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If you had to choose: woodlands, wetlands or pasture?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 159
Location: Mason Cty, WA
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If you were looking at a piece of rural land and could shave off as much land as you needed to put it within financing range, what would you sacrifice if you were promised you could buy it back later if needed, and that you could still use it if you left it as you found it? Suppose a lot of pasture and a smaller amount of forest and wetland.

The pasture is of course more valuable in a strictly market sense (costing almost twice as much) but there are permaculture applications suiting wetlands and woodlands only. What would be your ideal proportion of wetlands, woodlands and pasture, and why?

(Asking for a friend )
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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A word of caution:
Federal, state, and local regulations often put severe restrictions on 'wetlands'.
Usually, any modifications must be pre-approved (and subject to impact studies).

Even though it is your land (and they charge property taxes on it), they may not allow you to do any modifications to it.
 
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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John Polk wrote:A word of caution:
Federal, state, and local regulations often put severe restrictions on 'wetlands'.
Usually, any modifications must be pre-approved (and subject to impact studies).

Even though it is your land (and they charge property taxes on it), they may not allow you to do any modifications to it.


On this note I am curious, are Chinampas [shored in by debris already floating in the wetland, filled with wetland muck so nothing actually entered or left the wetland] considered a modification? [If you only have the answer for our state that' good enough for me as well.]
 
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I think what each person would consider "correct" would be based on their knowledge of how to use those different lands.

IE: A person who is very familiar & comfortable with food forest would probably lean to forest land. A person who was depending on Solar or who was used to growing crops in a field is going to choose that type of property.

Might want to suggest this to your friend as in "How are you planning to use the land"? "What is your area of expertise"?
 
Posts: 724
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Eric Rummler wrote:I think what each person would consider "correct" would be based on their knowledge of how to use those different lands.

IE: A person who is very familiar & comfortable with Food Forest would probably lean to forest land. A person who was depending on Solar or who was used to growing crops in a field is going to choose that type of property.

Might want to suggest this to your friend as in "How are you planning to use the land"? "What is your area of expertise"?



i totally agree. im a grazing farmer, so i would want as much pasture as possible.
the rainfall and climate also matter. i wouldnt want pasture in the subtropics as much as i would want wetlands.


but to answer your question - i would get as much grazing land as possible, avoiding wetlands if i had to. i would graze on the land and use that money to buy back the wetlands as i could.
 
John Polk
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are Chinampas...considered a modification?


Depending on location, probably.
The government feels that wetlands are being destroyed for the benefit of the owners, at the loss of crucial habitat for numerous species. I don't know the extent of the laws here. I have heard so many horror stories that my property search excluded sites with wetlands. You own it, but they dictate what you can (and must) do with it.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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John Polk wrote:I have heard so many horror stories that my property search excluded sites with wetlands. You own it, but they dictate what you can (and must) do with it.


I took the same basic approach. The property I'm locked onto now does have a wetland, but it constitutes no more than 2% of the total.
 
Posts: 123
Location: SW Tennessee Zone 7a average rainfall 52"
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I agree with Eric ... the first question I'd ask would be, "What are you planning on doing with it?"
 
Fredy Perlman
Posts: 159
Location: Mason Cty, WA
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From what I can tell, wetlands in that state cannot be filled or built on without a permit, and require some kind of buffer zone from building or fill activities. Nothing said about planting in them. I was asking because I'm sure some folks here, if anywhere, have found creative and productive uses for wetlands in line with PC principles.

Kelly, but what would you do with the wetlands once you had them? These are temperate wetlands, if that changes anything.

As far as I know, to create a food forest, it's easier and better for all life involved to do it off an edge or with swales off a gully in a field, than to interfere in an existing forest that is doubtless regenerating. Forest-past-the-edge can be good for timbering if there are trees to thin, and makes a canopy for mushroom laying fields, maybe for wild-simulated ginseng and goldenseal cultivation. Anywhere you need a canopy for dappled light and maybe some interaction with native mycorrhizal networks. So regarding woodlands, isn't edge better than inner acreage?
 
pollinator
Posts: 10116
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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If it were just for my own purposes and not for commercial farming, I would choose to have wetlands because I love frogs, water birds, and fish. I only need a couple acres for my own purposes, so the rest could be for wetland critters. I love wetland critters so much that one of the primary purposes of my land is to provide habitat for amphibians.

I would not bother with pasture unless you plan to graze a lot of animals - pasture is just a huge maintenance problem otherwise.

 
Fredy Perlman
Posts: 159
Location: Mason Cty, WA
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Tyler, mind sharing what are your purposes for wetland? I too am fond of wetland critters, having fallen asleep many a night to frogsong. But the only human food uses I've found for wetlands are wild rice (yum!) and cattails (no idea, but i'm intrigued by an acorn bread recipe that involves cattail flour). And I'm sure getting them to happen there is finicky business.

