Parallel Lines
Another logger ... doing it right

Another logger … doing it right


May 21, 2013

Last weekend I attended a forestry conference. It was very well attended by young people in the study of forestry, landowners and consulting foresters. I went to meet Wendell Berry, a guest speaker. I also went to see some old friends. The program was top notch and I learned a little and re-affirmed much.

The conference was put on by the “Foundation for Sustainable Forests and the Forest Guild”. The program was to show sustainable forestry methods. We, as participants, had the opportunity to walk two side-by-side parcels of woodlands. Each parcel had been managed for 40 years.

The parcels had been managed on two very different ways. The first one was managed in a conventional way using big equipment and cutting the big trees. A large stand of hemlock, growing along a stream, had been removed. That parcel had been cut four times over the forty years. Some nice big trees remained, but they were spaced wide and brushy undergrowth crowded the forest floor.

The other parcel has been managed using draft animal power and a method of harvesting called “Worst First”. This parcel has been harvested twelve times in the past forty years. Undesireable tress were removed, storm damaged trees were harvested, and some pole timber was taken to enhance the understory.

The trees in this parcel were amazing. Several trees, numbering into the thousands were tall, straight, veneer quality specimens of Black Cherry and Oak. Sugar Maples were beautiful big trees that will dominate the landscape as the Oaks and Cherry trees are removed. The mid-story and under story trees were healthy and vibrant.

Looking at the two parcels, comparisons could be made in several areas. The roads made by the big equipment were compacted so hard, no trees and very few woodland plants grew in the hardened pathways. The skid roads left from horse logging resembled a hiker’s path. Flaura and Fauna grew everywhere, leaf litter was deep and trees along the roads were not scared from being hit by logs and equipment.

One part of the stream looked like a road ditch, where the Hemlock trees had been removed. The soft, damp ground was a mess of ruts and disturbed soil. The water struggled to find its way through the maze of tangled brush and old machine tracks. The parcel where the Hemlocks still guarded the stream, showed no silt in the water. The stream was free flowing along a rocky bottom. The actual temperature of the water was four degrees different. The cool waters under the branching hemlocks is home to brook trout and other water species.

I am an advocate forĀ sustainable forestry. I learned more and I saw what a well managed forest looks like. I am very pleased to be doing this very thing. I didn’t know this logging company or it’s manager until this past weekend. Troy Firth Logging is the man and business who manages the woodlands in the sustainable way. I did not know him, but we are sure on parallel lines!


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