The Changing Focus of Science
Recently I read an informative piece in our local monthly newspaper by Robert Todd, a local surveyor/forester that I would like to share having received Bob’s permission.
The perspective is quite different for those who are conscious of our environment and have interest in the preservation of our forests. The article will be separated into multiple parts to keep the length manageable for readers.
“It may have happened over the past 30 years of my life, but it feels more like I was suddenly awakened by a dynamic force that has caused me to look differently upon my work in management of natural resources on my clients’ property. Most of what I have learned in school and by observation about trees, wetlands, stream flow and soils focused mostly on land use practices for the benefit of my clients.
Many of these land management practices are now being supplemented by practices recommended by state and federal land management agencies for sustaining natural resources in a world of changing climate. Over that period of time, I have learned a little about the basics of climate change and I am beginning to understand its relationship to my work. Why this is happening and what is being done about it is the subject of this column.
My education at the graduate and postgraduate levels were directed toward growing trees in the environment prevailing at the time. This training in forestry included the designs of temporary forest access roads with culverts and stream crossings based on rainfall predictions also commonly used at that time.
Presently, those runoff standards cannot always be relied upon. This problem is also faced by local highway departments and the response has been to replace the failing culverts with larger culverts, using best judgment, that may handle the greater storm flows now becoming the norm. Local and State highway departments have budgeted extra funds for emergency services in managing washouts of culverts and bridges.
Annual work plans are now being established to systematically replace undersized culverts on public highways. perhaps it is time that culvert sizing standards are revised to accommodate the new science learned from greater storm events. In the interim, I will use my judgment and consider my observations of what is happening in the natural world while laying out skid trails and logging roads to accommodate forestry equipment.”