Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forum › Sustainable Living and Land use › Sustainable Forestry › Water Bar Construction
- November 14, 2013 at 8:38 am #81592
Does anyone have any tips on hand-constructed water bars that can withstand logging? I have reinforced water bars with stone and in some cases wood, but ground skidding substantial logs across them will always blow them out.
Several years ago, with the help of some USDA money, I had an excavator install key water bars in various sections of my woods. These are large, sloping swales that both divert water and withstand logging. I can’t afford that option at the moment.
GeorgeNovember 14, 2013 at 9:57 am #81593
Bob and I are in the habit on building temporary bars on slopes that we then skid over. When rain is predicted, we reinforce them so they shed the water. We keep a pulaski, shovel, and rake handy on the landing and use them frequently. At the end of the job, we dig our water bars out deeper, reinforce them with small diameter logs, and or build larger broad based dips that can divert the flow over time. In short, we have found no good substitute for giving the trails fairly constant attention during the time we skidding over them. It takes more work but seems to pay off in terms of impact from water.
-BradNovember 14, 2013 at 9:59 am #81594
Also, I find that using a cart or arch to skid logs really helps, particularly in the non-winter months. The wood is up off the ground and does not dig in nearly as much, and the logs stay much cleaner.
-BradNovember 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm #81600
George, I have had good luck building semi permanent log water bars. I have attached a pic, but using a 6″-8″ log that extends across the trail. Dig down the soil to make a trench the size of the log and back-fill on the downhill side. The pic doesn’t show it, but I have used 2-3″ pegs cut from saplings to bracket the log on each side of the trail. The uphill side of the log needs to be carved down for a channel for water to run in.
These water bars will last pretty well during a harvest, but they can be pretty abrupt for wheeled vehicles. If the log is placed across the trail at the same angle as the slope on which it is placed, then water will run for the best effect, and you won’t hit both wheels at once.
I built many like this for years, and they are good for temporary devices during a harvesting season, but they really are inadequate for the long haul as they can fill in, and heavy rain events can jump them as they are only 6-8″ deep.
They take longer to build than the style that Brad has described, but you only need to kick out the loose dirt after a day of skidding, and they will outlast skidding logs. I use any species, pine, spruce, hemlock, or even hardwoods.
If the bump is too abrupt, and second log can be placed 4-6″ away, parallel, to make an open-topped box-culvert.
Simple to build, just takes a bit of time.
One rule of thumb in regard to slope and frequency of placement: Standing on one water bar looking up hill, level with your eyesight is the approximate location for the next water bar. The more the better. Once water gets in the trail it is a continual management problem.
I believe that one product of timber harvest should be improved access…. not the opposite, so whatever you can do before harvest starts will be time/money well spent.
Good luck, Carl
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.November 15, 2013 at 8:04 am #81603
Thanks for the replies. Carl, I will give the log water bar another go. Perhaps I didn’t set the log low enough in the past leading to blow-outs while skidding. Brad, I agree that my log cart is much easier on water barns, but the area that I am working right now is too steep and tight for anything but ground skidding. The problem I am having is the larger saw logs that I can’t get off the ground while ground skidding. The butt-end tends to plow through anything in its path. I have been trying to figure a way of getting some lift while ground skidding (two chains, two swivels and a cradle hitch, dogs, etc.), but that might be another thread….
GeorgeNovember 15, 2013 at 9:02 am #81605
George… staking the log in place is a big key, but it really won’t address big butts plowing… If it is that steep, use the bobsled…. I have used both my Barden cart and my higher style log cart on pretty steep slopes…. I have heard from others that they think the slope is too steep for such a device….. I’m sure that some land offers some pretty severe obstacles, but if it is that steep, I bet the logs would roll down better than being skidded… I have done that several times.
I truly believe that access issues can trump some silvicultural choices. If you have an access that is destructive, or hard to maintain, then consider not using it, or making some other compromises to develop access that can be more sustainable.
