The man isn't known as a paradox for nothing.

      Hamilton was no better. There seemed to be a strong societal tendency among the well-heeled and famous of the time towards public expressions of support and friendship while privately and anonymously dogging and undermining their fellow founders. Hamilton was a master. His death is a result of his defamation of Aron Burr. It's just that like so many American stories myth has  replaced reality. Now there's an American treasure that hasn't quite gone the way of the American chestnut and elm. A pity we can't trade.

      Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

      by VTCC73 on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:55:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Absolutely marvelous (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You should rework and add to this over time. It wouldnt  make a bad book my friend.

  •  Beautiful diary. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, mcmom, Akonitum, brein

    One of the great tragedies of America is how the idea of wilderness did not take root until the mid-19th century, and by then most of the East and Midwest had been thoroughly commercialized.  Parks in the East are on bits and pieces of land that no one wants, or on private land given to the people, and thus much smaller and less effective in preserving the biosphere.

    I was researching yesterday on more perils faced by trees, and briefly touched on the chestnut and oak.  Currently much of the Rocky Mountains is being attacked by the mountain pine beetle.  It's devastating the lodgepole pine, an iconic tree of the Rockies, and destroying the whitebark pine, which provides food for mama grizzlies.

    Hike On! discussing national parks, public lands, and outdoor adventures Tuesdays 5 PM PDT

    by RLMiller on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:59:01 AM PDT

  •  Make a TV ad! (0+ / 0-)

    Of the front page portion of this. Little vignettes like this could be a positive force to counteract the BS uneducated and uninformed wingnuts pass off as history. They are just the kind of anecdote antidote we need.

  •  The Boole Tree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep

    In Sequoia Nat'l Park was spared from loggers.
    Boole tree.
    Converse basin.

    So many of there trees were felled and many destroyed in the process.

    "Chance favors the prepared mind"

    by tlemon on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 08:10:45 AM PDT

  •  A Chinese proverb (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardinal, mcmom


    When walking do not forget the people that built the road

    I often think this when traveling the Cumberland Road. I imagine the backbreaking labor as they chopped from ridge to ridge (look at Google Earth).

    On another level, I imagine the difficulty of traveling this road when it was completed. I imagine a weary Abe Lincoln winding his way toward our Capital.

    What if had decided that the journey was too difficult? What if he had thought his dream for our Nation was unachievable and stayed home?

  •  Something of an ass (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    For all his good qualities, Jefferson could also be something of an ass.

    A neat summation of the man.  I'd reached a similar conclusion, in spite of my youthful admiration for Jefferson.  (As a boy, I wanted to be a paleontologist.  Imagine my delight to learn that our third president had excavated a mastodon.)  I believe I characterized him as "kind of a drip."  Joseph Ellis in American Sphinx used a more diplomatic term.  He characterized Jefferson as being "naive."  

    (That's a book I recommend to history afficionados, by the way.  Also Ron Chernow's bio of Alexander Hamilton.)

    "To hell with the rich. They made me sick." - Philip Marlowe

    by Roddy McCorley on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 09:27:53 AM PDT

  •  The San Francisco Bay Bridge (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The workhorse megabridge of the Bay Area was damaged by the 1989 earthquake. It was patched back together in a month and a decision was made to replace the eastern cantilever span with some seismically safer.

    Plans were drawn up. Environmental impact studies were conducted. Designs were argued over. Mayors came and went.

    Now, 20 years after the quake, the new bridge has taken form in the bay right next to the old span.

    But it's still not open.

    The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by easong on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 09:29:07 AM PDT

  •  Great Diary - just the material I need to... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, Akonitum

    ...irritate teh Patriots who infest my local newspaper's blog.

    Thank you!

