Hundreds of thousands of acres are clearcut every year in the Pacific Northwest.
On February 4, 2021, I visited a recent 80-acre clearcut above the Middle Fork Nooksack River. It was typical of clearcuts in the region. Yarding logs uphill had disturbed most of the forest soil. Lots of bare dirt. Most of the slash had been burned but there was some around along with charred logs and wood. The site had been aerially sprayed with herbicide to kill off all vegetation after which it was planted with a monoculture of Douglas fir with a narrow genetic diversity. There were some fingers of residual vegetation along the riparian corridors of seasonal streams, but no trees of any consequence were left on the 80 acres. This is all perfectly legal of course.
What will happen next will be relatively predictable. There will be an explosion of non-native weeds. Already on the site I see bull thistle, St. John’s wort, yellow dock, horseweed, and butterfly bush. A lot of native plants will germinate in the next few years. Typically the logging company might herbicide the site again after a few years to knock the deciduous vegetation and ground cover back to reduce competition on the Douglas fir. After 7 to 10 years the Douglas fir will close canopy and shade everything else out. Likely this would be followed by a pre-commercial thin and then possibly one commercial thin before the entire stand is clear-cut again. Such are the current forest practices for the most part.
How can we intervene in this process using agroforestry? Read my full article.