Monday, January 11, 2010

Logging in Lumberland

Saturday was a cold day in The Catskills, but it was time to log.

Every so many decades the loggers are called in ~ for stewardship of the land and for a little pocket money to help pay for saplings to plant in warmer weather.

This logging road has been here since the 1700's when people from Connecticut owned parcels and called the area "Lumberland." This road leads to a parcel of a few hundred acres of forest.

Most of the dense forest is above the logging road on ridges, or below in a valley. The loggers will be busy for awhile, and when they complete the task of clearing away so much dead wood (you wouldn't believe how many trees fall in a thirty year period) and chopping a few select trees, there will still be plenty of trees in the forest, and room for more to grow in a healthy environment.

A few years ago we noticed that by clearing away a lot of other trees among a group of fine red oaks that were struggling with too much shade and fungus, we were able to see the oaks thrive again. In just one year you could see the amazing difference that more air, sunlight and space made for them.

Lightening strikes wreak havoc on trees-- I've seen the tops of tall oaks cut off by lightning, and apparently maple seeds floated into the burnt area which must have collected rain and debris, and began to grow! So you have these freakish looking trees that are half and half. You wouldn't notice that a big solid looking oak has a "maple tree top" in a dense wood unless you stood right next to it and looked way up there, or climbed a nearby tree or ridge. When everything is packed in tight, weird things begin to happen. A tree will twist itself every which way to try and get some sunlight, roots compete like crazy in the rocky woods. ( a tiny pine trying to grow out from under the edge of a boulder seems to send out a 'help me' vibe as does a willow trying to grow on a very dry high ridge.) Every spring we go out and look for these small distressed trees that are still healthy enough to relocate to a better spot.