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Restoring cut over/heavily logged land  RSS feed

 
Posts: 25
Location: Central Maine (Zone 4b)
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Browsing the real estate listings, I come across many photos that look like this






My initial knee-jerk reaction has been to steer clear of land this badly beat up. The valuable timber is gone, biodiversity is gone, and someone else's mess is left behind to be cleaned up. But the more I think about this and discuss the possibilities, I can't help but think logged over land might in some ways be ideal for permaculture. Here in Maine, we've seen our natural forests stripped, molested and neglected only to have the process repeated again and again by greedy timber barons. The thought of clearing an acre or two of healthy forest to plant gardens or build structures on my own property causes something of a disconnect. I'd rather leave healthy ecosystems alone. We humans have done enough damage.

But land like this exists whether we like it or not. The restorative nature of permaculture seems to fit hand in hand with a project like this. It's well known that 'disturbances' such as this can actually help accelerate the building fertility with the right timing and the right arsenal of tools. I suppose I'm just trying to stir up ideas here. Has anyone ever taken something like this on? It seems incredibly labor intensive, but all the pieces are there.
 
pollinator
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I know what you mean, my neighbor sold off her marketable timber and the loggers left a big mess, and the 40 acres down at the closet intersection was logged the same way. Oh, to have a Bobcat and be able to scoop up a few buckets to make some hugelbeds!

It's as labor intensive as you want to make it. It doesn't take much labor to stick seedlings directly in the ground; one person can plant a few acres in a good day. It would take a lot more labor to arrange all the debris into swales and catchments and fashion them into hugelkultur type berms. When I see parcels of land that look like this, it reminds me that not enough people have gotten the message about permaculture. It's all fine and good for people to harvest the timber on their property, but they need to know what permaculture can do to restore the land in a much shorter time.
 
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Just a different perspective.
While it hurts to see mature trees cleared . It could be worst. "Greedy Timber Barrons" own the land for miles around my house. They never sell land around here. As a neighbor goes it beats the heck out of trailer parks or subdivision.
As for as buying land like this most of your heavey work is done for you and the price will be much lower per acre. Dont asume there is no biodiversity on these properties. With disturbed soil and sunlight they are ready to explode back to life ready to overtake and overwhelm any thing you plant.

 
Jeremy Droplet
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Location: Central Maine (Zone 4b)
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Jerry Evans wrote:Just a different perspective.
While it hurts to see mature trees cleared . It could be worst. "Greedy Timber Barrons" own the land for miles around my house. They never sell land around here. As a neighbor goes it beats the heck out of trailer parks or subdivision.
As for as buying land like this most of your heavey work is done for you and the price will be much lower per acre. Dont asume there is no biodiversity on these properties. With disturbed soil and sunlight they are ready to explode back to life ready to overtake and overwhelm any thing you plant.



Yes. Out in the sticks your choices for neighbors are GMO/heavy fertilizer/heavy pesticide farms, timber lands, or recreational use property (this to me means ATVs, snowmobiles, hunters, and other people who generally don't care to observe property boundaries and regularly trespass on your land). So you are right; woodlots often do make better neighbors than some of the others. Of course, if you've ever lived next to a woodlot being cut and spent a portion of your life inundated with the sounds of chainsaws and logging trucks you might start dreaming about that subdivision...

Yes, they've removed the timber already, but this is a source of potential income lost. A selectively thinned well managed wood lot can be productive and profitable for the right individual for many years. Of course the price is part of the factor. Second (really 3rd or more) growth forest goes for thousands per acre in most parts. Cut over beat up land like those I pictured above can be had for a few hundred/ac.

Your last point hits the nail on the head for me. With the right resources and the right mind set, you could capitalize on these disturbances to rapidly build fertility and get useful plantings established. This is my real interest.

A dozer could make quick work of some of the slash left behind. Pile it up in windrows, cover with soil, sow with cover crop and some tree seedlings and you'd be in good shape going forward.
 
