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Discussion: Western drought and developing O hazards

in: Orienteering; Off-Course

Sep 1, 2015 3:57 PM # 
As the drought in the western states continues, trees are beginning to die in many areas. Drought-stricken trees become quite brittle and dry, and large branches can fracture and fall from great heights.

If you live or train amid large, mature trees during this period, you may wish to consider setting up periodic 'drip' irrigation to keep these trees alive until the promised winter rains.

Some communities in Southern California are doing just that. Here's one.
Sep 2, 2015 2:09 AM # 
Its not just the west. Emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, Walnut twig beetle, and other introduced pests are killing many trees in midwestern forests. I remember reading somewhere that falling branches / trees are one of the single biggest killers of indigenous people living in traditional lifestyles. Definitely something for orienteers to be aware of.
Sep 2, 2015 5:30 AM # 
Don't all your trees try to kill you?

You know in Australia we call our Gum Trees "Widow Makers" because of their propensity to drop limbs and kill people.
Sep 2, 2015 8:59 AM # 
Alas, this is also a problem in the big city, far from the western drought.
Sep 2, 2015 11:42 AM # 
Falling trees is one of the biggest causes of death for beavers, too. But they're kind of asking for it.
Sep 2, 2015 11:51 AM # 
Before intending international visitors get scared off by our trees (if they're not already scared enough by our wildlife), I would note that the Australian trees which are most notorious for dropping big limbs on unsuspecting people are river red gums. As far as I know, these are not found in significant numbers on any regularly used Australian orienteering map (as the name implies, they're mostly found along rivers, which makes them a hazard to people who like to camp along rivers).

Of probably greater concern is the propensity of drought-affected forests (on both sides of the Pacific) to catch fire.
Sep 2, 2015 11:59 AM # 
Is everyone leaving it up to someone else to mention the uniquely Australian hazard of drop bears?
Sep 2, 2015 12:22 PM # 
Personally, I consider non-dropping bears (of the sort found in Canada) to be more hazardous. Some Australian areas also have wild pigs, although personally I regard the people who go out to shoot wild pigs as a considerably greater hazard than the pigs themselves.
Sep 2, 2015 12:28 PM # 
Beware flying pigs carrying drop bears!
Sep 2, 2015 1:43 PM # 
Bugger this sport, I'm taking up chess.
Sep 2, 2015 5:21 PM # 
Don't bother, Juffy, you'll get beaten by a robot.
Sep 2, 2015 6:36 PM # 
While we're speaking of lethal vegetation, are there Giant Hogweed plants on any orienteering maps? I know this is becoming a problem in the upper US Midwest and Ontario. These plants excrete a substance which can cause severe photo-sensitive reactions and even blindness.
Sep 2, 2015 7:11 PM # 
A friend of mine got burned by one (or it might have been the similar Cow Parsnip) while orienteering in Canada in 1993. I don't remember what map it was.
Sep 2, 2015 9:41 PM # 
a hazard to people who like to camp along rivers

Wouldn't crocs be sufficient reason to not camp by rivers?
Sep 2, 2015 11:02 PM # 
I think around here, widow makers refers to Yellow Box.
Sep 3, 2015 1:09 AM # 
Just in case anyone is still interested in saving trees from drought, here are a couple slow-release tree watering bags for about $20 - $25 each.

Can be filled with 20 gal and carried to trees where they release water through drip holes in the bottom seam at rates varying from 5 hrs to 5 days. Perfect for recently planted small trees without a developed root system. But also useful for mature trees when refilled several times.

A couple of 5-gal buckets and a siphon tube in a pull-wagon come to mind as an easy to use 'water wagon' for refilling the bags.
Sep 3, 2015 2:28 AM # 
About 400+ trees per person

Can be filled with 20 gal and carried

At 8 pounds (weight) per gallon that can get pretty heavy.
Sep 3, 2015 3:53 AM # 
Thinking of drought related problems, what about map updates? More than just vegetation updates. Some of the photos of ground subsidence in this article are mind-blowing.
Sep 3, 2015 4:11 AM # 
I'll bet I have at least 400 trees in my own yard. Depending on how big it needs to be to count. That's before we get to my share of the publicly owned land around here. The water levels in the rivers here are astoundingly low, but there's no way I'm going to try and water these things.
Sep 3, 2015 5:58 AM # 

o'ing - don't look, I've wheeled out the whomping willow video.
Sep 3, 2015 6:36 PM # 
To answer JJ's question, from the point of view of the Nature paper, the tree needs to >10cm diameter at breast height in order to be counted. This seems to be the standard for forestry people around the whole civilized world, while the US Forestry Service has instead a 5-inch criterion (but apparently also maintains some level of data at the international standard for intercomparison purposes).
Sep 4, 2015 10:42 AM # 
Ouch, the memories. Yes that branch nearly did for an orienteer, only one that was on a bike at the time.
Sep 6, 2015 2:54 AM # 
In Canada, we also use the term "widow makers" for dead trees or large dead branches. And I'm sure we must have Giant Hogweed on a map or two. Our next door neighbour had a big patch. There aren't many bears in our part of Ontario, drop or otherwise, but some wild boars have been running loose near our place.
Sep 6, 2015 2:01 PM # 
I'm sure there are wild bores on AP too, if I had tRicky's persistence in reading.
Sep 10, 2015 9:01 AM # 
Wouldn't crocs be sufficient reason to not camp by rivers?

Only in the far north of Australia, but no-one orienteers up there anyway due to all the orienteers having been eaten by crocodiles.

This discussion thread is closed.