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In Praise of Dead Trees

By: 
George Wuerthner

Like most people I once viewed dead trees as an indicator of some presumed problem in the forest—that a ‘healthy” forest was one with a minimum of dead trees and largely free of wildfire, insects, and disease. Oh yes, I knew that a few snags were good for woodpeckers, and as a fly fisherman I understood that trout tended to be found hiding behind logs in the stream. I suffered from the same cultural bias as most people and thought that large numbers of dead trees meant that the forest was “out of balance” or “sick.” But the more I studied ecology, the more I questioned these assumptions.

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