Good luck, CarlNovember 16, 2013 at 8:46 am #81610
Yes, staking the logs seems to be the key I have missed. I will try that. Perhaps the Barden cart would be more suited to this terrain. My Forest arch is great for going down the steeps, but has a tendency to tip over moving across the contour with the hummocks, ledge outcrops, and other obstacles. I am presently ground skidding to a “brow” (correct term?) or staging area about 500′ and yarding with a scoot (for saw logs) and my arch (for firewood). I haven’t figured out a good system for setting up a brow in very steep terrain. It has been worth it to me to twitch on the ground a little further than I like to a better brow rather than trying to load the scoot in a difficult area. I am curious how you load your bobsled in terrain like this. My main problem in past attempts is to keep my logs from rolling down hill before they are loaded and then preventing them from rolling over or even tipping the sled.
I am using many of your techniques for logging steep ground including rolling logs down hill with the peavey and using “slue” logs across the contour to great effect. I had a difficult situation yesterday when a 20′ butt log jumped my slue log. The horses simultaneously were pulled into the slue log while they turned up the hill to balance things out. At this point they were tight against the slue log unable to move the log up hill. The chain was tight and it took me a while to extricate them from the log. I replaced some of the 6-12″ slue logs double or triple logs of greater diameter in some locations to prevent this.
Regarding the access to this site, my biggest problem is on my main skid road. The road has excavator-installed large sweeping swales/water bars that have worked great. There is one section that has a spring coming right out into the road that the operator missed. This is my problem spot. At the end of the day I spend a little time reshaping the water bar. When I am finished logging in this area I will install a log water bar per your instructions and try to maintain it.
GeorgeNovember 17, 2013 at 8:23 pm #81614
I believe the term brow actually refers to a set of loading timbers placed so that the logs come in above and then are rolled on to the timbers and off the ends onto the scoot or bobsled. I have had very good luck building brows in steep terrain; in fact, in most cases the extra slope facilitates the loading of the logs onto the scoot or bob. The trick is too make the timbers of the brow level so that your logs sit stable on the brow timbers before they are loaded. 5-6 foot lengths work well, and I try to use stumps on the downhill end to prop up the end of the timbers and hold them securely. Sometimes the hardest part is not the brow but getting the scoot or bob below to sit on the steep slope. I have used short pieces of round wood under the downhill runner to keep the sled roughly level, and then I roll carefully and use a stake in the downhill stake pocket on the sled to catch the logs and prevent them from rolling off downhill from the bunk of the sled. The biggest key is to locate your brow in the right place where you can facilitate efficient loading and take off for the horses. Ideally, the brow is just above a road or relatively flat trail. Fun to think about huge loads being loaded with this method before hydraulics were available for loading multiple layers of logs. When it all comes together it is a sweet way to load logs!
-BradNovember 18, 2013 at 6:20 am #81617
Yes George sometimes the situation is not ideal, and we just have to work through the mess. I was having a hard time visualizing what you were up against. I was just thinking that getting the end of the log up was the bigger issue. I have used my bobsled in some instances one log at a time to stabilize, to reduce effort, and to minimize soil impact….. however it does require site considerations (which I can only suggest at as I haven’t seen yours).
I have said many times that horse-logging is not about skidding logs with horses, it is about working horses in the woods. It is very difficult generally for us to shift our focus away from moving logs as our primary objective when in the woods with horses, but I have found that the low relative cost of using them allows for other objectives to rise to the top of the priority list. Thinking about ways to move logs over challenging terrain can become complicated when we try to make our every move most efficient to maximize harvesting production. However, if we look at this ground condition and think about long-term costs of repairing damage, or the continual added difficulty, then using the diversity and maneuverability of horses to the advantage will have lasting effect.
It will take more time to cut, position, and load the sled, or it may take more time to extend the contour slue-log skid trail around a different access, but I see those as being costs that make the long-term application of horses more effective.
This doesn’t answer specific questions, but generally describes my approach.
I agree with Brads illustrations about loading. I will sometimes drive the sled alongside the log, park it, unhitch the team and roll the log on, then re-hitch and pull the sled away. I try to break down the enterprise into steps, silviculture, felling, bucking, and skidding. Each step has priorities pertaining to its own genre. Each tree has different criteria to add to the decision-making. This is why I feel it is most important to have responsive horses as part of the mix, so that the appropriate decision can be made on a situation by situation basis.