Jeremy Droplet
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John Elliott wrote:I know what you mean, my neighbor sold off her marketable timber and the loggers left a big mess, and the 40 acres down at the closet intersection was logged the same way. Oh, to have a Bobcat and be able to scoop up a few buckets to make some hugelbeds!

It's as labor intensive as you want to make it. It doesn't take much labor to stick seedlings directly in the ground; one person can plant a few acres in a good day. It would take a lot more labor to arrange all the debris into swales and catchments and fashion them into hugelkultur type berms. When I see parcels of land that look like this, it reminds me that not enough people have gotten the message about permaculture. It's all fine and good for people to harvest the timber on their property, but they need to know what permaculture can do to restore the land in a much shorter time.



Exactly. Forests are robust. Cut it down, and it will work damned hard to re-establish itself. It's a toxic cycle though. Each time the forest is cut, the biomass is trucked out, and nothing is added, we lose a great deal. That bare soil gets beaten on by sun and rain with nothing to protect it. No growing rootmass left behind to prevent our gravel-clay soil from becoming hardpan. You can get away with this a few times, but how long will it take to completely deplete that top soil? What will be the quality of the standing timber be like when my children need to source their building lumber? My grandchildren? Surely clear cutting and walking away is not the answer to building any sort of future.
 
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So I guess I’m a few years late on a response for this thread. We live on the key peninsula in Washington state. We just bought 10 acres last October. Nine out of the 10 acres has been logged. So of course we are super grateful for the 1 acre of woods that was spared.  So I like this thread for a few reasons. One is I can directly relate because I’m living on logged land. Two I’ve been asking myself the same questions. 3 my wife and I have been using Purmaculture methods for about five years now. Four is  hopefully I can connect with some other landowners who are living on previously logged land in our area.

We just moved full-time onto the property 10 days ago. So although we’ve technically owned the land since last October we haven’t been here full-time only making periodic visits to do some light excavation and stump removal where are tiny home will be built.  We have enjoyed watching and observing the land through the end of summer and into fall, all the way through winter and now we are in spring here which is right now extremely rainy. We decided we don’t want to get too crazy with our planting just yet would you want to do a couple of vegetable beds and cover crops over HUGE huga beds.  We may do a few trees not totally sure yet. It was refreshing to hear some of the comments regarding land that has been quite decimated and what the biodiversity after that looks like. We have much biodiversity on this 10 acres. Everything  that is doing well is flourishing. We  have massive amounts of huckleberry. We have native BlackBerry that is really going crazy.  So where there was distruction for one part of our forest it is open many doors for other things to start happening and it’s really cool to kind of see what’s going on with the land. My wife and I have said from the beginning it’s a blank canvas and permaculture is gunna heal this land.  Anyways, just thought I’d share a little of my insight. No one  might even see this thread response but if you do and you have more questions about what we have going on feel free to contact me. We are at the very beginning of our restoration project for our land.✌🏼
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Posts: 129
Location: Maritimes , Eastern Canada
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Thanks for keeping this thread going !

I'm just north of Maine, same sort of clearcutting normal here. Most landowners cut off the timber and then sell the land to maximize their income.

I too take a positive view of it. After all the cutting has already been done. I have looked around at a few of these properties. They vary alot in quality of soil etc.

Prices here for cutover acreages are attractive. I am trying to get one now that has excellent soil. My plan is to develope it into a number of homestead lots. A kind of planned community. I think this would be better end-use than replanting in conifers . Which are after all part of the problem. Monoculture. Low value. Leads to more clearcutting.

I guess my point is, if the soil is good it would be better used if homesteaded by people with a positive attitude into self sufficiency or even recreationally, than to sit with dark conifers that take 60 years to mature while not really creating a diverse ecosystem .

As Matthew points out, there is a rapid succession of other shrubs and trees, especially the blackberry etc that provide natural food forest. Also think of the potential for foraging hogs  and other small livestock.

