Fast Firewood

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Can't resist. :-)
Lived on the west coast for quite a while. Traveled the Island forests and coastal waterway areas quite a bit. Been through the gulf Islands -- just logged off rocks now -- and traveled through Desolation Sound and the interior of BC (and Alberta) quite extensively... Spent a fair bit of time walking "old growth" forests.
My old partner was a professional forester. Got him out to look at the "huge cedars" in my front yard - in a small burb just outside Vancouver. Had to hold him up - - he was laughing so hard about "saplings". They were only 30" across and about 90 feet high. Every time he came over after that he started giggling and smirking when he saw the trees. This was when I had just moved out there... :-)
He used to harvest old growth on Vancouver Island and the coast. He said most of the trees were 20 to 40 feet across near the base when he started cutting. Most of the cedar trees were about a millenia and older when he started in the trade. He pushed hard for conservation and a slower cut rate - everyone told him the forest would go on forever and thought him a raving lunatic. They had a "log the next hillside" mentality and could not imagine the end of the forestry trade. Now we have mostly second and third generation forests on the West coast. Most if us have never seen a forest of large trees. We see museums like Cathedral Grove and think it's a big forest... But the trees out there can be 2000 to 3000 years old - just darn few now.
You can still see some Big Old trees in Cathedral Grove near Nanaimo BC. Kind of a religious experience if you ask me. Never measured those trees myself, but I could have parked an 18' canoe or my car inside the trunk of one and had room to lay the sleeping bag...
George E. Cawthon wrote:

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Will
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Are you saying that your trees are about 36 times as tall as they are wide?

If these trees were proportionally as tall to width as your trees some would be over a quarter of a mile high. Those are some trees..
I would love to see those monsters I have always been amazed at their size.
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Leon wrote:

Not my trees no more. But... Western Red Cedars are big trees. These are (were) the dimensions measure on the front yard trees. Almost 3 feet across and about 90 feet high. The root systems spread wayyy out. Many times the width of the trunk. I know the root system had a diameter of at least 30 feet on those trees - because I dug into it a couple of times. (Did a calculation of 80 ft on the height when we bought the house.) He was quite insistent they were babies - said he could core them and give me an age - but at east 40 years and maybe as high as 80 years old. Said he didn't cut under-age trees due to high moral standards. :-))

Don't think so. It ain't proportional -- If that were true we would not have a problem with over harvesting. I forget the maximum heights on the Big Red Western Cedars - but 200 to 300 foot high isn't (ok wasn't unusual alright?) that unusual -- as I recall -- on old growth Western Red. we are talking about trees in the range of 800 years to over 2000 years old! eh? Most of the energy goes into the log I think.
Americans used to have the big western reds and cypress on the US west coast - but engineers just developed ever bigger chainsaws. Bless their hearts.
Used to take my hat off whenever I saw a barge load or a boom of the old growth go by. Like to pay my respects before I cut it up.
You should be able to find pictures of trees from Stanley Park and Cathedral Grove on the Internet.
Some of the foresters I worked with told me that at wholesale they could often price the logs at $20K to $40K (per log that is) -- this is clear cedar and cypress - so it's expensive -- and increasingly rare.
But I am sure there are West-coasters on the forum who can give more current information. :-)

--
Will
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Leon wrote:

the
Vancouver.
They were

after that

when I

wide?
Sounds about right. There is (or was) a stand of white pines in New Hampshire called the B-something (bradford?) pines. Planted around the time of the American Revolution I saw them when they were about 200 years old, they were approaching 200 feet tall and were about three or four feet in diameter at shoulder height.

said
started
some would

They won't be. But I agree that would look way cool. To support the weight of the tree the cross-section of the trunk has to grow proportionate to the weight supported above that section, which is proprotionate to the volume of wood above. Thus trees become more squat in form as they grow tall and branch out in the canopy.
Also the maximum height of any given species is limited by ambient air presssure and humidity. But there is no physical limit on the girth of a tree. 'Mature' trees have reached their maximum height but continue to grow in girth. That's why I put 'mature' in quotes, a tree grows continuously until it dies. Indeed, trees are solar poswered, the more leaf/needle area a tree has the faster it grows. The giant Sequoias are among the world's fastest growing organisms, though the change from one year to the next is hardly noticeable since the trees are already so big that a few more tons of wood doesn't change the appearance much.
Also, at the risk of starting a flame-war I take exception to the use of the term 'harvest' in reference to cutting old-growth. 'Harvest' is appropriate only in regards to what one has planted. E.g. You reap what you have sown.
--

FF


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snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

