Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Clear cutting timber? Not today...

Here are a couple of aerial photos of a piece of land my father in law farms near Tripoli, IA, in Bremer County. I got these from the Iowa Geographic Map Server.

The first was taken in 2005. The field is directly in the middle, with smaller "chunks" within it. The field is owned by the DNR, and he rents it from them. They have certain conditions he has to follow, such as certain crop rotations, etc.

The second picture was taken in the 1930s (1937-39). This is in exactly the same location as the first shot. Compare the two. Notice something missing in the second one? Trees, maybe? My guess is everyone was going down to Sweet's Marsh to get their weekly supply of firewood during the winter.

I've heard a statistic that there are more trees in the US now than there ever has been. I don't know if that statement is true or not, but I'll bet there are a lot more trees now than 80 years ago. Of course, this is ancedotal evidence, and some treehugger will say there is mass deforestation of the habitat of the spotted liver owl in North Catahoula or something, but I can show you other old/new photos, especially from the Iowa Geographic Map Server, that shows we've had significant reforestation in Iowa over the years.


Blogger noneed4thneed said...

I am not an expert, but isn't Iowa's native landscape supposed to be prairie?

8:12 PM, October 17, 2006  
Blogger Jordan said...

Great, now trees are a bad thing...

Some people are never happy.

9:33 PM, October 17, 2006  
Blogger bgunzy said...

Noneed - Most of Iowa was prairie, but many areas were in fact woodland. These were prized/favored by the settlers because it provided fuel, building material, and cover in high winds.

Click on one of the map links, select "10m pixels" for zoom level at the left, and click "Refresh". Then, select "1800's Historic Vegetation", and click "Refresh". You'll find the area in question was, to the best of our knowledge, in timber (green) in the 1800's.

For giggles, set the zoom level to 200m pixels, and look toward Clayton County (right, toward the MS River). Not many prairies there.

11:23 PM, October 17, 2006  
Anonymous Dorf said...

Your dad lives near Tripoli? Awesome! That's where I grew up and went to school!

One of the richest farming areas on earth, Iowa, like most prairie states, has most of its timber lands adjoining the rivers and streams. Early maps (1832 to 1850) show about 6.5 million acres covered with timber, of the total of 35.5 million acres of the state. Best estimates now indicate that about 2.5 million acres still are classified as timber land.

11:54 PM, October 17, 2006  
Anonymous Dorf said...

Ahh, father-in-law.. I misread that.

11:58 PM, October 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Across the border in MO here,
I know my mother always told me that our only real timber use to be on the south side of our property across the creek and that the rest was pasture. That was in the 30s and until she moved in the 50s or so. Now I have a thriving timber on the north part of the farm. Nice trees and great habitat. I was born in 72 and I can only remember the farm being mostly big trees and forest except for the cropland and few very small pasture spots. I see pictures of places on the homestead that were nearly treeless 40 years ago are now thick with healthy large hardwoods. You could see from one end of the line to the other in old familiy pictures and now you can't see 50 yards or less in those spots. Heck, some of those spots have big ol' trees growing where the was bare pature and you couldn't even stand there.

1:43 AM, October 18, 2006  
Anonymous JSN said...

There is a map of Iowa that shows the distribution of trees in about 1850. They are located along the river valleys. A similar map done about 1980 gives the same distribution but with fewer trees. There are more trees now in areas that used to be prarie. The Loess Hills was entirely free of trees but now has areas that all essentially forest.

12:15 PM, October 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt there are more trees in the US than there were 100 years ago. The first settlers cut the trees out for cropland as they moved west. As better farmland was discovered, much of what had been turned into crops was allowed to return to its original condition. In areas where paper mills require a steady diet of trees to make their product, there are more trees than ever, altho they are of a limited species and thus don't qualify as natural timber to environmentalists.

12:20 PM, October 18, 2006  
Blogger bgunzy said...

Dorf - Yes, my wife's family is from Tripoli. The Greenlees, Jim and Ruby. The wife graduated in 1993, if that tells you anything.

And they think we're rednecks here in the South of Iowa - "Trip-ol-a", huh? :)

4:17 PM, October 18, 2006  
Anonymous Dorf said...

HAHA, Jackie and I graduated together. It's a small world!!

6:45 PM, October 18, 2006  
Blogger bgunzy said...

Were you at the 10 year reunion in 2003 at the Panther/Tiger/Cat Bowl? (Sorry, I can't remember your mascot.) I was there, the first HS reunion party I'd been to that wasn't my own.

10:11 PM, October 18, 2006  

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