Good luck, CarlNovember 19, 2013 at 9:47 am #81637
I have never made the effort to construct a brow (thanks for the correct use of the term Brad) as I am usually able to find areas that are suitable for loading. I also find my loading areas change (ideally) so as to minimize ground skidding. However, I can see how a brow would be beneficial on steep terrain.
Carl, I agree with your mantra of “working horses in the woods”. Although I make part of my income selling logs, logging with horses is much more about improving my woodlot and honing my skills as a teamster/horse logger. I used to get disappointed when I didn’t have a certain amount of footage on the landing at the end of the day. I slowly began to realize that this work is about much more than that. There is nothing like working my team in the woods – the combination of physical and intellectual challenges combined with completing vital work as a “team” with my horses is unmatched. Since I am not trucking horses and paying stumpage, I can really take my time and still cover my minimal costs.
GeorgeNovember 20, 2013 at 9:57 am #81650
Just a comment that I cannot avoid making…. This rant has nothing to do with the work you are doing George, just a treatise related to broad cultural assumptions about commercial logging, spurred by my reaction to your comment about trucking and paying stumpage.
Whether or not we are trucking or paying stumpage, paying attention to details like minimizing impact, and using techniques that may be complicated or time consuming to accomplish a specific end result, is in fact the point of draft animal powered forestry.
Just as on your land, or any work done on clients’ land, the stumpage value should reflect the cost/value of the work being done to deliver the residual stand in line with the long-term objectives.
Taking the time to use the appropriate techniques builds flexibility and functionality into any operation, and these will pay off many times, especially when these techniques can be used to augment the low ecological impact that is, at least in some part, one of our objectives for using horses to begin with.
Foresters and the forest industry have done a huge disservice to us by relying on economic incentive to convince people that forest management is good stewardship. There is no doubt value in forest resources, and anyone owning land should capitalize on that, but the convention that timber harvest is a source of income, rather than an investment in improving timber quality and protecting inherent natural value, has led to assumptions that the cost of harvesting workmanship is less valuable than the potential value of timber sold.
By using horses we have exceptional low-impact capability, but when we compromise that advantage to play the stumpage and production game, we have not advanced the practice of forest stewardship in the way animal power has the potential to do.
Rather than developing habits that overlook the subtle levels of restorative practices because the potential costs put us at competitive disadvantage, we should embrace them, and hold the resulting work in the high regard that it deserves. By showing how those added costs translate into better stewardship, stumpage values will become secondary to the results in the residual stand, and we can create harvesting fee structures that support the forestry practices.
CarlNovember 21, 2013 at 7:03 am #81655
Amen. When I have completed the work on my woodlot, I will likely venture out and take on some local logging jobs. If I were to do that, I would not pay stumpage. I would charge an hourly rate for my services – residual stand improvement, wildlife habitat, improved access, etc. From that I would deduct log receipts. I think this is a clearer arrangement for both the land owner and the logger and might help distinguish my services from the conventional logger who pays stumpage based on market value of the logs and his/her expenses.
Whether or not I could get any work based on this arrangement remains to be seen. I think the key is education. Most folks can’t tell the difference between black cherry and ash or don’t notice bear claw marks on a beech tree. In your slideshow presented in Athol, I really liked the idea of creating a woodland aesthetic – trails, a bench here and there – that will encourage land owners to get out and enjoy their woods. Once they realize the beauty and benefits of their forest, I think folks would be more willing to pay for its improvement.
GeorgeNovember 21, 2013 at 8:21 pm #81659
Over the past six years or so of working in other peoples woodlots, I have used various forms of payment – by the thousand, hourly, by the cord, and, stumpage. I think the key part is exactly as Carl describes – the most important part of the operation is what we leave behind in the woods. To some extent, the payment system does not matter as long as myself and the landowner (and forester if there is one involved) are all on the same page. Stumpage can be challenging, particularly when the landowner is deadset on getting the maximum value he or she can generate; when this is the case I usually pass on the job. I have been working off stumpage recently and it has worked really well. The landowner clearly recognizes that what we pay is less than what she could get from a mechanical operator, but the results on the ground are far superior. I think that a big part of my job is to help landowners see the difference!
-BradNovember 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm #81664
Looking for logging work? I found this add http://farmersdraftclub.com/wp/newsletter/classifieds/ for a horse logger wanted in Maine.
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