Some animals are good, but if there's too much pasture, why not convert it to food forest? I've seen pics of so many permaculture farms that involve polyculture guilds rolling down gentle slopes in unkempt clustery semi-rows. By "maintenance hassle" I guess you mean keeping it mown, which having the equipment for or hiring out is expensive and/or time consuming?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 10116
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The only purpose for wetland here on our place is for the amphibians - Texas offers the same tax reduction for wildlife management land as for agricultural land. We manage for songbirds and amphibians. It's pretty darn great, because it has cut our taxes in half. We can still practice ag if we want to as long as it doesn't conflict with the wildlife.

Fish ponds can be much more productive of protein per acre than pasture. I would love to have a fish pond, but we're not in a good region for such a thing. If I were in a moist region, I would definitely prefer fish ponds over pastures.

There are a lot more edible pond plants than just cattails, but what they are depends on your climate. I've eaten cattails but find them rather fussy to prepare as a vegetable. I think they make a better mulch or compost plant than a food.

Edible pond and bog: http://www.pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=79
 
master steward
Posts: 5193
Location: Pacific Northwest
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My five acres is about 1/3rd protected wetland. A little under 1 acre is dry woodlands, and the remaining two+ acres is grassy with food forest, my garden and my house. This ends up working out great for me. I wish the rest of my property were a bit drier and a bit more northerly-facing, but, eh.

I honestly don't have that much time to manage 5 acres, and I really enjoy just having wild nature. So having 2 acres of lovely wetland is great for me. According to my research, the only things you can do in your wetlands here, without permits, is make trails and birdwatch (passive recreation). Now, I live out in the boonies, and no one really cares what we do out here as long as it looks natural, so I might transplant more native edibles alongside the paths, such as thimbleberries and serviceberries and wild strawberries. I might also selectively prune my red huckleberries for more production if they're alongside paths. I might prune back some salmonberry so the thimbleberries and native currants can grow more. I might also help clear the paths of the alders that continually fall down, and use those alders for firewood or hugels. I might take a little forest soil or rake the leaves from the paths to use as mulch elsewhere. I might tap the maples that are in the wetland for maple syrup. This all, of course, happens along the paths. I only have three paths. Of course, all these actions are technically not supposed to happen without permits, with permits for fighting invasives or planting natives supposedly easy & painless to get, and ones that require digging or filling not so easy. My neighbor got in big trouble for digging a pond in his wetlands without a permit.

I try to never need someone to come out to evaluate my property, because the previous owner did dig a giant pond in the wetland, as well and put drainage ditches through areas of it, without any permits that I can locate. I could get fined for his activities, so I try to make them look more natural.

I also hack out invasive plants (bindweed & non-native blackberry) in my wetlands and encourage native plants. And I harvest berries and nettle from it.

For me, my wetlands are a wonderful, low maintenance food forest that I love, and that gives habitat to all sorts of happy critters. I like this. They are my permaculture zones 4 & 5.

I guess, in summary, I think your ratio of wetland/forest/grassland really depends on:
(1) What your wetland regulations are & how strictly they are enforced in your area?
(2) What type of native edibles are there (and if you like them!)?
(3) How much time you have to invest in your land?
(4) How many acres you actually want in your zones 1-3 (Some info on zones)
(5) What you want to do with your land (do you want to graze animals? do you want/need shaded forests if you're in a hot climate? How much firewood/lumber do you need from a woodland? Do you want to sit by the pond or stream and relax, or have your kids catch frogs? Do you mind mosquitoes? etc, etc, etc.)

I hope that helps!
 
Posts: 1442
Location: Fennville MI
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This is dependent upon so many things. Are you going to want to build? Woodlands can be helpful for that. Wetlands represent some legal complications, but they also represent some opportunities.  Pasture is good for livestock and easy to convert to crops if you want that.  My wife and I have purchased 20 acres of woodlands, with some possible wetland in it as well. 

For us, the woodland means timber for building and the land is totally undeveloped.  I envision possible chinampas in the wetlands, utilizing the woods for mushroom growing and some livestock.  We'll figure out what the makeup of our forest is now and start working on integrating more useful plants into the woodlands as we go. We'll do some clearing and create some more open areas, for use both in grazing livestock and cropping.

Someone who wants to do pastured livestock as their priority would not want our land, no pasture.  Someone that wanted to grow mushrooms, some timber products, they might like our land.  Someone wanting to do food forest might like it as well, the forest is here already, just integrate your forest food plants into the existing ecosystem...
 
pollinator
Posts: 534
Location: Pac Northwest
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Well the 40 acres I bought has a 600' X 150'pond, plenty of woodland, and really no pasture to speak of other than a few small meadows and high desert sparse vegetation areas facing south on steeper slopes.

My thinking, I can create pasture by clearing woodland. But it is rather time consuming to create woodland by letting pasture go. Not much flat on my property either as it is a bowl shaped by 3 hills meeting. So another part of my thinking is creating pasture corridors running on contour of slopes rather than large fields on the flat. I can mob graze animals along these corridors once I create them.
 
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