Madrone Tree Stand Habitat
Another concern in the debate is the disruption of the Madrone tree stand habitat, located in the area of the proposed expansion. Glacier Northwest has acknowledged that it will occupy the stand, but stresses that restoration of the habitat will be a continually occurring process. Nevertheless, the concern for irreversible damage to one of the largest Madrone forests in the United States still exists. Madrone trees protect against soil erosion with wide roots, which anchor the soil, and their leaves, which protect soil from the rain. The forest also provides nesting areas and food for numerous birds, ranging from the Chestnut-backed Chickadee to the Bald Eagle. If Glacier Northwest were allowed to conduct their proposed expansive mining operation on Maury Island, then approximately 235 acres (0.95 km²) of Pacific Madrone, or Arbutus menziesii, could be deforested. Glacier Northwest plans to take steps to mitigate the deforestation of the area, which includes transplanting saplings after the various stages of mining has commenced; however, the success rate of Madrone trees surviving transplantation would be low, according to the Holden Arboretum. The University of Washington’s Botany Department has confirmed that Madrone trees have high rates of germination and emergence, yet seedling survival is poor on most sites; approximately 90 to 100% of seedlings die within the first year. Such a low survival rate will cause the forest to become reestablished in approximately 20 years, as reported by the official environmental impact statement.
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