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Prioritizing remediation following a timber harvest

 
pollinator
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Location: Charlotte, Tennessee
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Hi all,

I'm writing from Nashville TN, in an apartment full of moving boxes. We're finally living just 40 minutes from our future homestead, instead of 2400 miles.  

Anyhoo, we purchased the land we're going to build and homestead on from my siblings - it is 200 acres that has been my mom's since 1970. To be able to afford the purchase, we agreed to a "limited" timber harvest, the proceeds of which were split among my siblings. I feel like crap about that, but my God, they pay a lot for wood, don't they? I am trying to look to the future, not berate myself (too much) about the past. I went out to walk the property yesterday, and it's not horrendous, but it's disorienting. Sunlight where I don't expect it, sections of the lane where I feel lost, with the landmarks changed. wider dirt lane than before, etc. Not all bad. They're taking one in ten trees over 12" So it's not a clear cut.I  can see spaces for future small meadows or nice walking trails.







I'm overwhelmed by what to do first, what to think about, what to ensure the timber company to do before they leave (they're probably 2/3 done) etc. My instinct is that the most important thing would be to get some cover seeding done on areas that are now sunlit, so that we don't just end up with poison ivy and blackberries run amok? And to drag branches across any temporary logging roads that are sloped, to lessen erosion? Am I on the right track?
 
pollinator
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Hi Erica, a couple of things to think about.

1.  The loggers should put water bars in slopped logging trails - might confirm they plan to do that

2. They typically leave a lot of slash, which is good and bad. Is good if you want to just let the land be while it reforests. Bad if you ever want to be able to clear/mow.

3. Agree you want to get some seed down quickly. Contractors mix is a cheap option to get roots in the ground quickly, but it can be tough to get things growing in forest soil for a while. Probably should spend some money on lime.

Good luck!
 
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When we did a selective harvest on our land I found this DEC forestry practices  document useful. A lot of it is specific to New York State but everything else should be useful.
 
pollinator
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Welcome to TN!

I dont have experience with post timber remediation.

Summer rye mixed with Clover would be a good cover that will leave options open.

One simple suggestion, in disturbed areas plan to plant edible trees that thrive in understory soon.

For your area, persimmon, paw paw, chickasaw plum, black cherry are a few that come to mind.

The other thing you could do is hire a local plant expert to walk the land with You. Take survey flags and orange signal tape and a sharpie and mark some wild edibles/medicinals. Then you can selectively thin around them to allow sufficient sunlihht through for fruit production.
 
Erica Colmenares
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Artie Scott wrote:Hi Erica, a couple of things to think about.

1.  The loggers should put water bars in slopped logging trails - might confirm they plan to do that

2. They typically leave a lot of slash, which is good and bad. Is good if you want to just let the land be while it reforests. Bad if you ever want to be able to clear/mow.

3. Agree you want to get some seed down quickly. Contractors mix is a cheap option to get roots in the ground quickly, but it can be tough to get things growing in forest soil for a while. Probably should spend some money on lime.



Thanks, Artie. I think we're leaning toward leaving the slash except in the two acres surrounding our future home. One of my neighbors is worried about that adding to fire risk. I don't know about that, but I do understand that the treetops and such are great wildlife habitat.


James Whitelaw wrote:When we did a selective harvest on our land I found this DEC forestry practices  document useful. A lot of it is specific to New York State but everything else should be useful.



I had completely forgotten the best practices guide we got from the county forester (Forest Practice Guidelines for Tennessee). The timber company is supposed to follow those best practices, so I will review them tomorrow before meeting with them on Wed. Thanks for that reminder, James!

J Davis wrote:
For your area, persimmon, paw paw, chickasaw plum, black cherry are a few that come to mind.

The other thing you could do is hire a local plant expert to walk the land with You. Take survey flags and orange signal tape and a sharpie and mark some wild edibles/medicinals. Then you can selectively thin around them to allow sufficient sunlihht through for fruit production.



I love that idea so much, finding someone to help identify and support what we already have. I know we have persimmon and paw paw.
 
