The 25-story construction crane used since 1995 to investigate such things as how Pacific Northwest forests absorb carbon dioxide, obtain sufficient water and resist attacks by pests and diseases is being pruned back to just the tower.
The Wind River Canopy Crane, located in a 500-year-old forest near Stevenson in southwest Washington, has been operated cooperatively by the University of Washington, the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The partners say the jib the arm of the crane is being removed because the Forest Service faces budget shortfalls and replacement parts for the crane are becoming more difficult to obtain. Funding for the crane's operation has largely come from the station's budget. The jib will be removed when money is available, possibly this summer.
Gone will be the ability to carry a gondola with researchers and instruments from the bottom to the top of trees as tall as 220 feet in a 560-foot circle of old-growth forest. The Wind River crane has the farthest reach of any of the nine forest canopy research cranes operating in the world today.
Remaining will be the 230-foot tower with sensors that collect data about how the carbon dioxide is absorbed and released by the forest, work under way since 1999. Because of the crane, the UW and the Forest Service have one of the world's longest, continuously collected data sets of carbon flux from a forest, according to Jerry Franklin, UW professor of forest resources, who was the prime mover in the 1990s for landing the $1 million project.
The carbon flux data are important as policymakers and citizens consider how to manage forests to maximize the amount of carbon they hold, he said.
Work at the crane site produced some of the first data to substantiate what Franklin and other scientists suspected in the 1980s: that old-growth Douglas fir forests weren't emitting more carbon than they w
|Contact: Sandra Hines|
University of Washington