I would really encourage people everywhere to try to take over these harvested areas, they are cheap ( around her 400-500$ /acre) if you buy 100 acres or more, and they have Enormous potential!  Just take time to compare everything you can find on the market .

Great opportunity for permaculture enthusiasts !

Congradulations to those of you wise enough to invest in the apparent "waste" of greedy timberhogs. Maybe this is how the cycle will be reversed !
 
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I agree with most things that have been said about a logged site. However, it's apparent that the forest is now really struggling with the new machinery and modern harvesters being used. The harvesters alone are almost comparable to a military tank. I still have some unaddressed 10 year ruts on my land from the previous owner's cut  that are 3' deep and barely growing weeds. I do feel that clearcutting has turned into a runaway train, timber companies are making very fast money due to the speed of harvests being completed with these admittedly incredible machines.. Meanwhile the soil is completely traumatized alongside the water table and wildlife.

I applaud people who see this as an opportunity to restore, but the practice to which it got to that place has become deplorable to the point of being criminal in my opinion. These 'opportunities' should not be condoned.
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Clear cut land is some of the most affordable normally. It makes perfect sense to buy it up and restore it to something better than it ever was in recent history.
Usually I find listings for this type of land at thousands less per acre than untouched land and with the "blank slate" you don't have to worry about any disturbance you do because the major disturbance has been done.
You now become the painter of the landscape and permaculture is the perfect model for good, solid restoration or reclamation.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
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These kinds of properties are definitely opportunities for restoration.

Also, there are some types of forest where clearcutting is the closest anthropogenic analog to the normal succession pattern, that being fire. Granted, many species require a subsequent burn over to germinate, but it's a generalisation to say that all clearcutting is bad.

As a counter to that sentiment, I think that unmanaged forest systems, first destabilised by human activity, and then let grow artificially old because we halt their natural succession patterns to "preserve" them, result in overcrowding, encouraging sickliness and disease, and finally insect infestation, along with dangerous fuel load levels on the ground, that culminate in the types of inferno that consumes thousands of acres a year.

I will add, in this separate paragraph for specific emphasis, that if it is appropriate to the specific forest type, that clearing on scales appropriate to individual sites is crucial to prevent ecological damage, and careful planning of access roads is key to that.

I think it's sad to see the damage left behind a badly managed commercial job, but if permaculture can allow someone to restore the land and take it out of that extractive, exploitative commercial cycle, shouldn't we applaud that restoration from destruction that will happen regardless of how terrible we think it? Is it not better to do something about it rather than just deploring it?

As to the natural succession in most of the forests north of me, after fire comes blueberries and raspberries, and aspen, poplar, and other things depending on wetness and northerliness. I plan to take that natural succession and plug in my soil-building and food-producing analogs into the existent natural system. That and build fire breaks on the perimeter of my land.

Restoration of any damaged lands, in my books, is one of the heroic aspects of permaculture, right up there with greening deserts. A virtuous undertaking, if any such distinctions exist any longer.

-CK

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Here in Arkansas we still have clear cutting going on but it is more and more only on Lumber Mill owned lands for the most part, which means that once the current trees are gone, seedlings are planted.
This helps with the number one hazard to the ecology which is erosion, which still happens but not as long because of the replant.

Many times the skidders do the most compaction since they are doing a lot of traveling back and forth with heavy loads.
Some of the cuts I've looked at the loggers did a good job of setting the road ways these machines used, well enough that should you be able to acquire that land, the road bed has been made for you and on a proper contour, big plus there.

One of our biggest timber companies is Deltic Timber and they do occasionally lease land to people (I almost got 160 acres from them to use but then my objectives and means changed just prior to setting the deal).
Deltic likes to have someone there, that can patrol the land thus keeping them from having to hire and pay for a guard to comply with the state requirements.

This company even listened to me about controlling water in their timber plots, they have started setting up water control swale/ berm in fresh cut lands then they plant and fly over grass seed, it is better for their needs they have found.
I was pretty happy they listened to my ideas of how to better grow their trees.