    BushCheney Inc. - They lied to me, they lied to you, they lied to our troops.

    by jjohnjj on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 09:30:02 AM PDT

  •  And, let's not forget the great Douglas Firs of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, side pocket, FininWA

    the Pacific Northwest. When I was a child of 9-12, we lived in Timber, a small village in the Coastal Mountains of Oregon. It had a roundhouse, and was the central point between the forests and Wheeler, on the coast, where the trains unloaded the logs. The last steam engines of Southern Pacific were there. What a thrill for kids those great engines were. It was a heaven on earth for kids my age. My girlfriends and I dug down into the huge stumps left by logging, to make our "forts." We then covered the top w/ branches. I have arthritis in my knees from all the dares I took jumping from those huge tree trunks. The Tillamook Fire in the early part of the 20th century destroyed many of the giants, and loggers took care of the rest. It is still amazing, though, to drive through those mountains to the Oregon coast, which we will do next week!

    I think, therefore I am. I think.

    by mcmom on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 10:15:58 AM PDT

    •  The Grove of the Patriarchs (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, side pocket, brein, FininWA

      I had the chance just a couple of weeks ago to see the 1,000 year old Douglas firs and red cedars at the Grove of the Patriarchs near Mt. Rainier. They were fortunate enough to be isolated on a small island in a stream, which protected them from both fire and loggers until they could be protected.

      Take those huge trees, then think what it was like to have all the trees like that, east and west. What a thing it would have been to see it, and how frightening it must have been for people coming from a world where that kind of wilderness had been beaten back for centuries.

  •  Great Diary DT. There are some truly tall white (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Devilstower, melo

    pines and eastern hemlock (160+ feet) in a small stand that was mostly destroyed by tornadoes in 1989 (almost 200') in a grove called Cathedral Pines in NE CT.

    It's worth a visit.

    There are also small pieces of the eastern old growth in seculded places in NY, ME, NH and a few other spots.  Bialowieza sure sounds like a trip worth making.

    Wonderful connected between early american economic development and the primeval forest.

    That we couldn not have both is a testment to our own shortsightedness.

    No quarter. No surrender.

    by hegemony57 on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 11:07:05 AM PDT

  •  Great diary. (0+ / 0-)

    This type of information is pretty cool.


    Are we here at Daily Kos more Jeffersonian or Hamiltonian?

  •  Thank You (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Devilstower, for this interesting piece.  It gives me fresh perspective.

    The Lakota, in their wisdom, call the trees "Standing Grandfathers".  

    "Our long national nightmare is over. The great undoing has begun." SusanG

    by SherriG on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 12:44:52 PM PDT

  •  And why did New York become the commercial center (0+ / 0-)

    of the USA?

    Because the Erie canal was entirely within one state, and one state built it.

    None of the endless "internal improvements" bickering in Congress that plague every other idea to bring western goods east and take people and goods west.

  •  Joyce Kilmer forest in WNC (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MiklCraw4d, nclefty

    Outside of California my two favorite spots for trees is Washington's Olympic peninsula and Western North Carolina's Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Even loggers didn't have the heart to cut down these poplars and hemlocks.

    Kilmer is just a small grove but worth the visit if you're anywhere nearby. Especially for easterners who don't think they'll have the chance to see the Pacific NW or those amazing California giants.

    •  A beautiful forest named for a terrible poet. :) (0+ / 0-)

      There's actually a surprising number of small refuges left, although Joyce Kilmer is one of the best.  In Southeast Arkansas, there's a stretch of unlogged forest called the "lost woods."  It wasn't "lost" to anyone who lived near there, but just that the local lumberjacks saw what was happening to the forest, knew about this one remote set of trees, and just refused to log it.  When the timber bosses heard about it they would send a crew out to find them, and that crew would invariably be "unable" to find the trees they were talking about.  The tract is still serious backwoods, requiring a considerable hike off of a bad dirt road through mud and downed logs and rattlesnake infested woods, so one could understand why it was easy to fool the bosses.

      The land, only a couple hundred acres, is now preserved from logging, but I have to say, having tromped out there myself a few years ago, it's still damned hard to find.

    •  Absolutely (0+ / 0-)

      I logged on just to post about Joyce Kilmer. There are patches of old growth here and there, and the Joyce Kilmer forest is a great example. Sadly, though, the hemlocks are all dying now so it'll be a few centuries before they're replaced in the canopy.