Point taken - careless use of the language. "Forest-Raping" is more appropriate. Most people in the business used to say that quietly when the tree-huggers weren't about -- they all knew it was the truth. One time a _very_ highly placed executive answered the phone when I was in his office -- what I heard was: "G. here - we rape the forest". My jaw dropped! He just looked up when he hung up and said: "Caller ID - don't worry. H. was still laughing when he hung up. Besides - it's true right?" And we carried on business...
(Names withheld to protect the forest rapers. :-) )
--
Will
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<evil grin>
When the phrase "Fast Firewood" came up on the subject line, did anyone else think, "Bulldozer, tow chain, house . . ."
<\evil grin>
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Well, "I wish I still had my backhoe", is that close enough?
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Leon wrote:

No he is not. Cedars have a very tapered stem. As it grow taller it also grows much wider. Cedars don't get much above 200 feet, so a 20' diameter would be a 1/10 ratio. Chances are you will never see a Western Red Cedar with a 20' diameter as a 10' diameter is considered large. I believe one the largest was 62' in diameter (on Vancouver Island) but trees of that diameter were never common and anything over 15' is often/usually hollow at the base.

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Well what does 30 inches across and 90 feet tall mean? Seems that equates to 1/36th. I am familiar with cedars being wide at the bottom but his description seemed like pencil junipers.
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It was probably 3 to 4 feet at the base. As I recall I measured it at about eye height - around 6 foot. It was a sapling - remember? Who pays attention to these little details on a sapling? :-)
On the really big cedars the base goes up considerably higher.
Leon wrote:

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Will
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I think you are taking offense unnecessarily. My favorite climbing tree was about 100 feet in front of our house and I watched it grow. It was never bigger than 30 inches across and it rose to about 100 feet; by triangulation we figured it would just touch the house if it fell. The cedar 20 feet from the back of the house was over 3 feet by the time we sold the place. I don't know the height but it wasn't much above 100 feet.
BTW, your tree was a sapling only for old timers. There are lots of pictures of logging around Seattle and a 3' diameter tree would be a sapling to them. Today, a 3' tree is considered merchantable. The loggers certainly had no hesitation in cutting 18" cedars on our place and they were one of the more valuable trees; white pine was worth more.
Will wrote:

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George:
If you mean me, If I seemed to take offense I apologize. I really enjoy reading the exchanges here - but I usually just get a few minutes between tasks for posts. Maybe a bit brusque sometimes I guess. :-)
One of the reasons the ratios get out of whack with "citified" wild trees is that they get fertilized and watered -- along with the lawn. They sprout up a lot quicker than they would in the wild.
The other issue with the calculations is that the results always form a "distribution". Quite frankly I do not know the variation expected in "citified" or wild trees. Not sure about the tree in front of our old house - maybe it was "normal" -- maybe it was extra-normal. No idea. But thinking about it, they were typical of the neighborhood cedars.
Citified cedar and Douglas fir have branches lower on the trunk, and they are higher than "normal" --- and from what I saw they are usually taller than their wild cousins at an earlier age, and have a wider branch spread. In other words they make a great "storm sail" -- catch a lot of wind..
Our tree would have fallen on the bedroom in a good storm. Had more than a few sleepless nights. :-) Should have cut it when we moved in. A year before we moved cutting these trees became illegal in our burb.
Your understanding matches mine -- as I read it below.
George E. Cawthon wrote:

Not according to the forester - he said it would usually be left -- not big enough yet. Should be 4 foot across by now though - so probably it is actually sawdust by now. It was only a foot or so from the house eaves when we sold out. One good windstorm and the new owners would have lots of firewood -- the splintered timbers from the house, along with the tree.
These trees (western reds and Douglas firs) are dangerous in the cities and burbs. They seem to need to grow in clumps so they form a mutual windbreak. ...Otherwise they topple over in a big wind. Several times a year the Vancouver Sun (Vancouver BC) ran photos of the latest smashed down house with a tree trunk projecting from a roof or a living room wall. :-(
Of course Vancouver city council passed laws preventing anyone from cutting down the large trees. You could _apply_ for a cutting permit - but they were routinely rejected. --Lot of tree huggers run for council out there. I'm surprised they didn't pass a law against harboring logs in your living room walls. :-)) I wonder why they call it the Left Coast? Or was it Lotus Land?
There are lots of

They are still logging old growth on the west coast. But yes a 3 foot diameter tree would get logged these days. sigh!

