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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nurse Logs and Dead Trees = New Life

Healthy Forests, Even in Urban Areas Need Dead Wood!
This "Nurse Log" is a tiny garden hosting a little hemlock
two different colored huckelberry bushes
and some ferns (also, unfortunately some English Ivy

Why? Because they actually nurture an incredible amount of plant and animal life.
Ancient Cedar Stump hosts new growth. Hemlock trees'
often get their starts by seeding in dead cedar.
The roots of the new trees frame the old stump.

KUOW, local NPR station featured the Nurse Log in it's series "More Than a Tree" this week, on interesting Northwest Trees.

"There's more life in this nurse log....than there ever was as a standing tree" says Larry Daloz, author and naturalist. "May our legacy, what we leave behind be richer than what we found when we came."

In Paramount Park there are many examples of "nurse logs" and stumps hosting new life.
It starts with a log or stump. With our restoration project in 2001 we added a great deal of LWD (Large Woody Debris) to add complexity and life giving dead wood to our wetland.
It starts with a dead stump and lichens and mosses
begin to break down the wood.
Then more life takes hold like ferns, small trees, and shrubs which continue to break down the dead wood. 
Sword Fern inhabits an old stump intentionally
placed in Paramount Park Natural Area

Also, many standing dead trees become habitat, providing food and nesting places for birds, insects and small mammals.
Old Tree Snag in Paramount Park with lots of holes created
by industrious woodpeckers
Red Breasted Sapsucker - ph credit, Steve Schneider

Paramount Park is the largest wetland in Shoreline at about 6 acres. The wetland restoration project originating in 1998 by Paramount Park Neighborhood Group, recreated wetland ponds and reconnected existing wetlands to the east to the stream system of Littles Creek, tributary of Thornton Creek. It is located in the SE section of Shoreline just north of NE145th, The wetlands and ponds are great places for stumps, logs and dead wood to host new life.
Stump in the lower pond hosts sword ferns, and a good sized
tree (Oregon Ash?)
Another stump in the upper pond hosts a healthy growth of salal bush and provides a lovely reflection.

Upper Pond with salal covered stump

To restore healthy forests, especially in urban areas, we must make a point to include "Large Woody Debris, logs, old stumps to bring diversity and "feed the forest" and provide opportunities for new life.
"Shamrocks" or the NW equivilant "Oxalis"
cover this old stump next to Littles Creek

1 comment:

  1. If nurse logs "knew" that some people referred to them as biomass I think they would be aghast.