Long Awaited / Overdue, Forest Thinning

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Long Awaited / Overdue, Forest Thinning

Postby MtnDon » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:40 am

Like much of the western mountains, the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico have suffered from decades of wildfire suppression and the cessation of commercial logging. However, after years of planning and studies we now have a serious thinning effort underway in the mountains around our property. (We are one of 4 or 5 private landowners who ar surrounded by the Santa fe National Forest. We've thinned our land, most of the neighbors have not... but that is another matter.)

Here are a few pictures we took between Christmas and New Years.

This is an area very close to us. Before the thinning we could not see the slope in the distance. It was a wall of green pines.

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A closer in shot of the central area from the first image. Taken closer and looking to the right down the road that runs up the draw.

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Yours truly standing in front of one of the numerous stacks of logs, showing typical range of sizes harvested.

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In some places even larger trees have been harvested as well as the smallest and everything in between. The present active contract is for approximately 1200 acres. One day while we were tramping around the woods on our snowshoes we cameacross the forest service fuels specialist. We chatted a while. The project is aimed at reducing the tree density down to 20 to 60 trees per acre, average. That is from a high in many places of 900 to 1000 trees per acre.

Unfortunately there is not a big market for the harvested trees. Mostly the larger trees will become large size posts and beams for custom homes. NM also uses a number of peeled round logs in many custom homes... in the manner that all homes here used to be built. However, when it comes to 2x lumber it is difficult to compete on price with Canadian imports and plantation lumber from the Southern USA. So much of the harvest will end up being gathered for firewood in spring and summer. Once the logs are removed and the slash dry then those piles will be burned next winter.

Then we will see the native grasses regrow. We've already seen more deer than in previous years, all because of the greater visibility through the trees. It is also so cool to be able to see the lay of the land, to be able to seethe slopes and details in the distance. We are thrilled to see the work that has been done so far. This should go a long ways to improve the general health of the forest here.
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Re: Long Awaited / Overdue, Forest Thinning

Postby lfhoward » Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:34 pm

That looks fantastic, MtnDon! Congrats on owning a healthier forest that will support more biodiversity as well as being better prepared for eventual wildfires. It may burn, but now the burn will likely stay at the ground surface instead of getting up into the treetops. Frequent surface fires are what these trees and other organisms in the area are actually adapted for, not shady closed forests or tremendous canopy fires. Makes me happy to see. Your wildlife will appreciate it too. :thumbsup:
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Re: Long Awaited / Overdue, Forest Thinning

Postby MtnDon » Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:01 pm

We are so veeeery pleased!!!! When we talked with the NF fuels specialist out there in the field just before New Years. Yes, fires in this thinned area should be ground fires and not leap to the crowns for a while. He told us that a few years ago when we had a huge wildfire nearby, the raging crown fire dropped to the ground, "just like that" when it hit the area that been burned 4 years before.


We have already seen more deer than usual.
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Re: Long Awaited / Overdue, Forest Thinning

Postby stumphugger » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:35 am

Thank you for posting about this topic. I retired from working in timber after 32 years and worked on a few of those projects in AZ. It is good to hear the benefits of thinning and controlled burning instead of the usual--THEY ARE GOING TO LOG BY MY HOUSE and then all the fears of it turning into a moonscape because of the timber harvest.

You wrote it up well and made the details easy to understand. Looks like a beautiful job on the logger's part, too. I finished up working back in my home state and the attitude of the loggers has changed massively since the "bad old days". I worked with them to see that they followed what the contract said, and most were very willing to work within the restraints and went an extra mile to make it look good on the ground. I bribed their crews with home baked cookies. I enjoyed working with them and seeing the results.

Glad to see it worked out there, too.
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Re: Long Awaited / Overdue, Forest Thinning

Postby MtnDon » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:43 pm

Thanks. It gives one hope... We break out in Big Smiles evrytime we think of it or see it. :D :D :D
Our 6x12 deep vee nose cargo trailer camper conversion... viewtopic.php?f=42&t=58336

We have a small off grid cabin we built ourselves in the NM mountains; small PV solar system; 624 watts PV, Outback CC & inverter/charger ... http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=2335.0
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Re: Long Awaited / Overdue, Forest Thinning

Postby stumphugger » Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:32 pm

Thinning for faster growth using a skyline yarder with motorized carriage. This is here in Western Warshington. These guys were good to work with.
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We have a big fire about every 300 years, unless otherwise... :)
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Re: Long Awaited / Overdue, Forest Thinning

Postby G-Mac » Sun Feb 19, 2017 10:34 am

Very good to see this type of activity. It pans me to see forest lands cut off from vehicle traffic and let to "grow naturally" while we take the "un-natural" act of putting out forest fires. You can 't have it both ways, folks, mother nature clearcuts/thins with forest fires. Selective cutting is one of the best management practices for keeping our forest healthy (and NOT tinder boxes) and for allowing forest fighters to have a real chance of putting out fires. Oh yeah, those roads the firefighters use are also the ones WE use to enjoy the forest responsibly. If not for us keeping them open, the firefighters wouldn't have a road to get to the fire.

Hopefully more state management authorities will take this approach... MT, are you listening?
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Re: Long Awaited / Overdue, Forest Thinning

Postby MtnDon » Sun Feb 19, 2017 2:55 pm

skyline yarder with motorized carriage


those are the next best thing, after a skyhook ;)
Our 6x12 deep vee nose cargo trailer camper conversion... viewtopic.php?f=42&t=58336

We have a small off grid cabin we built ourselves in the NM mountains; small PV solar system; 624 watts PV, Outback CC & inverter/charger ... http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=2335.0
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Re: Long Awaited / Overdue, Forest Thinning

Postby stumphugger » Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:22 pm

MtnDon wrote:
skyline yarder with motorized carriage


those are the next best thing, after a skyhook ;)


Yarders are my favorite. I like the noise of the whistles echoing around in the woods. It is a cheery sound to me.
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