Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Sustainable Living and Land use › Sustainable Forestry › What to do with slash?
- December 5, 2008 at 3:22 am #39959J-LParticipant
While discussing the portable mill subject I got to wondering what you guys back east do with your slash?
The few jobs I’ve worked have been handled differently.
Last year I thinned a stand of Lodgepole with some Douglas Fir. The owner was a Forest Service employee and she wanted the slash left where it fell, including the tops.
Last month I did a firewood job for a retired Forest Service employee and he wanted the slash piled neatly. Both had the theory that it was good habitat for the grouse, snowshoe hares, and squirrels.
Still another owner wanted the slash piled and burned, but it was to open up some ground for more grazing around their place.
Just curious.December 5, 2008 at 1:47 pm #48418Gabe AyersKeymaster
Joel is correct. A good service provider always has the clients objectives in mind and uses their knowledge and experience to help the landowner achieve their objectives.
There are lots of options for logging slash and I take it you are asking about that and not slabs, edger strips and sawdust from the mill.
I also think the environmental conditions are so different from east to west that each may have their own results.
In the east the humidity and rapid decomposition of woody debris from the laps and slash will quickly disappear without any extra effort from the woodsman. In other words do nothing with the slash, leave it where it lays is the best plan in many cases.
Any further investment of human energy or fossil fuels will have to paid for somehow and that is not usually possible from the proceeds of a restorative forestry harvest.
I will write more about this later, have to move on this cold morning in the east.December 5, 2008 at 10:38 pm #48421Rick AlgerParticipant
I lop it to hip height and leave it lay. We are usually expected by the landowners or foresters to take everything down to 4″ top diameter, so there isn’t a whole lot of biomass left.December 6, 2008 at 3:33 am #48424becorsonParticipant
i don’t guess anyone knows of a way to use horses to power a chipper or shredder?December 6, 2008 at 12:06 pm #48420Carl RussellModerator
Coarse woody debris is the foundation of a vital forest. I love to see moss-covered round wood growing into the soil. If for aesthetic reasons in certain sites, if they want it piled, or chipped then I get paid by the hour, but in general logging and forestry operations, they wouldn’t have me working on their land if they didn’t accept my philosophy that slash and a substantial portion of low grade contribute significant ecological value when left where they lay. I lop it down pretty well, primarily to facilitate getting around during the current and future harvests.
CarlDecember 6, 2008 at 6:20 pm #48419Gabe AyersKeymaster
Most of the nutrients available to replenish the soil from forestry operations is in the portion of the tree closer to where the photosynthesis occurs. The amount of calcium and phosphorus is higher in the portions of the tree that are four inches of less inside the bark. So leaving this material on site helps replenish the soil.
Woody debris also provides other services, such as providing a mechanical resistance to heavy deer browse. Having worked at this restorative forestry practice for over twenty years and having harvested the same site for several times now, I observed that the regeneration of young healthy trees occurs better in areas where lots of laps are left. Deer are prey animals and don’t want to eat where they can’t escape.
Woody debris holds leaf litter in place which protects the forest soil.
Our approach is the same as Carl’s on the cost of piling or lopping and scattering. It is additional labor and if you come back on a 7-10 year harvest rotation the debris is gone anyway. Why spend human, and fossil fuel on something that will take care of itself? If it is a visual thing based on short term considerations and desires, someone will have to pay for that skilled labor or lopping and scattering.
Good luck,December 10, 2008 at 3:25 pm #48422PatrickParticipant
I agree that it depends on the management objectives. On various areas of my property, I use any of the above methods, depending on what I want to do with it. In one area, I’m creating a park like setting, so I stack and burn. Mostly I stack and leave it, mainly due to my concern for forest fires. I don’t want to leave a continuous carpet of slash to fuel a fire and cause it to spread easier. The interrupted piles at least somewhat reduce that. Only rarely do I cut and leave, despite the ecological benefits.
IMO, we in New England have become complacent about both forest fires and hurricanes, because we don’t often experience either. Since the last big ones, we’ve built up areas which are now at high risk, and I worry what will happen when we finally get hit badly again.December 12, 2008 at 6:07 pm #48425mstacyParticipant
@Patrick 3939 wrote:
I stack and burn. Mostly I stack and leave it, mainly due to my concern for forest fires. I don’t want to leave a continuous carpet of slash to fuel a fire and cause it to spread easier. The interrupted piles at least somewhat reduce that. Only rarely do I cut and leave, despite the ecological benefits.
