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Re: "wild" rainbows

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Jakes,

The time period we're talking about is pre-national forest. Logging wasn't really done with sustainability in mind. Today, it is, and logging can actually be very beneficial for an ecosystem. But comparing the practices of then to now is apples and oranges, its a different animal altogether. And I won't refute the damage that mining has caused, as well as the trout's resiliency. But its hard to make any comparisons whatsoever between old logging practices and mining, again, its apples and oranges.

The period of time we are talking about is the late 1700's (SE PA) through about 1930 (NC and NW PA). The wood was used for shipbuilding, iron furnaces, tanneries, charcoal, chemicals, etc. Yes, nearly every part of PA at one point looked like a giant hayfield (brush pile is probably more accurate). But the key factor is not all AT THE SAME TIME. They moved from SE PA, up to the Poconos, and then worked their way west, as I understand it. A quick 2 minute wikipedia search of the national forest, for instance, says this of the Allegheny Plateau, which was the last area hit with the logging boom:

"Between 1890 and 1930, wood chemical plants produced charcoal, wood alcohol, acetic acid, acetate of lime and similar products, and provided a market for virtually every size, species and quality of tree growing on the Allegheny Plateau. Harvests during this era were the most complete ever made in the area, clearing nearly every accessible tree of every size. The once vast forest of the Allegheny Plateau was almost completely removed, leaving barren hillsides as far as the eye could see."

In fact, after this was done, people tended to leave the areas because there was nothing of value left. Happily this was right around the time the government began purchasing land for conservation. Hence, they bought huge amounts of land on the cheap, and its what we now call National Forest, and various state forests. When the forest was allowed to regrow, instead of being mostly hemlock and pine, it was mostly hardwoods, which changed the ecosystem, including the streams. Hardwoods were good for the forest wildlife, much more food. But they promote a soil type that doesn't hold as much water, hence our freestone streams get more of a boom/bust flow, and warm up more as a result, than the original streams did. This is one reason why brookies no longer inhabit the bigger waters. It still causes problems with forest ecosystem, though, as all of the trees are essentially the same age from NC through NW PA. Very little diversity, in years where the acorn/beech/etc. crop is good there is an overabudance of food, but in poor crop years or in heavy snow, there is little browse available and the nearest farm may be miles.

The question we're posing here is whether 1. the original strains held on in the streams, 2. whether they were repopulated naturally by strains in neighboring watersheds leading to perhaps the mixing of the heritage strains, or 3. whether they were wiped out completely and restarted from hatchery strain. My unknowledgable gut feeling was that all three situations have probably happened in places, but #2 is probably the most common along the northern tier. Other's have favored #1, and TUPS insisted it was #3 in all cases. It's scientifically interesting, but it doesn't really mean anything. I do look forward to the results of the studies at Mansfield. Thanks for the info Chaz.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 8:38


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Jakes, Pcray is for the most part correct on this (IMHO). there is very little "virgin timber" left in PA.

As far as the ANF goes:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/allegheny/about/history/

"The land was so depleted that many residents jokingly called it the "Allegheny Brush-patch." OK, i think Pcray called it the Allegheny brier patch, but it was the same point.

Pcray may be exagerating a little, but only a little.

There are a couple very minor things that he has said on this thread that i would normally disagree with, mostly about isolated populations or lack there of. But these are trivial, and the parts that I would disagree with are really just exceptions to the general. Same as above.

I probably believe that more of the "original strains" are still intact than what pcray might believe, but again, trivial. They do exist, and all things are relative.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 9:19
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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Quote:

JakesLeakyWaders wrote:
I've personally read about how national forests in this country are regarded as land management areas used for resourses such as logging, and in many national forests logging is a routine occurance. But for someone to say that the forests were completely decimated is a fantastic overstatement. Logging was heavy early in the 20th century, but the forests in PA were never completely harvested as if a giant hayfield.



It isn't just "regarded" as that. That is why the national forest system was created.

Maybe not "completely", but for all intents and purposes, the forests were decimated, and the government wanted to make sure that never happened again.

that is why I get a kick out of the tree huggers who try to stop every cut in national forest land, even salvage cuts. Well, "kick" isn't exactly the right word, but for lack of a better one... these idiots think this land is a National Park. It isn't.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 9:30
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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance." -Henry David Thoreau--


Re: "wild" rainbows

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them don't want them cutting in the west and don't understand rebirth syndrome-lot of AHs there.
Personally I would say anyone caught spiking trees should be tried for attempted homicide and tied to a tree and covered with blood and honey if if convinced.That would teach them.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 9:39
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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The PA forests were cut over like a hayfield, and reduced to brushfields, and only trivial acreages were spared. There is plenty of documentation, and photos, to show that.