Erica Colmenares
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I wonder too about the road sides. We'll want to get the majority of the lane back to something more narrow, but the dirt is so thoroughly compacted.
 
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I'm about to have some cedar harvested off of my 56 acres here South of Nashville. I'm going attempt to convert 7-10 acres in one area over to pasture. I will have a forestry mulching company come in behind the loggers and grind everything remaining down to shredded stuff/ chips. I will be liming it and seeding this fall.

If you've never seen a forestry mulcher reclaim land you should search on youtube and watch... Simply amazing.

I was just going to have the forestry mulching co chew up the entire tree(s) but since cedar is so high priced right now I will let the loggers harvest it. I think I will get $6K-$7k for the cedar I will let them harvest over 15 acres (good stuff) and that will cover 1/2 if not 2/3 of my cost for the forestry mulching services.

If you are interested here is the company I will be using.webpage  They are in the Franklin area. I've had several stop by and quote forestry mulching services and Willison's offerings seem the best to me...and I am PICKY!

If you are going to heat with wood then get out the chainsaw, should be a lot of firewood left in the tops unless they took them for pulp.
 
Erica Colmenares
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Lon Anders wrote:I'm about to have some cedar harvested off of my 56 acres here South of Nashville. I'm going attempt to convert 7-10 acres in one area over to pasture. I will have a forestry mulching company come in behind the loggers and grind everything remaining down to shredded stuff/ chips. I will be liming it and seeding this fall.

If you've never seen a forestry mulcher reclaim land you should search on youtube and watch... Simply amazing.



I look forward to watching this  - I've never heard of a forestry mulcher. I was thinking about hiring a local logger to chip - this sounds better!
 
James Whitelaw
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One important thing to do before the logging is completed is walk all the areas where the equipment has been carefully examining the ground to see if any fuel or oil leaks have occurred. The company is supposed to carefully clean that up. I found a couple and they quickly attended to it, taking the contaminated soil with them. You haven’t provided a more detailed description of the property, one primary concern regarding logging equipment is impact of water courses and riparian zones, so keeping an eye on wet areas the equipment has crossed or worked in is probably not a good idea. Is the company clearing a homesite for you or are you not committed to a location? Are they creating clearings? They would have needed To create a “landing” large enough to pile the logs, load trucks, etc. it would be interesting to see those areas.

Forestry mulches are real monsters that can rip through thick brush and saplings like they were not there. One caution (likely not applicable in Lon’s clearing) in using them in the forest is the skid steer types are heavy and will tear up the ground where they are used. In our harvest they would have been redundant as the company had a giant mulching machine, debarkers, etc.

From your pics it appears a well equipped company is harvesting your timber that means they are likely using feller equipment that allow them to extend an arm away from the trail or area the heavy equipment is sitting to clasp a tree, saw it off at near ground level, strip the branches off and cut off the smaller diameter top and finally drop the log into a neat pile. The understory around the tree remains undisturbed including the younger trees that now have sunlight that allows them to grow straight. Another benefit to creating clearings is the birds come back. We didn’t have a lot of owls before we did our harvest but these days it seems there are gangs of them.

I can totally relate to the disorientation as we experienced the same feelings, but over time it started to make sense on our 80 acres.
 
Erica Colmenares
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James, their staging area is shown in the photo with the equipment. At least that's where our agent said they were going to stage. They've gone over the property line a tad there (just brush damage, no trees down on our neighbors) and in one other place - another topic of conversation! They are going to clear our house site and future pond area. That hasn't happened yet.

Thanks for your post - it was reassuring!

James Whitelaw wrote:

I can totally relate to the disorientation as we experienced the same feelings, but over time it started to make sense on our 80 acres.


At one point I gasped - turning a corner and it was like I was in a different woods. Not because there were that many trees gone, but an "anchor" tree was, so I felt lost.
 
Erica Colmenares
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I will meet with the timber agent and the lumber rep later this week to discuss what I'd like the company to do before they leave. Some of that will be on them to fix (areas of potential run-off, for instance), and I will pay them for some (moving some tree tops, doziering an old road they didn't use).