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Will
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Will wrote:

Don't know about "citified" trees. All of the experience I cited was with natural forest. I grew up in a forest with a few areas cut out for alfalfa or grain fields and houses. I think only 3-4 acres were cleared out of 130 acres on our land. Maybe the law against cutting big trees was to protect against idiots falling trees on houses? Or maybe the law makers were just idiots?
You are right, most conifers don't do well against wind unless in a group and shouldn't be in an urban setting. Even in dense forests, however, a freak downdraft wind can flatten stretches of mixed fir or fir/spruce forests. Actually cedars are more resistant because they develop a relatively wide base of support roots in contrast to a single tap root of most conifers.
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When I was at Oregon State, about 1964, we had a big storm with hurricane-force winds. At OSU, there were trees of all kinds growing on the quad, including big old conifers (various kinds). Most of the trees were somewhat isolated(not in clumps) so they formed big, full canopies. Over 100 trees were blown down on the quad alone, as well as others all over Corvallis. Almost all the trees that went down were hardwoods; the conifers could bend and survived. FWIW.
Steve

These trees have an ecology that affects when the limbs get dropped. It depends on how much light they get, to support photosynthesis, balanced by how much water they lose through transpiration. When they get shaded, as in a clump, it becomes a liability for the tree to maintain the lower branches, so they die and fall off. Isolated trees get more light, so they can keep those lower branches.

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Leon wrote:

I'm not disputing your calculation; I'm just saying the ratio changes with the height and age. I'm not sure what a very young cedar ratio is but likely more than 1:36 and probably as much as 1:72 for a 5-6 year old plant, e.g., 1 inch diameter and 6 feet tall. He also indicated that old growth had very large trunks and the largest probably have a ratio of only 1:4 or 1:5, e.g., 40-60 foot diameter but a height of 200 feet. Other trees such as redwoods and Douglas fir have a much higher ratio of trunk diameter to height since they tend to be less tapered.
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Well normally I would not say that was possible but I had a Chinese Tallow removed and asked the guy taking it down to cut it into pieces 18 to 20 inches long and put them in my fire wood rack. He asked if I was going to burn it and indicated that it did not burn well in a fire place. I told him that I wanted to turn the wood. Well 8 months later winter is here and I burned it. I was pleasantly surprised that 8 to 10 inch diameter non split logs were dried enough to burn and would burn for about 2 hours each and put out quite a bit of heat. This tree is a very fast grower.
http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?s=chinese+tallow&gwp &ver=1.0.3.109&method=2
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Leon wrote:

I know nothing about Chinese Tallow, but what you found is that talking about wood and wood stoves is about the same as the arguments you get when talking about Ford, Chevy, GMC, and Dodge. Much of what people tell you is highly biased and may be based on one rather exceptional experience.
The only thing that is important is that the wood be dry and some take a long time to dry.
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I was sorta under the impression that the wood would not be very good for burning also. This tree is consider a nuisance. It is pretty in the fall as it's leaves turn brilliant colors. This tree came up naturally and was 30" across at the base, about 35 feet tall and was about 10 years old.
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George E. Cawthon responds:

Not really. Dry poplar is still lousy firewood. It burns too fast to be satisfactory in most situations. Most lighter weight, faster growing hardwoods are like that. Softwoods...well, I don't know of any that make a satisfactory firewood, at least none that grow in the U.S. south, or as far north as upstate NY. Pines are too resinous, creating chimney creosote problems even when dry. And, like poplar, they burn too fast.
At the other end, sycamore is difficult to dry in log form, but also burns too fast.
The old faithfuls are around for a reason: they burn readily when dry, they produce little (comparatively) ash, and they burn at a reasonable speed, allowing a fire to be banked for the night, or for one load of wood during a cold day to provide heat for four to six hours.
Most of the oaks work very well, as do hickory and pecan, beech, birch, black gum, sweet gum (cross grain), elm (if you like splitting crossgrained woods), locust, the ashes, maple (preferably hard), Kentucky coffee tree, hackberry, persimmon, sassafras and walnut and cherry (trimmings only, please).
My experience is only a bit biased. I heated entirely with wood for nearly 20, from south Central Virginia to upstate NY and back and I wrote two books on the subject back then. I didn't try everything, of course, because 20+ years ago, there were western woods--mesquite for one--that hadn't made it east in large enough quantities to have scraps of burning size. But I've burned those listed above, and I can't think of a one of them that offers fast growing and good burning. Pin oak comes closest, but, as someone else noted, it is not great firewood. I've found it satisfactory, but I find others much better.
Charlie Self "I think we agree, the past is over." George W. Bush
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On Tue, 08 Feb 2005 09:03:48 +0000, Charlie Self wrote:

Those of us who have nothing but spruce, pine and poplars to burn find it absolutely disgusting and/or heartbreaking that you would even consider burning any of those.
--
Luigi
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