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Re: E-M:/ Reply to Murphy

Enviro-Mich message from Doug Cornett <drcornet@up.net>

Mr. Smethurst:

Regarding the 1996 Yellow Dog River landslide.  I am very familiar with
this site.  In May, 1996, I arranged a flight which first discovered the
slide.  Numerous aerial photos were taken that day.  The slide was unknown
to us, but we had observed the river become extremely muddy a few days
before.  The land slide was about 30 acres in extent, and moved the course
of the river over 200 feet.  Tens of thousands of tons of sand and sediment
ended up in the water, inundating gravel beds and pools important for fish
spawning and insect reproduction.  Fish habitat downstream from the slide
was destroyed, and to this day it is badly impaired and may take decades to
recover.  IF action is taken to prevent further erosion from continued
logging and road-building.

YES, this slide was caused by logging and roads on the slope!  A friend of
mine studied the land slide in detail.  MDNR aerial photos were examined,
beginning with photos taken in the early 1950's.  MDNR aerial photos were
taken about every 10 years (5 photos total).  Every photo shows that
selection logging occurred on a ten year or less cycle, taking the largest
trees.  By taking the large trees, roots stabilizing the slope were
removed.  In the 1996 slide, a culvert that was too small for the road was
blocked by debris.  A warm day melted much of the snow pack and water
flowed over the culvert, diverting water down the road and steep hillside.
An impermeable clay layer stopped the flow of water through the soil, thus
liquifying the sandy soil lying above the clay.  Because there were no tree
roots to hold the soil in place, the weight of the water/sand slurry
"flushed" the entire hillside into the river.  Cumulative effects (see
footnote) from logging and poor road maintenance (or non-maintenance) were
the cause of the slide. 
Several other smaller slides can be found on the Yellow Dog.  These too
were caused by logging and road-building.

This land is owned by Longyear Realty Corporation.  They got little more
than a slap on the hand, leaving the public (taxpayers) with millions of
dollars worth of destroyed fisheries habitat.

Many of the river and streams of the Upper Peninsula are choked with
sediment and silt. Much of this has occurred over the past 25 to 30 years
and can be linked to industrial logging and road-building.

But don't believe me, come and see it yourself.  I'll take you on tour.


doug cornett
Northwoods Wilderness Recovery
P.O. Box 122
Marquette, MI 49855    

FOOTNOTE:  Cumulative effects results from the incremental impact of the
action when added to other past, present and reasonably foreseeable future
actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person
undertakes such actions.  Cumulative impacts result from individually minor
but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time.
(National Enivonmental Policy Act)

At 09:10 PM 11/1/98 -0600, you wrote:
>Enviro-Mich message from "Smethurst" <dsmeth@freeway.net>

>I know the Yellow Dog erosion site.  You did not mention whether there was a
>direct cause and effect relationship between the selective cut and the
>mudslide.  I would be interested in more details.  I do know that in the
>PRCSF, with three trout steams I care about dearly,(former Chair of the
>Michigan Council of Trout Unlimited) I know of no erosion caused by timber
>harvest in my thirty years in the area.  There are absolutely terrible
>clearcuts in the eastern and western mountains that wreck havoc on streams,
>but that is not the case in Michigan, except perhaps  in very rare instances
>(none of which I personally know of).

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