One of the things I'm not sure about is the lane itself. Before the humungous trucks came through, it was hard-packed dirt with a weedy median, and a few puddle-y areas but passable to drive with a regular car. I walked it yesterday and it's all a thick layer of fine dust on top. Clearly that is not going to be good, going forward, but I'm not sure if it's their responsibility to fix, and I'm not sure even what to ask for, if it is. The only upside was that it was super easy to see many animal tracks. Like this cool snack path!


There are some trees that clearly aren't going to survive the damage from trucks side-swiping them, and we will be reimbursed for those. There are a couple that are beautiful huge trees that I'd like to try to save, if the timber agent thinks it's a possibility. I'm not sure again what to ask for and/or what I can do to up the chances a tree will survive after losing a bark area.

Thanks in advance for any additional advice!


 
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You should not have to worry about the main logging road. When they are first put in, they look pretty bad, super wide and graveled, but they grow in really fast with grass. The ditches will grow in, then in the center, and soon it will look like a nice little two wheel track road again. It really does happen fast. I could take some pictures of what my logging road looks like a year after the logging trucks stopped using the road. It would set your mind at ease.

The biggest thing is to have the loggers bulldoze the paths through the forest that you may want to have roads in down the road. Access is a good thing. I have always done that with my logging roads, and while they do grow in with scrub brush and trees over time, they are flat, smooth and with just a little brush cutting, I can have an access road again. But that is just something to consider, not anything you must do.

Edited to say: Your loggers looked like they did a really nice job. They should be commended!
 
Erica Colmenares
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Travis Johnson wrote:You should not have to worry about the main logging road. When they are first put in, they look pretty bad, super wide and graveled, but they grow in really fast with grass.



Thanks, Travis. I wasn't that worried about the road until the last two times I went. Wide and gravelly is fine, but now they are so dusty. No gravel. Just dust that is deep enough to cover my feet. I'm guessing it has been churned up from the hard-packed dirt lane. I'm not sure how that's going to respond to rain. It seems like it's just going to be either mud, or all run off?


Edited to say: Your loggers looked like they did a really nice job. They should be commended!


I do think they're doing a good job. The damage they've done seems consistent with what happens when you log big trees. They were very responsive when I asked them to clear out a valley that has the spring we access on it - they'd moved the stumps and debris by my next visit.
 
Erica Colmenares
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I did a little online searching about tree wounds, and it sounds like there's not too much you can do. I'm hopeful that the main tree I'm worried about will survive. And I'll definitely follow these recommendations.

Tree Health
Healthy trees usually recover from wounding quickly.
Try to keep wounded trees growing vigorously by watering
them during droughts and providing proper fertilization.
This will increase the rate of wound closure, enhance callus
growth and improve the resistance to decay mechanisms.
from Tree Wounds: Response of Trees and What You Can Do
 
Erica Colmenares
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Today, I decided to think about the post-harvest remediation like recovering from a tornado. With that mindset, I don't get aggravated by things the timber guys did or didn't do. And I don't need to beat myself up for allowing a harvest.
 
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If they are really just taking 1 in 10 large trees, the remaining crowns will fill the canopy in no time.  Maybe just a year or two.  Sounds like everything is in process, but you might ask to get permission to see a few of their previous "limited" jobs, to set you mind at easy and/or to note things that you might want done on your property.  

Assuming they are taking the prime trees, it may make sense to go through and do a thinning in 5-10 years to remove less desirable trees.

Congratulations on your land!  200 acres is a lot!  Don't let it overwhelm you!  Temperate forest is incredibly resilient and will self heal remarkably quickly.
 
Erica Colmenares
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Gray Henon wrote:
Congratulations on your land!  200 acres is a lot!  Don't let it overwhelm you!  Temperate forest is incredibly resilient and will self heal remarkably quickly.


Thanks, Gray. That's nice to hear. And good advice - 200 acres is a lot, but I'm thinking of 198 acres as zone 5, for now.
 
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