Wednesday, August 9, 2000
North Routt The Routt National Forest received 92,000 new residents in July and officials hope that dry weather won't shorten their stay.
The U.S. Forest Service replanted about 200 acres of land in the national forest east of Clark with lodgepole pine trees in an effort regenerate the woods.
Most of the replanting, 133 acres of it, occurred in areas where downed trees from the 1997 Routt Divide Blowdown were logged.
The rest of the trees were planted near Floyd Peak, at a forest stand that was logged in the early '90s, Forest Service representative Larry Kent said.
"Basically, we replaced what we logged," Kent said.
In all, 92,000 pine trees were planted by hand. It took a privately contracted crew of six and a Forest Service crew of four workers about two weeks to plant all the seedlings.
For each tree, crews used a special hoe to clear a small area of ground of vegetation to keep other plants from competing for water and nutrients, dug a hole and placed the seedling.
"It was hard work," Kent said.
Nearly ever year, the Forest Service replants logged areas with lodgepole pines.
"Reforestation is one of the parts of forestry as a science," Forest Service spokeswoman Diann Pipher said.
It will take 60 years for the pine trees to grow to 8 inches in diameter and 70-feet tall; making them teen-agers in tree years. Pines can live 200 to 300 years. Once established, the lodgepoles create a cover for spruce, fir and aspen trees to grow.
The pine trees are 1 year old when they are put into the ground. The Forest Service collected pine cones last year and sent them to the Bessey Nursery in the Nebraska National Forest, along with an order of how many trees were needed for the summer planting.
The nursery extracted the seeds from the cones and grew the trees.
Ordering 90,000 trees a year in advance, at 33 cents a tree, can be a risky business if the weather isn't cooperating like this year, Kent said.
"In a year like this, the survival rate can be less (than normal)," he said. "This is just an unusually dry year."
The moisture needed for a decent survival rate is a normal amount of rain in the summer.
But the Forest Service has one thing on its side: the new planting technique, first used last year, that raised the success rate to 90 percent.
Historically, trees have been planted in the spring so their first growth spurt happens in ground. But officials have found it may be better to wait until the summer to plant, after the growth spurt has happened, Kent said.
That way, the tree is expending less energy when it is placed in the ground, so it has time to adjust to its natural surroundings. Also, it avoids the difficulty of springtime's short planting window.
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