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For Maximum Growth From Evergreens, Don't Poison Alders
By D.L. Finney


November 01, 2005

I have been following with interest the Native corporation's attempt to use herbicides on Long Island to kill the alder and other brush species. As I understand it, the objective is to take the competition away from the higher value evergreen species and thus enhance their growth.

In the 1950's the Forest Service did a study at Hollis on Prince of Wales Island for the same reasons. They cut down and/or poisoned all of the alder on the left side up the Maybeso River to see if that would enhance the growth of the evergreens. They used amate poison and were successful in killing all of the alder on that side of the river.

However, alder is a nitrogen producer and by adding nitrogen to the soil, actually enhances growth of the evergreens. The Forest Service Research Department in Juneau should have their history of this successful experiment.

I lived at Hollis and Thorne Bay for ten years and then worked out of the pulp mill for 18 years as a logging engineer. I watched the reproduction in all the areas we logged, and especially I'd look at the Maybeso when we would fly that way. Most of the alder has been overgrown by the evergreens (spruce, hemlock and cedar) on both sides of the river, and it is difficult now to tell there was ever a difference.

A good example of alder vs. evergreens can be seen on North Tongass Highway on the hill behind the car agencies and the northern industrial area. This area was logged 47 years ago, and now it can be easily seen that the alder is being crowded out by the healthy evergreens that benefited from the nutrients the alders provided.

If I wanted the maximum growth from the evergreens, I certainly would not poison the alder.

D.L. Finney
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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