Ghost Forest

Ghost Forest

NEWS - JANUARY 2022


Ghost Forest


The Neskowin Ghost Forest contains the petrified remains of a 2,000-year-old Sitka Spruce forest.


By Bill Hensley


Ghost Forest
 

WE DROVE WEST FROM PORTLAND. Through the suburbs. Past the massive Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville. From afar, we’d wondered what some of the large, well-defined white shapes were on the mountain tops. As we got closer, we surmised they were clear cuts on the Northwest facing slopes, where the snow from the week before had not melted. We were in timber country, in and out of forests. One forest section looked like it had burned in the last few years, and machinery sat idle on this second Sunday of 2022 waiting for the crews to return Monday morning to resume the clearing of the fallen charred trunks.

Closer to the coast we entered the magic of a Birch forest and were overcome by the bight bark reflecting an early optimism of the Spring. But our goal was further still … the Ghost Forest. After asking directions at the Neskowin Trading Company, we parked our car on the side of the 101. (For my California friends, I’ll reiterate—we parked an otherwise fully functioning car on the shoulder of Hwy. 101.) And we set off on the ten-minute walk to the beach and the Neskowin Ghost Forest, petrified remains of a 2,000-year-old Sitka Spruce forest.

This forest, and the 40 or so others hidden around the Oregon coast, are a marvel to behold. The origin of these ghosts is generally attributed to the great Cascadia Subduction Zone quake of 1700. While the ghost forest stumps in the coastline’s many estuaries resulted from the massive tsunami that followed the 1700 quake, the ghost forests in the coastal sand are much older. The original living Sitka trees were victims of gradual dune encroachment over the course of a few decades about two thousand years ago. The trees were preserved by that sand which cut them off from the decaying effects of oxygen and microbes. A couple thousand years later, the tops of the tree stumps were again exposed when strong storms swept away sand in the winter of 1997–1998.

Why does this matter? Retired Portland State University geology professor, Dr. Curt Peterson, one of the authors of the definitive study on the Neskowin Ghost Forest, said that the eroding sands exposing the petrified forest are a signal and a gauge of how sea levels are rising. When the stumps are covered again, it’s more likely to be with water than with sand.

One of the interesting images from CES 2022 was the LG booth, constructed with recycled oriented strand board. OSB plywood is made by compressing wood scraps without the use of glue or paint. LG claimed the exhibit design—striking in its sparse, socially distanced design and VR/AR integration—would also facilitate easy recycling after the trade show. As for new products, both LG and competitor Samsung used the show to promise more eco-friendly product lines, using recycled plastics and reducing electronic waste. Samsung also debuted the latest version of its ‘Eco Remote’ now boasting radio frequency harvesting enabling users to boost charging by placing the remote near devices like Wi-Fi routers. These are just a few examples of sustainable product development, which needs to be a guiding principle behind everything we do in this industry.

 
 
 
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