Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bill Neilson Updates Us on Stumps

The On30 people are just flat out awesome folks. Bill Neilson kindly gave this account regarding stumps....


The following are the comments I tried to post:

Hi Scott,
My wife is an Everglades biologist who spends a great amount of time in Florida's Big Cypress Swamp doing field research related to the restoration of the Everglades, and she tells me that most of the remaining cypress stumps she sees in the field were cut quite high off the ground, many over 6 feet up. This is partly due to varying water depths depending on the season, but is also due to the shape of the tree closer to the ground. Cypress tree trunks tend to flare out dramatically near the ground, forming vertical ridges and valleys in the trunk's surface called "buttresses". These buttresses make the cut stump look like a multi-pointed star when viewed from above, and give the tree more support in the soft ground of the swamp. Because they are so deep, and steeply tapered, the buttresses actually get in the way during the cutting and milling process, so the loggers would cut the tree above the buttress, where the taper of the trunk was more like other types of trees (thus saving themselves a lot of extra cutting). It's also interesting to note that cypress trees tend to grow in groups, forming a large ring when viewed from the air. As the tree roots and knees collect floating debris and sand carried by the water currents, these cypress rings form an island, usually donut shaped, with deeper water in the "hole" of the donut, because there are no trees in the center of the ring due to the sun being blocked by the trees around the ring's perimeter. In the Everglades, these "tree islands" are scattered, and surrounded by sawgrass, making them easily visible from an airboat or highways (like I-75) that cross the swamp. Sometimes the tree islands will get high and dry enough to support other types of trees like pines and eventually palmettos, which need a dryer, sandier soil, although the concentration of these types of trees is much heavier on higher ground like Florida's sandy coastal ridges.

Bill Nielsen
Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA

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