      Still, it's beautiful and I was amazed to find such huge trees left here in NC.

      As to the chestnuts, despite the fact that their blight began a century ago, many of the old root systems are still there putting up green shoots. We'll get them back someday...

  •  "Primeval," "virgin," "wild," and "wilderness" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, Neon Vincent, annieli

    are all very debatable and questionable terms to use when describing old growth forests.

    First of all, it is always a pleasure to read your work, Devilstower.

    The concept of "primeval" or "virgin" forest is increasingly questioned across a variety of disciplines, from anthropology to the natural sciences.  Wilderness, too, is a concept that has  come under criticism, because native peoples often played a significant role in controlling or altering local ecosystems.  Native peoples were forcibly removed to create Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier national parks, some of the most iconic "wild" places in the United States (Spence, 1999).

    I wrote an undergrad thesis called Bridging the Nature-Culture Divide: A Case Study of the Pemigewasset Wilderness, New Hampshire, an abridged version of which you can check out over here.

    Here are a few relevant excerpts from my literature review:

    Simpson (1992) links the influential publication in 1869 of William H.H. Murray's Adventures in the Wilderness; Or, Camp-Life in the Adirondacks to the birth of the tourist industry in northern New England, explaining how Murray's book "delineated a new recreational relation to wildlife and the woods" (p. 564).  He notes that most of the tourists visiting northern New England came from wealthy elites in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia who supported the growing movement for environmental preservation (Simpson, 1992).  Preservationism, Simpson argues, served the purpose of dividing the land between sacred, protected landscapes and secular, working landscapes, thereby assuring the cultural hegemony of corporate capitalism (1992).   This enabled industrial elites to impose their instrumental and intrinsic valuations of nature on the hinterlands from which they had extracted their fortunes (Simpson, 1992).  Cenkyl (2006) further discusses this idea in the context of the White Mountains, showing how local, instrumental valuations of the landscape often clashed with the intrinsic valuations of nature that tourists attributed to the region.

    Belcher (1980) shows how private logging operations in the White Mountains resulted in widespread ecological devastation that galvanized public opinion and led to the creation of national forests publicly managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Cenkyl (2006) notes that many of the initial proponents of protection for these forests were the same elites who had first been exposed to the region through tourism.  However, New Hampshire's forests were part of a wider societal debate about environmental conservation and the protection of lands perceived to have intrinsic value.  Given that many of New Hampshire's clearcut forests later recovered from land degradation to become designated as federal wilderness areas, it is important to examine why the wilderness discourse is relevant to conservation and restoration ecology.

    Cronon (1995) explains that the concept of wilderness gained traction in the American psyche in the late 1800s with the perceived disappearance of the frontier.  As Spence (1999) makes clear, the land that European settlers perceived to be a frontier had long been an ancestral home for the country's indigenous peoples.  Spence shows how white settlers appropriated the land for their own use, dispossessing the American Indian in the process (1999).  By pointing out how the delineation of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier national parks prompted the forced removal of indigenous people by the federal government, he hints at why wilderness is a problematic concept (Spence, 1999).  Cronon (1995) argues that the parks model that emerged in the United States was based on a highly questionable notion: the idea wilderness had ever existed in the first place.

    A number of other ecological historians and natural scientists have also questioned the concept of wilderness in recent years.   Several researchers point to case studies of indigenous peoples in tropical and subtropical forests to show how human-environment interactions that occurred for thousands of years have shaped the ecological structure of present day ecosystems (Gomez-Pompa and Kaus, 1992; Denevan, 1992; Wood, 1995).  Hayashi (2005) shows how forests that today are referred to as pristine, primeval, or virgin often have a long archeological history of human use.  If humans have long been an important agent contributing to the dynamic processes taking place within these forests, the implication for conservation is clear: humans are not simply destroyers but can also play a constructive role in creating positive ecological outcomes.

