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How Mushrooms Can Repair Forest Road Damage

MYCOFILTRATION: A NOVEL APPROACH FOR THE BIO-TRANSFORMATION OF ABANDONED LOGGING ROADS

by Paul Stamets, Inventor & David Sumerlin, Project Manager
For every mile of paved road in Washington State, there are more than 7 miles of unpaved roads. Washington State budgeted $165,000 in 2001 for the decommissioning of roads. In contrast, in 1999, the Forest Service budgeted $25,000,000 for federal lands. Thousands of miles of logging roads channel run-off from uplands, silting salmon spawning streams, dramatically reducing their reproductive habitats. The deactivation of logging roads poses a unique and heretofore poorly understood process. What is known is that the run-off of water from rains causes massive environmental havoc in the form of erosion, removing life-sustaining top soils, causing sedimentation and siltation inflows into downstream watersheds.

With each successive tree-crop cycle, environments lose topsoils, slowing ecological recovery. In the not-too-distant future, as Washington State forests face 3rd, 4th, and soon 5th growth forests, the impact of thinning soils becomes more severe. Unless the depletion of the nutritional topsoil bank is addressed, the future economic return from Washington State forests is increasingly jeopardized by current practices. Washington State is not alone. The problem of roads causing ecological damage is universally shared throughout the world.

For every mile of paved road in Washington State, there are more than 7 miles of unpaved roads. Washington State budgeted $165,000 in 2001 for the decommissioning of roads. In contrast, in 1999, the Forest Service budgeted $25,000,000 for federal lands. Increasingly state and federal governments have targeted roads as the primary vector of siltation and pollution to watersheds and sensitive ecosystems. Estimates for deactivating roads range from $4100 to $15,500 for every mile (Garrity, 1995) in the Northern Rockies to $21,000 to $105,600 per mile in the Olympics and Cascades. (Seaburg, 2001). The cost of building a road in Washington State is estimated at $600-2000 per hundred feet, or approximately $32,000+ per mile. The cost of destroying or building a road, using current methods, is roughly within the same range. As there is little precedent for an acceptable standard of decimation, restoration experts can benefit by adapting to mycofiltration delivery systems.

We propose a new approach. The intention herein is to take the first steps in addressing a simple solution to a complex field of problems. When the full costs are taken into consideration, ecologically (i.e. forests & fish ecology), economically (lumber, road construction, access), and aesthetically, mycofiltration is worthy of serious consideration. What we propose is simple yet highly effective.

Place 'hog-fuel' (bark and wood chips) onto logging roads, and inoculate this wood debris with mycelia of a mosaic of keystone native fungal species. The fungified wood chips prevent silt-flow through the natural filtration properties of their mycelial networks, and in the process renew topsoils, spurring the growth of native flora and fauna.

Full Story http://www.fungi.com/mycotech/roadrestoration.html