IMO, we in New England have become complacent about both forest fires and hurricanes, because we don’t often experience either. Since the last big ones, we’ve built up areas which are now at high risk, and I worry what will happen when we finally get hit badly again.
Patrick, you raise an interesting point regarding forest fires in our region (North East). I’m very interested to hear more on this topic from you and others.
Much of the logging and forest history that I’ve read suggests that most forest fires in this part of the country resulted from rough logging practices back in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries … the days of George van Dyke, J.E. Henry, and the like. They were clear cutting on a massive scale to feed river drives, logging railroads, and hungry mills. It was a fascinating period of history and a testament to the resiliency of our forests. I’m hopeful that the science and art of forestry have developed far enough in the interim that we don’t repeat that test. Public response to the massive forest fires and land slides resulting from excessive harvesting contributed to the establishment of the White Mountain National Forest. The west Side of Kancamagus pass was a big piece of the Henrys’ stomping grounds.
I think most of the fire towers that we see on high peaks and ridgelines of Vermont and New Hampshire (Belveder, Stratton, Smarts, and many others all long since abandoned and falling into disrepair) are primarily leftovers from a bygone era.
Many western states face significant forest fire risk every year, but the climate is very different. Summers in the north east are relatively wet.
W. Topsham, VTDecember 13, 2008 at 10:13 pm #48423PatrickParticipant
I’d be interested to hear more to. I’ve casually researched on the internet the one forest fire that I’m especially interested in, that in the pine barrens of Ossipee, back in either 1953 or 54, but I’ve come up with very little. I started looking into it after finding evidence of burns on large red and/or pitch pines which I’d noticed on my brother’s property in Freedom. Pine barren habitats actually require occasional fires to remain healthy, but we mostly put a stop to that now due to public safety. What will be the results?
I understand that the Nature Conservancy is hoping to do a prescribed burn on some of their property in the area, but it requires quite a few regulatory hurdles that are taking some time to overcome. I know how much the area has built up in the last 20 years. I can’t image how much it’s been since the 50’s. Possibly we don’t hear much about that fire, because there presumably was little loss of life or property back then. That would be different today.
Interestingly, they say that pitch pine needs or at least benefits from burns in several ways, but one is that it helps to open the cones, releasing seeds to germinate. I don’t know where this comes from, because there are plenty of young seedlings that continue to sprout in that area, and we haven’t had any fires.
Any old timers here who know anything about the Ossipee pine barrens fire?December 15, 2008 at 5:07 am #48426OldKatParticipant
@Joel 4006 wrote:
Research forest mgmt in the SE US. Fire is used extensively as a management tool. Some pine down there will not regenerate, or even grow that well without frequent fires.
The USFS did a great dis-service with their Smokey the Bear campaign & the idiots in NM a few yrs sent prescribed burns to the dear letter office with their fiasco.
I understand none of this adresses your question but fire mgmt in the SE US is very interesting.
I agree; fire can be a very good tool in SYP (southern yellow pine) stands to control underbrush. In my state such use had nearly gone extinct due to a number of reasons, including public pressure to NOT burn in state and national tracts. It is on the upswing for sure.
Not familiar with any SYP species that REQUIRE fire, but know that all benefit from the open areas it creates for increased sun and water. Also, when many of the brushy under story plants are suppressed it clears the way for hardwood species, which tend to benefit wildlife.
Not exactly the purpose of this thread, but fire can be a powerful tool if managed correctly. Nearby to where I live is a vast creek bottom system which is populated in Eastern gamma grass, an excellent native grass for areas that are heavy soil and seasonally wet. This particular stand is said to be the largest native stand of this grass in the US, some 2,000 to 2,200 acres. A few years ago a friend harvested some seed from his piece of this stand & planted it in an additional 40 to 45 acre field just outside the area where the native stand already existed. Although he prepared the soil and drilled the seed in with a drill specifically designed for native grass seeds, the resulting stand was fairly poor. For several years the stand slowly filled in, but it was still probably less than 50% covered in gamma grass. One winter several years ago some friends and I helped burn this field off just before it greened up. The gamma grass responded really well and that spring the coverage went up to probably 90%. Not sure why it did this, but the results were dramatic.
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