Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Sustainable Living and Land use › Sustainable Forestry › VT State Forest needs a logger
- September 29, 2008 at 11:32 am #39698JeanParticipant
I have been contacted by a Vermont State Forester looking for someone interested in logging some land with horses. If anybody here is interested please send me your contact information and I will pass it along.
Here is what was sent to me:
“I am a State Lands Forester and am looking for a list of horse loggers who may be interested in harvesting 110 thousand board feet on 75 acres of norway spruce plantation in the Groton State Forest. Any names, addresses, phone numbers or e-mails would be greatly appreciated. I recently showed the sale and had only two loggers show up”
JeanSeptember 29, 2008 at 11:50 am #47030September 29, 2008 at 11:14 pm #47028Carl RussellModerator
I was contacted as well, and asked him to send an advertisement and timber sale prospectus, but he seems to be resisting. There may be a reason why only 2 loggers have looked at it. He can post the info here. and I know he will get response.
CarlOctober 5, 2008 at 8:47 am #47029simon lenihanParticipant
I would like to think that the state forester in question is looking for someone to log this wood with animal power for the right reasons. The state forestry over here are not really interested in giving work to horse logging operations, we have only got 6 weeks work in the past 8 years and this is similar for the few remaining horseloggers over here. If a wood is to be harvested and there is no interest from machines one might get a call but be assured that it is either crap timber, or on a very steep slope and not worth doing anyway.
–October 5, 2008 at 2:09 pm #47027Gabe AyersKeymaster
We have cut timber on the “public land” in the past, having harvested around a half million feet in the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.
One would think this would be a great opportunity to apply the sensitive services of animal powered forest management or at least low impact extraction.
Our experience is based upon a relationship with the timber management person that had an open mind about the extraction component of this work. That open mind is usually based upon some experience by the person in charge based upon seeing the results of a skilled practitioners of modern animal powered extraction. Or as Simon suggests, it would seem that the manager would choose animal power for the right reasons.
In our case that was the basis and justification of this “experiment”. The sites we harvested were visually sensitive, meaning that the units were at a crossroads where two public roads intersected in the national forest and the public was able to see the forestry practiced for a considerable distance around these public roads, again meaning state roads and not forest service roads. The goal was to harvest timber without provoking environmentalist to protest the timber harvesting. Again the reason this happened was because of the open mindedness of the timber management person.
We successfully fulfilled our contracts on these sites and were happy with the results of the work and the economics of our involvement. There are many details that won’t be shared at this point in this post. But the point is that we did good work and made fair money at the work. The USFS did some research in the course of this work, including learning how much labor was involved to
lop and scatter the laps, tops and debris resulting from the harvest. We were able to show the USFS that this extra work that was intended to improve the visual appearance of the post harvest conditions was a valuable service to achieve the desired objectives of the timber sale. Those objectives were, simply to harvest trees and not provoke protest. All in all this was done in the simplest sense.
However there were problems that we encountered over the course of these harvesting contracts or timber sales. The first was that we had no control over the silviculture of this work. The selection was based upon a diameter limit cut, where only the timber over a certain diameter at breast height were cut. This made the job a high grade essentially and was not what we wanted to do in the long run. The other bad point for us was that we weren’t allowed to do any timber stand improvement throughout the process, meaning allot of low grade material was just left standing after the harvest and we weren’t allowed to cut and extract or just cut and leave it lay, so the job was not an improvement cut in the eyes of a truly sustainable forester or knowledgeable
observer. So this post harvest condition put our work in a bad light to anyone that really knew what they were looking at.
This lead to the eventual decision to not cut timber on public land after that experience. This was an ethical decision, not an economic one. We definitely made fair money on the deal because we were able to negotiate the stumpage price and allow reduced cost to offset the lopping and scattering we did for the visual appearance of the post harvest forest. However it put our work in the bad light of just being a high grade, which was an untenable position that we came to reject as a way to make a place in the future for animal powered forestry to be truly sustainable. This is exactly why we switched to working on private forestland in order to have control over the silviculture and leave the forest in an improved condition that was available to our practitioners for frequent short rotation harvest along the lines of restorative forestry as defined by our group today.
My point is that we need to be aware of what the public forester wants us to do. Don’t allow any forester to reduce your services to contract harvesting alone. We can’t compete with machines and in fact are not interested in competing with machines. We (HHFF) prefer to support informed practitioners and promote their independence as providers of superior services that develop long term relationships with forest landowners. This doesn’t mean that one can’t work with public land, it just means that you should be aware of what you are doing before being engaged in some activity that will later be turned around and used to dismiss the culture of animal powered techniques when observation of the results suggesting that there is “no difference” in the
finished product of a harvesting site. This is what we experienced when we worked on the public and we will not be reduced to “no difference” again, by allowing someone else to control the silviculture…..
I hope this makes some sense to anyone interested in working in the woods with their animals. Maybe there will be some comments that will allow further discussion of this issue of horse loggers working on public land…..
I have no doubt that any public forester in the NE could find plenty of horse loggers. I suspect there are more there than any other part of the country.
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