But I don't think that means that the brookies were eradicated. I think it means their range shrank towards the headwaters, and their populations were greatly reduced. But eradicated? No. The temperature of springs in Potter County is 48F, even when the air temperature is 90F. The brookies would have survived in the headwaters and tribs even after the forest was leveled. And a few years after a forest is leveled, and even burnt, you have a lot of new growth: grasses, shrubs etc. Then the brookies that were hunkered down in the far headwaters could begin working their way downstream again.

It may very well be that there was some mixing of these native brookies with genetics of stocked fish, from CT or wherever. Maybe some places the genetics are 90% native PA brookies, 10% CT brookies. Or 80/20 or whatever. They are still Salvelinus fontinalis. And they seem to be well adjusted to the environment, surviving drought and flood and predators. But they aren't "pure." So, what is the importance of that? Should they be considered throw away fish for that reason?

Posted on: 2009/6/25 10:29


Re: "wild" rainbows

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The assumption here is that the genetics of "pure" or "original" strain fish were static, and that the resultant fish we now have are genetic mixtures of them.

It's incorrect. The quoted terms have no meaning.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 10:32


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Yeah, the trees of all the same age (middle aged now) mean that fewer die, less startup growth. It also tends to keep fires from happening on a wide scale, again leading to less new growth.

Logging, the way its done today, through either selective cutting or small clearcuts, leads to new understory growth and the beginning of new diversity. That leads to cover, more food, etc. It helps nearly every single animal in the forest. One needs only to take a walk in the wintertime to see it, wide expanses of just trees, then you come on a 10 year old clearcut full of smaller trees, and suddenly you see deer, bear droppings, the birds are chirping, squirrels chasing each other, the bugs attack you, the place is just alive. It's basically fixing the leftover damage from a century ago.

Clearcutting, even on a small scale, does promote more hardwoods over the hemlock. If left alone, the hemlock stands expand and never give up conquered territory (except by maybe tornado), as the hardwoods can't grow in the shady places. While a primarily hemlock forest would be good for the fish (bad for land wildlife), it'd take several thousand years to get back to that point. Thankfully, they do tend to leave the creek bottoms intact, where most of the hemlocks are.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 10:36


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Jay, while you're technically accurate, any subspecies or "strain" have always mixed and changed. But would it be fair to say that mankind has greatly accelerated the process? Evolution flows as a step-function, not a continuous line, and each step corresponds to a habitat change of some sort, whether natural or manmade.

My point was that it is fair to say that mankind altered the environment so much, and so quickly, that this process was greatly accelerated, but that it did occur. TUPS point would be that things happened so quickly there was no time for natural adjustment, and we eradicated them, and then restocked. Those that are favoring the original strains being more common are essentially saying that any genetic change in the last couple of centuries is purely natural selection and not due to mixing of strains, at least not more than at a typical rate.

Sorry for the edits. You're right, its pointless, but fun and interesting.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 10:38


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
Jay, while you're technically accurate, any subspecies or "strain" have always mixed and changed. But would it be fair to say that mankind has greatly accelerated the process?


I think that's obvious, but the main point in my statement was a reiteration that it's a completely useless point of debate.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 10:42


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:

Sorry for the edits. You're right, its pointless, but fun and interesting.


It's not pointless to Tups.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 11:00


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Troutbert, sorry, didn't catch your post. We're actually pretty close, but I was coming at it from an angle that there isn't a strain of "PA brookies", there was probably dozens of different "PA brookie" strains, as there still is today in some parts of Maine and Canada. It's like arguing about the different varieties of cutthroats (yellowstone, snake river, greenback, etc.) in the west, which are still well-defined in some cases.

And what we have is different mutts of the PA strains, mixed with a little stocker blood here and there, and its probably somewhat different in each watershed. This would imply the streams were repopulated from different drainages, rather than that they hung on in the headwaters. Of course, you could have both happening at the same time, and Jay's point was that this always happened.

Agree, it doesn't matter, they are well-adjusted brook trout. I do think our migratory brookies were a distinct strain, and that it was genetics that triggered the migration, and that this particular strain might have been eradicated as they lived primarily in the larger waters. Ok, I'm done, we're not going to solve anything until Mansfield starts publishing....

Posted on: 2009/6/25 11:06


Re: "wild" rainbows

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of course in the pre-pollution days they were andromonous [sp]

Posted on: 2009/6/25 11:16
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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Quote:

pete41 wrote:
of course in the pre-pollution days they were andromonous [sp]


This is still the case in some areas, in case you weren't just referring to PA.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 11:22


Re: "wild" rainbows

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cuttsand browns also
Real reason the Gov. went to Argentine but didn't want to reveal his hotspots.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 11:31
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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I give up. I'll just wait a few more years and come back and say "I told you so."

Posted on: 2009/6/25 12:03
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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance." -Henry David Thoreau--



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