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Permaculture to Restore Hilly/Mountainous Wildfire Property  RSS feed

 
Christian Wolff
Posts: 13
Location: Colorado/Montana
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Hello All,

I'm new here and just learned about Permies a few weeks ago when I signed up for WWOOFUSA.org and saw wheaton laboratories. Learned a lot in these few weeks and will start WWOOF'ing next week here in CO.

Maybe we all do this, but I love to search "Land for Sale" around the country to see places where I may some day be able to buy a few acres and start a homestead. I saw an interesting property the other day and I think I know where it is since I drove through there to go camping the other day. It's beautiful hilly country that's been damaged by a pretty extreme wildfire we had. It's IMO also a little bit dangerous. We just had a big mudslide in an area that was destabilized by wildfire.

The good news is that when you drive by you can see little bitty conifer shoots starting to grow. I bet that one could buy this land cheap and actually benefit by having a blank canvas to work with.

My question is how would a permaculturist restore the land? I was thinking about countour swales planted with weeds like Mullein or Thistle to anchor the soil but am concerned that swales on these hills may actually make them weaker and more slide prone.

 
Jay C. White Cloud
Posts: 2413
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Hello Christian,

Welcome to Permies....!

Hope you enjoy your time here and learn a lot...and...just as important (maybe more so?)...share what you learn.

The land above does look well "toasted" and many modern forestry practices have stopped this from happening, unfortunately this is actually what needs to happen in many forested areas. There is evidence of burning in the geological record and is also a way to "re-stimulate" an area. It also can clean out an area that may be suffering from some form of well embedded disease vector...It is often hard to look at...yet often totally acceptable and good for the biome.


Your ideas about what could be done are good ones...another is if you have a chance...revisit sites like this and learn from nature what naturally happens. Often our best approaches are to follow this lead and promote it, while at the same time working in concert with it to fulfill some of our needs if we live within that biome.

Regards, and welcome once again,

j
 
Christian Wolff
Posts: 13
Location: Colorado/Montana
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Hi Jay,

Thanks for the response! It's the first one I've had here at Permies (though I don't post much) so I owe you a beer.

I've been watching and that property may have been bought up already. It was only 8k and in a good location. It did get me thinking though that there's a lot of acreage in CO which has burnt and this may be a great way for a permaculturist to get started. Not only is the land cheaper than a property with a beautiful mature forest, but a permaculturist may be in a great position to take advantage of a fairly clean slate.

One thing that stood out to me is that there could be a real danger putting in swales, terraces, ponds or other features on those hills. When putting in features on a slope is there a period of time that the land become most unstable than it was before the feature was cut?
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
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Christian Wolff wrote:
One thing that stood out to me is that there could be a real danger putting in swales, terraces, ponds or other features on those hills. When putting in features on a slope is there a period of time that the land become most unstable than it was before the feature was cut?


If you check with state geological mapping services, you may be able to find maps of unstable hillsides. I know that there are such maps for the Santa Monica mountains of California, an area that is criss-crossed with fault lines and slope failures. Hillside failures have a lot to do with how wet the soil is and how much root system there is holding it. A lot of root system can take a heavy downpour, but a newly burned hillside, where a lot of the roots are dead and decaying may be much more prone to slippage.

Ideally, the permaculturist would go in and seed the hillside with something that can put in a quick canopy to keep the rain from causing erosion and which can also grow a tenacious root system. Phyllanthus urinaria would fit the bill in my climate, but it's a bit too tropical to do you much good. If you find a good cover crop, one that will keep its grip on the soil even through a snowy winter, then you will have plenty of time to put in other features at your leisure.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hey Christian,

I would look at soil maps as John E, suggested and talk to folks from the state about the history of an area...

I am not keen on any location that is hilly or mountainous that is just "soil and gravel" and has not "bones." These bones (rocks) are what tend to keep things from sliding around and/or liquefaction during a tectonic event. I am a real stickler for "long view" perspectives of building sites...be it just the architecture or the support elements (e.g. gardens, ponds, etc.) around them. You are very wise to keep that in mind and I am glad you had brought it up. Colorado does have much to offer in the way of "new development" in permaculture. Glad to see you are looking!

Regards,

j

P.S. I am a hard cider drinker...when I do partake of such....
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Hau, Christian, Welcome to permies. colorado geological survey Is a great place to start your investigations. Once you have purchased land, anywhere, it is best to do a walk about with note book in hand, make notes on all the current flora and fauna present. From there you can devise a proper natural plan for the land. If you were to purchase the land in your photo, some native grasses would be a good place to start your seed spreading. Clovers are pretty good just about anywhere except deserts but I always go for native plants first, they are what wants to be growing there anyway and they will do the best.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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