Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

By , on August 20, 2010

Miscellaneous Comment

Our land was logged in the summer of 1994. It is a few acres in western Washington, and includes a spring fed stream that merges with a winter stream. The logger was able to use the original logging road to operate his track hoe. He took all commercially valuable trees, leaving old maples, some alders in a wetland area, and a few divided and young firs. He re-planted Alaska and Western Red cedars along the creek at the insistence of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the county. These were approximately 6 ft. high specimens with roots bundled in burlap. The guy who planted them didn’t get the root balls as deep as he should have, at least that is how it appeared. The logger promised to plant seedlings in the higher areas, but never added to the few he had already planted.

Our contribution has been mostly to leave things alone. We have:

1. Used no pesticides (which includes herbicides).

2.  Manually removed some weeds, such as Tansy Ragwort, a couple of Scotch Broom plants, and some Canada Thistle.

3. Planted some small seedlings of cedar and  Douglas Fir on a hillside that did not self propagate.

4. Made a network of trails with hand work. These are big enough to run a wheel barrow up and down to retrieve bucked logs from some of the downed trees.

5. Collected and burned limbs and litter from an area where debris was collected by the loggers. The litter was three to four feet deep over several hundred square feet.

6. Kept all vehicles and heavy equipment off the area.

The result is a remarkable young forest with Sword Ferns, Salal, and other indigenous and naturally occurring ground cover. Most of the Alders left in the wetlands were toppled in storms or had to be cut because they leaned toward buildings. A new crop is growing in their place. Although there are some invasive weeds, they are few and none survive in large patches.

Those 6 foot trees are in some cases over 30 feet tall with trunks greater than 12 inches in diameter. There is Alder large enough for firewood. Some of the firs not harvested are approaching magnificence. The midday light has the beauty you would expect in a much older forest. The forest remains about ten degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the built portion of the property on a hot summer day.

Although it is sad that the old growth was taken in the forties and the property was again logged just prior to our purchase, the old growth stumps are still here. Those stumps, the grades that were substantially unaltered by the old and the modern loggers, the mixture of plantings and natural propagation of many species, and the naturally occurring stream flows have all created a diverse, thriving, and rapidly recovering forest. I am glad we stayed here to see this.

I worked at retrieving firewood  today and was so engrossed with the beauty of the property – we had clear skies, temperatures in the sixties this morning, and that perfect mottled morning light, that I pushed the wheel barrow about 100 feet too far with a load of wood in it! My mind was so totally occupied with the beauty of the path and the surrounding area, I forgot what I was doing.

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