    I elaborate on some of these themes in part II of my thesis, which includes a section called "Conservation in the early 20th century."

    Just thought I'd throw my 2¢ out there for discussion.

    There are rules, laws, and the rule of law. George W. Bush had a blatant disregard for all three.

    by geodemographics on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 02:58:18 PM PDT

  •  Longleaf pine forests: from VA to TX (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The most diverse ecosystem outside of a tropical rain forest is the long leaf pine forest, which used to cover the coastal plain from southern Virginia to eastern Texas: nine states and 140,000 square miles or about 90 million acres.

    100 foot tall trees that can live for 500 years and welcome wildfires to compete with other tree species, yet 98% of this forest is gone. Some of the biggest scraps left are on military bases such as Fort Stewart, Georgia, where you can still hear the red-cockaded woodpecker sing as it flies to its nests pecked into the living hearts of the trees. Smaller pieces include Moody Forest:

    The Moody family didn't cut anything they didn't need, and eventually left it to the Nature Conservancy.  They have gopher tortoises, a foot-wide land reptile whose burrows host up to 300 species of snakes (rattlers, indigo, etc.), mammals, insects, and arachnids.

    In my longleaf woods we have six species of blueberries, three of huckleberries, one of gallberries, five species of smilax vines, including catbriars and greenbriars, yellow jessamine, native wild azaleas, Treat's rain lily, numerous mushrooms, and the delicately fruity beautyberry, which also repels mosquitos. Turkey, deer, raccoon, possum, rabbit, beaver, bobcat, great blue heron, anhinga, redwinged blackbird, barred owl, great horned owl, screech owl, cardinal, summer tanager, and the bobwhite quail are making a comeback.  Wiregrass and pinestraw fuel the fires that lightning or Indians used to light, and even the U.S. Forestry Service finally discovered were necessary to a healthy forest.

    The poet laureate of longleaf is Janisse Ray of Baxley, Ga.:

    One of the few accounts of the forest as it was is by William Bartram, pioneer botanist and friend of Benjamin Franklin.  Vines three feet thick and roads a hundred miles long marked by nothing more than white blazes on longleaf trees:

    For what happened to the forest, read Looking for Longleaf, in which Smokey the Bear is one of the villains, along with predatory corporations and greedy locals:

    If you want to restore some longleaf forest, try The Longleaf Pine Ecosystem:

    Longleaf is making a comeback, at least commercially, since state and federal governments have discovered it makes better lumber, a more attractive forest, and supports more species.  Most newly planted longleaf are intended for sawmills, but some are actually adding to real forests.

    Most people who live in the region aren't aware of what was lost in their great-grandparents' time.  But some of it is still around, if you know where to look.

    "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

    by jayskew on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 09:08:44 PM PDT

  •  On the chestnut's history (0+ / 0-)

    If I recall correctly, the chestnut didn't arrive in North America until the second millennium, making it here only a few hundred years before Columbus.  This doesn't make the demise of the massive trees any less tragic, but it does put it into a bit of perspective.

    At the time the Chestnut was essentially an invasive species, and probably experienced enormous selective release in its new home.  The plant obviously speciated quickly, and the fitness reward for trees that shot to the canopy must have been enormous.  Given that the chestnut arrived from Europe, it's likely that the blight would have eventually found its way here without us, and the collapse would have happened anyway.

    I think my point is not that we have no responsibility in the rapidly changing dynamics of the forests, but that what we've done is taken natural processes and accelerated them to breakneck speeds.  American forests probably would have eventually had to deal with the collapse of the chestnut, the butternut, the american elm, the fraser fir, and most recently, the hemlocks, but they probably wouldn't have all happened within 100 years of each other.

  •  Sorry, I just had to share this. (0+ / 0-)

    I went out in the woods today.

    Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 04:34:44 PM PDT

  •  Reading William Bartram's Travels through (0+ / 0-)

    North & South Carolina, Georgia and Florida (1739-1823) this weekend. Stunning. So few pieces remain.  Book is on line:


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