• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

What to do with a blown down hillside?

 
Jay Peters
Posts: 74
Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi All,

I was visiting a friend's cabin in the Eastern Townwships of Quebec this past weekend and as we went snowshoeing around the property, a mostly North to East Facing slope near Bolton, he pointed out where a Tornado touched down about a year ago (or less..) and cut a swath through the forested hillside. It a pretty unique disturbance in this part of the world to have part of your forest more or less cleared for you by that kind of event...but the question arose, how best to take advantage of such a situation?

Some details:

I would guess the slope varied from between 15% to 40% in places and faced North East.

More or less all the vegetation was blown over. Mostly big Poplars, with Beech, Sugar Maple and White Birch. Some Birch on the edges of the blown down zone were not uprooted, merely bent over.

This place gets cold (maybe zone 4) and snowy - there's at least 1 1/2 metres down at the moment.

This hillside was heavily logged at least once and likely more. I would guess this is the first succession of large-ish trees to grow up since (poplars etc.). The soil seems thin and not very rich.

The hillside is rocky with lots of Canadian Shield showing through. The earth that I saw attached to the uprooted trees looked light brown and dusty with bits of small rocks. It looked like a mix of clayey soil and till to me..but I'm no expert.

Access is not easy. Mostly by foot and about (guessing) 150 + metres from the cabin site and likely 30+ metres up the hill side. There is an old logging road that the tornado seemed to follow that might allow for some small machinery (quad), or cart access.

This is a thought experiment. In the end I imagine they will harvest some firewood and see what happens to the rest, maybe build a tiny cabin that takes advantage of the newly opened up view. ..but I'd love to know your thoughts!!

Thanks,
j



 
Karen Walk
Posts: 122
Location: VT, USA Zone 4/5
3
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
whatever they end up doing, they should leave most of the biomass in the forest to turn to soil - sounds like it needs it. If access is limited, the most that I would do would be encourage zone 4 (permaculture zone 4, not climate zone 4) type plantings. Innoculating logs with mushrooms would be a great option - pick the variety carefully - many need to be inocculated just after the tree is killed so that they can compete with wild fungal spores.
 
Jay Peters
Posts: 74
Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Karen -

Agreed in terms of leaving most of the Biomass - that's in the actual real life, non thought experiment plan both because it likely needs it, and most of the biomass is inaccessible and of little value to the propertry owners. Poplar is not great burning wood especially when there is lots of birch, beech and maple around making itself available every year on its own, or via thinning.

Not sure mushrooms will be a great fit seeing as its all opened up now (no shelter no shade) and most of what would be the substrate is not well suited as far as I understand (poplar).

I should have also mentioned: There are basically NO conifers in this blow down area or the rest of the hillside though I imagine there once was only conifer species (Pine or Fir probably..?)

Perhaps I should also add the theoretical goal of encouraging a greater diversity of species in this area, or steering the species make-up toward more valuable species of trees...maybe encouraging or even planting in some conifers. Maybe some nut bearing pines.

Would it be a valuable use of labour to fell completely the half fallen trees so they touch soil and speed up the process?

Would it be valuable to cull certain species as they arise in favour of others?

Would it be valuable to plant in desired species?

Thanks!
j
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1321
Location: northern California
42
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A very good thing to do would be to move logs, saplings, etc. around so they are on contour and stake them down if needed, and then bank brush, earth, etc. against them. You are essentially making swales on the surface, hindering erosion of soil and encouraging moisture infiltration. This would go along very well with some firewood or other harvesting, as well as clearing for planting or other purposes.
 
Jay Peters
Posts: 74
Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Alder -

Thanks a bunch! That was my inkling as well and in fact we discussed the possibility of doing so elsewhere on the property on a smaller scale...

Thanks!
j
 
Eric Hughes
Posts: 4
Location: North Carolina
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Seeing how there is now a hole on the northeast side of the property where all that cold winter wind can sneak through, I would create banks like alder burns said. With the contours so you can create a terrace like effect. Burying or stake them in and grow something pretty and hardy in its place, trees, either what is naturally there already or something interesting that can serve as a reminder of that very unique day. Block those winds! It's cold enough up there already!

Eric Daniel Hughes
Student of Landscape Architecture
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic