November 3, 2012

Research in Jefferson Park - another study to tell us what we already know?

Jefferson Park and Mt. Jefferson

Sometimes you have to wonder about scientific studies and the resources spent to research things that seem to be obvious. You also have to wonder how some conclusions are ascertained. Here is one of those instances.

According to a study by Oregon State University, funded by the Pacific Northwest Research Station and published in Landscape Ecology, high mountain meadows in the Pacific Northwest are declining rapidly due to climate change. An article written by says the study cites factors such as reduced snowpack and longer growing seasons as reasons for trees to encroach on meadows.
Scout Lake in Jefferson Park

In a recent analysis of Jefferson Park, a 333 acre subalpine meadow complex in at the base of Mt. Jefferson, tree occupation rose from 8 percent in 1950 to 35 percent in 2007. The article, however, cites no comparative study that would actually signal that trees are populating the meadow any faster than at any other time in history. There is also no mention of any conclusive evidence in the article that climate change has anything to do with more rapidly growing tree populations in the meadow.
Park Butte
"We worry a lot about the loss of old-growth forests, but have overlooked declines in our meadows, which are also areas of conservation concern," said Harold Zald, a research associate in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University and lead author of this study.
Flowered Jefferson Park Meadow
Yes, old growth forests eventually die and regenerate, just as meadows eventually become stands of trees. This is eighth grade earth science. Lakes fill with sentiment and eventually become meadows, which eventually fill in with trees and become a forest.
Bays Lake in Jefferson Park
You can have all the conservation concerns in the world, but you don’t stop old growth forests from dying and meadows from becoming forests.
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