Redhawk
 
Mark Deichmann
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Agreed, agreed.

The more land we can take out of the monoculture forestry industry the better!

Sounds like reasonable industry types in your area Redhawk!  Good to hear you are doing what you can.

I'll try to see what I can do here. Would like to buy up a block . To echo Redhawk, the infrastructure is usually well built and has alot of value to whoever takes over.

I was thinking there must be alot of people who would like to have a "recreational homestead"  , in other words,  a cottage where they could also do some gardening/permaculture on weekends and holidays.

Might be a good development plan. Those who really thrive can then transition to full timers . Just an idea.

Cheers !
 
Michael Adams
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Mark Deichmann wrote:Agreed, agreed.


I was thinking there must be alot of people who would like to have a "recreational homestead"  , in other words,  a cottage where they could also do some gardening/permaculture on weekends and holidays.


Cheers !



This is exactly my situation, with the intention of moving there full-time in 2 years.
 
Michael Adams
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Clear cut land is some of the most affordable normally. It makes perfect sense to buy it up and restore it to something better than it ever was in recent history.
Usually I find listings for this type of land at thousands less per acre than untouched land and with the "blank slate" you don't have to worry about any disturbance you do because the major disturbance has been done.
You now become the painter of the landscape and permaculture is the perfect model for good, solid restoration or reclamation.

Redhawk



Hmm, perhaps I was misunderstood. Of course practicing permaculture on a logged site is an excellent endeavour, 1/2 of my homestead was clearcut in 2003. My post was to emphasize that the practice of clearcutting should not be condoned as a blanket prescription., nor should it be applauded so that we all can get cheap land. Of course there are always exceptions, but for the most part a selective harvest is far more beneficial to ALL our relations involved. Sounds like you lucked out with a decent timbre company in your area Redhawk.
 
Mark Deichmann
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Michael !

Good to hear that. Great plan!
 
Matthew Eklund
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Michael Adams wrote:I agree with most things that have been said about a logged site. However, it's apparent that the forest is now really struggling with the new machinery and modern harvesters being used. The harvesters alone are almost comparable to a military tank. I still have some unaddressed 10 year ruts on my land from the previous owner's cut  that are 3' deep and barely growing weeds. I do feel that clearcutting has turned into a runaway train, timber companies are making very fast money due to the speed of harvests being completed with these admittedly incredible machines.. Meanwhile the soil is completely traumatized alongside the water table and wildlife.

I applaud people who see this as an opportunity to restore, but the practice to which it got to that place has become deplorable to the point of being criminal in my opinion. These 'opportunities' should not be condoned.



Our neighbors said it only took the logging company a few days to harvest the 9 acers. I also think it’s criminal! The permit only cost them $100. And because they did not have the land surveyed all the county does is slap a building/ development moratorium on a portion of the land so wealthy folks can’t put a up McMansion. The logging company is also required (but in some cases they don’t follow through) to plant (250) conifers per/acer. We have certain peramiters to work with on the moratorium portion of the property. We can build small structures and put in trails and plant/trees. But yeah, logging company’s really do some shady buisness and it is really disturbing.
 
Matthew Eklund
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Clear cut land is some of the most affordable normally. It makes perfect sense to buy it up and restore it to something better than it ever was in recent history.
Usually I find listings for this type of land at thousands less per acre than untouched land and with the "blank slate" you don't have to worry about any disturbance you do because the major disturbance has been done.
You now become the painter of the landscape and permaculture is the perfect model for good, solid restoration or reclamation.

Redhawk



Yes! Great insite😊We feel the same.
 
Mark Deichmann
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Probably nodody on this site agrees with clear-cutting and the subsequent destruction of forest land.

Maybe part of the revolution from below can be for permaculturists to take over the next stage of development , which is what is being said.  In the same way "big forestry" takes what it can get , so can sustainable practictioners , one piece at a time.






 
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